Christmas traditions: Saint Nicholas in Poland and the Three Kings in Spain

December 6th is a special day for all Polish children because it is the day when Saint Nicholas (Święty Mikołaj) comes bringing gifts to them. He knows exactly what their wishes are. To avoid being disappointed on the morning of his arrival, children send him letters describing in detail what they wish for. There is a common saying in Poland, St. Nicholas will only visit those who have been good throughout the year.

image of St Nicholas in Sina

A 13th-century depiction of St. Nicholas from Saint Catherine’s Monastery, in Mount Sinai. Source: Wikipedia.

However, why is St. Nicholas not visiting the Spanish houses on December 6? Is it a kind of punishment for bad behaviour or is it just because of lack of time?

Spanish children will receive their gifts, but not on December 6th, and certainly not on December 25th.

Although the Anglo-Saxon custom of giving presents on December 25th is becoming increasingly popular in Spain, the day that has always been considered dedicated to Spanish children is January 6th, a month later than in Poland.

Three Kings vs. Santa

Despite Santa is gaining popularity in Spain, the Three Kings are still the favourites for Spaniard children.

January 6th is a Christmas-related celebration that is, in fact, part of Biblical history. The Three Kings Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar, the “Kings of the East” (aka The Magi or The Three Wise Men), who, more than 2,000 years ago, gave baby Jesus gold, incense and myrrh, have not suffered from high unemployment rates due to the economic recession. They are still in charge of the important task of bringing gifts to little Spaniards.

According to tradition, those who have misbehaved last year will receive coal – which, by the way, is a sweet that is visually similar to coal but prepared with sugar and water with a black alimentary dye.

Some people also give it to good children as a warning so they know what can happen if next year they do not behave properly.

In Poland, January 6th is more a Catholic celebration, during which Polish people participate in the afternoon mass to bless their homes and have them protected against bad things. They usually write with chalk on the door “C + M + B = (and the current year)”. The letters here are an abbreviation of the Latin phrase Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “May Jesus Christ bless this house”.

Another version relates those three letters with the initials of the names of three kings (Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar), but there is no special celebration.

In Spain, they do celebrate the arrival of the Three Kings (Reyes Magos). During the weeks before January 6th, children prepare their letters to the Three Kings, and they give them in person to their assistants (pajes). On January 5th in the evening, the Three Kings arrive in the Spanish cities on a traditional parade called the cavalcades (cabalgata). Together with their assistants, they throw sweets into the crowd of children that are watching them on the street, and you can see the tonnes of gifts on their floats, including all the toys children asked for on their letters. On the night of January 5th, children clean their shoes to proof that they have been good children and leave milk and food for the Kings and their camels so that they can have a snack on such a busy night.

The Cabalgata de Reyes Magos celebrated on January 5th in Alcoy (Alicante, Spain) is considered to be the oldest in Spain and perhaps the oldest in the world. In the picture below, you can see a cabalgata in Churra, Murcia, back in 1956.

cabalgata in Churra, Murcia, Spain

Cabalgata de los Reyes Magos in Churra, Murcia, in 1956. Source: Wikipedia

Modern times brought us colourful cavalcades, like this one in Malaga.

cavalcades in Malaga

Cavalcades in Malaga, 2015. Source:

As mentioned before, it is becoming increasingly popular to give presents on December 25. However, I do not think that Santa Claus will ever replace the Three Kings in Spain.

Christmas traditions, a mixture of biblical history and pagan celebrations that are important to know when you translate, since language, history and traditions are part of the culture of a country that may be distant to the target culture.

The Translation Landscape in Northern Europe: NTIF 2016 Malmö

It was 07:00 am on a cold autumn morning in Malaga. The plane to Copenhagen was heating the engines for taking off and I, the representative of Jensen Localization, was on board that plane.

