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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! 

The Coolest Hot Chocolate In The City

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, November 29, 2016

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

L.A. Burdick

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

Flour Bakery 

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

Paris Creperie 


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

Cafe Vittoria 


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

Sofra Bakery and Cafe 


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

Thanksgiving 2016

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





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

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


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

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



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

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



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

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

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


Enjoy the holiday! 





Veteran's Day 2016

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

Veteran's Day Parade


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

Veteran's Day Sales


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

Ravioli??


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

Day of the Dead

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 02, 2016


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


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



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



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


The Cost of Halloween

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, October 31, 2016

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



Candy

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



Costumes and Decorations

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



Sources: Consumer Reports



Your Hallo-weekend Schedule

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, October 27, 2016

Its almost Halloween! We hope your weekend is filled with crazy costumes and as much candy as you can eat. Monday is Halloween, so this weekend is all about being festive and getting in the Halloween spirit! There are a lot of exciting (and free!) events happening in Boston to ensure that you have a happy Halloween! Here are a few events to help you start planning your weekend of Halloween fun.             


Saturday: Halloween Pet Parade


Who doesn't love dogs in costume?? The Annual Halloween Pet Parade at Faneuil Hall Marketplace is the perfect Halloween event if you're someone that loves animals and would enjoy seeing them dressed up as characters.  If you have a pet at home (with a costume) you can enter them in the parade and costume contest! If you don't have a pet (or if they refuse to wear clothes) come to Faneuil Hall anyways to watch hundreds of Boston animals and their owners show off their Halloween best. Afterwards you can walk around Faneuil hall or the Harbor Walk (maybe grab some lunch, a Pumpkin Spice Latte, or more Halloween candy?) and see Christopher Columbus Park in its peak of fall foliage. 

Halloween Festival


The annual Halloween festival at Blackstone and Franklin park is back again with a full day lineup of fun events! Stop by from noon until three to enjoy activities like pumpkin decorating, face painting, costume contests (for humans and doggies) ice cream trucks, yoga class, scary stories, a haunted burial ground tour, live music, and craft making. This festival is a kid friendly event and is totally FREE - also easily accessible by the T :)! You can even be extra festive and arrive in costume.




October 30th is the final SoWa open market of the year, and end of the season will be marked by Boston's largest Halloween party! The day will feature your typical SoWa open market, with over 150 vendors, artisans, farmers, and food trucks, and additionally have festive Halloween activities for all ages. The special event will feature things like pumpkin painting, a live street musician, face painting, live music, and a costume contest (once again - for you and your pet!) The BPD will also be there letting you see the back of their cruisers (without having to be arrested!) Winter is coming...and if you haven't been to the SoWa open market this year, Sunday is your LAST chance until the spring. 

Enjoy the holiday! Don't forget to send us pictures of you and your visitors celebrating Halloween! You can also tag us in your Instagram posts with #homestay boston or @globalimmersions !  

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