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The Origins of Halloween

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, October 31, 2013

It’s that time of year again! Millions of children in the Unite d States and around the world will run around in colorful costumes and ask for sugary treats. Did you  know that a quarter of all candy sales in the U.S. are from Halloween? For Americans, Halloween is all about the candy! Not everyone celebrates Halloween, but there are many spooky celebrations around the world! In this blog post, we the origins of the holiday, how the American Halloween came to be, and a special holiday celebrated in Mexico! 

Do you celebrate Halloween? How? We want to know

Halloween Origins

Halloween's origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in). The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter. To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other's fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.

American Halloween

Did you know that the average American eats 25 pounds of candy per year? That’s equal to 200 Snickers bars! Did you know that it actually takes 364 licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Well, now you do. The American tradition of dressing up in costume and collecting candy is rather iconic around the world. It wasn’t always that way! The first celebrations included "play parties," public events held to celebrate the harvest, where neighbors would share stories of the dead, tell each other's fortunes, dance and sing. Colonial Halloween festivities also featured the telling of ghost stories and mischief-making of all kinds. In the second half of the nineteenth century, America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish in 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today's "trick-or-treat" tradition. Young women believed that on Halloween they could divine the name or appearance of their future husband by doing tricks with yarn, apple parings or mirrors. In the late 1800s, there was a move in America to mold Halloween into a holiday more about community and neighborly get-togethers than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. At the turn of the century, Halloween parties for both children and adults became the most common way to celebrate the day. Parties focused on games, foods of the season and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything "frightening" or "grotesque" out of Halloween celebrations.

El Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead)

In Mexico, Latin America and Spain, Day of the Dead, which takes place on November 2, is commemorated with a three-day celebration that begins on the evening of October 31. The celebration is designed to honor the dead who, it is believed, return to their earthly homes on Halloween. Many families construct an altar to the dead in their homes to honor deceased relatives and decorate it with candy, flowers, photographs, samples of the deceased's favorite foods and drinks, and fresh water. Often, a wash basin and towel are left out so that the spirit can wash before indulging in the feast. Candles and incense are burned to help the deceased find the way home. Relatives also tidy the gravesites of their departed family members. This can include snipping weeds, making repairs, and painting. The grave is then decorated with flowers, wreaths, or paper streamers. On November 2, relatives gather at the gravesite to picnic and reminisce. Some gatherings even include tequila and a mariachi band.

Boston: City of Culture

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, August 22, 2013

Boston is a very lively city, with many lively residents from all walks of life! There are so many different people from all over the world who call our lovely city home. While we do take great pride in our home town, we also give tribute to our roots through various different cultural festivals. At any given time throughout the year, visitors and residents can find many cultural activities in various neighborhoods in the Greater Boston Area. 

Here are just a few examples!

St. Anthony’s Feast 

Each year the people of the North End invite you to celebrate with them as they honor their patrons at the St. Anthony's Feast with colorful parades, religious services, strolling singers, live entertainment and of course an abundance of great Italian and American food.

Begun in 1919, by Italian immigrants from the small town of Montefalcione in Avellino, Saint Anthony’s Feast has become the largest Italian Religious Festival in New England. Named the “Feast of all Feasts” by National Geographic Magazine, this authentic Italian street festival has it all for people of every age: parades, strolling singers, live entertainment, contests and religious services are held daily.

The highlight of the Feast is the ten hour procession of the Statue of Saint Anthony through the streets of the North End accompanied by devotees, numerous marching bands and floats. The Statue of the Saint returns to his chapel as confetti and streamers cascade from the rooftops.

Cambridge Carnival International 

Cambridge Carnival is a colorful and festive celebration rooted in African traditions. This free festival, embarking on its 21st year, is considered a Cambridge Institution, and is the largest festival in Cambridge, with thousands of attendees. The highlight of the festival is a grand costume parade accompanied by rich rhythmic musicality promoting all types of cultures. Participants can be seen as revelers masquerading through the streets in dazzling handmade costumes, dancing to the beat of the Carnival. The festival is also an opportunity to celebrate Cambridge’s diversity, enjoy international foods, and purchase multicultural crafts from around the world!

What is Carnival? Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus, mask and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations, which mark an overturning of daily life.

