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Ramadan Mubarak!16-May-2018

Ramadan begins today. "Ramadan Mubarak!" to all hosts and visitors who will be observing Ramadan..

Happy Mother's Day!13-May-2018

Happy Mother's Day to all of our wonderful host mothers! Thank you for all that you do for our ..


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Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, May 14, 2018

Memorial Day, the U.S. holiday that honors those who have lost their lives in the military, takes place next Monday, May 28th. As Memorial Day is federal holiday, many people will be traveling elsewhere for the long weekend. However, if you will be staying in the Boston area here are some exciting (and free!) ways to spend the holiday. 


Memorial Day Parades

Neighborhoods of the greater Boston area will hold memorial day parades over the weekend and on Monday. Most parades will feature local veterans as well as services and activities to honor fallen heroes. Somerville's Memorial Day celebration was early (Sunday, May 20th) but other parades, such as those in Brookline, Watertown, Belmont, Malden, Medford, Everett and Revere, will take place next Monday.This map shows where, when, and at what time each parade will occur.

The Boston Common Flag Garden

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund's Flag Garden on Boston Common  is a Memorial Day tradition. Each Memorial Day tradition hundreds of volunteers help "plant" small American flags at the Commons' Soldiers and Sailors monument. The completed garden contains over 37,000 flags that represent each Massachusetts service member who lost their life defending the United States since the Revolutionary war. 

Free Admission to the MFA and ICA

On Memorial Day Boston's Museum of Fine Arts and Institute of Contemporary Art are offering free admission to all visitors.  This month the MFA and ICA have new exhibits such as "M.C. Escher Infinite Dimensions" and "Phantasmagoria" at the MFA and showcases by Kevin Beasley and Caitlin Keogh at the ICA.


The Run to Remember

Sunday, May 27th is the 14th annual "Run to Remember", a charity half-marathon or 5 mile race in honor of all first responders who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The race is sponsored by the Boston Police Department and Boston Runner's Club. The race course, which begins at the Seaport World Trade Center, extends throughout downtown Boston. Proceeds from participant entry and donations will benefit community and children's programs of the Boston Police Runner's Club. "The Run to Remember" features other family-friendly events in the days leading up to the race. On Friday and Saturday, the Seaport World Trade Center will host a free Sports and Fitness Expo as well as a variety of activities for children. Popular Boston radio station, Mix 104.1, will also be on site both Saturday and Sunday playing music and providing entertainment.

(Free) Outdoor Events

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, May 07, 2018

Boston is finally seeing warmer weather, which means that it's a great time to be outside enjoying the sun and the city. Throughout the summer, different organizations are putting on events around Boston- and the best part is that they're free! If you're looking for something to do during the week, after work, or over the weekend, check out some of these fun events starting this month.

Lawn on D

Beginning this month and throughout the summer, the Lawn on D is open to the public almost every day. The Lawn on D is an open community space offering a variety of lawn games; such as bocce, corn hole, Jenga, ping-pong, giant chess, lawn checkers, and large connect-four. The Lawn on D also has a concession stand with a complete menu of food and beverages. During the week, the Lawn on D hosts different events, that are usually free to attend. Every Thursday night, the Lawn on D will host a free movie showing outdoors on a large projection screen. On the weekends the Lawn has live music performances or parties sponsored by different companies like Del's lemonade or Harpoon Brewery.

Boston Calling Block Parties

Boston Calling Block Parties are a free event series occurring every Thursday from now until the end of the summer. The event takes place weekly from 5 pm-8 pm in Dewey Square Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway and features a free performance from different local artists as well as a selection of beverages for those that wish to drink.

                                                                               

Berklee Greenway Concert Series

Pack a picnic and go support local artists! Talented musicians from Boston's Berklee College of music will be giving live performances in the North End area of the Rose Kennedy Greenway on Hanover street. Concerts will take place every Friday at 5:00 pm. These free concerts are a great way to hear some of the up and coming artists from Berklee while spending time relaxing outside.

                                                                              

The Coolidge At the Greenway

The Coolidge Corner theater is partnering with the Rose Kennedy Greenway to screen classic films outdoors in Wharf District Park during the summer. All films will be screened in 35 mm and begin at sunset. Spectators are encouraged to bring blankets or chairs to enjoy the film.

