False Friends

What an unbelievable coincidence!

Not only do Poland and Indonesia have exactly the opposite meaning for this word, their flags are opposites as well!

Words in different languages that look or sound similar but differ significantly in meaning are called “false friends.” Words like these can lead to miscommunications with speakers of other languages that are weird, confusing, and hilarious.

The Spanish word embarazada is another good example of a false friend.  Embarazada sounds very close to the English word embarrassed, but actually means pregnant. Many Spanish students will come across this “friend” at some point. Even professionals can miss it sometimes-  this mistake was made by a pen company whose Spanish advertisements for ballpoint pens translated to: “It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.”

German and English in particular have a ton of language frienemies to watch out for.

Several English words with very different German meanings:

bald – soon

herb – bitter, harsh;

fast- almost

Mist – dung

Gift – poison

Croatian Children’s Stories – Croatian Culture for kids

Popular children’s stories in Croatia are those written by the Grimm brothers – Cinderella, Hans and Gretel, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Little Red Riding Hood, and so on.

Hans Christian Andersen stories are told to little children. The Ugly Duckling, The Princes and the Pea, and others are favorites.

Croatian children’s stories by Croatian writers are very popular, too. One of the most famous Croatian children stories’ writers is Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić. She has a book of short stories. The book is called The Stories from Long Ago. The best story from the collection is Stribor’s Forest.

The story is about a magic forest. A man went into the forest to cut wood, and there he found a beautiful snake. He was a good soul, but the snake was an enchanted and evil woman. She saw that the man was good and she turned into a beautiful girl.

A good man liked her, but he was naïve, as well. They got married. The man lived with his old mother. The snake-woman still had a snake tongue in her mouth. The Man’s mother saw that and warned her son. He got scared and started hating his mother. He thought she was a witch because she knew that and nobody told her.

The snake-woman was constantly trying to get rid of the mother. She sent the mother on a high mountain to get her fresh snow, so the snake-woman could wash her face in the morning. She was hoping the mother would die on the mountain, but the mother survived.

Next, the snake-woman sent the mother on the lake with thin ice to catch her fish for lunch. Mother survived that, too.

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When mother wanted to sew her son’s shirt, the snake-woman wouldn’t let her. Mother went in front of the house and cried. While she was crying, a poor young girl with sticks for fire came. She tried to sell the sticks to the mother. Mother sewed her ripped sleeve instead of paying for the sticks.

The son and the snake-woman went to neighbor’s house for a visit, and the snake-woman told the mother to heat up some water while she comes back. Mother started the fire with the sticks she bought from the poor girl. She heard crackling noises. They were the Homenies (Domaći) – little spirits. They were cheerful and started dancing. The mother forgot about her sorrow for a while and danced with them.

But, the Domaći felt her sadness. She told them about her daughter-in-law. The brightest of Domaći, named Malik Tintilinić, had an idea. They promised to bring magpie eggs to the old mother. When the little birds would come out of the egg, snake-woman wouldn’t resist. She would show her tongue to the son. They brought the eggs and put them under the chicken.

The snake-woman wanted to brag to the whole village how she has little chickens for Christmas, when nobody else does. When the little magpies hatched, the snake-woman couldn’t resist and wanted to eat them. The whole village saw her snake tongue.

Instead of kicking the snake-woman out of the house, the son got angry at mother. He told her she was a witch – how else would she get magpie eggs this time of year?

When mother left the house, the darkness fell. The son realized he made a mistake, but was too afraid of his wife. So, he pretended to be evil. He told his wife they should go and see how mother dies in the forest because of the cold.

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Mother was walking through the snow. She got tired and started the fire with those sticks she bought from the poor girl. Once again, Domaći came out of the fire. They decided to help the old woman. Malik called for a deer and 12 squirrels, because there were 12 Domaći spirits.

They all went to Stribor, the magical forest head. The snake-woman and the son followed. The snake-woman saw it was the magical forest, but instead of being scared, she was happy thinking the old woman will die there.

