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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Pan-Latin American Group at TALK05-Nov-2017

A group of adult visitors from Costa Rica, Colombia and Panama arrived to Boston on Sunday eveni..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Josai High School22-Oct-2017

A group from Josai High School in Japan is visiting this week to tour Boston and sight see! They..


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Do You Wanna Build A Snowman??

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ever wonder where snowmen came from? Or why they're a common decoration during Christmas?  Snowmen were being built by humans long before Frosty The Snowman made its media debut in the late 1960s. You might be surprised to learn that snowmen were once a form of artistic expression (due to the low cost and easy accessibility of materials) and have since gained international popularity. As you'll soon learn, snowpeople around the world don't always have the traditional corncob pipe, button nose, and two eyes made out of coal. 


Early snowman documentation has been discovered as far back as the Middle Ages. In The History of the Snowman, author Bob Eckstein found the snowman’s earliest known depiction in an illuminated manuscript of the Book of Hours from 1380 in the Koninkijke Bibliotheek in The Hague, Netherlands. Snowmen built in the Middle Ages were considered an art form rather than children's play as they are today. For example, in 1494, the ruler of Florence, Italy commissioned Michelangelo to create a statue of snow for his mansion's courtyard. In 1511, the people of Brussels, Belgium constructed over 100 snowmen in a public art installation known as the Miracle of 1511. These snowmen were often parodies of characters, such as mermaids, unicorns, and village idiots, or resembled politicians and other figures that the townspeople were dissatisfied with.

Snowmen were not synonymous with the traditional Christmas holiday until the early Victorian era, when Price Albert introduced German holiday traditions to England. Santa Claus and snowmen were soon depicted hand in hand during Christmas.


As a popular symbol of winter and the holiday season, snowmen are celebrated around the world at various snowman festivals and contests. Every February the Bischofsgrün Snowman Festival (aka Schneemannfest), is held in Bavaria, and features “Jacob" - Germany's HUGE (and quite dirty) snowman. 


In the German town of Weinheim-an-der-Bergstrasse, the mayor leads a parade through the town at the annual Rose Sunday Festival. At the end of the parade the townspeople incinerate a straw snowman to welcome the beginning of Spring.


The World Record for the largest snowman belongs to the country where everything is supersized - The US! In 2008, a 122- foot tall snowlady was built in Bethel, Maine and modeled after Maine state senator, Olympia Snowe. She took a month to create and even has her own snowflake jewels and six foot long eyelashes. Oh and her arms are full grown pine trees. 


Even places that don't get snow still manage to get snowmen. Every December in California, Sonoma Valley hosts the Lighting of the Snowman Festival. Creating hundreds of snowmen would be near impossible in this virtually snow-less region - so Californians compensate by plugging in hundreds of electrical ones.


The Japanese city of Sapporo, in the Hokkaido region, has hosted the Sapporo Snow Festival where an infestation of 12,000 mini snowmen cluster in a field, wearing messages from their makers. These snowmen look a little different from your typical Frosty as they are made with only two snow balls instead of three. They're also adorned with little eyebrows and look seriously upset. 

If we do see a lot of snow this winter (in my personal opinion I hope that we don't) maybe you could try building a Japanese snowman... they are pretty cute. 

Its Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, December 07, 2016

What are some things that come to mind when you think about Christmas? A Christmas Tree?( probably) carolers? eggnog? There are certainly symbols that are synonymous with the holiday (think - wreaths, lights, mistletoe, ect., ect.) You might be surprised to know that many of the things we associate with a "traditional" or "American"Christmas didn't actually originate in America. Many of the classic components of Christmas were adapted from other cultures and incorporated into our holiday in the United States. So who do you have to thank for your favorite parts of Christmas?? Take a look and find out! 


