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Spring Holidays and Festivals Across the Globe

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Holi: The Indian Spring Festival

Originally an ancient Hindu festival celebrated in India, Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors and is now widely popular with non-Hindus and people all across South Asia. First and foremost this festival celebrates the beginning of a new season, spring, and the victory of good over evil. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. It also marks the beginning of a new year and a time to mend broken relationships and end conflicts to help start the year afresh. Celebrations for this festival begin the night before the actual day of color with the burning of a bonfire to symbolize an ancient myth of burning away evil spirits to make way for good fortune. On Holi day children and youths spray colored powdered solutions and throw colored powder at friends and strangers, men and women, poor and rich. Anyone and everyone is fair game. People move and visit family and friends, share Holi delicacies and chilled drinks, including an adult drink with special intoxicating herbs specific to this holiday. It is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the full moon. This year March 17th will be the Holi day of colors. For a fun and informative video of the holiday click here!

Semana Santa: Catholic Holy Week in Spain

Celebrated in almost every Spanish city, this holiday takes place during the last week of Lent, the last week immediately before Easter or Pascua, the day on which Jesus was resurrected after crucifixion.  Religious processions of brotherhoods and fraternities march through the Spanish streets throughout the week to commemorate the passion of Jesus Christ. These groups march wearing conical hoods and cloaks and carry candles, enormous wooden crosses, and magnificent floats, known as ‘Pasos’, sculpted with depictions of gospels relating to the Passion of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Religious devotion, art, color, and music combine in acts to commemorate Jesus Christ by the Spaniards as the cities gather to watch the processions through the streets. As an extremely Catholic country this week is an important spring event and draws in huge crowds of locals and tourists alike to take part in this uniquely somber cultural festival. This year the processions start on April 14th. Check out a cool video of the processions here. 

Nowruz: The Persian Spring Festival

Nowruz marks the first day of spring and the first day of the New Year in the Persian calendar. As a secular holiday it is celebrated by a widely diverse group of people from various ethnic communities and religions and has been celebrated for over 3000 years. Originating in the territory formerly known as Persia, it is now celebrated in modern day Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. In most of these locations it is considered the most important holiday of the year and preparation start months before the spring equinox. Traditionally, a major spring-cleaning of the house and buying and dressing in new clothes starts the twelve day long festivities. During these days short house visits to friends, families, and neighbors is expected. Bonfires are common as they symbolize the burning away of the old year. The Haft Sin, or seven s’s are a traditional table setting during this time. A mirror symbolizing the sky, an apple symbolizing earth, candles symbolizing fire, rose water symbolizing water, wheat symbolizing plants, goldfish symbolizing animals, and an egg symbolizing humans and fertility are on each dining table. Traditional Nowruz specific dishes and desserts are eaten during this time. It is celebrated on the day of the astronomical Northward equinox, this year being on March 22nd.

Passover: The Jewish Holy Festival

Also known as Pesach, Passover is an important, biblically-derived Jewish festival. The Jewish people celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation over 3,300 years ago by God from slavery in ancient Egypt. This festival usually lasts seven to eight days starting the night of the full moon after the northern vernal equinox. On the first night of Passover Jewish families come together for a special dinner called Seder and the table is set with the finest china and silverware as it is one of the most important Jewish holidays. During this meal the story of the Exodus from Egypt is told. Throughout the week all meals eaten must be Kosher and not use a leavening agent. This is to represent the Jewish flee from Egypt which is believed to have happened too quickly after liberation to allow time for their food to leaven before being lead away by Moses. Special meals specific to the festival are prepared throughout the week to accommodate for this such as matzo, a yeast-less bread product, and families gather together throughout the week to enjoy them together. Many Jews do not work on these days and special prayers are said specific to each night of the Passover festival. This year the festival begins on April 14th. 

