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Valentine’s Day Around the Globe

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Though some Americans consider Valentine’s Day to be a superficial holiday, there is long history behind the holiday of love. First established in 496 AD by Pope Gelasius I, Valentine’s Day was originally created to honor the early Christian Saint Valentine. Today, Valentine’s Day is a day for people to express their love for each other by presenting flowers, candy, or cards. Scroll down to find out more about how different cultures express their love throughout the world!


Known as El Día del Cariño, Valentine’s Day in Guatemala is a colorful, affectionate affair. Throughout Latin America, the day is as much about friendship and family as it is about love;   commonly referred to as the day of amor y amistad — love and friendship — Guatemalans exchange flowers, chocolates and cards like in the U.S., but with pals as well as with admirers. And in Guatemala City, the holiday isn’t just for youth.  In the country’s capital, it’s common for locals and tourists to dress up in feathered masks or vivid Mayan attire and partake in Old Love, a senior citizens’ parade. 


China not only has its own New Year, but also celebrates its own Valentine’s Day. Generated from an age-old love story involving a queen’s daughter and a cowboy, the Qixi Festival, Chinese Valentine’s Day, falls on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, usually in early August. On the Chinese Valentine’s Day, men who want to impress their partners typically book luxury dinners and shower them with roses, while Chinese girls will offer fruit to deities in hopes for a good match. 


In Wales, the equivalent of St. Valentine is Saint Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers. It is said that the beautiful saint fell in love with handsome young man, and later begged God to bring him back to life in exchange for a life of service. Now a place of pilgrimage, visitors make the trek to a well where apparently sacred eels can forecast the outcome of relationships. Celebrated January 25, the holiday often involves love spoons as an old tradition of courting and marriage.  A Welsh man would carve a love spoon for his beloved one, and decorate the whittled wood with different symbols: Keys would signify a man’s heart, wheels his hard work and beads, his preferred number of offspring. 


In Japan, Valentine’s Day works a little differently; there are not one but two days of romance. On February 14, women typically give chocolate to their boyfriends, male friends and superiors. A month later, men return the favor; on March 14, known as White Day, men give their girlfriends or wives clothes, jewelry and of course, more chocolate. 

Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Let us know how!


Super Bowl Frenzy

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, February 03, 2012

This Sunday, February 5th, marks the 42nd annual championship game of the National Football League (NFL), a de facto American holiday called "Super Bowl Sunday". The Super Bowl is frequently cited as the most watched television event in the US all year, and is the second largest day for US food consumption (following Thanksgiving). As so many people tune in to watch the game every year, companies spend a small fortune making interesting and creative commercial ads for viewers. As a result, Super Bowl commercials have become as important as the game itself.

This year's Super Bowl XLVI will be particularly interesting as it features two teams from the Northeast, the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. The two teams represent one of the biggest eternal rivalries in US history: New York vs. Boston. William M. Fowler Jr., a history professor at Northeastern University in Boston, said tension dates to the 1600s, pitting the Pilgrims and the Puritans of Massachusetts against the Dutch in New York. Though New York surpassed Boston in population and financial strength many years ago, Boston remains today to be a contentious rival in the sports arena. 

Sunday's game will be of additional importance because it is a rematch game between the two contenders from Super Bowl XLII  in 2008. One of the greatest upsets in US sports history, Super Bowl XLII ended with the wild-card Giants winning against the previously-undefeated Patriots. As Daniel Trotta and Daniel Lovering noted, "New England tempers run high toward the Giants, the team that ruined what was about to become a historic, undefeated season for the Patriots before they gave up a game-winning touchdown in the closing minute of the 2008 Super Bowl". Needless to say, Sunday will be an exciting day for New Yorkers and Bostonians alike. 

Insights into Visitor Interactions

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 31, 2012

At Global Immersions Homestay, the comfort and experience of both hosts and visitors is always our number one priority. We offer cross-cultural workshops and on-going intercultural support for both hosts and visitors, and informational host events so that the homestay experience is enjoyable and beneficial for all.  As homestay provides an insider's view into the U.S. culture, interaction is crucial piece of the experience. 