Boston's Hidden Museum Gems

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 27, 2018

Boston has many well know museums, like The Museum of Science, The Museum of Fine Arts, or the Boston Children's Museum, just to name a few. What a lot of people don't know is that the Boston area has a ton of other lesser-known museums, that are just as interesting as those that are more commonly frequented. What most people also don't know is that many of these museums are free or discounted for students. If you have visited many of the more popular or "touristy" museums in Boston and want something new, check out one of these "hidden-gem" museums in the city.


Museum of African American History

The Museum of African American History contains some of the most important historical landmarks and acts as an important memorial to African American History in New England. The Museum's Boston location includes the Abiel Smith School and African Meeting House, located in Boston's Beacon Hill, a historically African American neighborhood in the 19th century. The African Meeting House has undergone historic restoration, returning the building to its 1855 appearance. The building was once a church, school, and community meeting place. The Abiel Smith school is the oldest surviving public school in the United States that was built for the purpose of educating African American children.  The Museum also conducts walking tours of the African American History Trail, which encompasses historic sites that depict life in Boston for free African Americans before the civil war. The MAAH contains some of the most important historical landmarks in the nation and acts as an important memorial to African American History in New England.

The Museum of Bad Art

While most art museums are dedicated to celebrated works of art, The Museum of Bad Art is dedicated to art that is exceptionally bad. This unconventional museum, located beneath the Somerville Theater, contains a collection of art that is "so bad its good." Some of the pieces are less appealing works of normally talented artists, whereas others have been created by "amateurs". The museum is great because it displays works that would never be hung in traditional galleries. The museum celebrates and honors the labor and creativity of artists whose work would otherwise go unappreciated or unseen. Admission to the museum is free with the purchase of a movie pass to the theater, however free passes can also be requested on the MoBA website if you want to skip the film.

The Gibson House Museum

The Gibson House was one of the first homes to be built in Back Bay. The Museum provides an inside look into a 19th century Victorian row house in Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood. The home, occupied for three generations by the Gibson's, a wealthy Bostonian family, has been preserved in its original 1860 style. The Museum collection includes original wallpaper, textiles, furniture, and family artifacts.  

The Boston Fire Museum

The mission of The Boston Fire Museum is to "preserve and display the fire fighting memorabilia from the Greater Boston area" while educating the public on fire safety and supporting fire fighters in general.  The Museum, which is housed in the old firehouse at 344 Congress Street in Boston's Seaport district, includes fire fighting artifacts such as alarms, equipment, antique fire apparatus and photographs. One of the most interesting exhibits at the Museum is the display of old fire trucks from the 18th and 19th centuries. Admission to the Fire Museum is free.


Warren Anatomical Museum

The Warren Anatomical Museum, located at Harvard Medical School, is one of the last surviving anatomy and pathology museums associated with a medical school. The Museum contains artifacts of health science, that in combination, detail the history of the profession. One of the more famous exhibits is the skull of Phineas Gage. The story of Phineas Gage is well known in the medical community as it informed much of what we know today about the brain and the way it functions. Phineas Gage survived an injury in which a metal rod was pierced through his skull and he was still able to function, though noticeable changes in his personality occurred after.


The Commonwealth Museum

The Commonwealth Museum is located near the more well -known JFK Library, and contains everything you would ever want to know about Massachusetts. The Museum's exhibit includes documents on the Pilgrims, dating from 1603, as well as letters from Governor John Winthrop, papers from Vice President John Adams, and records of the Sacco and Vanzetti case. Other popular artifacts include Paul Revere's copper plate depicting the Boston Massacre, The written charter given by Charles I to John Winthrop when he sailed from England to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony, as well as Massachusetts' copy of The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In addition to the trove of documents, the Museum also has many interactive exhibits that are interesting for kids as well as adults. Entry into the museum is free.


Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House

Further away from Boston, but still accessible by the Commuter Rail's Fitchburg Line, is Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House, the home where Louisa May Alcott wrote and set her famous novel "Little Women," a story modeled off of events and characters in the author's own life. Upon visiting the Alcott's home visitors can tour the house as well as learn about the family and items in the home that were significant to them. The home has been well preserved since it was lived in by the Alcott family. While you are in the area, you may want to also visit the nearby Walden Pond Reservation, a place made famous by Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

Lesser-Known Tip: Free Museums for Bank of America Card Holders

If you are a Bank of America card holder, as many of our international visitors are, you can receive free admission to many popular Massachusetts museums during the first full weekend of every month.  You can find a list of qualifying museums here.

2018 Boston Marathon

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 13, 2018

If you're a resident of the Boston area, you're probably aware that this Monday (April 19th) is Presidents' Day and Marathon Monday.

                                                                                 

Marathon Monday has a become a widely celebrated event in Boston. On this day, Boston schools are typically closed in observance of Patriot's Day and several roads are blocked off for the race. Spectators from across the country and even across the world come to cheer on friends and loved ones  along the route. Others come to stand  by the finish line and watch competitors complete their final miles.


How did the Marathon get its start? The first Boston Marathon was first run in April 1897, making it the oldest continuously running marathon and the second longest continuously running footrace in North America. The Marathon was inspired by the revival of the marathon for the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.  The first winner of the Boston Marathon was John J "JJ" McDermott, who ran the 24.5 mile course in 2 hours and 55 minutes.  Women were not allowed to officially enter the Marathon until 1972. The first woman to run the entire Boston Marathon was Roberta "Bobbi" Gibb, who finished the race in 1966.


While the Marathon was originally a local event, its fame grew to attract runners from around the world. The Marathon was originally a free event, and only began awarding cash prizes in 1986, after professional athletes refused to run the race unless they received a cash prize.

If you want to catch this year's race (either live or on TV) here is what you need to know.


Where: The race will span from Hopkinton to Boston. You can find a race map hereThe race will span 26.2 miles

Time: The Marathon begins at 8:50 a.m. with mobility impaired competitors having the first start time. The women's elite race begins at 9:32 am and the men's at 10:am.

How to Watch: Get there early to claim a good spot along the route. This guide gives the best spots to watch. 

TV/Live stream: f you want to watch the race from the comfort of your own home, it will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. You can also live stream the race on NBC Sports Live and from the Boston Athletic Association website.

Happy Marathon Monday and good luck to all participants!

St. Patrick's Day in the City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 13, 2018

St. Patrick’s Day, a holiday that originated in Ireland is celebrated widely, and perhaps more enthusiastically in the United States. The United States, due to its large Irish population, adopted the holiday and now cities and towns around the country have St. Patrick’s Day parades and traditions. Here are some cities known for their St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the U.S.

Boston:

The first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States was held in Boston in 1737. While St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland is primarily a religious holiday, in the United States it is secular and is observed by Irish and non-Irish residents alike. Each year, Boston celebrates St. Patty’s Day with a parade in South Boston- a famously Irish-American area of the city. Irish rock band, The Dropkick Murphy’s, most known for their song “Shipping Up to Boston”, traditionally plays a St. Patrick’s Day concert in the city.

According to a 2015 U.S. census, 32.7 million Americans claimed Irish ancestry. This number is 7 times the population of Ireland.

New York City:

The first St. Patrick’s Day parade was held in NYC in 1762. In 2002, the New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade honored victims an heroes of 9/11 and featured over 300,000 participants and 3 million spectators, making it the largest parade to date. In 2014, the NYC St. Patty’s Day Parade made news again after parade organizers announced the first ever LGBT group march- effectively ending the ban on these groups participating. The NYC parade as a notably long parade route- extending from 5th Avenue to 44th and 79th streets. It has become known as the world’s largest ST. Patrick’s Day parade.

Chicago:

Chicago’s tradition of St. Patrick’s Day parades began in 1955. This city is perhaps most known for dying the Chicago River green during St. Patrick’s Day. The river is dyed on the morning of the parade. The dying process takes about 45 minutes, and, depending on weather, the river can stay green for several days. The river was turned green for the first time in 1962. Flour sifters filled with 40 pounds of environmentally friendly orange powder are used to turn the river a bright green. Two boats are used to spread out the color. 

