The Vimes Index: being poor is more expensive

Economic inequality manifests itself in various ways, and one of the most notable is the disparity in the costs of living between different social strata. One of the approaches that sheds light on this disparity is the Vimes Index, created by activist Jack Monroe based on the Vimes Boots Theory.

 

Sometimes writers and thinkers are the ones who provide a more lucid look at society. This is the case of the British writer Sir Terry Pratchet, who in one of his novels develops a conceptual tool to understand why it is more expensive to be poor. In the novels of the Discworld series, Inspector Samuel Vimes develops the Vimes Boot Theory. In summary, he comes to say that if a person has a low salary he will buy cheap boots, instead of expensive ones. But the poor quality of cheap boots will force you to buy boots more often, so in the medium term you will have spent more money on boots than someone who has enough money to buy good boots that won’t break.

This example, applied to all types of products, produces the paradox that, due to having little liquidity, one is forced to spend more and therefore remain poor. The idea behind the Vimes Index is simple but powerful: it suggests that being poor not only means having less money, but also comes with a series of additional costs and barriers that perpetuate the cycle of poverty. This concept has been widely adopted by economists and activists as a way to understand and address economic inequality from a more holistic perspective.

 

Why is it more expensive to be poor?

In addition to the example proposed by Vimes’ Theory (extrapolated to clothing, vehicles, computers or any other product) there are other variables that make the lives of people with few resources more expensive. For example, having low salaries or little assets, it is very common for these people to lack access to good loans and financial services. In this way, many ends up turning to high-interest lenders or falling for revolving cards. All of this can spiral into debt and increase costs in the long run.

Health and wellness costs also end up being higher, because people with low incomes do not usually have access to preventive medicine. They often do not have adequate nutrition either, because they cannot consume foods of the highest quality. All together results in a higher incidence of chronic diseases and injuries, which in turn generates additional costs in the form of medical treatments and loss of work productivity.

 

Jack Monroe, everyday inequality

This is the vision of economic activist Jack Monroe, who asked the Pratchett family for permission to create the Vimes Index. What Monroe points out is that it makes no sense for inflation to be calculated taking into account all types of products, because people with low incomes do not consume expensive products. And these expensive products are the ones that frequently have the smallest increases and attenuate the inflationary average. If rice has risen by 300% and champagne by 2%, truffles by 1% and caviar another 1%, statistics will say that prices have risen by 76%, but in reality the poor man’s effort has been triplicate.

The proposal of the Vimes Index is to calculate inflation only with essential products.

Activist Jack Monroe explains the Vimes Index at the 2022 Edinburgh Book Fair.

 

A representative shopping basket

The Vimes Index offers a valuable lens into understanding why being poor is more costly in modern society. By recognizing the multiple factors that contribute to this dynamic, from limited access to affordable products to the additional costs associated with poverty, we can move toward more effective solutions that address economic inequality comprehensively.

The perspective of activists like Jack Monroe reminds us that economic struggles play out in people’s everyday lives and that solutions must be both structural and practical. By including a variety of products and services in the representative shopping basket, we can obtain a more accurate picture of the challenges faced by low-income people and work toward a future where everyone has access to a dignified and prosperous life.

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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The World Gold Council produces a documentary in which the actor Idris Elba tours some key scenarios in the world of gold. South Africa, California, Ghana, Congo, London, Canada, and New Zealand are some settings for gold’s incredible journey across the planet and through history.

 

What role did Nelson Mandela have in the South African mining industry? How did gold contribute to ending apartheid? How many bars are held in the Bank of England and why? How long does it take for the elevator at the “La Ronde mine” in Canada to descend the more than 3 kilometres it must fall to the gold extraction galleries?

In this extraordinary documentary, Idris Elba (known for series such as The Wire or Luther) puts himself at the service of the World Gold Council to discover the history of gold and its relationship with humans. Multiple aspects are analysed: from the importance of gold for power to its use in beauty or current technology. Gold is omnipresent in the history of humanity, we attribute value to it and use it for a lot of things in our daily lives.

Gold: a journey can be viewed openly and with subtitles on the World Gold Council’s YouTube channel. We will find excellent photography and exciting moments such as when Elba, of Ghanaian origin, is received by the king of Ghana in the middle of a reception where gold is the absolute protagonist.