August Moon Festival 

The August Moon Festival or Mid-Autumn Festival is one of the most celebrated Chinese holidays. It is held on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month and Chinese families celebrate the end of the harvest season with a big feast. People go to Chinatown to enjoy mooncakes, which are round pastries filled with lotus seed past. There are dragon and lion dances, whose origins also date back to ancient China.

Here in Boston it’s a big celebration. There is always lots of food and performances—everyone has a lot of fun! In addition to lion dances, there are also Chinese opera performances, martial arts, Chinese dough art, and Chinese folk dancing. If you head into town early, you can enjoy some yummy dim sum before the festival! 

These are only a couple of the cultural events that visitors can find in Boston. The city offers an array of different cultural events daily - you just have to explore! Check out their City of Boston calendar listing for festivals and cultural events around the city.  Have you been to any cultural festivals in Boston? What did you think?

Sources: Wikipedia

Shopping for Food Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, July 18, 2013

Everyone loves food. All around the world there are millions of places to buy and sell food; it is a culture in and of itself! Here in the United States we are accustomed to a certain way of shopping for food. We walk into a grocery store, meander through the aisles, pick up what we need, and then check it out at the front of the store. Sure, there are numerous different options for our food shopping such as farmer’s markets and the like, but for the most part our system follows this order. As anyone who has traveled abroad for any length of time knows, not all shopping systems match what we find here at home. In fact, some are completely different!

Do you have any experience grocery shopping abroad? Tell us about it!

Tsukiji Fish Market – Tokyo, Japan

Japan is known for its seafood—sushi, anyone? But Tokyo takes shopping for fish and turns it into an experience people cannot forget.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, commonly known as the Tsukiji Market, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo, and is a major attraction for foreign visitors. 

The market opens most mornings (except Sundays, holidays and some Wednesdays) at 3:00 a.m. with the arrival of the products by ship, truck and plane from all over the world. Particularly impressive is the unloading of tons of frozen tuna. The auction houses then estimate the value and prepare the incoming products for the auctions. The buyers (licensed to participate in the auctions) also inspect the fish to estimate which fish they would like to bid for and at which price. The auctions start around 5:20 a.m. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants. These bidders include intermediate wholesalers who operate stalls in the marketplace and other licensed buyers who are agents for restaurants, food processing companies, and large retailers.

The auctions usually end around 7:00 a.m. Afterward, the purchased fish is either loaded onto trucks to be shipped to the next destination or on small carts and moved to the many shops inside the market. There the shop owners cut and prepare the products for retail. In case of large fish, for example tuna and swordfish, cutting and preparation is elaborate. Frozen tuna and swordfish are often cut with large band saws, and fresh tuna is carved with extremely long knives (some well over a meter in length) called oroshi-hōchō, maguro-bōchō, or hanchō-hōchō.

Europe –Ireland and the UK


In this instance, we are talking specifically about a few grocery stores that our team has had some experience with. In Ireland, Dunnes is a very common, very popular grocery and retail chain. Tesco is a huge chain in the UK. They are like any American grocery stores that you shop in now. What sets them apart, however, is found in the small details. 

For one thing, if you would like to use a cart to store your purchases while you walk around the store, you need money. 

In order to unlock your cart from the one in front of it, you need a one Euro or Pound coin. There is no other way to separate them otherwise. Unless a customer prefers to tote around a long stream of shopping carts, he needs to make sure his pocket is full of change. This procedure is quite common throughout Europe in big grocery chains; it is quite effective in ensuring their carts are not stolen!

When we are paying for our purchases, many of us may take having our groceries bagged for granted. When you shop in one of these stores, you need to bring your own! Once the cashier tallies up your purchases, it is up to you to make sure you have something to store it in. Plastic bags may be purchased at check-out, usually for a few cents. 

Egyptian Spice Bazaar – Istanbul, Turkey

The Spice Bazaar, in Istanbul, Turkey is one of the largest bazaars in the city. Located in Fatih, in the neighborhood of Eminönü, it is the second largest covered shopping complex after the Grand Bazaar. The Spice Bazaar was built in 1664 as an extension of the New Mosque (Yeni Camii) complex, and its revenues helped support the upkeep of the mosque and its philanthropic institutions such as a school, a hospital and several baths. The market was called Mısır Çarşısı (Egyptian Market) because it is said that it was built with money paid as duty on Egyptian imports. The annual ‘Cairo caravan’ would bring along spices from Egypt, just like Istanbul located on the trade route between the East and Europe.