Interested in learning more about St. Patick's Day. Check out The History Channel's graphic of St. Patty's Day facts.


Source: CNN, The Chicago Tribune

Super Bowl $tats: The Cost of Super Bowl LII

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 30, 2018

This Sunday, The New England Patriots will face off against the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII. The Patriots have won 5 out of the 9 total Super bowls they have played in. Sunday will determine if Patriots' quarterback, Tom Brady, will receive his 6th Super Bowl win in his 8th Super Bowl appearance.

The Eagles have appeared in 2 previous Super Bowls, though have never emerged victorious. The team took on the Patriots once before in 2004, losing 21-24 in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Sunday's game is sure to be exciting as the Patriots fight to hang onto their title as reigning Super Bowl Champions.

Super Bowl Sunday is definitely a heavily advertised event, but just how popular is it? You may be surprised to learn exactly how much money is spent by Americans on game day every year.

Super Bowl Stats

Over 100 million people watch the Super Bowl every year. This means that over 100 million people see Super Bowl Ads. 

Over the last 50 years corporations have spent a total of $4.9 billion dollars on advertising during the Super Bowl. The current average cost of airspace for a 30- second commercial is $5 million dollars. 


Americans spend $1.2 billion dollars on beer for the Super Bowl and $1.1 billion on other alcohol.

$82 million dollars is spent on chicken wings alone - the most popular game day snack. 

Americans spend $1.4 billion dollars on Super Bowl parties, most of which is spent on food and drink. 

Snacks by State

According to Thrillist the most popular Super Bowl snacks in the states of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania (where the Patriots and Eagles have their home fields) are buffalo chicken dip and Potato Soup, respectively. In Minnesota (where they will play on Sunday) the most popular snack is Tater Tot Casserole.

Here is the most popular game day snacks by state: 

Alabama -- Mississippi Roast
Alaska -- Potato Salad
Arizona -- Chili
Arkansas -- Queso Cheese Dip
California -- Chicken Wings
Colorado -- Taco Pie
Connecticut -- Slow Cooker Chicken Wings
Delaware -- Butter Cake Bars
Florida -- Sausage Cheese Balls
Georgia -- Sliders
Hawaii -- Crescent Sloppy Joes
Idaho -- Little Smokies
Illinois -- Chex Mix
Indiana -- Root Beer Chicken
Iowa -- Pigs In A Blanket
Kansas -- Dill Pickle Soup
Kentucky -- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
Lousiana -- Crab au Gratin
Maine -- Clam Dip
Maryland -- Pizza Sticks
Massachusetts -- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Michigan -- Potato Soup
Minnesota -- Tater Tot Casserole/Hot Dish
Mississippi -- Beef Stew
Missouri -- Hamburgers
Montana -- Buffalo Chicken Dip
Nebraska -- Hot Wings
Nevada -- Sausage Cheese Balls
New Hampshire -- Chili
New Jersey -- Chili
New Mexico -- Seven Layer Taco Dip
New York -- Buffalo Chicken Wings
North Carolina -- Sausage Cheese Balls
North Dakota -- Bacon-Wrapped Smokies
Ohio -- White Chicken Chili
Oklahoma -- Stuffed Mushrooms 
Oregon -- Taco Soup
Pennsylvania -- Potato Soup
Rhode Island -- Chili
South Carolina -- Cowboy Caviar
South Dakota -- Hummus
Tennessee -- Skillet Dips
Texas -- Sausage Cheese Balls
Utah -- Pulled Pork
Vermont -- Bruschetta
Virginia -- Deviled Eggs
Washington -- Jalapeno Popper Dip
West Virginia -- Sliders
Wisconsin -- Pinwheels
Wyoming -- Sliders

Super Bowl LII airs this Sunday, February 4th, at 6:30 pm on NBC

Don't have cable? Don't worry. Learn about other viewing options here.

Source: Parade

Top 5 Sledding Hills in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, January 19, 2018

Take advantage of the inevitable snowfall this season by planning a sledding outing for your family and international visitor. There are many hills in the Boston area that are perfect for sledding and easily accessible from your own home. Read about some of the best sledding hills below, and remember to bundle up! 