Shunbun no Hi: Japanese Vernal Equinox

This Japanese holiday is also a celebration relating to the vernal equinox. This festival is mirrored in the autumn on the only other day of the year that there is exactly the same amount of hours of daylight as night.  Originally as a Shinto religious holiday people would spend this day by visiting loved ones gravesites and paying homage to the ancestors. Today, as a public holiday in Japan, most workers have this day off to return to their homes and celebrate with their families. The day is celebrated to bring in the spring season and appreciate nature blooming after a long winter. People also take time to renew their lives on this day by thoroughly cleaning their homes and making important life changes, such as graduating or starting a new hobby. Some families still visit grave sites to sweep off dust and debris and leave flowers or food offerings. This year the holiday falls on March 20th.

Have you taken part in any of these cultural celebrations? Are there other spring cultural events you've heard about? We want to know!

Fun Facts about the Winter Olympics

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, February 10, 2014

Every four years a different cold-climate city has the honor of hosting the Winter Olympics, a major international, multi-sport competition in which the best athletes in the world compete to become an Olympic medalist and bring pride to their home country. Although significantly smaller than the summer Olympics (due to the fewer number countries with a winter climate) participation and viewership are rising.  The 2014 Sochi Olympics in Russia are the largest to date with 88 nations sending more than 2,800 athletes. That's more than ten times as many athletes as the first games which were held, in Chamonix, France in 1924 with only 16 nations participating, sending a total 258 athletes. The first Winter Games only included alpine and cross-country skiing, figure skating, ice hockey, Nordic combined, ski jumping, and speed skating, but significantly more sports have been added over the years such as luge, freestyle skiing, curling, and various snowboarding events. As the competitions get fiercer as this year’s winter games continue here are few fun facts about the Winter Olympics and the Sochi Olympics to think about:  


  • At around $51 billion, the Sochi games are the most expensive in history, just barely edging out the $43 billion budget for the 2008 Beijing games. It is also the first Winter Games to be hosted by Russia and the most environmentally friendly to date.
  • Norway is one of the biggest competitors in the Winter Olympics and holds the all-time record for winter game medal count (330) and for gold medal count (107). The winter athlete with the most medals is also from Norway, Bjorn Daehlie, with 8 gold medals and 4 silvers.
  • No country in the Southern Hemisphere has ever hosted the Winter Olympics.
  • Both the Summer and Winter Olympic games were held on the same year until 1994. Since then they have alternated every two years. 
 
  • The five Olympic rings represent the five major regions of the world- The Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Oceana, and every national flag in the world includes one of the five colors (blue, yellow, black, green, and red).

  • The Sochi gold medal contains 516 grams of silver and 6 grams of gold and the Russian gold medalists have been promised $122,000 from their country, while the U.S. gave $25,000 to each of its gold medalists in the 2012 London Olympics

  • Shaun White, and American snowboarder, is the richest Winter Olympian athlete with a net worth of over $20 million due to professional endorsements.
  • The United States is the only country to have won a gold medal at every single Winter Olympics ever held.

  • Sochi is the warmest city to ever hold the Winter Olympics with an average February temperature of 42.8 degrees Fahrenheit (8.3 degrees Celsius).
  • PyeongChang, South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympics. Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics.
  • The official mascots of the Olympics include a polar bear, an Amur leopard, and a European Hare.

  • In sports; 98 events over 15 disciplines in 7 sports are included in the Sochi Winter Olympics. Those include- Alpine skiing, biathlon, bobsleigh, cross-country skiing, curling, figure-skating, freestyle skiing, ice hockey, luge, Nordic combined, short-track speed skating, skeleton, ski jumping, snowboarding, and speed skating. Twelve new events debut in Sochi this year; including team ice skating, slope style snowboarding, and women’s ski jump.

Did any of these facts surprise you? What is your favorite event in the Winter Olympics? Are there other important facts about the games that we missed? We want to know! 

Super Bowl Sunday: Seattle Seahawks vs. Denver Broncos

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, January 27, 2014


The Super Bowl is American football’s annual championship game and, as the finale of the country’s most popular sport, the most watched annual television program in the United States.  As the last game of the season between the two best teams in the National Football League (NFL), competition is fierce for the famed Vince Lombardi Trophy- given to the victorious team. Each year the championship is held on a Sunday at the beginning of February, this year on the 2nd.