Stribor had a solution for the old woman. He told her he could let her go to her village, where she grew up. If she clapped her hands, she would become young again. She would also forget all about her son. But, the old woman couldn’t do that. She preferred being unhappy and knowing she had a son, then being young and happy and forget all about her son. The magical forest would disappear if there was a person who preferred her sadness than all the happiness in the world. When the old woman decided to refuse Stribor’s offer, the magic disappeared. The snake-woman turned into a snake again.

The son and the mother made peace. The son later married the poor girl who sold the mother those sticks for fire. Malik Tintilinić would visit them every winter night, and everyone lived happily ever after.

Here is a cartoon where you can see the story:

Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić also wrote a novel about Hlapić, the shoemaker Apprentice, and his adventures.

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Croatian Travel Destinations – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatia has many beautiful places that are worth a visit.

Even though Croatia is a small country, it has seven national parks. These are parts of nature that are protected from harm by law.

The oldest national park is Plitvice, or Plitvička jezera (Plitvice lakes). They are made from 16 wonderful lakes.

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The Source: Google search for images “Nacionalni park Plitvička jezera”

Near the Plitvice lakes there is another national park, the mountain Risnjak. It is a beautiful place full of natural wonders.

The Source: Google image search for “NP Risnjak”

National park Risnjak is not the only mountain that is protected. There is also Northern Velebit. It’s a part of the longest mountain in Croatia. There is a kind of a flower that grows only there, and nowhere else in the world.

The Source: Google search for images “Nacionalni park Sjeverni Velebit”, and “Velebitska degenija”

The mountain Velebit faces the sea, and a bit further in the sea there is a national park Kornati. Kornati are islands in the part of the Adriatic Sea that belongs to Croatia. Kornati are rocky islands that are beautiful, but not full of life.

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The Source: Google search for images “Kornati”

There is another island that is a national park, and that is the island of Mljet. Mljet is an island covered with forest and full of life.

The Source: Google search for images “NP Mljet”

National park Waterfalls of Krka is based on the river Krka and its beautiful waterfalls.

The Source: Google image search for “NP Krka”

These national parks are all based in the part of Croatia near the sea. There is only one national park in the continental part of Croatia. It’s a swamp area called Kopački rit. It is full of life. There are many kinds of birds living there, deer and doe, fish and many other animals.

The Source: Google image search “NP Kopački rit”

Beside national parks, there are many other places to visit as well.

Cities on the coast side of Croatia are pretty with their thousands of years old churches and old houses. For example, there is an old Roman Empire Arena in a city of Pula. It is about 2,000 years old. You can go inside and see how where the gladiators fought. Today, concerts take place there.

If you like continent and green nature better than sea, Croatia has many mountains, hills, and plains to offer. There are old castles you can visit.

The plain of Slavonija is known for its golden fields of wheat.

If you love science, you will want to visit the Museum of Nikola Tesla. He is a Croatian who lived in USA for more than a half of his life. He is one of the greatest scientists, but he is not as famous as some others are because he didn’t like to be in the center of attention. He invented radio, radar, X-rays, robots, but others took credit for those things.

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Croatian Cuisine and Traditional Foods – Croatian Culture for kids

Each part of Croatia has a different cuisine. You can taste something new every day.

Croatian people have three main meals in the day. Breakfast is light. People drink coffee, tea, or chocolate milk, and eat bread with jam.

Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. It usually has a soup, meat with vegetables prepared in different ways, and a salad. Salad is made of greens with a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of oil and vinegar in the spring and summer, or pickled vegetables during the winter.

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Dinner is usually made of leftovers from lunch. If not, people cut dry sausages and cheese.

Croatian people really like eating bread, and they can eat it with almost anything. Old people can even eat bread when they eat fruits like oranges, figs, or grapes. Bread is often home-made, but sometimes people buy it from bakery shops.

Sea parts of Croatia eat a lot of fish and seafood like mussels, octopus, and calamari with olive oil, and vegetables. It’s called Mediterranean cuisine, and it’s very healthy and delicious. A lot of people are fishermen. They use their little boats called “barka” to go out to the sea and throw their fish nets to catch fish.