Christmas Tree - Germany

In Germany, the winter solstice celebration included decorating evergreen trees - which then adapted into "Christmas trees" in the beginning of the 27th century. These original "Christmas trees", named and decorated explicitly for the Christian holiday, first appeared in Strasbourg and Alsace. In 1750, Christmas trees began showing up in other parts of Germany and grew in popularity after 1771, when the author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited Strasbourg and included a Christmas tree in one of this novels. Christmas trees showed up in the US in the 1820s in the homes of German immigrants in Pennsylvania. The Christmas tree was introduced to England after Germany's Prince Albert married Queen Victoria. Then, the custom spread to just about every home in America in 1848 after an American newspaper published a picture of a Christmas tree. 



Yule log - Norway 

Norway is responsible for the popularity of this log shaped dessert - modeled after the wood log burnt during winter holidays in medieval times. The ancient Norse used the Yule log during winter solstice to celebrate the return of the sun. The word "Yule" comes from the Norse word hweol, meaning wheel. The Norse believed that the sun was a great wheel of fire that rolled towards and away from Earth. The incorporation of fire in these winter solstice celebrations may also be the reason why the fire place is a traditional symbol of Christmas and Christmas celebrations.



Poinsettias - Mexico   

The red and green poinsettia - now a  universal symbol of the Christmas holiday, was brought to the US from Mexico in 1828. The American ambassador to Mexico (and also the flowers namesake), Joel R. Poinsett (get it now?) brought the plant to America because he thought the flowers' colors were perfect for the Christmas holiday. In Mexico, the flower is known as Flores de Noche Buena or Flowers of the Holy Night, due to a Mexican legend about the flowers blooming on Christmas. Before poinsettias became an emblem of the holidays, they were used by the Aztecs for decorative and healing purposes. 

Christmas Cards- England

Our friends across the pond are to thank for the popularity of Christmas cards in America. A man from England, John Michael Horsley, kick started the tradition of sending holiday cards when he began making small cards with festive scenes and holiday greetings in the 1830s. Newly efficient post offices in England and the United States made the cards nearly overnight sensations. Today, over 2 billion Christmas cards are sent in the US each year and around 500 million e-cards (I bet Horsley never imagined that!) 



What else is England responsible for? Plum pudding! Plum pudding is an English dish dating back to the Middle Ages. This dish consists of suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are “plum,”or large enough to fill the cloth. It is then unwrapped, sliced like cake, and topped with cream. Plum pudding is similar to figgy pudding (think plum pudding but made with figs), which also originated in Medieval England. For we all like figgy pudding so bring some out here...Caroling began in England too! Wandering musicians would travel from town to town visiting castles and homes of the rich, hoping for a hot meal or money in return for their performance.



And of course, this would not be a blog about Christmas symbols if we didn't include mistletoe - which also came from England. During the holidays in the Victorian era, the English would hang sprigs of mistletoe from the ceilings and in doorways. If someone was found standing under the mistletoe they would have to be kissed by someone else in the room -*gasp* a very shocking behavior for members of Victorian society. Perhaps the English got the idea of hanging mistletoe from their Celtic and Teutonic ancestors, who believed the plant had magic powers. Mistletoe was said to have healing powers and terefore they would hang it in their homes to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck. 

Eggnog - USA! 

OK so eggnog may have first been created in England, but it was not tied to the Christmas holiday until it became popular in America. American colonies were full of farms (chickens and cows aka eggs and milk) as well as cheap rum, so naturally this drink became widely consumed. According to reports by Captain John Smith, the first eggnog made in the US was consumed in his 1607 Jamestown settlement. "Nog" comes from the word "grog" which refers to any drink made with rum. 

Source

Holiday Activities Yule Love!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Its December already!? Crazy, I know.  November really flew by and now it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas (for real - it snowed this morning.) Once you get past the cold, Boston is a great place to be during the winter. With tree lightings, and carolers, outdoor skating rinks and pop-up markets, the city has so many different winter activities to help you celebrate the holiday season with your international visitor! If your'e getting tired of listening to 106.7's nonstop Christmas music, here are some other festive ways to have a happy holiday! 

(GI host mother and her students looking at holiday lights in Saugus, MA!)