The first game of American football ever played was in 1869 between two college teams that combined the rules of rugby and soccer and was an immediate success. As the popularity of the game increased the rules of the game evolved over time, eventually giving us the football of today and the most popular sport in the United States.  In celebration of the sport Americans across the country come together to watch the Super Bowl on the Sunday it airs, known as Super Bowl Sunday. Although not an official holiday, many Americans refer to it as such due to the way in which it causes family and friends to come together in celebration regardless of whether all involved are fans of the teams playing or even of the sport itself. In preparation for the game spectators prepare various classic American finger foods, usually washed down by beer or soda. In fact, it is the second largest day for food consumption in the U.S., after Thanksgiving. Nachos, various types of wings, chips and dips, barbecue, potato skins, hot dogs, pizza, and other traditional finger-foods are typically eaten whether the game is celebrated in home or at the bar.

Although often times the regions of spectators are not represented in the Super Bowl, as only two teams of the thirty-two in the league play, the half-time show and commercials draw a huge crowd. Because of the high viewership of the broadcast, commercial airtime during the Super Bowl is the most expensive of the year, causing companies to make their most advertisements for specifically this event. As a result, watching and discussing these ads has become a significant aspect of the Super Bowl.  The half-time shows are also directly correlated to the extensive exposure the Super Bowl gives. Because the half-time period is thirty minutes long, singers and entertainers are necessary to maintain the audience’s attention. Notable past performances have been Michael Jackson, U2, and Beyonce. This year Bruno Mars will be playing at the half-time show. To check out Boston.com's list of the top ten Super Bowl commercials of all time, click here!

Many have applauded the idea of making Super Bowl Sunday an official holiday, citing its ability to unite Americans of all races, religions, and economic classes, but for now the Super Bowl remains one of the largest de facto holiday in the country.

Do you watch the Super Bowl? Who do you think will win this year’s Vince Lombardi trophy? Should Super Bowl Sunday be an official American holiday? What do you think? We want to know!  

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Horse

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Chinese New Year is an important traditional holiday in the Chinese culture and is celebrated on the first day of new year according to the lunar-based Chinese calendar. Translated from the modern Chinese name, the new year means Spring Festival, as the celebrations goes from the Chinese New Year's Eve to the 15th day of the next month, also making it the longest Chinese holiday. The tradition is centuries old and was meant to honor ancestors and deities although customs have changed over time. Today the eve of the new year is typically celebrated with an annual family reunion dinner and windows and doors are decorated in red paper-cuts with themes such as longevity and good fortune. Firecrackers and red envelopes containing "lucky money" are given to children in celebration. The color red and firecrackers both symbolize fire which, according to legend, drives away bad luck. Although the new year is traditionally a family holiday, many immigrant families in countries such as the U.S. lack extended family and therefore turn to the community to celebrate which is why it is common to see parades and lion dances in the streets in communities such as Chinatown here in Boston. This year the Chinese New Year begins on Friday, January 31st Want to experience Chinese New Year locally and learn more about one of largest cultural groups in the world? Here are some events that might interest you throughout Boston, whether you traditionally celebrate the Chinese New Year or are just interested in having some culturally enriching fun. Click on the event to be redirected to the official site for more information.

 

Chinese New Year Feast

Organized at the Whole Foods in Dedham Jan. 31st

A demonstration-style class shows you how to make a few classic Chinese dishes that represent prosperity, health, joy, and longevity such as dumplings and beef and broccoli noodles. What could be better than some warm and savory Chinese cuisine to brighten up a cold winter day!


Lunar New Year Festival

Organized by the Peabody Essex Museum on Feb. 1st.

Traditional lion dances, a screening of a film set in Boston's Chinatown, break dancing and swordplay workshops and more! If you don't mind a ride to Salem this event will demonstrate the many sides of the complex traditions involved with the Chinese New Year celebrations for adults and children alike.