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People who live next to the sea say that a fish swims three times. The first time, it’s in the sea. The second time, it’s in the oil when it’s grilled. The third time, it is in wine that you drink when eating it.

Fish plate with fish, mussels, calamari, Swiss chard with potatoes shown above.

A way of preparing food under the metal top covered with hot ember is very popular. They often prepare young lamb or veal with potatoes, or octopus with potatoes this way.

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Cheese made from sheep milk and “pršut” (prosciutto) are very popular, and they taste delicious.

In the continental parts of Croatia, more heavy and spicy food is popular. “Kulen” is a spicy kind of a sausage that people like to eat.

Pork is a favorite kind of meat in continental parts of Croatia. There are many foods prepared from it.

Besides meat, pasta dishes are popular here. “Štrukli” is a meal made of pasta filled with cheese. “Štrukli” are prepared in many ways. They can be cooked in a soup or baked like a cake.

A kind of a stew called “paprikaš” with fish or meat is cooked with red pepper. Pepper gives it a spicy taste.

“Sarma” is a meal made from minced meat rolled in sour cabbage leaf. It is cooked in a soup with tomato sauce, and served with mashed potatoes.

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Apple strudel, berries strudel, cheese strudel and other kinds of strudel are a part of Croatian cuisine. “Krempite” (cream pies) are cakes with vanilla and egg cream and they are one of the most popular cakes in Croatia.

Traditional Croatian Music and Musical Instruments – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatians are a proud people who love their history. We said that they like to be in folk clubs and societies. In these clubs, they dress like people used to dress in villages. They sing old songs and dance like people used to.

The folk tradition is different in different parts of Croatia.

The part of Croatia next to the sea is called Dalmatia, Istria, and Kvaerner. If you have watched 101 Dalmatians, you could see cute white dogs with black spots. They come from Dalmatia, so they got their name.


In parts of Croatia next to the sea, traditional music has a few different types. There is a “klapa”. “Klapa” is a group of men who sing songs in groups, and there are no instruments. “Klapa” groups sing about sea, living next to sea, or about love.

They usually wear white shirts, black pants, and a red fabric belt.

In modern times, “klapa” groups started using modern instruments, and there are women “klapa” as well.

A part of Croatia with plains is called Slavonija. Parts of Croatia with mountains and hills are called Zagorje, Međimurje, even Lika. All of these have similar folk clubs and instruments, but they are still different from one place to the other. When they dance, a lot of people stand into the circle called “kolo”. They hold each other’s hand, or hold each other around the waist, and dance in circles while singing.

While they are singing and dancing, other people play instruments like “tamburica” .

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“Gajde”, similar to the instrument played in Scottish traditional music:

Or “diple”, similar to flute:

What should I wear? Croatian Fashion and Traditional Clothing – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatian people used to wear traditional clothes. Women wore dresses, and men wore shirts and pants. If they lived in a village, they usually wore white clothes made from rough fabrics.

They would decorate it with hand-made patterns, lace (Pag lace), or golden buttons (dukati). Women sometimes had complicated hair-dos.

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It is interesting that a tie is a Croatian invention. In the past, Croatian soldiers wore their neck pieces tied in a special way. In some languages, tie is called kravat, kravatta, corbata. All those names come from the name Croatian.

Today, people wear modern clothes like anywhere else. They wear jeans, shirts, dresses, sneakers, boots and so on.

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Croatian Etiquette: Proper Behavior and Manners – Croatian Culture for kids


Croatian people are very friendly. When you meet someone who is Croatian for the first time, you shake hands with him or her and look them in the eye. When you become friends with them, you can kiss girls quickly on each cheek one time, or hug boys and pat them on the back.

The Croatian people like to spend time together. They go to each other houses and have dinners together. They talk a lot while they’re eating. Usually they are making jokes and talking very loudly.

Croatian people like playing cards. Popular games are called “briškula”, “trešet”, or “bela”.

Sometimes, they will even sing traditional songs.

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When you want to talk to someone you don’t know well, you call them “Gospođice” (Miss), or “Gospođo” (Mrs.) and their last name. Mr. is “Gospodine” and his last name, for example, Gospodine Jones.