Get in the holiday spirit by taking your visitor to see amazing holiday lights! Tour your own neighborhood or explore the light displays in other areas of greater Boston. Don't know where to go?? This article can help. Check out the places with the best Christmas lights in Boston. Take a trip by car or bond with your visitor during an outdoor stroll. If you would prefer to travel by train, you can do that too! The Somerville Arts Council's Illuminations Tour will take you through the illuminated streets of Somerville via trolley. 


(One of our students decorating her host family's Christmas Tree last year!)

After, take some inspiration from those neighborhoods and decorate your own home! Ask your visitor to help you place holiday decorations inside and outside your house. If you celebrate Christmas, involve your student in hanging Christmas ornaments and lights or even picking out the Christmas Tree. Designate a special ornament for your student (craft or buy one together!) - your visitor will feel like a welcomed part of the family and you will have a memento of the holiday you shared! 


(GI students and their host family building a gingerbread house!)

Speaking of crafts...a fun at home activity is decorating a gingerbread house! If you don't think you have the culinary skills to make one from scratch easy kits can be found in your local grocery store this season. You and your visitor will enjoy assembling and decorating the gingerbread house together and you'll especially love eating it after :)

(Japanese TALK students posing with their gifts and Santa Claus!)

Take your visitor holiday shopping with you! Let them help you pick out gifts for your family and see if they want to get a present for their friend at school or family at home. A festive place for a shopping outing is a Holiday Market. Throughout the Christmas season, Boston offers a variety of holiday stores and pop-up markets for all your gift giving needs! Check out the Holiday Market in Downtown CrossingThe Harvard Square Holiday Fair, The Holiday Shopping Village at City Hall Plaza, or The Christmas in Boston store at Faneuil Hall Marketplace. 

Don't forget about New Year's Eve! Holiday celebrations don't stop after December 25th. Ring in the new year by watching Boston's NYE fireworks display over Boston Harbor. The show begins at midnight on January first, but First Night festivities begin long before that. Bring your visitor to enjoy parades, ice sculptures, music, and dancing on the last day of 2016! 

The Coolest Hot Chocolate In The City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

It might not (technically) be winter, but I think you'll agree that it sure does feel like it. It hasn't snowed (yet), but I've already started bundling up on my way to work. One good thing about cold weather is that its a great time to drink hot chocolate! Here are some of the best places around Boston where you can find a gourmet cup of hot cocoa...because sometimes Swiss Miss just isn't enough. 

L.A. Burdick

The "drinking chocolate" at L.A. Burdick takes hot chocolate to a whole new level. This beverage - or should I say dessert- is as thick and creamy as its name suggests. While it does come in small servings, it is definitely not lacking in flavor. The drinking chocolate is made with a high-quality chocolate with an even higher percentage of cocoa butter. If you fall in love with this cup of melted chocolate-y goodness you can buy your own bag of the mixture to prepare at home - and therefore avoid making the trek to Clarendon or Brattle Streets in the freezing Boston winter. 

Flour Bakery 

Flour Bakery's Fiery Hot Chocolate gives a new meaning to the "hot" in "hot chocolate".  This spicy twist on classic hot cocoa, made with chocolate ganache, steamed milk, chili powder and cayenne pepper, is guarantee to warm your whole body up. 

Paris Creperie 


There's no such thing a too much Nutella, right?! If you're a fan of this hazelnut spread then the Nutella Hot Chocolate at Paris Creperie should be at the top of your must drink list. This drink is a mixture of warm milk and hot melted Nutella, instead of chocolate. I could put Nutella on everything so you can bet that I'm really excited about this. Bon Appetit! 

Cafe Vittoria 


If you would prefer Italian over French, the North End's Cafe Vittoria has a delicious mug of hot cocoa for you. The cafe's "Cioccolatto Caldois" is so rich you might have to eat it with a spoon. What makes this mixture so thick? The secret ingredient is corn starch. 

Sofra Bakery and Cafe 


Maybe Middle Eastern food is more your taste? Sofra Cafe and Bakery serves a Turkish -inspired cocoa, quite unlike your typical hot chocolate. This chocolate mix is combined with sesame caramel to give the whole thing a Middle Eastern vibe.