The importance of gold

The documentary also delves into the applications of gold in the progress of humanity. Gold nanoparticles are present in reagent tests to detect many diseases, including Covid. But they are also key to the circuits of all the technological devices we use, and will be essential for quantum computers. Gold has been, is and will be, therefore, an essential material for the industry.

But it also has collateral effects on the economic development of the population. Levi-Strauss owes his entire business to the California gold rush, which also caused the birth of San Francisco. And the same thing happened in Johannesburg, the capital of South Africa, created thanks to gold mining. Currently, in other areas of Africa, it is key to combat malaria and generating energy.

Gold: a journey is a very good way to open your eyes to the king metal. Having physical gold is not just a way to get rich or protect savings, as we do at Preciosos 11Onze. It is being part of a story that unites all of humanity throughout time, and this does not happen very often. Few things achieve such absolute consensus. There is no doubt about the value of gold. We are not only talking about the financial value, but also about the emotional, historical and industrial value of that metal that came from space to change life on Earth.

If you want to discover the best option to protect your savings, enter Preciosos 11Onze. We will help you buy at the best price the safe-haven asset par excellence: physical gold.

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The emerging states that comprise the BRICS group represent five of the world’s largest economies. A rising force that aims to redefine the international political and economic order, hitherto dominated by organisations created by Western powers.

 

The association comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a group of major emerging economies known as the BRICS, represents more than 40% of the population and almost 25% of the world’s GDP. A strategic alliance that has laid the foundations for a new international political and economic order, designed to offer an alternative to the Western model, until now subject to the hegemonic power of the United States and the dollar as the world’s reserve currency.

Many other countries have expressed interest in joining the bloc: Iran and Argentina applied for membership in 2022, while Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Algeria and Egypt have also expressed interest. Given that some of these countries are major oil producers, the impact that these accessions would have on strengthening the alliance’s sphere of influence cannot be underestimated.

 

Democratising globalisation

With the creation of a new development bank and a financial stability fund, the BRICS will play a key role in shaping the global financial system. The aim is to provide alternative sources of finance to developing countries. These initiatives are expected to challenge the status quo of traditional Western-dominated financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

The need to set up this alternative structure has arisen, in part, because the IMF has not adapted to the new economic situation of a multipolar world. The new emerging powers are no longer content to be treated as the backyard of the United States, countries where for decades governments have been set up, with the complicity of the IMF, to serve the interests of American corporations, as it is happening in Ukraine.

The persistent US veto of proposals to give emerging countries voting rights more in line with their weight in the world economy, together with the refusal to reform restrictive policies in the face of economic crises that ensure misery for the population and huge profits for multinationals, have spurred a paradigm shift that will rebalance the distribution of global power.

 

Disengaging from the dollar

Russia and China signed agreements decades ago to initiate de-dollarisation programmes to protect and shield their economies from US government and International Monetary Fund (IMF) sanctions. The trade war against China and the unprecedented economic sanctions against Russia as a result of the conflict in Ukraine have accelerated this process of de-dollarisation, which more and more countries are joining every day, concerned about the abuse of privilege by the American giant when it comes to militarising access to and the use of the dollar to serve its economic and geopolitical interests.

In this context, the BRICS are considering the creation of their own currency, a common currency as proposed by Brazilian President Lula da Silva, which would further weaken the ability of the United States to pursue its aggressive foreign policy. President Vladimir Putin announced in June 2022 that the idea would be discussed at the BRICS summit in South Africa in August 2023.

In addition, the central banks of China, Russia, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Qatar and India are buying and accumulating gold reserves in record amounts, the likes of which have not been seen for 55 years. A phenomenon that some geopolitical analysts see as an unmistakable sign that they are diversifying their economies to break free from the hegemony of the dollar.

On the other hand, the use of economic sanctions to exclude banks from the SWIFT interbank communications protocol has consolidated efforts to create alternative systems such as the Chinese (CIPS) or the Russian (SPFS), to which 52 financial entities from 12 countries already have access, and which is already available for the connection of banks from the five countries that make up the BRICS alliance.

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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Credit cards were created in the 1950s, and with the arrival of smartphones, virtual cards became popular. Let’s review the history of cards and their possibilities.

