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Welcome to Boston Homestay - Danish Saxogade Group at BHCC15-Sep-2017

A group of Danish visitors arrived to Boston and homestay on September 15th. The group will be atte..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Iwate University08-Sep-2017

Global Immersions Homestay is happy to welcome our Japanese tour group from Iwate University to ..


Best in Hospitality

The Science of Hygge

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Imagine a cold winter's night and you're curled up on the couch under a mound of blankets watching your favorite show or reading a thrilling book with a cup of tea steaming next to you. If you have children, they are finally asleep -  and you have this particular moment all to yourself. It's nice, is it not? In the U.S., we might call the fuzzy, warm feeling created in that moment a sense of "coziness". In the Danish culture, however, there is a specific word to describe that feeling: hygge.

Pronounced "hoo-guh", hygge is defined by Oxford Dictionary as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being". Some refer to it as an "art of creating intimacy" - either with yourself, with others, or with your home. Hygge generally requires a person to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that can be shared with friends, family, and even strangers.

Hygge has become one of the defining aspects of Danish culture. In the last few years, the philosophy has gained an international audience; at least six books on hygge were published in the U.S. in 2016 alone. The concept is more than just a room full of candles and familiar faces though - it is a way of life that has helped Danes appreciate the importance of simplicity and practice a slower pace of life.

CEOs of companies, such as Meik Wiking of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, have written books on hygge and how others around the world can start to incorporate it in their lives. Here is a list that Wiking includes in his  "The Little Book of Hygge":

  • Get comfy. Take a break.
  • Be here now. Turn off the phones.
  • Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles.
  • Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.
  • Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living. Cake is most definitely hygge.
  • Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.

Though there is not a direct translation of the word hygge in English, the tangible feeling of comfort, coziness, and contentedness is one we are all familiar with. Remember to pause what you are doing today, take a deep breath, and slow down.

A Favorite Fall Activity: Apple Picking!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

As the beginning of September brought some chilly weather and the start of a new school year, we are reminded that autumn is right around the corner. Fall is one of the most beautiful times to be in the Northeast of the United States, and the tell-tale scenic changing colors reminds us, once more, that apple picking season is upon us.

Fresh hot cider, juicy apples, and delicious freshly baked cider doughnuts are some of the best things New England orchards have to offer. Beyond that, the fun activity is known for its bonding and relaxing nature! Here is a list of apple orchards within an hour's drive from Boston:

Belkin Family Lookout Farm

One of the longest running farms in the country, the Belkin Family Lookout Farm boats apples, pumpkins, Asian pears, train rides, and farm animal fun! The closest working farm to the city, this gem will surely brighten up your fall.

Price: $12 weekday admission per person (kids under 2 are FREE); $16 weekend admission

10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily, 89 Pleasant St., South Natick, Massachusetts, 508-653-0653

Brooksby Farm

Located a little further outside of Boston, Brooksby Farm has all of the Fall holiday essentials. This Pick-Your-Own apple orchard also has doughnuts, cider, pumpkin patches, and more!

Price: $9 for 1/2-peck bag; $17 for 1-peck bag


9 a.m.-4 p.m. daily, 54 Felton St., Peabody, Massachusetts, 978-531-7456

Dowse Orchards

For over 200 years, Dowse Orchards has been a functioning farm that produces apples, veggies, flowers, pumpkins, and Christmas trees.  This Fall come out to pick your favorite sweet Golden and Red apples for the best pies around!

Price: $16 for 1/2-peck bag


9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturdays & Sundays, 98 North Main St., Sherborn, Massachusetts, 508-653-2639, dowseorchards.com.

Honey Pot Hill

Nominated for Best Apple Orchard of 2017 by USA Today, Honey Pot Hill Orchards is a must-see this Fall! From hedge mazes, to hay rides, to farm animals, to hot cider and cider doughnuts, to jams, veggies, and pies, and, of course, to pick-your-own apples (and blueberries!), Honey Pot Hill has so much to offer for the best Fall day! Be sure to come out and enjoy the festivities this year.

Price: $18 for 10lb bag; $28 for 20lb bag


9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. daily, 138 Sudbury Road, Stow,  Massachusetts, 978-562-5666

For a more comprehensive list of apple-picking Orchards in and around Boston, follow this link!