Through our December host event, Insights into Visitor Interactions, our hosts had the opportunity to share and learn from each other new ways of exposing their visitors to American culture. To find out more about the unique interactions between our hosts and visitors, we put the question to our hosts - here's what they came up with:

  • Games night (board/card)
  • Day trips
  • Restaurants (ethnic/American)
  • Cultural events
  • Cooking together
  • Grocery shopping
  • Watching/explaining sports
  • Plays/school activities
  • Research on visitors homeland before arrival
  • Maps or place mats to discuss where the visitor is from during dinner
  • Seasonal activities
  • Watching movies/TV
  • Wii (dance games)
  • Discuss about each other’s cultures/daily lives
  • Daily errands
  • Interact with pets
  • Car wash
  • Recycling
  • Shoveling/playing in the snow
  • Parties (holiday, birthday, family, other events)
  • Music – playing together and sharing artists from their country

For additional ways to interact with your visitor take a look at some of our suggestions here.

Do you have other suggestions or ways you interact with your visitors? Email us and we'll share them with the hosting network!

Chinese New Year

Global Immersions - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

This past Monday, January 23rd, was the Chinese New Year, also known as “Spring Festival”. It marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring. The festival begins on the first day of the first month on the Chinese lunar calendar and ends on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival and is celebrated in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Vietnam and Chinatowns around the world.

Most people are familiar with the 12 zodiacs: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. What people may not be so familiar with is that each zodiac has five different elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, and Earth. This year is the Water Dragon, which is the more calming Dragon of the group. The Dragon is also considered to be the luckiest year in the Chinese Zodiac.

There are many customs and traditions that take place during the celebration such as thoroughly cleaning houses to sweep away bad fortune and hanging red colored paper cuts on doors and windows symbolizing good fortune, wealth, happiness, and longevity.

Chinese New Year is widely celebrated around the world and is the most important of the Chinese holidays!

Happy Chinese New Year!

For a more basic understanding of what happens on Chinese New Year, click here!




New Year’s Eve in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, December 16, 2011

When it comes to celebrating New Year’s Eve, there is nowhere in the US more original and community-oriented than the First Night festival in Boston. For the past 35 years, Boston’s vibrant art scene has provided over a million people annually with all day and night entertainment throughout the city. Showcasing 1,000 artists with 200 performances and exhibits, the festival offers a broad range of lively music, dance, theater, visual art, and film programs. First Night also emphasizes community-building and celebrating diversity by delivering “high-quality arts programs to large diverse audiences, offering vital arts education opportunities to underserved children and teenagers”.

Encompassing more than 30 venues throughout the city, the signature Boston event is the oldest and largest of its kind in North America. The traditional festivities feature events such as a Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center, a Grand Procession down Boylston Street, ice sculptures, fireworks, and more.

For more information and details about First Night, visit their website at http://www.firstnight.org/ 

December Festivities

Global Immersions - Monday, November 21, 2011

December is the time to celebrate the holiday season and in Boston there are many ways to enjoy and celebrate while learning about U.S. culture! From the Christmas tree lighting and the lighting of the Menorah on Boston Common to the Nutcracker ballet, take a look at a few happenings our city has to offer for the holiday-filled month – then get out and enjoy!

Christmas Tree Lighting

This year marks the 70th annual lighting of Boston’s official Christmas tree in Boston Common, a gift from Nova Scotia, Canada. On Thursday, December 1st, join the festivities from 6:00-8:00pm.  The evening includes various performances by the Radio City Rockettes to the Boston Children’s choir as well as a performance by local skaters on the Boston Common Frog Pond.   


Ice Skating on the Frog Pond

The Boston Common Frog Pond is located in the heart of Boston Common. For a small entrance fee, ice skaters 14-years and older can skate for as long as they like and for everyone else in the heart of downtown Boston.  Keep checking the website for an update on opening day (delayed due to warm weather)! http://www.bostonfrogpond.com/winter-programs


Menorah Lighting

A giant menorah is lit for a sequence of eight days to celebrate the Jewish holiday Hanukkah in the Boston Common at the Brewer Fountain.  This year, Hanukkah begins at sunset on December 20th and ends at sunset on December 28th. The lighting of the Menorah will begin at 4:30pm and will occur each night at that time. There will also be special presentations and entertainment during Hanukkah. 