The bazaar is "L" shaped and has six gates. The shopkeepers stock all the staple flavors of Eastern cuisine and display them with a great sense of color and arrangement. Cardamom, green cumin, ground red pepper, curry, sesame, ground coconut, yellow turmeric and saffron fill bags and boxes and are heaped into miniature volcanoes, while strings of dried okra, peppers and eggplant dangle overhead. The more customers explore, the more unusual goods they manage to find. There are all kinds of interesting beauty products as well, such henna, natural sponges, a large variety of oils and rose water, and the exfoliating hand-woven kese, which are used in Turkish baths for scrubbing.

Where the stalls in the bazaar originally only stocked spices and herbs, over the years other edibles were added, such as nuts, honeycomb, Turkish delight, dried fruit and vegetables, mature hard Turkish cheese, caviar, and smoked or dried beef. Today a fair amount of the over 90 shops unfortunately swapped their spices and offer the typical tourist trinkets such as scarves, kids costumes, and gold.

Independence Day around the World!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Tomorrow is the Fourth of July! We’re lucky to be in one of America’s most historically significant cities, and there is so much to share on this day with your visitor! Bring them to your family barbecue, watch your town’s fireworks display, walk the Freedom Trail - nothing demonstrates American culture better than Boston on Independence Day! But the United States is not the only country to celebrate its independence. Many other countries celebrate becoming an independent nation in a variety of ways; check it out! 

Indian Independence Day 

In India, Independence Day is on August 15, 1947. Flag-hoisting and national anthem singing are key components of marking the occasion. Elementary school students tell the stories of revolutionary heroes and learn about the struggles which brought their country independence.

All the schools and colleges across nation hoist the national flag on the rooftops and the buildings to symbolize the nation's pride. Not only the educational institutions but also offices and business areas celebrate this day. Since it is declared a national holiday by the government of India, all the institutions, government or otherwise, have the day off. People only go to offices to attend the flag hoisting ceremony. The Prime Minister addresses the Nation after the flag has been unfurled and recounts the country's achievements of the year, discussing current major issues and future plans for the progress of the country. Kite-flying has also become a tradition on this day and people can be seen flying numerous kites of all colors, sizes and shapes symbolizing the freedom.

Independence Day is celebrated throughout India and every corner of the country. Independence Day is celebrated by every citizen of India irrespective of caste, creed and religion. There are costume parties and people, old or young, men or women, dress up in a nationalistic way. There are many documentaries aired and the graves of revolutionary heroes are paid respect. Every citizen does something or the other to mark this day of freedom. Most of TV channels telecast latest or classic films based on an independence theme. Also, there are patriotic programs that are organized and broadcasted. In short, every person in the country takes part in showing national pride.

Mexican Independence Day

On September 16, 1810, a progressive priest named Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla became the father of Mexican independence with a historic proclamation urging his fellow Mexicans to take up arms against the Spanish government. Known as the “Grito de Dolores,” Hidalgo’s declaration launched a decade-long struggle that ended 300 years of colonial rule, established an independent Mexico and helped cultivate a unique Mexican identity. Its anniversary is now celebrated as the country’s birthday.

Although September 16, 1810, marked the beginning of Mexico’s struggle for independence rather than its ultimate achievement, the anniversary of the Grito de Dolores has been a day of celebration across Mexico since the late 19th century. The holiday begins on the evening of September 15 with a symbolic reenactment of Hidalgo’s historic proclamation by the president of the republic and the governor of each state. The next day, typical activities include parades, bullfights, rodeos and traditional dancing. In 2010, in honor of the country’s bicentennial, the remains of 12 men who fought for Mexican independence—including Hidalgo, Morelos, Matamoros and Guerrero—were exhumed in a military ceremony led by President Felipe Calderón.

Many non-Mexicans, particularly in the United States, often mistake the Cinco de Mayo holiday for a celebration of Mexican independence; instead, it commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the French-Mexican War

Indonesian Independence 

Indonesia celebrates its independence day on August 17th, celebrating its independence from the Netherlands in 1945. Although this declaration was met with vehement opposition from the Dutch rulers, in 1949 the Dutch officially recognized the independence of Indonesia. 

In preparation for the celebration, the malls and area around the presidential building is decorated with red and white streamers. Unique decorations are put up in the area between Jl. Thamrin and Jl. Sudirman and are meant to reflect the spirit of independence. Neighborhood associations arrange kerja bakti or community service which includes cleaning the residential areas. The residents are also requested to hoist flags for the duration of the holiday. Finally, on the eve of Independence Day, the President delivers addresses the nation. 