Chinese Lion Dance Parade

February 9th from 11am-5pm on Beach St. and other nearby streets in Chinatown

What could be better than watching the annual lion dance parade held in Boston's Chinatown? Totally free, this parade is accessible by the MBTA. Local vendors set out traditional Chinese food along the path of the lion costume as it dances through the streets at the end of the New Years celebrations in mid February. Whether you celebrate the Chinese New Year or are just interested in a lively event and delicious food, this parade is the perfect finale to the vibrant celebration.  To learn more about the Chinese Lion Dance Parade check out images and descriptions of the Boston Discovery Guide from 2013. 

Do you, or have you ever celebrated the Chinese New Year before? How? We want to know

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, January 20, 2014

Today, January 20, is a very important commemorative day in the United States. Every third Monday in January is a national holiday to honor the life, ideals, and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr.  Assassinated in April of 1968, his legacy still lives on today through the observance of this holiday. Best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs, Martin Luther King was also a pastor, activist, humanitarian and leader in the African Civil Rights Movement.  During this period of American history the American Civil Rights Movement was at its height as minorities, mainly African-Americans, protested the many laws and racial prejudices that maintained their status as second-class citizens.  As a Christian minister, Dr. King's main influence was Jesus Christ and Christian gospels with strong emphasis on Jesus’ commandment of loving your neighbors as yourself, loving God above all, and loving your enemies by praying for them and loving them. He was also strongly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi’s success with non-violent activism. With such inspiration Dr. King and several other civil rights activists founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) created to harness the moral authority and organizing power of the black churches to conduct non-violent protests in search of civil rights reform. 

One of these protests was the March on Washington in 1963, where King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech, one of the most well-known speeches in American history and marking King as one of the greatest orators in American history. In 1964 he received the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in combating racial inequality through nonviolence. In the final years of his life he expanded his work to include poverty and the Vietnam War. In 1968 he was planning another occupation of Washington relating to these issues when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee by a white man who opposed King’s views on racial equality. Nationwide riots ensued in response to his murder and a national day of mourning was issued by the president days after his death. Although his life was cut short at an early age, King’s legacy still lives on today. Just days after his assassination Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1968 that prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, religion, or national origin that was later expanded. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal after his death. In 1986 Martin Luther King Jr. Day became a national holiday as he became a national icon in the history of American progressivism. The only other two people who have national holidays honoring them are George Washington and Christopher Columbus which exemplifies the significance Dr. King has had on American history. Outside the U.S. this day is also recognized in Hiroshima, Japan through a banquet held by the mayor, and in Toronto, Canada, though neither country considers this day a federal holiday. And although inequality is a tremendous issues still facing the U.S. and the world today, commemorating an idol who fought to better the world through nonviolence helps inspire change and improvement in us all and is what makes this holiday so important.  

Martin Luther King has influenced the lives of all Americans, but how has his life and achievements affected you in your life? We want to know! 

Guide to Boston's Best Hot Chocolate

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, January 06, 2014

Hot chocolate is a classic American beverage; warm and chocolatey it’s perfect for warming up during chilly winter days.  Originally invented in South America, the first hot chocolates were made using ground cacao beans and chili peppers and heated with water to make a spicy and bitter concoction. Today drastic changes from the original Mayan drink have developed the American classic. Now hot chocolate has many variations in both name, also known as hot cocoa or drinking chocolate, and ingredients. The main ingredients that make up the hot chocolate we know today are cocoa, sugar, and either milk or water.  In the United State hot chocolate is usually much thinner and often made using powdered mix while in Europe it is often much thicker and uses actual melted chocolate. In Boston, one of the coldest cities in the Northeast, this drink is a staple in the winter months and enjoyed by people of all ages. And many inventive variations on this winter staple are visible throughout Boston alone.  If you’re interested in trying out an American winter classic, or already have an acquired taste for the sweet and decadent drink here is a guide to the best hot chocolates in the Boston area, all MBTA accessible.

 

L.A. Burdick Chocolate Shop & Café: Harvard Square
Real ground chocolate mixed with cocoa powder and milk is the key to this thick, rich, gourmet hot chocolate that comes in either white, milk, or dark chocolate flavors and can be enjoyed with a variety of pastries and other beverages.