The Nutcracker Ballet

The Nutcracker is the perfect holiday event. With beautiful music written by Peter Ilych Tchaikovsky, it is undeniably a performance that the whole family will love. Performances until December 31st, 2011. Click the link below to book your tickets! http://boxoffice.bostonballet.org/storefront/c2012NUTCRACKER-p0.html


For other holiday events happening in Boston, discounted tickets and more - check out The Mayor’s Holiday Special: http://www.mayorsholidayspecial.com/ 

Enjoy and happy holidays!





Explore Boston - Downtown Crossing and Theatre District

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, November 21, 2011

For an exciting night out, Boston’s Downtown Crossing and Theatre District comprise two of the best locations for shopping, nightlife, and entertainment throughout the city. Centrally located, visitors to Downtown Crossing can easily blend in with the locals who traverse area, producing the densest pedestrian traffic in all of New England.  Nearby, the Theatre District is home to more than a dozen performance venues, where Boston Discovery Guide states that, “you can enjoy top productions ranging from popular Broadway-type musical shows to avant-garde experimental productions, along with opera, dance, comedy shows, and everything in between”.

Boston's Theatre District

In the Theatre District, patrons of the arts can marvel at the “largest group of architecturally outstanding early theatres in North America”; with many of the theatre houses over 100 years old, large-scale restorations have only added to the beauty of the locale. Favorites such as the Opera House, the Wang Center, the Shubert Theatre, and the Colonial Theatre continue to host sell-out performances, while the Wilbur Theatre and Charles Playhouse are home to fan favorites like Boston’s Comedy Connection and Blue Man Group.

In Downtown Crossing, Bostonians are provided with an “eclectic mix” of large department stores, historic sites, street vendors, restaurants, and more, without the hassle of cars and traffic in the pedestrian-only streets. For a leisurely afternoon, Boston.com recommends, “sift through the bargain shelves of the Brattle Book Shop, watch musical street performers, visit the Old South Meeting House, or enjoy a fine meal at one of the numerous award-winning restaurants in the neighborhood.” If you’re looking to stroll through the city and shop like a Bostonian, look no further than Downtown Crossing!

Have you seen the Nutcracker at the Opera House, or been shopping at Macys? Tell us about it! From holiday street markets to festive performances and shows, there is so much to do during the holiday season. For more information about things to do in Boston this winter, check out our “December Festivities” blog post!


Boston Discovery Guide


Holidays Around The World in November

Global Immersions - Monday, November 07, 2011

Americans associate the month of November with Thanksgiving as it celebrated by all Americans regardless of religion.  What other global holidays are there during November? Let’s take a look!

Thanksgiving Day – United States of America

The modern Thanksgiving holiday traces its roots back to 1621 at Plymouth. In 1621 the Thanksgiving feast was prompted by the colonists’ successful harvest. The Plymouth colony did not have enough food to support half of the colony and so the Wampanoag Native Americans provided seeds and taught the pilgrims to fish. The feast did not become an annual festivity until the late 1660s. The feast was to give thanks for a good harvest and for the hard work done in communities. In the beginning of the 20th century Thanksgiving fell on the final Thursday of November. President Abraham Lincoln, in order to create a sense of unity between the Northern and Southern states, declared that the final Thursday would be reserved for Thanksgiving. However, on December 26th 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt changed the date to the fourth Thursday of November through federal legislation. His reason for doing so was to give the country an economic boost because the last Thursday of November fell too closely to Christmas.

Kinrō Kansha no Hi (Labor Thanksgiving Day) - Japan

On the 23rd of November, Japan celebrates labor and production and giving one another thanks. Labor Thanksgiving Day (Kinrō Kansha no Hi) is the modern day name for Niiname-sai (Harvest Festival) and was held in the imperial court. In the ritual, the Emperor makes the season’s first offering of harvested rice to the gods and then eats the rice himself. The oldest written account of the holiday dates back to 720, which says that a Harvest Festival took place in November 678. The actual origin, however, is said to date back even longer, possibly 2,000 years back when rice was first cultivated. After World War II, Labor Thanksgiving Day was marked as a national holiday to mark the fact that fundamental human and expansion of workers rights were guaranteed.

Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) – Observed by Muslims around the world

Eid al-Adha is a religious holiday that lasts for three days and is celebrated all across the world by Muslims commemorating Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael, for God as an act of obedience. God spared Ishmael and provided a ram to sacrifice instead. Muslims commemorate this holiday by slaughtering a sheep, camel, or cow. One third of the meat is distributed to the poor, another third is to neighbors and relatives, and the last third to be kept within the family who offered the sacrifice. Eid al-Adha takes place on the 10th and last day of the Hajj (the celebration of holy pilgrimage to Mecca) in the 12 month of the Islamic lunar calendar. In the year 2011, the celebration was on November 6th on Western calendars.

Independencia de Cartagena (Independence of Cartagena) – Colombia

On November 11, 1811, Cartagena became the first province to declare independence from the Spanish Crown. The holiday is officially celebrated on the Monday closest to November 11th, though festivals and street fairs take place for days around the actual holiday. The “November Feasts” consist of parade floats and dancers inspired by African and Caribbean rhythms. Foam, paint, water, and flour are typically thrown during the street festivals at anyone who may look remotely clean. Concurso Nacional de Belleza (National Beauty Contest) is held at the same time as the Independence holiday. This event is more of a commercial event where the coronation of the next Miss Colombia takes place. With these two major events occurring at the same time, one can only imagine how crazy Cartagena can get before and on November 11th!

Do you know of any other holidays that occur in November?  Tell us how you celebrate any of these holidays in your country!





Brazilian Exposure

Global Immersions - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Brazilian Cultural Center of New England located in Cambridge is dedicated to the promotion, preservation and advancement of Brazilian culture, especially Afro-Brazilian culture and the performing arts.   At the center, you can take part in Capoeira Angola (Capoeira is a Brazilian art form that combines martial arts, sports, and music. Capoeira Angola refers to all styles of Capoeira that is kept close to tradition), Roda or Maculelê, which are both Afro-Brazilian dances, or even Samba nights!   These workshops are a great way to add a little Latin flavor in your life!   For upcoming events and classes, check out their website here.

If you are a “foodie” and want a taste of Brazilian cuisine head to Inman Square in Cambridge.   Local favorites include Muqueca Restaurant, located at 1008 Cambridge Street, known for their authentic Brazilian dishes and Bom Café, a quaint little spot, located at 1093 Cambridge Street.

Tell us about your favorite Brazilian restaurant in the metro area!




Explore Boston - Inman Square

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 12, 2011

For an eclectic and culturally diverse neighborhood that is off the beaten track, look no further than Inman Square in Cambridge. Inman Square is an excellent representation of Boston as a whole due to its local feel, diverse population, independently-owned stores, and large variety of food options. As one yelp.com reviewer stated, “Sandwiched in between Harvard and MIT, this little neighborhood shares a unique blend of local and international flavor.” Artsy, eclectic, and ethnic, Inman Square is a great neighborhood all by itself!

Inman Square by Claire M. McLaughlin

Inman Square is the perfect location to find local businesses, restaurants, and nightlife without the crowds of Harvard Square or downtown. Local favorites such as S&S Restaurant, Christina’s Ice Cream, Dali, and City Girl Café compromise some of the area’s best eats, while hang out spots such as Bukowski Tavern, The Druid, and Thirsty Scholar provide all-night entertainment. For music and nightlife, Inman Square’s Ryles Jazz Club and LilyPad provide some of the most intimate and interesting live music in the city.   Check out http://www.inmansquare.com/ for additional resources.

Inman Square is also home to a large Portuguese and Brazilian population, adding an extra degree of energy and diversity to the area. From restaurants to local travel agencies and credit unions, the Portuguese and Brazilian influence is hard to miss in the square.

Have you danced the night away at Ryles, or savored the tapas at Dali? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you!





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