 

Sixty years ago the first payment card was introduced and, since that day, the way we shop has changed to adapt to the era of e-commerce, bringing about a radical change in the way we pay. The way we consume is constantly changing, specially with the increase in e-commerce, following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, as can be seen in the study carried out by Kantar, which states that 3 out of every 4 Spanish households have made purchases online in 2020, and that these households will continue to shop online in 2021. Households that now shop online account for 74.4%, which has increased e-commerce consumers by 8.4% since 2017. As detailed by Kantar in its study, the remaining 26.6% of consumers are older people who commute to buy products themselves, as they prefer a personalised service. And just as the consumption model has changed, so has the payment model. Welcome to the era of virtual cards.

What are virtual cards? 

Virtual cards are more secure cards, and unlike conventional payment cards, they are completely virtual. They are exclusively used for virtual purchases, but with the possibility to be used in physical establishments if you have the card linked to a wallet on your smartphone. The virtual card has a number, an expiry date, and a control number, as Rankia details. The financial website also states that the security controls of virtual cards are very varied. Some banks have a dynamic code that changes with each purchase, while others allow very few purchases to be made, and if there is money left on the card, this money is automatically returned to the account from which the card was recharged. Each customer is free to make a new virtual card whenever they need it, it’s as simple as that.

How was the virtual card born?

Since the world’s first payment card from Diners Club in 1950, the world of payment cards has come a long way, from the arrival of credit cards in Spain in the 1960s to virtual cards, according to Finanzas. A website specialising in finance reminds us that virtual cards were born with the arrival of mobile telephony, with the payment systems known as “wallets”.

How are they regulated?

The European regulation PSD2, the new European regulation on electronic payment services, came into force in September 2018, with the aim of reinforcing security for consumers with e-commerce payment systems. With this regulation, which has been in force for three years now, it can be said that something is changing in the way we make payments. In short, we can say that virtual cards are here to stay as another means of payment.

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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The Catalan language is full of sayings through which popular wisdom used to advise on economics, that is, the community used to help its members. Let’s analyse some of them and their origin.

 

Paroemiology is the science that studies the origin and meaning of proverbs, and is as old as language itself. We find samples in the translations of the proverbs of the Bible, and in Jewish and Arabic books of sentences translated into Catalan. We can find them in the work of the philosopher Ramon Llull or the writer Francesc Eiximenis, in the book Tirant lo Blanc, and so on. Since the end of the 16th century, the saying takes precedence over proverbs. Here are just a few examples of how paroemiology has been present since time immemorial: from Guillem de Cervera’s Proverbis (1180), Llibre de Doctrina del Rei Jaume d’Aragó (1290), and so on, to books such as Baldiri Reixach’s or Carles Amat’s, used for teaching. One of our country’s paroemiologists is Victor Pàmies i Riudor; through his work we can know the origin, history, etymology…

As an example, let’s analyse a few sayings related to money and investment. Popular wisdom always gives us good advice.

  • L’aigua va allà on n’hi ha més.
    It refers to money: the more you invest, the more profit you get. (In fact, water tends to accumulate forming rivers, in the sea …) It means: money goes where money is.
  • Sabater amic o parent, calça car i dolent.
    It warns that whoever gives money to win a friendship or find love, comes out unscathed because everyone takes advantage of kindness.
  • Per casar filles donzelles no venguis moltons ni ovelles.
    It means that the family patrimony should never be undone. (Long ago, to marry a daughter, you had to endow her with some goods: money, jewellery, furniture, tableware and bedding, animals, land …)
  • Béns de campana, Déu els dona i el diable els escampa.
    It tells us that those gains that come easily and effortlessly are the easiest to lose.
  • Diners de tot fan veritat i del jutge advocat.
    It tells us that, with money, we can change reality according to our interests.
  • Si a qui deus no pots pagar, humilment li has de parlar.
    This saying tells us to be humble with our creditors when we cannot pay them what we owe them, in order to avoid retaliation.
  • Germans, els pans; parents, els qüens; i coneguts, els papers de menuts (qüens = diners). Even food is shared between siblings; you can trust a relative or ask them for money; but none of this is possible with an acquaintance.
  •  Educació i diner fan al fill cavaller.
    Education makes a person perfect and money proclaims it.
  • Al marit, barca; la muller, arca (arca = cofre = caixa dels diners).
    Husbands used to do physical work whereas wives used to manage family money. It means that everyone has to do the tasks for which they are best prepared.
  • Sastres, música i sabaters, moltes postures i pocs diners
    They move their hands and body a lot in exchange for little benefit.
  •  Si la butxaca no sona, els músics no poden tocar.
    With a precarious economy, great things cannot be done.
  • Pagant, sant Pere canta / En pagar, sant Pere canta / Pagant, mossèn Pere canta.
    Money gets the most unthinkable things.
  • Si vols enganyar al marxant, posa-li la “ganància” per davant.
    Cash in front of your eyes usually makes you decide right away to whom you sell.
  • Qui pren, son cor ven.
    Whoever accepts someone’s money, gifts, or favours, is left in material or moral debt.
  • A on vas, diners? Allí a on n’hi ha més.
    It means owning money is the principle to having more.