 

The Thinking Cup: Downtown Boston
This hot chocolate is the French classic, also known as sipping chocolate. Valrhona chocolate is melted down and mixed with cream to make this dense, decadent “drink”.

 

Flour Bakery & Café: Cambridge
In this bakery the spicy hot chocolate brings this American classic back to its origins by mixing its homemade ganache-based hot chocolate with spicy cayenne, chili powder, vanilla, sugar, and cinnamon, sure to warm you inside and out.

 

Café Fleuri: Langham Hotel
For the chocolate lovers, every Saturday afternoon this café holds their “Chocolate Bar”: a buffet of over 100 chocolate desserts including a signature chocolate bread-pudding, made with melted chocolate and fresh croissants.

 

Paris Creperie: Coolidge Corner
For any Nutella fans, this creperie is known for its Nutella hot chocolate, made with the Italian hazelnut spread and milk. Other flavors available also include peppermint and raspberry. And our exclusive insider says the crepes are both delicious and affordable too! 

 

Met Back Bay: Back Bay
Here they offer a hot chocolate sampler for the more adventurous, including four small samples of Taza hot chocolate including the flavors Classic Hot Chocolate, Mexican Hot Chocolate, Salted Almond Hot Chocolate, and Peppermint Hot Chocolate.

 

Max Brenner’s: Boylston St.
Here, too, a variety of inventive hot chocolate creations are available ranging from crunchy hot chocolate that contains crunchy magic waffle marbles, or do-it-yourself hot chocolate with hard lava chocolate chunks or volcano milk. Options of white, milk, or dark chocolate are also available.

 

Canto 6 Bakery & Cafe: Jamaica Plain
For those looking for a more traditional experience this bakery makes a sinfully good hot chocolate, starting with homemade chocolate ganache and adding steamed milk.  A variety of cookies and other pastries are also available to pair with the drink.

 

Caffe Vittoria: The North End
For the traditional Italian approach to hot chocolate or “cioccolato caldo” this decadently thick hot chocolate uses melted chocolate and tops each cup with a hearty helping of whipped cream.


1369 Coffee House: Cambridge
Here they offer an unusual hot chocolate, the Almond Joy hot chocolate. This hot chocolate has the added flavors of coconut and almond, just like the candy bar. And for those looking for the more traditional hot chocolate that is also available made with Dutch-process cocoa.

Diesel Café: Davis Square
Made with homemade chocolate sauce, steamed milk, and whipped cream this hot chocolate pairs perfectly with the inviting atmosphere of the quirky café and can be made with its signature additions of caramel and hazelnut syrup.

With this guide to the best of the best hot chocolates in Boston, including American and European classics as well as inventive new takes on the hot chocolate of today, you will be sure to keep warm during the cold winter months ahead.  

Source: Boston.com

 

New Year's Superstitions

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 19, 2013

As the year 2014 approaches, many Americans prepare for the New Year in hopes that it will be a good one. Some people want to ensure that their year will be prosperous so much that they prescribe to various different behaviors. Many countries around the world have superstitions about a variety of things and the United States is no different!  While not everyone may believe in them, there are quite a few superstitions about what and what not to do on New Years.

1. Pay Your Bills

All household debt and personal debts should be paid off before January 1st. If they’re not, you’ll be paying back debts all year long.

2. Stock up on Food

It is believed that cupboards stocked up with food and wallets and purses full of money bring prosperity in New Year. Similarly, empty pockets or empty cupboards on New Year’s Eve portend a year of poverty.

3. The First Footer

One must never leave the home before someone comes in first. The "first footer" in the house should be ushered in with a warm welcome and should not have flat feet, cross-eyes or eyebrows that meet in the middle. It would be even better if he came bearing certain small gifts.

4. Kiss at Midnight

It is believed that kissing at midnight ensures that affections and ties will continue throughout the New Year. If you do not do this, it would set the stage for a year of coldness.

