Monday, December 19, 2011

I'll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams

While I love spending the holiday season learning about how another culture celebrates the day, I do of course miss my own traditions.  For those of you who have never spent a Christmas away from home, maybe you can't relate so much, but for those who have, you will agree that it's all in the details.  Below are some of the things I have been dreaming of, besides a white Christmas.

The Tree:
 - I miss cutting down our own tree and tying it to the roof of the car.
 - I miss decorating it with my sisters, even arguing about who gets to put the star on top.
 - I miss my silly ornaments that I made when I was in elementary school and the special ones my mom bought us each year.
 - Most, I miss the smell of the tree.  I 100% will buy a pine/fir smelling candle when I come home and save it soley for the holidays.
 - I miss lights that TWINKLE.  Mine only flash here and I really miss that slow color changing feature.

 - I miss Christmas light looking - especially that street near Fred Meyer's that decorates like crazy - every house!
 - I miss a house all dolled up with decorations - from lights to knick knacks.
 - I miss all stores being crazy Christmasy, all red and green.
 - I miss my plastic bell that sings Jingle Bells and a variety of other songs in a very tinny melody.  

 - I miss peppermint candies, candy canes (mostly the rainbow kind), warm Starbucks coffee in my gloved hand and Christmas-theme colored candy of every sort.
 - I  miss my family's Christmas dinner of turkey, potatoes, homemade gravy, ham, pies pies and more pies.
 - I miss our annual Christmas family reunion and my Auntie Marilyn's noodles and my cousin Joni's wreath cookies (I admit mine were tasty but nothing like hers!)

 - I miss listening to Christmas music from the day after Thanskgiving in every place possible - on tv, the radio and every store.
 - I also miss everyone else loving and knowing all the words to all the songs.

 - I miss making a list for everyone I want to buy presents for and shopping til I drop to buy them all.
 - I miss wrapping them all pretty, and having a huge selection of wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, etc.
 - I miss sending something like 40 Christmas cards.  Along with that, I miss being able to buy Christmas cards in a box instead of individually like you have to here.
 - I miss being able to make a child's Christmas wishes come true with the Angel Tree.
 - I miss opening presents with my family in our pajamas.
 - I miss my Grammy giving us socks every year for Christmas.

 - I miss Mickey's Christmas Carol, Elf, Frosty, Rudolph,  Santa Clause and A Claymation Christmas.
 - I miss that these movies are on nonstop and you always seem to have a tough decision deciding between which to watch on TV.
 - I miss my mom reading a super old copy of the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve.

The people:
 - I miss everyone seeming to be a bit cheerier - from the supermarket to the gas station, every one seems to have a bit of Christmas spirit to share.
 - Most of all I miss the people I normally spend the holiday with.
 - I miss Ugly Christmas Sweater parties with friends, or even being able to find Christmas apparel somewhere.
 - I miss my mom counting down how many more 'get-ups' we have until Santa comes.  Only 5 more!

While these are obviously my personal Christmasy things, I am sure each and every one of you has a similar list that make your Christmas yours.  So if you have these things right now, cherish them!  If you don't, here is a quote that seems to make it better:
 ' From home to home, and heart to heart, from one place to another,
  the warmth and joy of Christmas brings us closer to each other.'  - Emily Matthews

Muxu from across the miles!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spreading the Olentzero Spirit

My local newspaper The Daily News from Longview, WA has been kind enough to spread some Olentzero cheer to my local community by publishing an article I wrote about him.  In the States we don't think much about other possible Santa Claus' but here, Papa Noel practially doesn't exist!  While you have probably read my other blogs below about putting some Basque in your holiday, this article is a concise recap of all that Olentzero is to Euskal Herria.  And as they say in Basque, Eguberri On (Merry Christmas)!

Basque Santa: He brings gifts or coal - but prefers wine to milk and cookies


Saturday, December 17, 2011

You can take the girl out of America...