When you leave, you can say “Zbogom” which means goodbye. See you later is “doviđenja”. Some people even say “Ciao”, like Italians.

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Common Croatian Words and Phrases – Croatian Culture for kids

Croatian seems like a hard language to learn, but it’s not really. It’s easy to read because each letter is always read the same way.

When you are in Croatia, there are some common words and phrases you can use to get around, and they’re not too difficult to learn.

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Greeting people depends on the time of the day. Before noon, you say “Dobro jutro”. Between noon and evening, you say, “Dobar dan”, and when the night falls, you say “Dobra večer”.

When you want to ask someone how he or she is doing, you ask “Kako si?” They can say they’re okay, “Dobro sam”.

When you give someone a book, for example, you can say here you go, or “Izvolite”. They will answer with “Hvala”, and that means thank you. “Nema na čemu” means you’re welcome.

When someone sneezes, you tell them “Nazdravlje!”

When you want to wish someone to enjoy their meal, you say “Dobar tek”.

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If you want to apologize to something, you can say “Oprostite”, but most Croatian people will understand sorry as well. They watch a lot of American movies, so they started saying sorry instead of “Oprostite” even to each other.

Yes is “Da”, and no means “Ne”. When you want to say please in Croatian, you say “Molim”.

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Say ” Happy Birthday” in a different language


Chinese – 生日快乐 – Shēngrì kuàilè

German – Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Geburtstag

Japanese – お誕生日おめでとうございます – Otanjōbiomedetōgozaimasu

Dutch – gelukkige verjaardag

Arabic – عيد ميلاد سعيد

Czech – všechno nejlepší k narozeninám

Greek – χαρούμενα γενέθλια – charoúmena genéthlia

Finnish – Hyvää syntymäpäivää

Turkish – Mutlu yıllar

French – joyeux anniversaire

Hebrew – יום הולדת שמח

Polish – z okazji urodzin

Hindi – जन्मदिन की शुभकामनाएँ – Janmadina kī śubhakāmanā’ēm


Italian – Compleanno felice

Korean – 생일 축하합니다  – saeng-il chughahabnida

Japanese – お誕生日おめでとうございます – Otanjōbiomedetōgozaimasu

Portuguese – feliz aniversário

Spanish – feliz cumpleaños

Swedish – Grattis på födelsedagen

Romanian – fericit ziua de naştere

Norwegian – Gratulerer med dagen

Vietnamese – Chúc mừng sinh nhật

Ukranian – днем народження – dnem narodzhennya

Urdu – سالگِرہ مبارک – salgirah mubarak

Thai – สุขสันต์วันเกิด – sook sun wan gerd

Malay – Selamat hari lahir

Latin – Felix dies natalis

Language learning for kids

Popular Children’s Literature of Italy

–          Aesop’s Fables (Dover Children’s Thrift Classics):

(Author- Aesop, Pat Stewart) Ages 4 to 8

–          The Adventures of Pinocchio: The Story of a Puppet:

(Author- Carlo Collodi, Iassen Ghiuselev)  Ages 9 to 12

–          Pompeii:

(Author- Peter Connolly) Ages 9 to 12

–          The Buried City of Pompeii: What It Was Like When Vesuvius Exploded (I Was There):

(Author: Shelley Tanaka, Greg Ruhl)

            Ages  9 to 12

–          Vulca the Etruscan (Journey Through Time Series):

(Author: Roberta Angeletti, Beatrice Masini) Ages 8 to 12

–          Leonardo and the Flying Boy:

(Author: Laurence Anholt) Ages 8 to 14

–          Bravo, Zan Angelo!: A Commedia Dell’Arte Tale With Story & Pictures:

(Author: Niki Daly) Age 10+

–          The Legend of Old Befana:

(Author: Tomie De Paola) Ages 4 to 10

–           Big Anthony: His Story:

(Author: Tomie De Paola) Ages 4 to 8

–          Opera Cat:

(Author: Tess Weaver, Andrea Wesson) Ages 4 to 8

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