Memorial Day Weekend in Boston

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Memorial Day is an annual holiday celebrated throughout the United States in remembrance of those who have died in service in the United States military. The holiday originated from honoring the dead from the Civil War, however later on was expanded to encompass all fallen soldiers. It was first recognized by New York in 1873, and eventually spread throughout the country. Now it is a federal holiday observed on the last Monday each May, allowing for an annual three day weekend that everyone looks forward to.

This Monday, May 26th, many Americans will visit cemeteries and memorials to honor those who have died in the American Armed Forces. Memorial Day, formerly known as Decoration Day, is also a day when families and individuals decorate graves and cemeteries with American flags.

For many Americans, Memorial Day also marks the beginning of the summer season. Many celebrate the holiday by taking short vacations, having barbeques, picnics, and family gatherings. Also, many pools and other outdoor spaces will open up this weekend.

Some activities occurring around Boston this Memorial Day weekend include:

View the Military Heroes Garden of Flags at the Boston Common

Every year flags are planted in front of the Soldiers and Sailors monument located at the Boston Common to commemorate those who gave their lives serving our country. For more information visit: http://www.massmilitaryheroes.org/our-work/community-building-events/public-program-events/memorial-day-flag-garden-planting/

Free Museum Admission

Museum of Fine Arts: The MFA is offering free admission to all visitors on Monday, May 29th from 10am to 4:45pm!

Institute of Contemporary Art: The ICA is also offering free admission from 10am to 5pm on Memorial Day, Monday May 29th.

Shop Memorial Day Sales


Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time to go shopping, as many places put on special sales or promotions in honor of the weekend. Check out the Prudential Center and Copley Square for upscale stores and boutiques, or the Wretham Outlets and Assembly Row for even bigger savings!

In addition to these, you can always go sightseeing around Boston or go on a walking tour to enjoy the first unofficial weekend of summer.

Happy Earth Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, April 21, 2017


Earth Day this year is April 22nd (this Saturday!)

Earth Day is an annual event created to celebrate the planet's environment and raise public awareness about pollution. The day is observed worldwide with rallies, conferences, outdoor activities and service projects.

History:

The first Earth Day was in 1970 , when U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson organized a national "teach-in" to educate the population about the environment after the massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California in 1968.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton awarded Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom for being the founder of Earth Day. This is the highest honor given to civilians in the United States.

Earth Day Today:

Today, more than 1 billion people across the globe participate in Earth Day activities. 

In 1990, 200 million people in 141 countries participated Earth Day, giving the event international recognition. For the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010, 225,000 people participated in a climate rally at the national Mall in Washington, D.C. The Earth Day network launched a campaign to plant 1 billion trees, which they then achieved in 2012.


Last year on Earth Day, the Secretary General of the United Nations urged world leaders to sign the Paris Climate Agreement - a treaty aimed at keeping planet warming below 2 degrees Celcius (or 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit). U.S. President Barack Obama signed the treaty that day.

The Impact of Earth Day:

Though Earth Day is widely observed, the environment is still suffering. A recent Gallup Poll shows that 42% of Americans believe that the dangers of climate change are exaggerated, and only less than 50% agree that protection of the environment should be given priority over energy production.


However, Earth Day is still significant because it reminds people to think about the importance of the environment, the threats the planet faces and ways to help combat these threats. Every year on Earth day individuals and corporations alike take proactive measures to reduce their carbon foot print- by planting trees, reaching a recycling goal, reducing their energy output,  switching to renewable products, and participating in other "green" activities! 

Source: LiveScience

The Real History of St. Patrick's Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, March 14, 2017

This Saint Patrick’s Day will be marked with green clothes, shamrocks, lucky charms, and gold coins. Surprisingly, these classic icons were not always symbols of the holiday.

 St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated annually on March 17th to commemorate the death of St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland. The holiday, which began as a religious feast in the 17th century, has since evolved into an array of festivals across the globe, featuring music, dancing, and (of course) a whole lot of green!