International Students LOVE the U.S.!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 23, 2016

      

If you had to guess, how many international students do you think attend higher education facilities in the U.S.? Would you guess 1 million? That number seems high right? Surprisingly enough, if you guessed 1 million you would be right! Well, almost right. There are actually over one million international students in higher education in the USA - for the first time! An interesting article in StudyTravel Magazine reports a 7.1% increase of international students in the U.S. for the 2015 - 2016 year. Data from the Institute of International Education shows 1,043,839 international students in the U.S.(an increase of 69,000 since 2014 /15). International students make up 5.2% of all higher education students in the country- the highest ratio ever.  

Here are where most of the students are from: 

China


China is the largest source of international students in the U.S. 31.5% (or approx. 328,547 students) of all higher education international students in America come from China. This year showed an 8% increase of Chinese students since 2014. 

India

The second largest source is India, which has brought approx. 165,918 students to the U.S. Though a smaller number of students than China, India has the largest growth since last year with the number of Indian international students in the U.S. growing 24.9%. 

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the third largest source , taking the spot of South Korea from previous years. Saudi Arabia is the home of about 61,287 international students in the U.S. However, changes to Saudi government's scholarship program have decreased growth to 2.2% compared to the double digit increases in previous years. 

This year there was also a large increase since last year in students from Nepal (up 18.4%), Vietnam (up 14.3%), Nigeria (up 12.4%) and Kuwait and Iran (both up 8.2%). 

Which states draw the most international students?

California is the largest host state with 149,328 students, followed by New York, Texas, Massachusetts (whoohoo!) and Illinois. 

In terms of the students educational levels the report shows that over 420,000 are enrolled in undergraduate courses, over 380,000 are pursuing graduate degrees, 85,000 are pursuing non - degree courses (like language schools, ect.) and 147,000 are registered in Optional Practical Training (OPT).

International students are drawn to U.S. due to the quality, diversity, and prestigious reputations of the country's institutions. As a homestay provider, we enjoy having a part in these students' international experience and the ability to introduce both hosts and students to a new culture!

A Tree For Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, November 21, 2016


I
 have been going to the tree lighting at Boston Common since childhood. Some of my earliest Christmas memories involve standing in front of Boston's massive Christmas tree and watching as it is lit up for the first time every winter. It wasn't until recently, though, that I learned the history of Boston's Christmas tree, and why it stands on the common each year. For starters, I didn't realize that the tree was given to Boston as a gift from Canada. The tree arrives to the Common (as it has for the past 45 years) after a three-day, 6660-mile trek from Nova Scotia. This year's tree will be the most recent gift of thanks from Nova Scotia to Boston for the city's help during the deadliest non-natural disaster in Canadian history: The Halifax Explosion.


(Destruction in Halifax after the explosion and blizzard) 

If you are not familiar with the history (I was not) here is a summary of  what happened: The explosion took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia- a busy port city of 50,000 people. On December 16th, 1917, A 320-foot French freighter, The SS Mont Blanc, was loaded with close to 6 million pounds of explosives and waiting to enter Halifax Harbor. Though the ship was carrying a dangerous amount of explosives, it flew no warnings of its cargo for fear it would be made subject of a German attack. 

Inside the harbor a Norwegian relief ship, the SS Imo, was waiting to depart. Upon the ships departure, the Imo increased its speed beyond the harbor's legal limit. Imo then passed a ship on the left (the "wrong side" for passing) and was forced to stay in the opposite lane to avoid a tugboat that was pulling away from shore. This position put Imo facing Mont Blanc. While the Imo should have moved to the right, as Mont Blanc had the right of way, the ship instead stayed where it was, therefore causing an inevitable collision between the two.

Approximately five minutes after 9:00am, the Mont Blanc exploded, in what was the largest man made explosion of the time. The explosion was so powerful that everything within a mile and a half radius was completely obliterated. Parts of the ship were launched miles away from the site of the crash  and effects of the explosion were felt as far as 200 miles away. 2,000 people died and 9,000 were injured. 