On Independence Day, celebrations begin with a flag hoisting ceremony in the presidential place. High school students are chosen from across the country to put on a show while the Indonesian flag is hoisted. This is followed by parades and activities for the public, such as Krupuk (shrimp chips) eating, bike decorating, and cooking contests. One of the popular games played on this day is Panjat Pinang in which participants climb the greased trunk of an Areca palm tree. 

United States Independence

For every American, the independence day of the United States is an eagerly awaited holiday. Commonly known as the Fourth of July, it is federal holiday that commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain. Independence Day is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics, concerts, baseball games, and political speeches and ceremonies, in addition to various other public and private events celebrating the history, government, and traditions of the United States.

Here in Boston, the city celebrates with the Boston Pops Spectacular. Everyone gathers at the Charles River and listens to the Boston Symphony Orchestra perform, along with other guest artists. Once the performance reaches its peak, fireworks are set off and soldiers fire cannons (harmlessly!) over the river. During the day, the area is covered in tents and booths with various vendors and activities. There is never a lack of anything to do while in the city!

Father's Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, June 14, 2013

Father’s Day is just around the corner and a lot of families are preparing special ways to pamper their fathers on this holiday. Some may serve him breakfast in bed; others may give him a gift and his favorite dessert at dinner. No matter how a family celebrates this day, each and every one goes above and beyond to make Dad feel great. Father’s Day is celebrated all around the world each year on different days in a variety of different customs and traditions. How do you celebrate this holiday? Do you do anything special? We want to know.

Father’s Day in Mexico 

How does Mexico celebrate Father’s Day? Mexico celebrates this holiday in much the same way that Americans do, but on a grander, more festive scale. Mexican holidays are always special events, rich with culture and tradition. Father’s Day, known in Mexico as "Día del Padre," is no exception. Mexicans express gratitude and appreciation not only for their fathers, but also for the father figures in their lives—grandfathers, stepfathers, uncles, big brothers and other men who have been like a father to them. Mexicans celebrate their dads in a variety of ways, including the giving of gifts, flowers, and greeting cards. Many Mexicans also celebrate Father’s Day with "Carrera Día del Padre 21K Bosque de Tlalpan," an annual runner's race that takes place in Mexico City.

Father’s Day usually includes a huge early morning feast of traditional homemade food, including all of the father's favorite dishes. The meal is often finished with traditional Mexican chocolates or pan dulce, Mexican sweet bread iced with colorful, decorative toppings. Although Father’s Day is not a national holiday in Mexico, the public observes the special occasion with various parties and festivities that vary from region to region. "Día del Padre" honors all fathers throughout Mexico, and Mexicans commemorate the day with food, gifts, music and dancing, love and appreciation for the special men who impact their lives the most.

Father’s Day in India 

Father's Day is a rather new trend in India. Father’s day is really gaining ground in the cities of Indai, where people are more receptive towards western culture, and have been celebrating it for about ten years. The idea of honoring dads on this particular day is appreciated by millions of Indians, who observe it on the third Sunday of June every year. On this day, children celebrate their fathers and give them various gifts. They also express love to people whom they consider father figures. Though Father's Day celebrations are more pronounced in urban centers of India, many people in smaller towns and remote areas are also slowly catching up with the concept.

Children in India also make it a point to spoil their fathers with various tokens of love during the holiday. Gifts ranging from expensive accessories to flowers can be found in Indian markets. Popular gifts include cards, bouquets, watches, and bottles of wine. Indian families also give their dads neckties! Most Indian families generally prefer celebrating by dining in restaurants or going out for a family picnic or a movie. Cultural shows are also organized in various schools and clubs to honor dads on this special day.

Father’s Day in Germany

Father’s Day in Germany is celebrated on May 9th and is different from other parts of the world. It is always celebrated on Ascension Day (the Thursday forty days after Easter), which is a federal holiday. Originally, during the middle Ages, Father’s Day was a religious celebration to honor God the Father. While in many countries the Father’s Day ritual involves cards and small gifts like a new pair of socks — with breakfast in bed if the father is especially lucky — the Germans have turned it into a true holiday for the country’s men. 