Each week I meet with my girlfriends and lately we have been doing dinners at home, showing off our cooking skills from our own homes.  We have had a Mexican, Catalan and Madrid dinners so far and this past Friday was my turn.  American food...what is it?  We are such thieves - pizza from Italy, tacos from Mexico, egg rolls from China and more.  So, I did what any American would do in this situation, I made burgers and fries, which both boast names that show how stolen they are.

The word hamburger comes from the people who immigrated to the USA from Hamburg, Germany.  And French fries are called so because they describe the manner in which they are cooked - fried like the French do it.  However, these words are now synonymous with the USA, thanks to McDonald's.

As many have you have probably seen the documentary Super Size Me, some of the following facts might ring a bell.
 - McDonald's feeds more than 46 million people per day - more than the entire population of Spain.
 - McDonald's Happy Meals distribute more toys than Toys R Us.
 - French fries are the most eaten 'vegetable' in America.
With these facts and having the documentary in mind, it helps you realize why foreigners have the idea that Americans eat fast food all the time and are all overweight.  While the movie states that every day 1 in every 4 Americans stops at a fast food joint, I know a lot of people who are quite the opposite, nowadays me included.  So when I decided to make an American burger/fries night, I didn't want it to be disgustinly greasy or anything and bought only the best. 

While I haven't eaten at McDonald's for who knows how long, I did venture into one this past week to prepare for my All-American dinner.  And I will admit to my own guilt...I got some fries, and I will say they were delicious.  Crispy and crunchy with a lot of salt, I know they are horrible for you, but they are also quite tasty.  I'm pretty sure they have already made my butt a bit bigger.  Regardless, in McDonald's I got hooked up with a box for chicken nuggets, a bag for fries and 5 hambuger paper wrappers - all in plan to make my dinner memorable.

I didn't want to just make burgers and fries, I wanted people to get the 'American' feeling I guess, so whipped up a little burger order card that my friends had to fill out so I could make thier burgers personalized.  Then each part of the meal was served with Mickey D's paraphernilia.  First was a small starter salad and the girls could take some breaded chicken from the chicken nuggests box to add to it.  Next were the fries spilling out of the little bag, and last but not least were the burgers, all wrapped up and served with thier tickets.  My friends loved the little details and although I don't really enjoy cooking, everything turned out tasty.  I guess it's in my blood - as an American I have to be able to make a decent cheeseburger, don't I?

While I didn't dabble in American desserts, we did do soemthing quite American afterwards - cookie decorating.  The girls loved it and had a fun time decorating the little gingerbread men, mittens and other shapes, which none of them had done before.  With Christmas tunes in the background and the tree lit, it could have really been mistaken for an American house, minus the fact that we were speaking in Spanish, but I give myself a little pat on the back for having a REAL American dinner!


Friday, December 16, 2011

The secret family cookie

While not properly celebrating Christmas in the last few years, I decided that as our first year living together, having Christmas, etc, I should start bringing back some traditions so that they will live on and on in our lives.  And when I say celebrating properly, I basically mean doing the things my family does...which to me is proper haha.  This would include listening to Christmas music from the day after Thanksgiving, wrapping presents with care and bows, decorating the tree while feeling jolly, and of course, making cookies. 

Seeing as I had never made sugar cookies before, I have only one idea of them in my head - my cousin Joni's that she brings to every Christmas family reunion.  They are to die for.  She always makes them in the shapes of wreaths and decorates them all cute, and each time you eat one, you just HAVE to have another.  For me, biting into that cookie is like tasting Christmas, and I wanted to bring that feeling to my home.  My in-laws already think I am a bit crazy for all the baking I do, so whats another batch of cookies to throw me overboard?

I got in contact with Joni and GASP found out that the recipe that I had always thought was a highly guarded family secret turned out to be Ms. Betty Crocker herself!  Betty Crocker knows...  Evenmore, she uses the icing from the plastic tubs!  I was at a loss - I have no Betty Crocker cookbook here, nor do Spanish grocery stores selling icing let alone know what it is.  In reconnaissance mode, I got the recipe sent to me for both and set out to make them.  Cookie cutters here are also a long shot, so my friend Cassie sent me adorable ones from the other side of the ocean, so I was all set...or so I thought.