After 3.5 hours of bumpy flying with plenty of turbulence, I reached Kastrup airport. My next objective was to get to the train station to reach Malmö, a small Swedish city right next to the mighty Baltic Sea opposite Copenhagen.

Tickets in the train station were only sold in machines; it was a premonition of what was lying ahead in this trip, the replacement of humans with machines. Science Fiction? A sad reality? Continue reading to find out what happens.

Two big guys asked all passengers for our IDs before entering the train platforms. The train arrived on time, and it speeded up while crossing the Øresund Bridge, an amazing piece of engineering. Once in Sweden, there was a border control. What for? I still do not know; we spent 25 minutes waiting for some controllers that never showed up.

Øresund Bridge,

Øresund Bridge, Øresund. Source: Wikipedia.

Before NTIF 2016

At Malmö central station the Sun was shining and however cold, I had some time to discover a bit the old town of this northern Venice.

Suellsbron bridge

Suellsbron Bridge

Christmas decorations in Malmö old town

Christmas decorations in Malmö old town

sculpture in Malmö

Optimistorkestern, the optimistic orchestra. It was erected in 1985 to celebrate the opening of the first pedestrian shopping street in Malmö.

That same night, I attended the NTIF 2016 welcome dinner, where I had the pleasure to meet very nice people from Sweden, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, and many other countries. We had a glass of champagne and some nice finger food while chatting. There were too many names to mention as there were more than 150 attendees, so it would be difficult to be fair to everyone.

Nicolás and Anne-Marie

With Anne-Marie Colliander Lind, one of the NTIF organizers.

After some tourism and socialising, it is time to start working

On the first day, the 24th November, there was a tight agenda that took us from all current issues and advances in the localization industry to periods of networking, eating, drinking coffee, and visiting booths.

The conferences made me think more about fuzzy matches. In the future, would it be possible to have standard rules for metrics? Would it be possible to use them globally? I believe that there is a real need for everyone in this business to make these metrics as consistent as possible, as we are currently forced to use the ones established by the big guys in this industry under their own rules.

What most of us already knew, or had a feeling about, was that online translation services might be the next step of evolution in our business. However, will they replace human project management? This is the reason why and Matecat instant quote appeared on the market. Will they be successful? Time and customers will decide their fate.

And the day went by. The feared Machine Translation monster is growing, but we should not be afraid of losing our position in the translation process; all rule-based systems and the ones requiring coding will have to be reviewed by an IT specialist that would need to work closely with linguistic reviewers for the best results. The guys at Prompsit (the creators of Apertium, a free open-source machine translation platform) made some remarks about how dependent some organizations in Nordic countries were on these tools and highlighted the concern of Nordic institutions on the impact on Nordic students, who use them to cheat on their homework.

Cultural issues and the job of translators finally recognised

Around midday, I attended a very particular speech, which was not directly tackling translation issues, but culture issues. How do Nordic people look to outsiders? Michael Booth described each Nordic tribe from the perspective of a British man that married a Danish woman and moved to Denmark for love. Scandinavia may seem like the new utopia for many people around the globe, but it also has its downsides. Do you want to know what the similarities between Danish and Norwegian languages are? Have a look at this article on our blog.

typical Dane

A typical Dane, according to Michael Booth.

Because energy moves the planet and our fast developing society, we are happy to see initiatives like the one at one of Europe’s leading energy companies: DONG (for Danish Oil and Natural Gas). With around 6,500 employees, they are planning to increase the visibility of translators in corporate and government organizations. If you are a translator, it is time to say: Finally! Or Hurray!

Florian Faes from Slator updated us on the latest news on the translation industry: the rise of MT, the battle for TransPerfect, Lionbridge reorganization, and how SDL went back to the roots. He also talked about Who Went Where, as the localization industry is one with the highest employees mobility. I am well aware of it! Northern winds brought me back to the warm South, although houses are warmer in northern European countries, you know.