Regionally, it is also called men’s day, Männertag, or gentlemen’s day, Herrentag. It is tradition to do a males-only hiking tour with one or more smaller wagons, Bollerwagen, pulled by manpower. In the wagons are wine, beer, or schnapps and traditional regional food, Hausmannskost. For most, the day is just a good excuse to get together with friends. These traditions are probably rooted in Christian Ascension Day’s processions to the farmlands, some of which reportedly started as early as the 17th century.

Father’s Day in the United States

 The idea of Father's Day was created by Sonora Dodd of Spokane, Wash., while she listened to a Mother's Day sermon in 1909. Dodd wanted a special day to honor her father, William Smart, a widowed Civil War veteran who was left to raise his six children on a farm. A day in June was chosen for the first Father's Day celebration, June 17, 1910. The first presidential proclamation honoring fathers was issued in 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson designated the third Sunday in June as Father's Day. Father's Day has been celebrated annually since 1972 when President Richard Nixon signed the public law that made it permanent.

Statistically it is shown that more calls are made during Mother’s Day than Father’s Day each year in the United States, but that does not mean we value our dads any less! Rather than the bigger gestures we make for our mothers every May in the U.S., a typical gift for fathers on this day includes things like power tools, gift cards, or small articles of clothing like ties or socks. Along with these little gifts families usually treat their fathers to dinner or spend the day doing his favorite activities. There is no limit on what you can do! Whether the gesture is big or small, Americans take time out of their day to make the holiday special. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Father's Day, Made Man, Living in Germany

Japan Festival, Cherry Blossoms and Boston Homestay!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Greetings to our Japanese visitors! At Global Immersions we are happy to have placed thousands of Japanese visitors in our homestay programs over the years who are in Boston to study, travel and share culture. We have had visitors from cities such as Chiba, Nagoya and Tokyo, to name a few, and look forward to more visitors from Japan! 

We are excited about participating in the annual Japan Festival in Boston on Sunday, May 19th. Global Immersions Homestay will have a table with more information about our services. The 2013 Festival will focus on the theme of “matsuri,” the time-honored traditional Japanese-style festival and the anniversary of the friendship gift of cherry trees from Kyoto to Washington D.C.   Come, visit our booth and learn more about Japan and the culture!  

Here is a message and translation from our Japanese intern about why you should choose Boston and homestay!








Why Visit Boston!

Hello, my name is Ayaka. I am a student of Suffolk University which is located in the center city of Boston. Today I would like to share the reason why I chose a school in Boston.

Did you know that Boston plays a central role in American history? Before U.S. became a nation, it was occupied by England, so we can still see the European landscape in the city today. Also, there are a lot of universities in Boston, including famous schools such as Harvard University and MIT.  Students come from all around the world. For the sightseeing purpose, you can experience the history of the America, and for the studies, you can experience various culture and spend fulfilling life here.

What I like especially about Boston is the fact the people in Boston love their city very much!  There are a lot of sport teams based in Boston like the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins and Celtics.  I like how many people in the city are wearing sport team T-shirts or caps.

I have heard a lot of people are anxious about the safety of the city and homesickness. Before I came here, I had the same feeling. But after I spend time with my host family, I felt less lonely. Plus, they know about the area well.  I heavily relied on them and they are willing to help me. Through daily life in homestay, it is possible to learn practical communication skills, beside the basic English which is taught in school.

It takes thirteen hours to fly from Japan. Japan Air started a direct flight between Boston and Tokyo last year and it has built a strong connection between the two cities. The Japan Festival in Boston was held last year to celebrate 100th anniversary of the friendship gift of cherry blossom trees from Japan to Washington D.C. There were Japanese style foods for festival and as well as the performances on the stage. This year, it will be held on May, 19 at Boston City Hall Plaza.   Please join the festival.

Mardi Gras Around the World!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Its Mardi Gras season! Also known as Carnival, or Carnaval, the season is a part-religious, part-cultural holiday celebrated differently throughout the world, but usually includes parades, masks and costumes. In the U.S, Mardi Gras, which is French for “Fat Tuesday” was celebrated yesterday, while today is known as “Ash Wednesday.” “Fat Tuesday” refers to the tradition of eating rich, fatty meats before the Christian season of Lent, which officially starts on Ash Wednesday. The name “Carnaval” also derives from the Christian tradition of giving up meat for Lent – “Carne Vale” means “goodbye to meat” in Latin.  