As it turns out, St. Patrick wasn’t actually even Irish. He was born in Roman Britain and at the age of 16, was kidnapped by Irish raiders and brought to Ireland as a slave.  He later escaped, but then returned to Ireland and is credited with bringing Christianity to its people. After his death, St. Patrick was pretty much forgotten until various myths surrounding his life were brought to the surface and became ingrained in Irish culture. It was only centuries after his death that he was honored as the country’s patron Saint.

What are some myths regarding St. Patrick? First, he never drove the snakes out of Ireland. Ireland never had any snakes and this myth is just a metaphor for how St. Patrick cleansed Ireland of Pagans. It is said that St. Patrick used a clover to explain the holy trinity to the Irish people, which is why many Irish started to wear shamrocks on their clothing to signify Irish Christian Pride. This tradition later evolved into wearing green on St. Patty’s Day.

You may also be surprised to learn that the tradition of having parades on St. Patrick’s Day originated in the U.S. and not in Ireland. Parades began in the U.S. after many Irish immigrated there during the time of the Irish potato famine. Boston is home to the nation’s longest-running St. Patrick’s Day Parade, beginning in 1737. The second oldest, and currently the largest, parade takes place in New York City, which held its first parade in 1762. It is estimated over 2 million spectators attend the NYC parade each year.

How will you spend your St. Patrick’s Day? Don’t miss the South Boston St. Patrick’s Day parade this Sunday, March 19th! The parade begins at 1:00 pm at the Broadway MBTA stop and continues for over 3 miles to Andrew Square. You can find various events happening this St. Patrick’s Day weekend here


Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Erin Go Bragh! 

Valentine's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, February 07, 2017

February 14th is Valentine's Day! Did you know other cultures celebrate this holiday too?? Check out some countries that have their own unique Valentine's Day celebrations and traditions.....



Australia

Australian's have a long history of gifting extravagant presents to their loved ones on Valentine's Day. This tradition began during the country's gold rush in the 1850's, when newly wealthy miners would buy elaborate valentines for their wives or girlfriends. These gifts included items such as, satin pillows, colored shells, decorated boxes, and even taxidermy hummingbirds. These gifts came to represent high society and style. Today, couple's still exchange large gifts, though with a more modern spin. A typical Australian Valentine's Day now involves less dead birds and more dinner cruises, waterfront picnics, or proclamations of love on the radio. 

 

South Africa

South Africans couples celebrate Valentine's Day similarly to couples in the U.S - they exchange small presents, such as flowers, chocolates or gifts Single South African women have a rather unique tradition where they pin the name of their love interest on their sleeve and reveal their crushes to others. 



Taiwan

Valentine’s Day in Taiwan is celebrated on February 14th, and at the Qixi festival on July 7th. On both days men purchase special bouquets for their sweethearts. One red rose symbolizes an "only love", eleven roses symbolizes a "special someone", ninety-nine roses symbolizes "forever", and one hundred and eight roses is a marriage proposal! 


Wales

Wales' equivalent to Valentine's Day is Saint Dwynwen Day on January 25th. The tradition of celebrating Saint Dwynwen, the patron saint of lovers, began in the 17th century, when Welsh men gave "love spoons" to women that they loved. These wooden spoons were intricately decorated with designs of various meaning. Wheels signify support, horseshoes symbolize luck, and keys represent the key to a man’s heart.

South Korea

Celebrations of Valentine's Day in South Korea can occur from February to April. On February 14th, women will gift candy, flowers, or small gifts to men. Then on March 14th, or White Day, men will return the action by offering chocolate, flowers, and a gift to the women. On April 14th, singles may celebrate Black Day, during which they eat black bean paste noodles called jajangmyeon and mourn their single status.

How will you celebrate your Valentine's Day? You can find a few suggestions here.  Enjoy the day with family and friends! 

Source: Huffington Post 

The Year of the Rooster

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Xinnian Kuaile (sshin-nyen why-luh) ! Happy New Year! This year, Chinese New Year falls on January 28th and will last until February 2nd. Unlike other country's new year celebrations, which coincide with the last day of the Gregorian calendar year, Chinese New Year is based upon the Lunar Calendar and therefore falls on a different date each year (typically between the end of January and mid February). Although Chinese New Year falls in the middle of winter, the celebration is known as "Spring Festival" in China, as the ancient solar calendar classifies the start of Spring as the period from February 4th to 18th.