When we were approaching the end of the day, all of us held our hands together and sang Kum ba yah (not really, but it would have been nice) during the presentation about networking tactics by John Di Rico. He made us understand that united we prevail and that business cards should be exchanged with both hands in Japan. Remember this on your next business trip!

After a one-hour break, the time for the real deal arrived: the Dining and Dancing event sponsored by Moravia & Ciklopea, which was indeed a total success. I was surprised by the charisma of Moravia and Ciklopea representatives and amazed by the dancing skills of the participants; that would make any Latino dancer jealous! I suspect that not only Cecilia and Anne-Marie may have some Latin roots.

NTIF dinner

NTIF dinner with Swedish delicacies

NTIF dinner

Time to dance with some Swedish music!

Sales and marketing strategies for translation companies

The last day of the NTIF, 25th November, focused on conferences about emerging business opportunities and again the dichotomy between Machine and Men in translation. The needs to cope with new challenges in the industry: transparency, costs reduction, data control, and a sustainable business model. Very nice on paper, but difficult to achieve in reality.

In the morning, another beneficial and challenging factor that was discussed was the media growth of Facebook and Netflix and their constant struggle to increase video production, as well as subtitling, dubbing/voice over and graphic localization. Adding to this growing cake is the lack of banking rewards for big money savers that is pushing them to invest in growing industries, the translation industry being one of them.

Midday conferences focused on mergers and acquisitions, buy and to be bought. They brought to our awareness that company owners do not live forever, even if they want to, and that sooner or later a merging will even shock or benefit any LSP.

The last two conferences that I was able to attend were about the enormous impact of social media and browsing on our lives, and the importance of creating proper content to reach our target audience. Both of them made a convergence that the old sales method is in decay and that feelings, emotions, connection with your audience, quality and added value are key points in reaching your objectives.

It was a pity, but I could not stay until the very end of the event because I had a plane to catch in Copenhagen to be back in Spain. Luckily, I was able to follow the final part of the event via the Nordic Translation Industry Forum Facebook page.

We, at Jensen Localization, would like to suggest that the 2017 NTIF should be hosted in Fuengirola. Do you know why? Because it is one of the Andalusian cities most populated by Nordic people (according to the 2014 statistics, there were registered 4,500 Finnish, 1,750 Swedish, 1,200 Danish and 800 Norwegians). It is warm, beautiful, with a balanced combination of beach and mountains, you will feel at home!

If you were in the NTIF and I did not have the pleasure of meeting you or dancing with you, please feel free to write me or contact Jensen Localization for any question you may have or just to say hello and keep in touch.

Thank you, Cecilia Enbäck, Anne-Marie Colliander Lind and all NTIF participants for such a memorable event that already has a place in the translation landscape.

Unity Makes Strength

As most of us know, Unity makes strength. This motto was originally used by the Dutch Republic (it means Eendracht maakt macht in Dutch). It is derived from the Latin phrase concordia res parvae crescunt (small things flourish by concord).[1]

Netherlands gold ducat (1729) with the motto concordia res larvae crescent on the obverse, found in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipwreck 't Vliegend Hert. Source: Wikipedia

Netherlands gold ducat (1729) with the motto concordia res larvae crescent on the obverse, found in the Dutch East India Company (VOC) shipwreck ‘t Vliegend Hert. Source: Wikipedia.

Unity is a type of partnership, developed to face challenges, to share expenses, to overcome problems and to follow certain values. In this union, each part has a certain degree of independence and freedom, so nothing compared with the usual huge corporation’s structure.

According to the business dictionary, a partnership is a type of business organization in which two or more individuals pool money, skills, and other resources, and share profit and loss in accordance with the terms of the partnership agreement. In the absence of such agreement, a partnership is assumed to exist where the participants in an enterprise agree to share the associated risks and rewards proportionately.[2]

We want to take this theory a step further and make it real, like other success models of cooperation. A good example of unity and success is how Berlitz revolutionized language instruction when it introduced the Berlitz Method® in 1878. Today, they are the leading brand in language training services. In fact, their name is as strong as many of the most trusted consumer brands in the world. Millions of people learn new languages following their methodology—at their language centers in more than 70 countries, at corporate sites and online.