5. Don’t Leave the House

In several countries, people do not let money, jewelry, precious items or other invaluable things leave home on New Year Day. Therefore one should not pay loans and bills or lend things to anybody. People go to the extent of not taking out garbage or even not dusting their carpets on this day to ensure that nothing leaves the house during the year. If you have to deliver presents on New Year morning, you should leave them in the car.

6. Wear Something Pretty

People believe that one should wear new clothes on a New Year's Day in hopes of receiving more new garments during the year. Red clothing is preferred for New Year's Day since red is considered a happy color and is sure to attract a brighter future.

7. Let the Old Year Out

At midnight, all the doors of a house must be opened to let the old year escape unimpeded.

8. Be Loud

People believe that devils and demons hate loud noise. People scare them away by being as loud in New Year celebrations as possible. Church bells are rung at midnight for the same reason.

9. Don’t Cry

One should avoid breaking things or crying on the first day of the year if you don't want to continue the pattern for the entire year.

10. Eat Black Eyed Peas

In Southern part of the United States it is said that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day will attract both general good luck and money in particular. 


Do any of these superstitions sound familiar? What sorts of things do you do before New Years? We want to know! 


Sources: HappyWink.com 

International Cinema Treats

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 12, 2013

Americans, like so many other people around the world, love movies. Whether it’s watching the latest superhero movie or romantic comedy, people really like seeing stories unfold on the silver screen. Trips to the cinema are great opportunities for friends and family members to spend time together relatively cheaply. The hard part is agreeing on a movie to watch!

Unsurprisingly, Americans also love to snack while they’re at the theater. Popcorn and candy are among the top most popular snacks in the United States, but this is not always the case throughout the world. In fact, the things people eat at the cinema range anywhere from sweet to savory and the drinks are not only limited to soda or slushies!

Japan

  • Pocky
  • Iced Oolong Tea
  • Japanese Beer

Thailand

  • Dried Squid Strips
  • Fried Meatballs with Chili Sauce
  • Papaya Salad

China

  • Coconut Juice
  • Tofu gan (dried bean curd in a sweet or spicy sauce)
  • Roasted Sunflower Seeds
  • Salty Plums

France

  • Sweet Popcorn
  • Ice-cream Bars
  • Chocolate

Greece

  • Pasteli
  • Ouzo
  • Souvlaki
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
  • Yogurt with Honey
  • Roasted Chestnuts

Holland

  • Drop (salty licorice)
  • Ijsje (ice-cream on a stick)

Have you tried any of the snacks listed above? What did you think of them? We want to know!


Source: Cooking Light Magazine

Holiday Activites in Boston!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 05, 2013


The holidays have arrived in Boston and everyone is excited for the season’s festivities! Along with the annual tree lightings throughout the city, Bostonians also enjoy caroling, ice-skating, and holiday markets. For visitors staying in the city for the holiday season, the Global Immersions team compiled a list of fun activities to enjoy!

Harvard Square Holiday Fair
The Harvard Square Holiday Craft Fair, one of the oldest and most popular fairs in Boston, will celebrate its 28th season in 2013. It takes place in the basement and courtyard of the First Parish Church on the corner of Church Street and Massachusetts Avenue and runs for 12 or so days in December, the dates varying from year to year. The fair is juried and includes a changing mix of New England craftspeople and world travelling importers featuring many wonderful gift items. There is always a great selection of beautiful, original and affordable gifts. Talking to the craftspeople who make what they sell gives shoppers a connection to what they are buying that is just not possible at the mall, through a catalogue or online. It's a high energy alternative marketplace with a great soundtrack, where people see old friends and make new ones - a taste of the old Harvard Square. Admission is always free.
Join Assembly Row for Holiday Arts & Eats Festival on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, December 6th, 7th and 8th. This will be the largest holiday event in greater Boston featuring 25 of New England’s best food trucks, a large holiday market featuring 60 Etsy artists – and more with inspiration from traditional European Chriskindl markets. Save some of the holiday shopping for this market- there are more artists, more food, and more finds for everyone! 