 

Sayings in Catalonia

Sayings can be categorised according to their topic. According to Joan Fontana, José Enrique Gargallo, Víctor Pàmies, and Xus Ugarte in their work Els refranys més usuals de la Llengua Catalana, there are 15 major topics:

  1. Meteorological sayings.
  2. Calendar sayings.
  3. Sayings about jobs and profits (money, works, jobs …). 
  4. Sayings about religion and beliefs. 
  5. Sayings about home and family.
  6. Sayings about men and women. The human body and the ages of life. 
  7. Sayings about flora, fauna, and nature.
  8. Sayings about people’s qualities and feelings. 
  9. Sayings about health and illness. 
  10. Sayings about food and drink. 
  11. Geographical sayings. 
  12. Sayings about parties and leisure.
  13. Sayings about tips.
  14. Sayings about morality.
  15. Miscellaneous sayings.

Sayings have two meanings: the literal meaning and a figurative meaning, which is exemplified by the literal meaning. To use proverbs in our usual speech, you must know that they are bits of prefabricated speech. Aside from being known by most members of the speaker community, they can be used to refer to ideas that contain some kind of shortcut in order to avoid explaining them.

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The pandemic has created new readers. Catalonia has stood out in Spain as the region where the increase has been most pronounced. Without going any further, during the confinement, 57% of book readers read at least once a week. Perhaps that is why booktubers, digital literary critics who are accumulating more and more followers, have emerged. At 11Onze we have compiled 14 profiles that are worth following.

 

The most successful Catalan booktubers have a niche of around 2,000 followers per profile. But we cannot forget those who have a more modest channel, such as Marta Cava, Els bookhunters, Traduint des de Calella, Lluctuber, Meyonbook, Laura Rubio and Llibres de Gont. All of them have become, in a short time, the great prescribers of the Catalan publishing world, which in recent years has been reactivated thanks to the opening of new bookshops and the birth of specialised publishers, especially in fantasy books, Catalan and foreign classics and essays. Below you will find some of the most popular profiles:

  1. Recomanacions de Llibres, by Marta Botet. Marta Botet, daughter of the President of the Catalan Parliament, Laura Borràs, is almost as passionate about books as her mother. Around the world of books, she makes compilations and explains how the publishing industry works. She also reviews the classics of Catalan literature.
  2. Bookdragon Di, a young fantasy. With more than 2,000 followers on its YouTube account, the channel reviews fantasy books and readings for young people. It features dozens of books, including classics of the genre, such as ‘Dune’, and by renowned authors such as Stephen King and Jo Nesbo.
  3. La prestatgeria, the bookshop at home. Books and heartbreak, intersectionality and feminism, readings and music, the women of famous writers, high school readings that are worthwhile… Instead of reading books, Marta devours them, and she does so with passion, humour and a critical eye. 
  4. La Mar de Llibres, sailing the literary ocean. When she entered her twenties, this other Marta decided to create her own channel, where she pours out all her reading obsessions. The world of books occupies her hours of videos: about translations, re-editions, books she has liked, books she has hated, reading lists to give as gifts… 
  5. Paraula de Mixa, editorial enthusiasm. With very well edited videos, Paraula de Mixa not only reviews books, but has also set up a variety of activities on her channel about the publishing world: from interviews with authors, to reading clubs or workshops to become a booktuber.
  6. Entrelletres, the commitment to Catalan readers. This young Andorran, Jan Arimany, is already known among booktubers for his publishing and his channel Trotalibros, where he reviews books in Spanish and accumulates a following of more than 25,000 followers. In the last couple of years, coinciding with the pandemic, he has also taken on the task of following books published in Catalan, and he talks about both classics and new releases.
  7. Llig-me, going beyond the screen. Irene Rodrigo had a book programme on Valencian public television and its success has led her to open her own channel. Recently, she has set up a virtual reading club for the network of public libraries in Catalonia, but she also reviews classics and new books.