This means that using cooperation humanity survives as well as evolves and progresses. Translation is a world that is looking for peaceful and harmonious cooperation for years to reach a next phase, to grow in a technology era where globalization is a must but regionalization is forgotten.

At Jensen Localization we would like to explore this new concept of partnership with you and reach this common objective of complete regionalization of global businesses all together.

We want to share with you our knowledge and the strategies that are required for survival in a fast pace changing society. Are you curious to learn more? Contact us, we are waiting for you to start this amazing journey. Remember, good opportunities may come only once in life.

[1] Read more at:

[2] Read more at:


The Experts’ Opinion on Health Care Localization

Jensen Localization had the pleasure to meet Dr F.P. Wieringa at the latest Medical Devices Innovation Programme (MDIP) that took place in Munich this year.

IEC member Dr F.P. Wieringa chaired the October 14th MDIP session. He is involved in the NeoKidney Project of the Dutch Kidney Foundation to create a portable device for hemodialysis at home or when travelling.

Dr F.P. Wieringa talks about the importance of localization for medical devices

Dr F.P. Wieringa, Senior Scientist Medical Equipment
Member of CEN & IEC
TNO Science & Industry

We asked him to give his opinion about localization for our blog, as his concerns about the proper use of localization are commonly shared by us.

On the topic of localization he states the following:

“Localization is important. IEC 60601-1: 2005, which is the basic standard for all electro-medical equipment states in clause that instructions for use shall be in a language that is acceptable to the intended operator“.

As we know, from experience, if the translation of a medical device is poor or incorrect the user will not be able to operate it the expected way. A typical example is when nurses of many hospitals tend to add stickers on devices such as scans and x-ray machines to know how to use the most basic functions and avoid the problematic ones. This issue could be avoided with clear and easy to understand instructions in the user´s language. You can learn more about this and other examples of good communication on this article by Dr Wieringa and other authors. Just click on the link and search for “user instruction” to reach this section about stickers on equipment.

Localization becomes even more important if you are designing equipment for home care, where lay persons are the intended operators. Dr Wieringa pointed out that the dedicated collateral standard on home care equipment, IEC 60601-11: 2015, emphasises this by stating:

“As required by the general standard and its USABILITY collateral standard, IEC 60601-1-6:2010 and IEC 60601-1-6:2010/AMD1:2013, accompanying documents for use in the home healthcare environment should focus on the characteristics of the intended lay operator to make the accompanying documents most effective for them” (text from the rationale of clause 7.1 in Annex A.2).

During his opening lecture on the MDIP event, the book Evaluation Of New Technology in Health Care was discussed. We encourage you to get your free copy of this very interesting subject.

You can order a free printed copy of it (no shipping costs, they will be covered by KNAW, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences) on this website.

Website visitors can also download a PDF Summary and a PDF version of the book.

Jensen Localization would like to thank Dr F.P. Wieringa for his time on helping us in producing this article and sharing his expertise on such a complex subject like home medical devices development.

At Jensen Localization we have long experience translating and localizing instruction manuals and making them acceptable for the intended operator of any medical device. Do not hesitate to contact us if you need further information and let us know how we can help you.


Meet our new Business Development Manager, Nicolás M. Fontana

Sell me this pen.

This question is one of the classical ones in many job interviews. It was used long ago, and it is still used because it can reveal very interesting information about the personality of the applicant.

At Jensen, we like doing things differently, and we do not follow that approach in our interviews, as we think that things can be simpler and we build our relationships on mutual trust.

So we use this type of questions just to know more about our new staff. And because we enjoy a bit of gossip from time to time. But just a bit.