SoWa Holiday Market 
This year's Holiday Market will feature the very best of New England's independent designers, artists and crafters. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, shoppers are sure to find an original gift for everyone on their list. Expect to find an exceptional array of indie goods, including: handbags, jewelry, pottery, letterpress stationery, silk-screened t-shirts, baby clothes, re-purposed wool accessories and more! This handmade holiday spectacular will be held in the spacious and historic main building of the Benjamin Franklin Institute, located in the heart of Boston's South End. Within walking distance to Boston's best galleries, boutiques and international cuisine, the SoWa Holiday Market is at the center of Boston's most diverse and exciting neighborhoods!

First Night Boston 2014
Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the City of Boston are proud to continue this beloved tradition. All First Night outdoor events are free, and admission to indoor events requires the purchase of a First Night button. The City of Boston originated the First Night concept -- an alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration for the entire family.  Boston's city-wide First Night party includes hundreds of different indoor and outdoor locations, performances, and a thousand musical, dance, theater and other artistic performers. First Night is a daylong Festival celebrating art and community in Boston. 
Enjoy the 72nd annual lighting of Boston’s Official Christmas Tree provided as a gift by Nova Scotia. Singers Joey McIntyre and Erica Van Pelt will top the bill at Boston’s 72nd Common on Thursday, December 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The holiday decorations throughout Boston Common and the Public Garden, including the City of Boston’s official Christmas tree from Halifax, a 47-foot white spruce donated by Mary Lou Milligan of Millcove, Lunenberg County, Nova Scotia, will light up in sequence shortly before 8 p.m. when Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Honourable Andrew Younger, Minister with the Government of Nova Scotia, are joined by members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Santa Claus. The show will close with a pyrotechnic display by MagicFire, Inc.

These are only a few of the fun holiday activities that are happening around town! Boston has a lot to offer this time of year in terms of entertainment; one never has to look far for holiday cheer. Have you already been to a holiday event in the city? We would like to hear your thoughts! 

Thanksgivukkah: When Thanksgiving Meets Hanukkah

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, November 26, 2013


For the first time in 125 years, Thanksgiving and Hanukkah fall on the same day! Both holidays are cause for great excitement for a variety of different reasons and many look forward to them every year. For some Jewish Americans, however, combining an American secular holiday with a religious holiday is a source of some confusion and consternation. 


In the United States, Thanksgiving occurs on the fourth Thursday of every November. On this day, friends and family gather together for a large dinner usually composed of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and lots and lots of pie. What is eaten on Thanksgiving varies from family to family, but a traditional dinner always includes turkey. This holiday began in 1621, when the Plymouth colonists and Wampanoag Indians shared an autumn harvest feast together. It is acknowledged today as one of the first Thanksgiving celebrations in the colonies. Americans are still gathering together almost 400 years later in celebration of the first Thanksgiving feast.



Hanukkah, which has been celebrated by the Jewish community since the 2nd century BCE, commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, where according to legend Jews had risen up against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. The Hanukkah celebration revolves around the lighting of a nine-branched menorah. On each of the holiday’s eight nights, another candle is added to the menorah after sundown; the ninth candle, called the shamash (“helper”), is used to light the others. Jews typically recite blessings during this ritual and display the menorah prominently in a window as a reminder to others of the miracle that inspired the holiday. Traditional Hanukkah foods are fried in oil – potato pancakes (known as latkes) and jam-filled donuts (sufganiyot) are particularly popular in many Jewish households. Other Hanukkah customs include playing with four-sided spinning tops called dreidels and exchanging gifts.  

Since both holidays involve the gathering of friends and family, large quantities of food, and giving thanks, many members of the Jewish community are excited. Others find the overlap more difficult than they would like. An article in Time Magazine, however, lists five reasons why this holiday, dubbed Thanksgivukkah, is something to cherish:
  1. Both are great excuses to stuff yourself silly 
  2. Both holidays are rooted in religion
  3. Both were started by groups who found refuge in America
  4. Both are about being thankful
  5. Both are a reason to go home  

Two other reasons to be excited about this holiday include fantastic Thanksgiving and Hanukkah recipe combinations; and the fact that the two holidays will not fall on the same day for another 79, 043 years.



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