The celebration of Mardi Gras in Germany is called Karneval, Fastnacht, or Fasching, depending on the region. Fastnacht means "Eve of the Fast", but all three terms cover the whole carnival season with famous parades held in Cologne, Mainz, and Düsseldorf on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, called Rosenmontag (Rose Monday). In the regions where Fastnacht is celebrated, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is called "Schmotziger Dunnschtig" (Schmotziger Dienstag) which is a straight translation from Mardi Gras (Greasy, fatty Tuesday).

Carnaval in a sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro


Carnaval is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time period Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in Carnaval celebrations are observed in Brazilian cities but all include the famous dance samba into the celebrations. The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The largest Carnaval celebration in the world occurs in Rio de Janeiro, where two million people are found celebrating in the city. The city of Salvador also holds a large Carnaval celebration.


In Italy Mardi Gras is called Martedí Grasso (Fat Tuesday). It's the main day of Carnival along with the Thursday before, called Giovedí Grasso (Fat Thursday), which officially starts the celebrations. The most famous Carnivals in Italy are in Venice and in Viareggio. Italy is the birthplace of Carnival celebrations, citing its origins in the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia. The Italian version of the festival is spelled Carnevale.


In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen. It comes from the word "fett" (fat) and "tisdag" (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat semlor, a traditional Scandinavian sweet roll. These are now sold in most grocery stores and bakeries preceding the holiday, and up until Easter.

Mardi Gras in the French Quarter of New Orleans

The United States

In America the holiday is not celebrated nationally, but is extremely popular in the ethnic French regions, especially in the southern states that were once a French territory.  New Orleans is know as the Mardi Gras capital of the U.S and the whole week is celebrated with parades. 

source: wikipedia 

Year of the Snake - Chinese New Year

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, February 07, 2013

Lion Dance Parade in Boston
"Chinese New Year is the most important of the traditional Chinese holidays. In China, it is also known as the 'Spring Festival', the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally ran from Chinese New Year's Day itself, the first day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month. The evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the "Lunar New Year". This year's Chinese New Year's Day falls on February 10th. The New Year will be the year of the snake."

"Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festival in the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is celebrated in China and in countries and territories with significant Chinese populations, including Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius, Philippines and also in Chinatowns elsewhere. Chinese New Year is considered a major holiday for the Chinese and has had influence on the lunar New Year celebrations of its geographic neighbors."

Did you know?

  • According to the legend, Chinese New Year began with a battle against a mythical beast called Nian. Nian would always come to terrorize villages on the first day of New Year, eating wild stock, crops and even children. To protect themselves villagers would leave food in front of their doors, with the hope that Nian would be filled. They also noticed he wouldn't eat children wearing red, and was scared by loud noises like firecrackers. As a result villagers would hang red lanterns, make lots of food and light off firecrackers, all Chinese New Year traditions that continue to this day. 
  • The first through 15th days of the New Year all celebrate different things. Some people celebrate the second day as the birthday of all dogs. The eighth day is when people are supposed to resume going to work and school. The 13th day is celebrated by eating all vegetarian food, and in Malaysia and Singapore, the 15th day is marked a sort of eastern Valentine’s Day.
  •  The San Francisco Chinese New Year Festival and Parade is the oldest and largest event of its kind outside of Asia, and the largest Asian cultural event in North America.
  • In China, so many people travel from urban to rural areas to visit their families for the New Year that their commute is the largest annual migration in the world. 

Chinese New Year's in Boston

Boston has the third largest Chinese community in the U.S, so New Year’s is a time of great celebration! The Chinatown neighborhood is located within the boundaries of Downtown Crossing, the South End and runs adjacent to the Theatre and Leather Districts. It is easy accessible by the Orange Line Chinatown stop. There is no shortage of restaurants available for traditional New Year’s dishes such as dumplings, noodles, and smoked meat.  Nearly every corner has a restaurant where you can enjoy a meal. For a New Year’s favorite, the annual Lion Dance Parade is particularly popular

NOTE: this year’s parade will be held on February 17th, not the 10th! 
source: wikipedia 

New Year's Eve Celebrations Around The World!

Global Immersions - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, it is once again that time of year when we look both backwards and forwards.  We remember things good and bad throughout 2012 and always hope for a better year to come.  However, on New Year’s Eve itself, most people around the world are celebrating rather than reminiscing.  Let’s take a look at some of the celebrations around the world on this festive night!