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Cada vegada més persones viuen soles i renuncien a una parella. Moltes empreses han vist en aquest col·lectiu una oportunitat de negoci, amb tota mena de productes i serveis destinats a cobrir les necessitats dels ‘singles’.

 

Ser ‘single’ està de moda. Els solters cada vegada suposen un percentatge més elevat de la població. A Catalunya, una de cada tres persones majors de quinze anys ho és, amb un augment considerable en l’últim mig segle, segons dades d’Idescat. Per això no sorprèn que l’any 2019 s’arribés a crear l’Associació Catalana de Singles i Oci Familiar.

No es tracta d’una tendència local. En un terç de les llars de la Unió Europea viuen solters sense fills. De fet, el 50% de les llars de capitals europees com París, Berlín i Oslo ja estan ocupades per residents solters, segons Eurostat, que també assenyala que més de la meitat de les llars sueques són unipersonals. Als Estats Units, els individus sense parella entre 25 i 54 anys ja suposen el 38% de la població i en el 28% de les llars només viu una persona.

Tot i que en els últims anys s’ha popularitzat l’11 de novembre com el Dia del Solter per la influència xinesa, la tradició d’alguns països anglosaxons el situa en el 13 de febrer, com a contraposició a Sant Valentí. Es tracta d’un dia de reivindicació per als ‘singles’, un anglicisme que ha adoptat un significat que va més enllà de la solteria: es tracta de persones que viuen soles i no tenen parella, sigui com sigui el seu estat civil. El que abans es veia socialment com un fracàs avui s’associa al concepte de llibertat.

 

Una oportunitat de negoci

En un món consumista i oportunista, moltes empreses han vist en aquest col·lectiu una oportunitat de negoci, amb tota mena de productes i serveis destinats a ells. En l’actualitat podem trobar en el mercat un nombre creixent d’habitatges unipersonals, electrodomèstics de menor capacitat, envasos més petits i activitats i viatges concebuts per a ‘singles’.

Les empreses han situat als ‘singles’ al punt de mira no sols per tractar-se d’un col·lectiu creixent, sinó perquè la seva capacitat adquisitiva també és superior a la mitjana. De fet, aquesta bonança econòmica és gairebé una condició per a ser ‘single’, ja que la vida els resulta més cara. Per començar, el sistema tributari els penalitza respecte a les famílies. I si pensem en un dispendi tan important com l’habitatge, és clar que no tothom es pot permetre ser ‘single’. De fet, aquest grup tendeix a posseir menys habitatge en propietat i recorre més al lloguer que les parelles.

Respecte als seus hàbits de consum, els ‘singles’ solen comprar menys quantitat i amb més freqüència per evitar que els productes se’ls facin malbé, la qual cosa ha portat als fabricants a oferir envasos de menor grandària, fins i tot monodosi. L’objectiu és adaptar-se a les seves necessitats i treure profit de la seva major capacitat adquisitiva. A més, els estudis de consum indiquen que aquest col·lectiu va menys als hipermercats i recorre més als supermercats de barri i les botigues d’especialitzades.

 

Un filó per a la indústria de l’oci

El fet de no tenir càrregues familiars fa que els ‘singles’ puguin destinar a oci una major part del pressupost que altres col·lectius i permetre’s més “capricis”.

Per això en els últims anys han proliferat pàgines web que organitzen tota mena d’esdeveniments per a ‘singles’, com a Singles Barcelona o Friendsteam. Es tracta de clubs especialitzats en aquest segment de la població que ofereixen activitats per socialitzar, des de sopars o festes a excursions o viatges.

A vegades són els mateixos locals d’oci els que planifiquen esdeveniments dirigits a aquest col·lectiu. Fins i tot una cadena de gimnasos com el DIR ha vist l’oportunitat de negoci que suposen els solters i ofereix el servei DIR Singles & Friends, amb activitats socials i esportives per a que els seus membres es coneguin millor.