Flagstaff Hill on Boston Commons

Flagstaff Hill is one of the more populated sledding hills due to its convenient location in The Commons. The hill, located near the baseball diamond and next to Charles Street, is only a short distance from either Park Street or Boylston T stops. While your there you can also try public skating at Frog Pond and warm up with a hot chocolate from the snack bar.                              


Larz Anderson Park in Brookline

The Larz Anderson park is home to a public ice skating rink as well as rolling hills of all sizes, making it a really fun spot for winter activities. The park is a popular sledding area for families near Brookline and Boston, so on particularly snowy days it may be crowded. Nevertheless, it is still exciting. The park is also located near the Larz Anderson Auto Museum and The Putterham School, a one roomed school house from colonial times. 

Arnold Arboretum in Roslindale

The Arnold Arboretum is open year round and is easily accessible from the MBTA Orange Line station at Forrest Hills. The Arboretum, endowed as a department of Harvard University, covers 250 acres around Roslindale and Jamaica Plane neighborhoods.  The best place for sledding at the Arboretum is down Peter's Hill, one of the steepest ad longest sledding runs near Boston.


Danehy Park in Cambridge

Danehy Park was once a landfill that was then repurposed into public recreation area. As a popular destination for area residents from Spring to early Fall, Danhey Park hosts public events, sports games, and even includes a dog park. The 50-acre spot of land is also the highest point in Cambridge. Its tall hills make the park enjoyable in winter months as well.  After a heavy snowfall, the park has excellent terrain for sledding. 

Need to find other hills near you? You can find more info on sledding hills in the Great Boston Area, as well as on the North and South shores here. 

Need a sled? Sleds are generally inexpensive at most department stores, or you learn can DIY here. 

When the Clock Strikes 12

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 28, 2017

Whether viewed as an anthem, lifestyle, or fact, it’s 5 o'clock Somewhere. On December 31, a different hour is anticipated. The New Year is rung in all over the globe, in each time zone with fireworks and festivities.

First Night Boston, the oldest and largest event of its kind in the country, derived from a woman’s dream for a nontraditional night out. In 1975, Clara and Bill Wainwright attended a New Year's Eve party and found it predictable. They envisioned an Inclusive family-friendly celebration. The couple began organizing their project of a creative night by meeting with local artists. With partners and sponsors, they were able to plan more more than a hundred individual events across the city, including concerts, displays, and fireworks. New England weather is unpredictable, and the temperature reached a windchill of ten degrees below zero. About 25,000 people bundled up to experience First Night. It has since become a tradition and inspired similar events throughout the country and the world. 

The first major city to experience the New Year is Sydney. The largest fireworks display of the world is presented on the harbor, with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House making the show only more alluring. A ceremony presented by the Aboriginal peoples, showcases eucalyptus smoke billowing over the water, cleansing the Harbour of bad spirits. Family Fireworks go off at 9 pm for young Aussies to view, with the larger presentation following at the stroke of midnight. The parade of boats illuminated with strings of lights, glide through the harbor.

Perhaps the most thought celebration spot for New Year’s Eve is New York City. With millions gathering to watch the ball drop in Times Square and hours of notable musical guests, it is no wonder it is the most famous. The pricey alternative to partying outside is to have reservations or attend parties at the restaurants or bars overlooking the festivities. Crowds aren’t for everyone, which makes the televised broadcast, “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” such a success. 


“Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” now features segments from the Las Vegas party with additional guest appearances from celebrities. The Las Vegas Strip is known for entertainment, making it one of the great party destinations. On New Year’s Eve the road is shut down and transformed into a street party with live bands and pyrotechnics from various locations.

Another city known for partying, Rio de Janeiro is a top New Year’s Eve Destination. Known for its Carnival blowout, the New Year’s Eve bash maintains the same level of excitement, making it the largest New Year’s Eve party in the world. Over two million flock to the two and a half mile stretch of sand, known as Copacabana Beach. While Copacabana Beach is the most popular, smaller events will take place on other beaches and locations. Locals will traditionally wear white and will toss flowers and offerings into the ocean. Oceanfront stages host live musical and dance performances.