             Fireworks over Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia

Fireworks are a major trend globally, as the pyrotechnic displays are a colorful crowd-pleaser!  This is seen in places as diverse as Sydney Harbor in Sydney, Australia; the River Thames in London, England; the Red Square in Moscow, Russia; and on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

Other cities’ traditions are more unique.  For instance, New York City is renowned for its’ glamorous ball, lighted with thousands of sparkling lights, that descends on a pole in the final minute before midnight.  The Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China is illuminated in a spectacular light show.  Last year in Tokyo, a crowd standing in front of the Tokyo Tower released several helium balloons into the night air.  Each balloon was attached with a note of that person’s hopes for the coming year.  In South Korea, a traditional fire ceremony was held last year. 


                                 Balloons Released in Tokyo, Japan

In Scotland, Hogmanay is a word referring to end-of-year celebrations.  One of these celebrations is the Viking Festival that takes place in Edinburgh, with men wearing traditional Viking attire and parading through the streets carrying flaming torches.  Last year, the number 2012 was written with sparklers in the night air of Vienna, Austria.  In a final example, Madrid, Spain is home to the tradition of eating 12 grapes as the clock strikes 12.


           Hogmanay Viking Celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland

Many New Year’s Eve celebrations are annual traditions in major cities.  With most of these being held outdoors to accommodate large crowds, weather is an important factor, especially as the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing short, dark and cold winter days.  Where there are crowds, one can also expect to deal with both security and added hassles as well.  However, all in all, New Year’s Eve promises to be a festive cultural experience around the world!  If you have any great stories of New Year’s Eve celebrations, please feel free to share with Global Immersions!  Happy New Year!

Sources: BBC; Telegraph

Holiday Celebrations in December

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 13, 2012

Long before the world’s major religions dominated the holidays, December was a time of year filled with celebrations! Today many religions have major holidays in the month of December, and along with a variety of secular celebrations, December is one of the most festive months of the year. If you’re not a big fan of the cold and snow in Boston, celebrate all of these holidays – what a better way to add some warmth to the darkest month of the year! Share your holiday stories with Global Immersions! 

People have long celebrated the Evergreen's ability to stay green all winter

Winter Solstice – December 21 - 22

In the northern hemisphere, the shortest day, and longest night, falls on the 21 or 22 day of December . This natural phenomenon has been celebrated for millennia – ancient peoples who worshiped the sun thought that it grew sick during the winter. Celebrating the solstice meant the sun was getting better and the days would get longer. Evergreen trees with their ability to stay “ever-green” were celebrated as a reminder that planets would grow again once the sun was strong enough. This veneration of the evergreen tree continues to this day with Christian Christmas trees!

The Nativity Church in Bethlehem 

Christmas – December 25

Christmas is celebrated by Christians and the various Christian denominations as the birthday of Jesus Christ. Today Christians celebrate by attending Church or Mass on Christmas eve or day, sharing presents under a Christmas tree and spending time with their families. Houses are usually filled with celebratory decorations like manger scenes, Christmas lights, stockings, mistletoe and Christmas cookies. Depending on which country you live in, presents are delivered by Santa Claus, Father Christmas or Sinterklas. All of these names derived from the 4th century Saint Nicolas, the Archbishop of Myra in Asia Minor (now Turkey). His acts of secret charity prompted the tradition of giving presents.

Music is an important part of Kwanzaa

Kwanzaa – December 26 to January 1

Kwanzaa is a week-long holiday held mostly in North America that celebrates African unity, heritage and culture. It is a secular holiday created by Maulana Karenga and was first celebrated in 1966. The name Kwanzaa comes from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, which means the first fruits of the harvest. Each of the seven days represents one of seven principles of Kwanzaa, or Nguzo Saba, which include self-determination, creativity, unity and purpose, to name a few. All week African heritage is celebrated and the holiday culminates in a feast and gift giving.

Ganesha, the Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture

Pancha Ganapati – December 21 to 25

Pancha Ganapati is a modern day Hindu festival that celebrates Lord Ganesha, the Patron of Arts and Guardian of Culture. During each of the five days of Pancha Ganapati, a special sadhana, or spiritual discipline, is focused upon by the entire family. Because of the festival’s importance as a new beginning and mending of all past mistakes, a shrine is created in the main living room of the home and decorated in the spirit of this festive occasion. Children play a large role in the festival and each day they prepare a tray of sweets, fruit and incense as an offering to Ganesha, make cards that have art or verses from the Vedas and share small gifts.            

                                                                                             sources: lib.edu, wikipedia, history.com

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