Nicolás M. Fontana is our new Business Development Manager. He joined our team in October 2016 and has filled his department with lots of energy and motivation. He has a difficult job, but we think he is our man! Learn more about our new member in these questions:

  1. What is your origin and how did you join the translation industry?

I was born in Argentina in 1981, from a Spanish-Italian family. The roots of my family can be traced from my father side in Castile and León, in Spain, and from my mother side in Piedmont, Italy and Trieste (which nowadays is part of Italy but used to be a part of former Yugoslavia).  I joined the translation industry in Poland in 2011 as a member of a localization testing unit in a big localization company in Warsaw. After several roles there, I ended my career in the Language Lead position. As a Language Lead, I have to admit that I had the pleasure of working with the best team of people that I ever met in my life till now.

After that, I decided that it was high time to move back to Andalusia, where a piece of my heart, my brother, and my closest friends are located (they are like my second family).

Thanks to Jensen Localization I have the opportunity to be back in such a beautiful place, in an environment surrounded by very interesting people that I would like to make part of my life.

Nicolás M. Martín Fontana, passionate about languages and culture.

Nicolás M. Martín Fontana, passionate about languages and culture.

      1. Have you ever made a language or translation blunder so embarrassing that you would never tell anyone? If you have, now it’s time to talk about it!

Yes, although errare humanum est, I made quite a few language blunders in my first years in Poland, mainly because it is a difficult language to pronounce.

In Polish, there is a very tasty soup with a tricky name, “żurek”. If you mispronounce it as “siurek” the meaning changes to penis, so be careful if you are in a restaurant full of people, as it is indeed very embarrassing.

Another fun fact is that, in Spanish, you may find the sign “curvas peligrosas” on the road, that sounds like one of the most used swearing words in polish that is “kurwa”, and that means “prostitute” (to put it nicely). So it is quite funny for Polish people coming to Spain when someone is saying ‘cuidado, hay una curva peligrosa’ (whatch out, there is a dangerous turn there) as they may think on a “dangerous prostitute” waiting on the next turn.

      1. Do you have any unusual hobbies?

I believe that I don´t have any unusual hobby, one of them used to be collecting coins when I was a child. In Poland my wife and I used to collect magnets from all places we travelled for business or holidays, then the fridge turned to be too small, so we slowed down. Nowadays I am thinking of starting collecting pens after the amount that you can get on every marketing event.

I also enjoy a lot creating videos and documentaries.

      1. What are you known for?

At work, I like speed, motivation, and spread happiness among people I work with. I am mostly known because of my jokes that sometimes can be ironic and my social involvement in humanitarian causes and fight against racism and other prejudices. We are all flesh and bones, aren’t we?

      1. If you could be any animal in the world, what animal would you be and why?

Well, most people tend to relate me to a bear due to my size. But if I could choose an animal I would like to be a sooty shearwaters bird, because it can travel an incredible distance each year, logging as much as 40,000 miles, in that way I would be able to visit all my friends and family that are spread around the world.

Nicolás sees himself as a sooty shearwaters bird, as he has travelled a lot.

Nicolás sees himself as a sooty shearwaters bird, as he has travelled a lot.

      1. Do you sing in the shower? What is your favourite song for that moment?

No, I do not sing in the shower, but I like a lot of different types of music, I am a music lover. I used to be part of a band in my youth together with my brother. I have to admit that nowadays music is on decay for my taste; I like more the oldies or 60´s to 90´s bands. The XXI century brought not much originality to music styles. However, there is always hope…

      1. What would we find in your refrigerator right now?

Ham, cheese, eggs, milk, sausages, pate, cherry tomatoes and that´s it. As we recently moved there is not much in it.

We hope this short interview will help you to know Nicolás better. We are very happy to have him on board, and we wish him the best of lucks at Jensen.

And if you meet Nicolás at any event, now you have lots of ice breakers to start a nice chat with him :-).