 Each year is assigned one of 12 zodiac signs with an associated animal. The Chinese believe that each sign has certain characteristics, which describe people born during the sign's corresponding years. 2017 is the year of the rooster - the corresponding sign of those born in 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, and 2005. Those born under the rooster are thought to be hardworking, resourceful, courageous, talented and very confident in themselves.

Roosters are always active, amusing, and popular within a crowd. They are talkative, outspoken, frank, open, honest, and loyal individuals. They like to be the center of attention and always appear attractive and beautiful. People born under the sign of the Rooster are happiest when they are surrounded by others, whether at a party or just a social gathering. They enjoy the spotlight and will exhibit their charm on any occasion.

Roosters expect others to listen to them while they speak, and can become agitated if they don’t. Vain and boastful, Roosters like to brag about themselves and their accomplishments.

Their behavior of continually seeking the unwavering attention of others annoys people around them at times.”


Much preparation is done before Chinese New Year even begins. Homes are decorated with red decorations along with streets and public places, as red is considered a very lucky color. Most homes will also include strips of paper known as "Chunlian". These papers contain messages known as "Spring Couplets" or messages of good health and fortune. A typical decoration contains four Chinese characters in gold writing, which are known as "Hui Chun". Families will thoroughly clean their homes for the festival to rid the home of any bad feelings for the new year. It is considered bad luck to not clean one's home before the new year. The Chinese clean beforehand to avoid cleaning for at least the first three days of the new year, as they believe doing so will sweep away any good luck they have acquired. In addition to cleaning their homes, Chinese also take care to clean themselves. They do so by getting a haircut prior to the new year. It is considered unlucky to get a haircut during the new year, so some Chinese people will avoid cutting their hair for at least a month. In Chinese culture, new clothing and shoes symbolize a new beginning, and many Chinese will purchase new items for the new year. It is also common for people to purchase flowers, as flower blossoms symbolize good fortune.

(Migration of Chinese during Chinese New Year) 


The New Year celebration is extremely family oriented. It is estimated that more than 200 million Chinese take long journey's to return home for the holiday celebrations. The main celebration usually begins with a family gathering and meal on New Year's Eve. Families will enjoy special treats along with typical dishes of fish or chicken. Both dishes are served whole, however the fish should not be completely eaten, as leftover fish represents a surplus at the end of the new year. It is also common for the family to exchange gifts in the form of money inside of a red envelope. Families will practice Shou Sui, or staying up until midnight together to greet the new year. 

New Year's celebrations include parades with traditional Lion dances, drums, and large fireworks displays. During the Spring festival, there are hundreds of thousands of fireworks displays and millions of fireworks set off at home. The tradition is that fireworks scare away evil spirits and demons. The largest displays are lit at midnight, similar to the January 1st celebrations of other cultures. The two weeks of celebration usually end with a Lantern Festival. Families and friends come together again to eat and release lanterns into the sky. Children do not attend school throughout the holiday period, and can even go a whole month before returning to class!

(Spring Festival in Malaysia)

You may be surprised to learn that China is not the only country that celebrates Chinese New Year. Spring Festival celebrations occur in dozens of countries across the globe, with more than 2 billion people participating. Countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have huge celebrations, and smaller communities in Chinatowns around the world gather to hold events, parades, and firework shows. Public holidays lasting from one to four days are common throughout Asia, with celebrations extending  for a week in Vietnam. Hong Kong is well known for its Spring Festival celebrations, as the area hosts a major horse racing festival at this time. Events also include fireworks, theatrical shows, as large displays of flowers. Western cities also hold their own Chinese New Year festivals. Most notably is the celebration in London, which sees more than half a million people taking part in organized events. 

Interested in participating in Chinese New Year Events in Boston?? From now until January 27th, The China Trade Building in Boston's Chinatown is hosting a Chinese New Year Pop-Up Flower Marketselling flowers from local businesses in celebration of the New Year. On February 12th, Chinatown will host the Chinese New Year Parade and China Cultural Village, featuring classic elements of Chinese New Year celebrations, such as music, lion dancers, fireworks, and of course delicious food! 

Check out our Facebook Page for more info about Lunar New Year Events and other exciting things happening in Boston! 


Sources: The Mirror, Quartz, KInternational, CNN

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!