I gathered together all the ingredients and thought you might get a kick of seeing the different packaging of all the stuff.  The only thing I couldn't manage to find was almond flavoring.  I'll get over it, and it was only a half a teaspoon anyways.  Last Sunday afternoon with the carols blaring I got started only to realize when the mass was mixed and ready to roll out that oops I have no rolling pin.  These are things that never used to cross my mind when I wanted to bake something,  but now I need to double check everytime I want to make something!  I tried to fashion one out of the paper towel roll covered with flour but that was quite unsuccessful.  In the end I just kneaded it and then pushed it with my hands, so my cookies turned out a bit lumpy, but tasty I will admit. 

After drying I whipped up some buttercream icing and got to frosting.  When Joseba came home he  couldn't help but laugh.  He had walked in at the exact moment I was putting suspenders on the little gingerbread shaped man I was frosting.  He did admit that he was very cute and even helped me frost a cookie :) 

I've taken them to work and to our family dinner last week and every agrees they are a hit, which I knew would happen - they are delicious, not because of me...mostly because of Betty!  I  highly recommend her cookies to anyone who hasn't made Christmas cookies yet!  Christmas is just around the corner and these will make you feel oh-so-festive.  Tonight some girlfriends are coming over and we are going to do a little decorating party - spreading my Christmas cheer, and I hope you catch it too!


Sunday, December 11, 2011

Put a little Basque in your holiday (Part 2)

Now that you know a bit about this coal-mining mean man who I guess is kinda like a Santa Claus too, we move onto the next step of Basqueing up your holiday.  No festive season is complete without jolly tunes, so, here we go.

This song is a mix of the two popular Olenztero songs - Olentzero and Olentzero Big Head.  This is a mix of many singers that aired on EITB, the Basque TV channel here and I think it's quite catchy.  Here you can read along with the lyrics (translated too, thanks to Wikipedia)

Olentzero joan zaigu,              Olentzero has gone
mendira lanera                        to the mountains to work
intentzioarekin                        with the intention
ikatz egitera.                          of making charcoal.
Aditu duenean                        When he heard
Jesus jaio dala                        that Jesus has been born
lasterka etorri da                     he came running
berria ematera.                        to bring news

Horra horra                             There is, there is
gure Olentzero                        our Olentzero
pipa hortzian duela                  with the pipe between his teeth
eserita dago.                           he sits.
Kapoiak ere baitu                    He also has capons
arrautzatxoekin                       with little eggs,
bihar merendatzeko                 to celebrate tomorrow
botila ardoakin                        with a bottle of wine.

Olentzero, buru handia              Olentzero big head
entendimentuz jantzia,              robed in understanding
bart arratsean edan omen du      is said to have drunk last night
bost arroako zahagia.                a wineskin of five arrobas
Bai urde tripa handia!                 Oh big-bellied pig!
trala la la la, trala la lala             Tralaralala, tralaralala.
Bai urde tripa handia!                 Oh big-bellied pig!
trala la la la,la la lala                  Tralaralala, tralaralala.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Put a little Basque in your holiday

As my first Christmas married to a Basque man,  I have a new found interest in the Basque Christmas traditions.  As you might remember from my blogs during previous holiday seasons, the Basques don't really celebrate Christmas with Santa Claus per se, but instead thier own version of him, a coalman named Olentzero.  I knew that Olentzero came down from his home on the mountain at the end of the year to bring kids presents and such, but really had no idea where this whole idea came from and decided to do a little research.  This idea of a jolly, old man can vary greatly from village to village.  Joseba, for example, grew up thinking of Olentzero as a harsh country man who came down from the mountain only bearing one gift - coal - for the bad kids.  With a coal-stained face and normally a drink in his hand a pipe in his mouth, this is also a very accepted image of him.  Below, you will find the tale of Olentzero and how he came to be a Santa Claus like figure here.  It's originally written in Basque (of course) and I found this translated version on, so if some of the wording seems off, I pre-apologize.  Enjoy!