Un esment especial mereixen els creuers dedicats a les persones sense parella, que han tingut un creixement espectacular. Durant aquests viatges, els ‘singles’ poden aprofitar per conèixer a gent nova mentre naveguen pel Mediterrani, la mar Bàltica o els fiords noruecs. Els destins cada vegada són més variats.

 

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Only one in three adult European citizens has a minimum level of financial literacy, according to a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This means that most people need to gain the necessary knowledge to manage their money effectively.

 

Financial literacy is a necessary skill that is essential for everyday citizens. It is difficult to make the right decisions when managing a household, planning savings, applying for credit or taking out a mortgage if we do not have a minimum level of financial literacy.

In this context, and amid the debate on the poor academic results of Catalan students in the fourth year of ESO in the PISA tests, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) presented a devastating report on financial education in Europe. According to this study, only 34% of European adults have a minimum level of financial literacy. Therefore, a large proportion of citizens do not have the necessary skills to manage their finances effectively.

Only Irish and German citizens achieve the minimum financial literacy threshold of 70 out of 100. This is a worrying result given the pressures on household budgets in the current economic climate, which increases the risk of indebtedness and other economic downturns.

Financial literacy at an all-time low

While 84% of adults in the 39 countries participating in the survey understand the definition of inflation, only 63% know how to apply the concept of the time value of money to their savings. Specifically, how inflation impacts the time value of money by reducing the purchasing power of money over time.

Furthermore, although the results show that around 77% of adults understand the relationship between risk and reward, only 42% of respondents across all countries can correctly answer a question about compound interest (interest that is added to the initial principal and on which new interest is generated). Even among adults with savings products in these countries, only 46% understand the concept of compound interest.

The OECD also warns that the spread of digital financial services, which accelerated during the pandemic, makes it more necessary than ever to equip people with the right knowledge and skills to use these products and services safely. Moreover, the introduction of digital currencies and other crypto-assets into the economic ecosystem, which is leading to an increased incidence and complexity of financial fraud and scams, also highlights the need to strengthen the financial literacy of adults to prevent cybercrime.

11Onze’s financial education plan

Empowering citizens through financial education has been at the heart of 11Onze since its inception. Expanding our community’s knowledge of economics and finance, making all the necessary tools available to them, is one of the founding pillars of the first community fintech in Catalonia.

Since the launch of 11Onze Escola, a project that offers training sessions on the world of fintech so that schools, companies and professional associations throughout the country can teach their students the basics of economics and financial matters, we have a unique platform that complements the school curriculum by educating young people in monetary matters and provides them with tools for the creation of wealth.

With the same purpose of training our community, we promote the lessons in the Learning section, which offers content such as the series El Diner, the Formacions 11Onze made by the employees themselves or our short Courses. In addition, in the Descobreix section of 11Onze TV you will also find pieces by our agents on topics of interest for our day-to-day work. Because from the very beginning it was clear to us that without a good financial education, we will hardly be a free society that can decide its future.

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the super app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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El català és un idioma tan bo com qualsevol altre per fer divulgació a les xarxes socials. Hi podem trobar continguts de tota mena, des de ciència i cultura fins a gastronomia. Ho demostren aquests 11 perfils de TikTok que s’han guanyat la confiança de milers de seguidors.

 

TikTok, l’aplicació nascuda a la Xina fa sis anys, s’ha fet gran de mica en mica. Ja no és només una plataforma per a adolescents interessats a mostrar les seves coreografies i excentricitats. A poc a poc, hi van tenint cabuda continguts de tota mena. Des d’11Onze, volem donar a conèixer 11 perfils que fan divulgació de temes molt diversos en català. Aquí els tens per ordre alfabètic:

  • ametller_origen: receptes i molts consells sobre cuina, nutrició i conservació dels aliments que en un any ja s’han guanyat més de 2.000 seguidors i 10.000 m’agrada.
  • culinaryjep: un compte sobre gastronomia i cuina catalana que en un any acumula prop de 1.500 seguidors i 18.000 m’agrada. Gràcies a ell descobriràs, per exemple, que la tradició dels canelons de Sant Esteve s’ha popularitzat en l’últim segle i que abans el plat típic d’aquesta festivitat era l’arròs del cardenal.
  • desfake: aquest grup de joves fa dos anys que ens ensenya com detectar dades manipulades i denuncia mentides i notícies falses que circulen per les xarxes. Els seus vídeos ja han aplegat més de 3.300 seguidors i han rebut 31.000 m’agrada.
  • el_radical_lliure: un perfil que s’apropa a la química de forma entenedora i divertida. Els seus responsables són el Dr. Oriol Marimon en la presentació, la Dra. Helena González en els guions i l’Adrián García en la producció. En poc més de quatre mesos han acumulat més de 1.300 seguidors.
  • expli.cat: aquest grup de joves científics divulguen temes de ciència en vídeos de menys d’un minut. Trobaràs des de què determina el factor de protecció de les cremes solars fins a les bases de la fusió nuclear. En poc més de mig any ja tenen 1.700 seguidors i 10.000 m’agrada.
  • filologa_de_guardia: els vídeos de l’Aida, una estudiant de filologia catalana, són modernes classes de català a la xarxa. El seu perfil de TikTok ja té 15.000 seguidors i més de 160.000 m’agrada.
  • informatik.cat: consells i tutorials des de Girona per resoldre problemes i dubtes d’informàtica. Ja els segueixen més de 1.000 persones.
  • juju_mamaplant: la Júlia, també coneguda com a Mama Plant, ens parla de les propietats de les plantes i ens ofereix remeis naturals des de fa poc més d’un any. Ja compta amb més de 5.400 seguidors i 100.000 m’agrada.
  • paisatges_de_catalunya: un compte per descobrir racons de Catalunya que ja té més de 5.000 seguidors i 94.000 m’agrada.
  • parlemdescriure_catala: un canal que examina errors típics quan parlem i escrivim en català. Ja té 7.500 seguidors i 15.000 m’agrada.
  • 11onzecat: l’onzè perfil recomanat no podia ser un altre. Educació financera a l’abast de tothom des del nostre compte de TikTok. Tot i que som una comunitat petita, ja acumulem més de 2.000 m’agrada.

Tots aquests comptes de TikTok s’han guanyat la popularitat mostrant-se al món en català.

 

11Onze és la fintech comunitària de Catalunya. Obre un compte descarregant la super app El Canut per Android o iOS. Uneix-te a la revolució!

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The Epiphany is the best known celebration of the Christmas cycle. And, instead, only the Gospel of St. Matthew gives specific news of the Three Wise Men, but in a rather enigmatic way. It does not even specify the names, the number or the exact origin. So, what is the true story of the biblical Magi? 

 

Let’s start by taking a good look at how St. Matthew introduces the Magi in his Gospel. First, he assures us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the time of King Herod, and then he relates the appearance of the Magi as follows: “Shortly afterward there came to Jerusalem wise men from the East who asked ‘Where is the King of the Jews, who has just been born? We have seen his star there in the East and have come to prostrate ourselves before him’.”

In fact, St. Matthew tells us in the Gospel that “the news greatly troubled King Herod, and with him all Jerusalem.” So Herod let the Magi go, but asked them to inform him of the exact place where the child was born before returning to their villages, so that he too could go and worship him. But it seems that the magi did not keep the word given to Herod…

The Gospel says that the wise men continue on their way, always following the star, until it stops just at the point where Jesus is. Then, St. Matthew narrates: “And when they entered the house, they saw the child with Mary, […] they fell down before him and opened the chests they were carrying to offer him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And as a dream warned them that they were not to see Herod again, they returned to their own country by another way.” After this, they are never spoken of again.

The mess that surrounds the story

If we carefully analyze the Gospel narrative of St. Matthew, we quickly realize that at no time are we told that there were three characters, but, instead, we are told that “some magi” left three gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh). Nor is the exact point of the meeting specified. And most surprising of all: at no time is the kingly status of these characters specified.

If we look for more canonical information —the official one— about these characters, nowhere do we find more information. Even so, if we go to the other Gospel that narrates the birth and infancy of Jesus, that of St. Luke, nowhere are the Magi mentioned, nor the slaughter of the innocents, nor the flight into Egypt. On the other hand, St. Luke does provide details about the annunciation, the transfer of Joseph and pregnant Mary to Bethlehem to be registered in the census ordered by the Roman Emperor Augustus, the adoration of the shepherds and the birth of Jesus in a stable. 

Therefore, the New Testament offers very different versions of Christmas that, with the maturation of the passing of the centuries, with intentional contributions and biased interpretations, have ended up shaping the fantastic and braided story that we know. We must not lose sight of the fact that along the way new characters were added, such as the ox and the mule, which Pope Benedict XVI has publicly rejected, or the fourth wise man and other inventions.