(A part of the Anchor from Mont Blanc, thrown 2.5 miles from the crash site, is now a monument in the spot it landed) 

So where does Boston come in? 

News of the explosion traveled quickly, and despite an oncoming blizzard that would cut off access to Nova Scotia, Boston Mayor James Michael Curley sent a message to the U.S. representative in Halifax just hours after the explosion stating that Boston will await instruction on how to help. Boston was the first to respond to this tragedy, raising $100,000 for relief efforts just within the first hour of fund raising. Mayor Curley was also able to secure a $30,000 carload of army blankets from the government. Additionally, Boston sent a train of 30 of the city's leading physicians and surgeons, 70 nurses, a completely equipped 500-bed base hospital unite and a vast amount of hospital supplies. Total relief contributions from Massachusetts totaled over $750,000. The Boston Symphony Orchestra even performed a sellout benefit concert for Halifax the next week.



A year later, to show their appreciation, Nova Scotia sent a gift to Boston - The Boston Christmas Tree! In 1971 this gift became an annual tradition. Throughout the year, the "Christmas Tree Specialist" in the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources keeps an eye out for the perfect tree to send. Once the tree is found, the province holds a celebratory tree cutting ceremony and sends the tree off to Boston Common the next day with a parade in downtown Halifax (you can even follow the tree's journey via @TreeForBoston on Twitter and Facebook).


The 2016 Christmas Tree arrived to Boston last Friday and will be lit December 1st at the Boston Common Tree Lighting Ceremony and Skating Spectacular. Mayor Marty Walsh will host the event, which will also include refreshments, live music, and an ice skating show on Frog Pond, courtesy of the Skating Club of Boston. The event begins at 6:00pm and is free and open to the public :)


Thanksgiving 2016

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, November 10, 2016
Thanksgiving is right around the corner and I'm sure many of you have already started planning for your holiday celebration. For many of our hosts, this year's Thanksgiving day meal will be shared with their international visitor! Thanksgiving is a holiday that is unique to the U.S. which also makes it a very interesting celebration for international visitors. As a host, you should do your best to expose your visitor to this cultural holiday, as it is a very special experience. Thanksgiving is not a religion based holiday and therefore each family has different ways of celebrating the day and enjoying different foods.





If you traditionally have a large Thanksgiving celebration, make your visitor feel included by introducing them to your friends and family members. It is also helpful to explain the holiday and your family traditions beforehand. This allows the visitor to have a better understanding of why Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, what the holiday means and what to expect of the day. It can be overwhelming for a visitor with lower English skills to be in a situation with a lot of people and rituals but not know what to do or what is happening.  You can also encourage them to make and/or purchase a dish or food item from their own culture to share with you and your family.

With Thanksgiving, comes Thanksgiving break and many students will have a brief vacation from school. This holiday weekend is a good time for hosts to spend time with their students and participate in fun Thanksgiving - related activities together. If you're not sure what to do with your student during Thanksgiving and their days off from school, here are some ideas!


Enjoy a Thanksgiving Meal
Thanksgiving would of course not be complete without the Thanksgiving feast! As I've said before, every family celebrates the holiday differently and serves different foods. However, no matter what you serve, your visitor will feel grateful to be included in your celebration and sharing a Thanksgiving meal together will be a memorable experience for both you and your visitor. If you feel comfortable, let your visitor help you prepare for the day! Bake a dessert together or show them how you cook the entree. The best part about making a lot of food for Thanksgiving is that you get to enjoy the leftovers the next day :) 

Go Black Friday Shopping!
Another Thanksgiving tradition I take part in every year is Black Friday. Maybe I'm crazy, but I actually look forward to getting up at 5:00am to join the frenzy of shoppers at South Shore Plaza. This website shows Black Friday deals for all your favorite stores. Black Friday can be a fun and new experience, but if  the idea of getting up when it's still dark out doesn't appeal to you there are other shopping opportunities this Thanksgiving weekend. A festive idea is to visit a holiday market, like the Local First Holiday Market in Somerville or the Christmas in New England store at Faneuil Hall.