Olentzero: Izena duan guztia omen da (everything that has a name exists)

A long time ago, in the deep forests of the Basque Country, lived a very beautiful fairy. Her hair was golden like the sky and her eyes shone of all fires. Like all the fairies, she took care of people and was always accompanied by amusing small creatures, Prakagorris who helped her in her work.
One day when she was walking across the mountains, she stopped near a fountain to brush her hair. Suddenly, the Prakagorris noticed that something moved inside the bushes.
The fairy continued to brush her curly hair and did not notice the movement in the bushes until the cries of Prakagorris..
"It is a baby " said the older goblin.
"Why did they leave it there?" asked the group of Prakagorris
"I do not know" said the fairy "it is difficult to understand why men are so cruel sometimes."
"From now on” said the fairy to the baby "you will be called Olentzero, because it is wonderful to have found you. And I also give you the gifts of Strength, Courage and Love as a long time as you will live."
The fairy then took the baby and brought it towards an old house on the border of the forest where lived a couple without children. "They will be very, very happy to receive this child and will take good care of him" says the fairy and she left the little boy in front of their door.
Very early the next morning, when the sun just starts to rise, the man came out of the house to go to milk the cows. He was very surprised to see the baby and called his wife: Darling, quickly come to see what I found ".
As the fairy predicted, they were very happy to receive the child. "What luck we have" said the woman who immediately covered the small boy with a warm blanket. They fed him and took him as their son. This is how Olentzero grows up in these beautiful mountains. His parents were very happy and did not worry about his origins as he grew to be a pleasant man, strong and in good health
Olentzero worked hard every day, from sunrise to sundown to help his aging father.
After many happy years, Olentzero’s parents passed on, leaving him alone.
The years passed, his face wrinkled and his hair turned white. Living in solitude made him sad and he realized that he needed to help people in need. He remembered a house in the village where orphans lived on what the passers by gave them. He realized that these children, just like he, were very alone and that he could make them happy.
Olentzero was very intelligent and very gifted with his hands. So he made toys out of wood that he would give to the children when he went to town to sell his harvest. When he had finished these toys, he put them in a large bag, loaded up his donkey and left for the village. He felt very happy that day and his eyes shone of joy.

He traveled an entire morning across the mountains to reach the village. The little children at the village were very happy with the toys he offered to them and Olentzero spent the entire afternoon playing with them and telling them the stories that his father told him when he was young.
The orphans adored Olentzero and after this marvellous day, they did not feel so alone anymore. Since then, Olentzero was very well known in the village. As soon as he arrived, it was surrounded by the children.
This lasted for many a beautiful years but one day, a terrible storm hit the village and the mountains, causing a lot of damage. The strong and cold winds and the thunder frightened and upset the inhabitants, and in particular the children.

One day, when Olentzero returned to the village, he saw lightning striking a house. He ran quickly towards the house and saw terrified children by a window. Without hesitating, he entered the house in flames, protected the children from fire with a blanket and made them leave the blazing inferno, by a window on the second floor. But as he tried to leave, a huge old beam fell from the ceiling and landed on top of him. Olentzero fell with pain and his beautiful and strong heart stopped.
People cried when they saw the house in flames and what had happened. They realized that they could do anything more.
It was then when suddenly a bright light appeared to them coming from the inferno.
Nobody could see what was happening but inside, the fairy who had found Olentzero as a baby, appeared close to him and started to call his name with her soft voice: "Olentzero! Olentzero!".
She said: "Olentzero, you were a good man, loyal and loving. You dedicated your life to the service of others, and you even gave your life to save your neighbor. I do not want that you die. I want that you live forever. From now on, you will make toys and other gifts for the orphans of this village and all the Basque Country."
"And we will help you" shouted the Prakagorris, fluttering around Olentzero. And thus in the middle of each winter, at the end of the year, Olentzero would visit each city of the Basque Country bringing gifts and toys to the children without any family. All the children celebrated the arrival of Olentzero by singing him songs and by spreading his message of love, strength and courage.
Some people do not believe Olentzero existed. But an old Basque proverb states:
“that everything that has a name exists, if we believe it does.”