“If the original Greek word was translated from an Old Persian word, ‘maguusha’, then the meaning would be: priest.”

Does Magi mean magicians?

Then, The question that the initial story suggests to us is: why does Matthew make these curious characters appear? The important fact to keep in mind is that the original Gospel of St. Matthew was written in Greek, a manuscript of which has not reached us until our days. We only have the version translated into Latin by St. Jerom, but already in the fourth century.

If we continue analyzing the text, the key to everything lies in the word “magi”. Is this the word used in the original text written in Greek? And then another rather disturbing question arises: what did it mean to be a “magi” in the context in which the gospel is written?

Historical etymology offers us two possibilities. If the original word written was Greek “μάγο”, it would be used with a pejorative connotation. An expression aimed at defining sorcerers, dream interpreters, enchanters, practitioners of dark rites and, even, charlatans. It seems that this is not the case! On the other hand, if the original Greek word was translated from an Old Persian word, “maguusha”, then the meaning would be: priest. Surely, the most likely!

Therefore, if we follow this etymological path, we find in the Babylonian past a religious caste of Persian priests known as “magi” with a recognized prestige in astrological knowledge and followers of the Zoroastrian religion. To understand the historical etymology even better, we must keep in mind that the Jewish presence in Persia was very notable from the time of Nebuchadnezzar (6th century B.C.), when the Babylonian ruler conquered Judah and enslaved the Jews. 

These Hebrew communities, who awaited the Messiah, would surely have influenced the Persian astrological tradition. In the 6th century A.D., these magi —now named and numbered— were depicted in the Persian style —mainly in their clothing— in the well-known mosaic of St. Apollinaris the New in the basilica of Ravenna (Italy).

“The textual analysis places us in front of a purely propagandistic story: to demonstrate that Christianity was broad, integrating cultures and universal.”

The legend consolidates with the biblical canon

Whether the visit of the Magi happened or not, we arrive at the Council of Nicaea in 325, when the official discourse of the Church was institutionalized and it was agreed that only four official gospels —Matthew, Luke, John and Mark— would mark the discourse of dogma. The rest of the texts, more than 70, will be considered apocryphal, that is to say, unreliable, since they are based on suppositions that cannot be contrasted.

It is curious because all these texts were written at the same time as the four canonical gospels. What is evident is that, with the passing of the centuries, theology, liturgy and Christian tradition were forged, complemented by other writings that filled the gaps left by the official texts. It was in this process that the story of the Persian magi took shape.

If we avoid the fantastic and we are absolutely rational, the textual analysis places us before a purely propagandistic story. The incipient and modern Christian discourse that emerged from Nicaea had the need to demonstrate that its radius of action was broad, integrating cultures and endowed with a universal dimension. The story of the Magi fulfilled this message and —no less important— allowed linking the prophecies of the Old Testament with the New Testament, since it demonstrated that the sacred scriptures were not mistaken in the fact that “all kings coming from everywhere will prostrate themselves before him.”

Nor is it by chance that the number of the magi was set at three: because it is the number of the divinity par excellence, of the Holy Trinity; because it is the reflection of the three ages of the human being, youth, maturity and old age; because they are the three continents known at that time, Europe, Asia and Africa; and because they are the three dimensions of time, past, present and future.

The pieces that build history

It was from then on that a special iconography began to be created, with diverse meanings. Soon the authentic reality of the characters from the East ceased to be relevant and the ritual symbolism of the Middle Ages became important. The Carolingian world turned them into kings. The story goes that Frederick I Barbarossa, during the Third Crusade, found the bodies of the three kings in Constantinople and brought them to Germany. Today, Cologne Cathedral preserves the relics of the Magi. The mendicant orders of the 13th century contributed to the tradition of making the nativity scene, and the epiphany has a prominent place. The Renaissance brought blackness to King Balthasar.

The long night of time fixed and generated new details about the Magi, which impregnated the European cultural tradition forever and ever. The story of the Three Wise Men is a story built in pieces, which has changed generation after generation and has reached our days as a commercial spectacle. And, like all good stories, it is made over a slow fire.

 

11Onze is the community fintech of Catalonia. Open an account by downloading the app El Canut for Android or iOS and join the revolution!

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