Watch the Macy's Day Parade!
Watching the Macy's Day Parade on TV in an enjoyable activity for you and your visitor to share. I know in my own home, watching the parade has become a Thanksgiving Day Tradition. It could be really interesting for your visitor, too because perhaps they have never seen anything like it. The parade airs Thanksgiving Day at 9am on NBC! 

Visit Plimoth Plantation
Nothing is more Thanksgiving related than a trip to Plimoth Plantation. Visit the historical sight this Thanksgiving weekend and experience the holiday in the place where it began! An enjoyable (and educational) trip.



Watch a Football Game!
Many high schools in the Boston area have big football games on Thanksgiving. I know in my own home town it is a tradition for all the alumni to come back and watch the game on Thanksgiving Day. Bring your visitor to a game and cheer on your town together! Maybe you even have a football player or cheerleader in your family that you can support. Another option is to watch a professional football game on TV.  Here is a schedule of all the NFL games that will be airing this Turkey Day! 

Look at Holiday Lights! 
It might seem early, but I can assure you that Christmas lights will already be up in many neighborhoods right after Thanksgiving. Take your visitor on a tour of Christmas lights! Drive around different neighborhoods and admire the homes holiday decorations. You can also show your visitor an excellent (and free) display of holiday lights at Blink!, a light and sound show at Faneuil Hall. From November 20th through January 1st you can watch over 350,000 LED lights blink and dance to music from the Holiday Pops. The show runs daily beginning at 4:30 pm. 

Go Ice Skating! Right around Thanksgiving is when most of the city's outdoor skating rinks open for the winter season. Boston Common's outdoor skating rink, Frog Pond, is open to the public for skating and skate rentals beginning in mid -November. There are also many other indoor rinks in the city that offer public skating and skate rentals throughout the week, such as Steriti Memorial Rink in the North End and Simioni Memorial Rink in Cambridge. You can find a complete list of all the Boston area public skating rinks here 


Enjoy the holiday! 





Veteran's Day 2016

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 09, 2016
Veteran's Day (this Friday, November 11th) is a federal holiday to honor the brave men and women of the American armed forces who risk their lives to protect our freedom. Veteran's day celebrates all soldiers, of all branches of the military, during wartime or peace. The holiday's primary purpose, however is to thank living veterans for their courage and contribution to our national security. What began as Armistice day in 1919 (commemorating the end of  WWI) has grown into a holiday which honors military personnel of all wars and is celebrated throughout the United States with parades and public gatherings. Boston has its own special Veteran's Day celebrations...take a look at what's happening this weekend:

Veteran's Day Parade


Boston celebrates Veteran's day with not one, but two large parades in the city. The first Veteran's Day Parade begins at 1:00pm on November 11th at the corner of Boylston and Tremont Streets. The second Veteran's Day Parade (aka the Veteran's for Peace Parade) follows right behind it to pay tribute to Armistice Day, a day of peace. So where should you watch? Both parades march around Boston Common, along Boylston and Tremont Streets and on to City Hall Plaza and the front of Faneuil Hall, ending in front of the statue of Sam Adams where you can listen to various speeches, anti-war poetry readings, and music. The parades are composed of different veteran's organizations, high school ROTC groups, military units, honorary militias and marching bands.

Veteran's Day Sales


If you're a Veteran, many shops and restaurants will be offering sales and discounts to persons with a military I.D. If you are not a Veteran, a lot of sales occur Veteran's Day weekend that you can take part in too! Wrentham Village Outlets offers some of its biggest bargains on luxury brands as many items are discounted on top of their usual discounted price. The store is easily accessible too, with the Wrentham Village Bus shuttling to and from the city. Assembly Row (Orange Line : Assembly station) has Veteran's Day sales too! Typically 30% to 70% off of already discounted prices. A great way to get your holiday shopping done early without having to deal with Black Friday madness!

Ravioli??


Fun Fact: Ravioli is known as the traditional Veteran's Day food since President Woodrow Wilson invited 2,000 returning soliders to the White House for a ravioli dinner in 1918 (once upon a time canned ravioli was a trendy dish due to advances in commercial canning) Carry on this tradition by enjoying some ravioli (though hopefully not from a can) in The North End!