Friday, December 9, 2011

In with the new

Hello everyone.  Just a quick post to let you know I uploaded some more photos in the Travel Shots tab.  I have been quite behind and will continue to add photos, but in case you want to see photos about one particular country, there they are.

Also, have added a search function on the top right hand corner of the blog.  I realized that soon I will be writing about the Basque Santa Claus, Olentzero, and that it will be the 4th time I have mentioned him.  The past few years I have touched upon who he is and all but this year, spending it in Basque Country will probably flesh him out a bit more, but if you're curious for my other Christmas blogs, you just do a keyword search!  Or about whatever you want - a specific country, a holiday, etc.

As always, thanks for reading and muxu!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An American Trapped in Spain at Christmas

This holiday season marks the 4th outside of the USA and now my second in Basque Country (first two were Belgium and Scotland).  And, this year, since we have our own house and all, I decided to try and bring a little American Christmas spirit to our Basquey house.  I had mentioned to Joseba that I would be decorating the house on Monday, as I had a day off from work and he didn't.  The Basques don't decorate to the nines like we Americans do, so I think he was a bit curious as to what he would come home to.

As I was decorating the house I started to question how I could have went 4 years without sprucing my apartments up for the holidays.  How could it be possible, me the super Christmas lover, to have went so much time without all that Christmas cheer?  And then I got to thinking about other things that I have become accustomed to here that don't phase me much anymore but would give some of you a good laugh if you witnessed me do them.  On the expat website I look at from time to time, I found a list called 'You know you've lived in Spain when...' and here are a few of the funny ones that I known I relate to:
 - You think not giving everyone dos besos (two kisses) when you first see them is rude.
 - You answer your phone by saying 'Si?' - aka 'Yes?'.  None of that 'hello' business here.
 - You don't even consider having a dryer and instead hang your clothes out on the line.
 - You can't imagine eating a meal without bread.  How will the food get to your mouth?!
 - You say goodbye atleast a dozen times before actually leaving anywhere.  This one I can't stand!
 - You know someone named Jesus, María Jesus, María José and Angel.
 - You forget to say please when you ask for something.  It's implied in your tone right?

Eventhough, maybe yes, I am turning into a local, I still can't imagine a Christmas without the following: a tree (numero uno without a doubt), Christmas carols and Christmas sweets.  So, I decided to get back to my roots on Monday and that I did.  I started out with the tree search.  Here cutting down your own Christmas tree is something from 'the American movies' and is not done.  Maybe if you're lucky you can find one at the grocery store, but it's going to be quite mangey, so I did a very disrespectable thing in my home state, I bought a fake one.  And never have I been so delighted to have a plastic, non-fir smelling tree in my home.  Next were lights and balls.  I had this amazing idea when I started travelling to buy a Christmas ornament from each country I had been to so that one day they would decorate my tree and I could tell my kids and grandkids about all my crazy travels when I was young.  Great idea in thought, but all of those ornaments are in a box in the US now and I am here.  So, the China Store (basically a dollar store run by Chinese people) came to the rescue with some simple but pretty red balls and a couple golden stars and random ornaments.  The strangest thing about the Chinese purchases were the lights.  Normally a strand of lights is what you expect when you  buy Christmas lights, but these ones, maybe its a Euro thing or maybe its because they were so cheap, are essentially a circle of lights.  There is no end or beginning and so putting them on the tree was a challenge to say the least.