Needless to say, cities around the world are well-versed in celebrating the New Year. What are YOUR plans to welcome in 2018? 

Everyone here at Global Immersions hopes you have a fabulous New Year!!

Christmas: Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The winter solstice marked the short, harsh and dark winter days were coming to an end. Longer days and extended hours of sunlight are highly anticipated and brought hope to those seeking comfort in the sun. This Pagan celebration was soon absorbed by others and transitioned into a Christian holiday. The winter holiday became an anniversary celebration of the birth of Jesus. From one religion to another and constantly evolving, Christmas of today has religious implications but the commercialized aspects have far outgrown the religious ones. Narratives once revolved around Jesus, but Santa Claus has since become the integral character for Christmas stories.

Not always the popular holiday it is today, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. Puritan beliefs countered the celebration and those participating in Christmas festivities were fined five shillings. While other settlements did not have these strict regulations and Christmas slowly gained popularity. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States in on June 26, 1870. Globalization and developing technologies have changed and spread traditions. Each family has different traditions, as does each country. Other traditions and celebrations are unique to a country or town.

Christmas trees have become a symbol of Christmas. Christmas trees were first seen in Germany and immigrants brought the concept to the United States. Thought of as a Pagan tradition, it was not widely embraced initially. The first record of a Christmas tree being publicly displayed was in the 1830s. This display in Pennsylvania was created by German immigrants who had been decorating such trees in their communities for years. Popularity of Christmas trees grew after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was German, were photographed with their children around one.

St. Lucia (Lucy) Day is celebrated widely, but most common in Scandinavia on December 13. The name Lucy refers to “light” and the celebration initially coincide with the winter solstice. To commemorate her death, a girl will dress in a white gown with a red sash around the waist. A crown of twigs and nine lit candles adorn her head. Processions are common in towns and one girl is selected for the honor of leading it. She will dress with the sash and crown of candles, but the other participants will carry a candle


Gävlebocken, the Gävle Goat, is a holiday display in Gävle, Sweden. Comprised of straw, the goat has cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to create and maintain. Since the tradition was introduced in 1966, the Gävle Goat has been destroyed by vandals 35 times in the past 50 years. Increased resources have been allocated to the protection of the display.  

While everyone might be dreaming of a white Christmas, some have white sandy beaches. In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the middle of summer. Australians  tend to go to the beach and have a picnic as their Christmas meal. The weather permits plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.


All in all, Christmas around the world is celebrated in various styles and fashions, but most people would agree that the most important part of Christmas is the time we spend with family!

Merry Christmas to all!

The Story of Hanukkah

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a centuries-old Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. As legend goes, in 166 BC, the Jewish people rose against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. First led by father and priest, Mattathias Maccabee, and then by his son, Judah, the rebellion lasted for well over two years, and ended in what is considered the 'miracle' of light.

The Greek-Syrian oppressors had desecrated the holy Temple in Jerusalem by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing pigs upon its altar. Their leader, Antiochus, gave the Jewish people an ultimatum: conversion or death. Though outnumbered, Judah Maccabee and his followers won two important battles, virtually ridding the city of the Greek-Syrian oppressors.

At the end of the Maccabean Revolt, Judah called upon his followers to cleanse the Temple, rebuild its original altar, and light its menorah. To everyone's dismay, there was only enough untainted oil to keep the menorah lit for a single day. The flames, however, continued to flicker for eight nights, allowing the Jewish people enough time to find a fresh supply of oil. This miracle inspired the annual eight-day festival of lights, Hanukkah, which means 'dedication' in Hebrew, and reminds Jews today to rededicate themselves to the Jewish religion, culture, and people.

Today, the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around lighting the menorah, eating foods cooked in oil (such as latkes and jam-filled donuts), playing with toy dreidels, and spending time with family. Though it is not considered a Jewish "high holiday", in which restrictions are placed on school, work, or other activities,  Hanukkah has seen an explosion of commercial attention, as it usually lands near Christmas. This year, Hanukkah began on Tuesday, December 12, and will go through Wednesday, December 20.

Happy Hanukkah to all!

Sources: History and RJ