Day of the Dead

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 02, 2016


Today is the last day of the traditional Mexican holiday, Day of the Dead, or Dia de los Meurtos. If you are not familiar with the traditions of this holiday here is a summary: Day of the Dead celebrations coincide with the Catholic holiday of All Saints Day (and also Halloween) and therefore indigenous people have combined this with their own ancient beliefs to honor their loved ones during the celebration. Those who celebrate Day of the Dead believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31st and the spirits of all diseased children, or angelitos, are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On the holiday's final day (November 2nd) the spirits of the adults come down to join the family.  


Many indigenous families spend over two month's income on building beautiful ofrendas for the spirits. These altars are decorated with candles, buckets of flowers, mounds of fruits, plates of turkey, tortillas, and pan demuerto (special day of the dead bread). The altars must have a lot of food, bottles of soda, hot cocoa and water to replenish the spirits. Toys and candies are left for the young angels and on the 2nd, when the adult spirits arrive, shots of mezcal and cigarettes are offered along with tiny folk art skeletons and sugar skulls to add a finishing touch. In return for their offerings, people believe that satisfied spirits will provide protection, good luck, and wisdom to their families. On November 2nd, festivities are held at the cemetery. People clean tombs, play cards, listen to music, and reminisce about their loved ones. 



Skeletons and sugar skulls are important aspects of the Day of the Dead tradition. You may have seen trick - or - treaters dressed up as Day of the Dead skeletons this Halloween (girls with skeleton inspired face paint, flowers in their hair, ect.) The skeletons symbolize life after death (which is pretty much the whole theme of the holiday) During the celebration sugar skulls are given as gifts to both the dead and the living. Sugar skulls became a part of the tradition when sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century and was used to create lamb sculptures to decorate altars in the Catholic Church. Mexico, an area abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy imported European church decorations, learned from the Catholic friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Sugar skulls represent a departed soul, with the name of the deceased written on the forehead and placed on the ofrenda or gravestone. The art reflects the folk  art style of big, happy, smiles, colorful icing and sparkling, glittering adornments. The creations of these skulls is very labor intensive and made in small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers. However, this art form is sadly disappearing as fabricated and imported candy skulls replace them. 



Day of the Dead is a very important holiday in Mexican culture, especially for those in indigenous, rural villages, as it keeps the community close and bonds families together. Day of the Dead is gaining popularity in the US, perhaps because American culture does not have a holiday to celebrate our dead, or perhaps because of the holiday's intriguing mysticism.


The Cost of Halloween

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, October 31, 2016

How much do Americans spend on Halloween each year? The exact numbers may surprise you. If you are celebrating Halloween in the Boston area, it's safe to assume that you have made a Halloween related purchase within the past few weeks, whether it be candy, a costume, or festive decorations. The stats for this year's Halloween spending are in and one thing is for sure.. Americans love Halloween.



Candy

Approximately 600 million pounds of candy are sold in the U.S. each year for Halloween, with 90 million pounds of that being chocolate sold during the week immediately preceding Halloween. In total, Americans spend $1.9 billion on Halloween candy each year. Which candy is the most popular?  A recent survey for Halloween 2016 shows that Reese's and candy corn are the most popular candies in the United States, and Starburst is the most popular in Massachusetts.



Costumes and Decorations

Survey shows that more than 157 Americans planned to celebrate Halloween, with 8 in 10 millennials saying they were planning something fun with their friends. Total Halloween spending topped $6.9 billion with the average American celebrating planning to spend about $74 on decorations, candy, costumes, and more. Which costumes were the most popular this year? According to Google, superheroes / super villain costumes beat out  princesses for the number one spot. This year Harley Quinn and Joker costumes were the most popular, likely due to their new movie out last summer. This year there was also a rise in pet costumes. 2016 saw a higher popularity in people dressing their pets in costumes than ever before. The most popular pet costume? A pumpkin.



Sources: Consumer Reports