With the tree 'trimmed' I moved onto the little decorations around the house.  I bought a bit of decorative tree streamers (I don't know what they are called) to sit on our bookshelves and offset the golden pinecones and red and glittery ornament candles I bought.  The Christmas cards that have arrived went up on the door with a ribbon and the poinzetta flower on the dining room table.  My friend Cassie just sent me a box with an adorable advent calendar where you move a little candy-cane up the tree, changing ornaments each day until Christmas, so that is prominently on the wall and Joseba laughs each morning as I switch the candycane's spot.  And with two presents wrapped and sitting until the tree, I decided to move on to the baking part of my Christmas festivities.

I am planning on making sugar cookies to decorate all holiday-like next weekend but just couldn't let this day pass without some delicious smell coming from the oven, so decided on banana muffins with a touch of Christmas colored sprinkles to top them off (thanks again Cassie!).

When Joseba came home he immediatley smelled the muffins a-baking and was also quite shocked to see the tree.  Turns out, he, knowing my affinity for Christmas, had just bought one at a shop next door.  What a sweetheart.  He added some of the ornaments he'd bought to the already decorated tree and then we enjoyed a muffin to ring in the holiday season.

So, no matter how long I stay here, my Christmas is always going to maintain quite a bit of Americanness.  Heck, who knows, maybe next year I'll even try my luck at a gingerbread house!  I hope all of your Decembers are off to a jolly start too. 


Holiday Uncelebrated

Today, after waking up at 10am and sipping coffee on the couch for awhile, I was quite happy that today was a holiday and I didn't have to go to work.  However, with this national Constitution Day, there will be no parades or celebrations in Basque Country.  Basically, people just shut down because it is a national holiday, but in Basque Country the day really doesn't signify much.  To understand why people wouldn't want to celebrate a day that the Spanish Constitution declared the country a democracy, only in 1978, we need to take a look much further back.

As most of you know, Basque Country would like it's independance back.  Being a community long before the country Spain even existed, the Basques enjoyed thier freedom and ruled thier lands with fueros, a sort of self-governing set of laws.  These laws were respected and worked for the Basques while they were part of the Kindgom of Navarre (the Kingdom they were part of before being joined with Spain).  However, in the early 19th century, liberalism came to Spain and started creating problems between the country and Euskal Herria (Basque Country in Euskera).  Some Basques accepted the changes and figured they could cooperate with the new Spanish ways, whereas other Basques staunchly wanted to maintain a distance and have thier language, race and culture distinguished from the Spanish.  With the Civil War brewing the latter group formed the Basque National Party and joined forces with many other groups (Catalunya Nationalists, Socialists, Anarchists, etc) to fight against the military who didn't agree with sovereignty for the Basque Country.  The Civil War soon brought about Franco as a dictator and hope for a free Basque Country was squandered even more.  Supported by a few countries (USA included), Franco reigned over Spain for many years and in tried to create national homogenity.  From this we have the idea of bullfighting and flamenco dancing as very Spanish, while in fact they are only practiced in certain parts of the country.  Basque language and culture, obviously drastically different from the Spanish mold were banned under Franco.  From this supression grew the group ETA, which I am sure you have heard about in the news (more on that in a different blog - its a heavy subject).

After Franco's time the country became a democracy, but as you can expect after so many years of bad treatment, the Basques weren't so keen on swallowing all that Spain offered them.  The current Constitution lists Basque Country as an autonomous community, which is more or less like a state for us.  Within thier own automous community, the Basques have the right to control thier own schools, universities, health care, social services, urban and rural development and culture.  They are also granted the right to have thier own police force (Ertzaintza).  That aside, the Basques would like to be able to determine thier own relationship with Spain - basically they want the right to decide thier own independance.  For hundreds of years, the Basques lived alongside or in the Kingdoms that eventually became Spain, and during all of that time thier own fueros were respected along with the right to succeed if they chose to do so.  The current Constitutuion does not honor this right and for that reason and more, it isn't so highly celebrated here.  When it was being voted in, the Basque National Party urged people to abstain from voting.  With more than 50% of the residents abstaining from voting in Euskal Herria, they Basques don't feel tied to a Constitution that doesn't take into account thier input nor that they never endorsed.

So, while I have the day off, here it is not really a day for streamers and music.  I'm not one to complain for a sofa day though, gives me a little time to write to you guys.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Say what?

Working with kids, I am suprisingly learning things that you don't technically learn when you learn a new language.  From nursery rhymes to baby talk, what I find most funny is the difference in how the animal sounds are from our country to thiers.  Just jumping across the pond, dogs speak another language and cats spell thier meows differently.  It got me to thinking about how different people's onomatopoeias (the grammatical word for sound effects) around the world are.  And today I am going to share some of the most common ones that make me laugh on a daily basis. 

Let's start with animals, as these ones I know by heart.  To us, a dog can saw bow-wow or ruff ruff, but in Spain he says gaua gaua.  His best friend the kitty cat talks to us with a meow and while spelled differently here, the feline language doesn't change too much between the countries - here it is miau.  Birds though, maybe because of thier migratory patterns, change thier calls drastically between the two lands.  A robin or a bluebird might tweet whereas here they only pio pio.  On the topic of feathered friends comes a favorite of mine - the rooster who as every American knows says cock a doodle doo no?  Here, they squak out a quiquiriqui.  If you showed me that and didn't give me the hint that it was an animal sound, I wouldn't have the slightest idea of what you were talking about.  A few more funny ones I think you might like to try and pronounce are:
 - An American cows says moo much like a Spanish one that says muu (an easy one to start)
 - A crow caws in the States whereas in Spain it cuas
 - An American frog ribbits but in Spain he croacs, which I guess an American frog can do too (croak).  Regardless, in both countries, if you kiss it, it WILL turn into a prince (príncipe in Spanish)
 - Both Spanish and American pigs lived on Old MacDonald's farm when they said oinc and oink.

But once we get off animal sounds, we can also start to think about the hundreds of other onomatopoeias that we use on a daily basis to describe things happening around us.  If someone comes to your door they knock knock but here they toc toc.  If you're driving down the road and make a bonehead move, someone might honk thier horn at you - giving off a beep beep sound (and maybe even give you the finger), but here you just get a pip pip.  If your offense is bad enough the cops might come after you and put thier sirens on to the tune of a wee-woo but here the policía speed around blaring a nino-nino.  I don't know which is better...probably neither.

Besides every day sounds, actions as well strike different chords in our different languages.  Your baby crying says wahhhh  but our neighbor's baby says buááá.  While residents of both countries like food in the States we say yum yum and here it is ñam ñam.  I imagine a mother-in-law would be offended if you said yum  here haha!  The best though, and used by me on a daily basis in messages to my friends is the laughing sound.  If I email an American friend I'd type hahaha or hehehe but here my friends type me jajajaja or jejejeje.  If I'm lazy one day, you might get the wrong laugh in a message from me.  I pre-apologize. 

Upon hearing most of these, you wouldn't give them a second thought, but when you see them they kind of take your head for a spin.  But this is nothing new.  The word itself, onomatopoeia, can be traced back to the same word in Greek.  Onoma (name) + poeiía (maker) - was the original compound word, giving us the clue that even Zues might have exclaimed that his thunderbolts crashed.  Gaining more and more use, onomatopoeias became very prevalent in American culture with thier usage in comic books and advertising.  From the BAMs and BOOMs of action figures to the 'plop plop fizz fizz' of the Alka-Seltzer campaign, I bet you use them on a daily basis without even noticing!

Probably the most important sound effect though and quite similar all over the world is the sound of a kiss.  To us, muak is the sound and here it is almost the same muac.  This is almost the same as the Arabic (mwa), German (muah),  Indonesian (muahh) or Persian (mua) versions.  Our other onomatopoeia for a kiss is smooch which goes along well with the Dutch (smak), French (smack), Norwegian (smask), and Portuguese (smac) expressions. 

So with that in mind,
Muxu! (or muak, smooch, muac and more)