Father’s Day Around The World

At least in the US  and the UK, this Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s a day to celebrate all of the dads in your life. But have you ever wondered where the holiday came from? Or how it’s celebrated in other countries? Here are 10 facts about Father’s Day around the world.

Father’s Day wasn’t always celebrated on the 3rd Sunday in June (and in some countries, it still isn’t).

In fact, in Catholic Europe, it was originally celebrated on 19 March, which is the feast day of St. Joseph. The first Father’s Day to be celebrated in June was held at a YMCA in Spokane, Washington on June 19, 1910. A young woman named Sonora Smart Dodd started the tradition to honour her father, a single dad who raised six children on his own.

Of course, the holiday didn’t gain nationwide traction until she convinced the manufacturers of products like neckties and men’s clothing and tobacco pipes to get on board. But it’s nice to know that for once, behind the commercialisation, there’s a sweet story.

The American date spread around the world, and today, at least 86 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday of June.  Portugal, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Honduras and 7 other countries celebrate on St. Joseph’s Day, March 19. Other countries have their own days – for example, Thailand celebrates on 5 December, the birthday of King Bhumibol Adulyadej.

In Germany, Father’s Day is celebrated with beer and pork.

German “Father’s Day” (Vatertag) is celebrated on Ascension Day. German men traditionally celebrate by hiking out into the woods with copious amounts of beer and ham (along with other traditional German foods).

France owes its Father’s Day celebration to a company that manufactured cigarette lighters.

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Translating the Language of Flowers

Today is Valentine’s Day, and that means that florists around the globe are rejoicing in their increased sales. These days, giving flowers to a woman simply shows that you care about her, but the roots of this tradition are far more complex. Centuries ago, exchanging flowers was a way for men and women to speak in code, expressing emotions that would have been socially unacceptable to voice any other way. Each flower had its own meaning, and different flowers could be combined to make more complex “sentences.”

As you shop for flowers this year, consider what your bouquet would say in this old-fashioned “language.” Here are the hidden meanings behind some common blossoms:

Red rose: True love, passion

White rose: Eternal love, innocence, secrecy, “I’m worthy of you.”

Yellow Rose: This is a mixed bag, with potential meanings that run the gamut from “true love” and “friendship” to “jealousy” or “I cheated. I’m sorry.”

Tulips: Red tulips are a declaration of love. Despite their sunny appearance, yellow tulips indicate “hopeless love.”

Sunflower: Appreciation, pride or “pure and lofty thoughts.”

Daisies: Innocence, loyalty, or a promise of silence.

Carnations: A striped carnation was traditionally used to turn down a suitor, while a solid colour was used to say “Yes” to an offer of romance.

White Lily: Purity (are you sensing a pattern here?)

Orange Lily: Careful with this one: Wikipedia (and most other sources) says “desire,” while this guide from Texas A & M says “hatred.”

Orchid: You are a refined beauty.

Hydrangea: You are frigid and/or heartless.

Gardenia: “You are lovely,” or to declare a secret love.

Lest you think this is a lost art, The Daily Mirror reported that Kate Middleton used the “language of flowers” to create her bridal bouquet: “lilac to indicate first love, solomon’s seal for confirmation of love, blossoms for spiritual beauty and beech for prosperity.”

Image source: Attribution Some rights reserved by jimw

Valentine’s Day Around the World: 12 Ways Couples Show Their Love

It’s Valentine’ Day! Today, Valentine’s Day is all about cards, roses, and chocolate. But have you ever wondered why we celebrate love in the middle of February? Or how people celebrate Valentine’s Day around the world? Read on to learn more about the origin of Valentine’s Day, and how people celebrate love around the world.

Lupercalia and the Origins of Valentine’s Day

Like many holidays, Valentine’s Day has both pagan and Christian roots. In Christian tradition, it started out as the feast day of St. Valentine.  Well, one of them, anyway. There are actually three St. Valentines, and a variety of stories to explain why Valentine’s Day is “Love Day.” Some say he was an early Christian priest who secretly married Roman soldiers. Some say he was a bishop, who healed the blind daughter of his jailor and then sent her the world’s first “Valentine” before he was executed.

Regardless, 14 February falls right in the middle of Lupercalia, an ancient Roman fertility festival.  During the festival, Roman women would be gently whipped with goat hides dipped in the blood of sacrificial beasts.  This practice was supposed to make them fertile. Whatever floats your boat, right?  Then, unmarried men and women would be paired up via a matchmaking lottery for a blind date that would last for the rest of the festival or even the rest of the year.

Once the church gained power, you can see why they’d want to tame this wild holiday and turn it into a more chaste celebration of love and friendship!

Many cultures, both Western and non-Western, have special days to celebrate love and romance. Here are 16 ways Valentine’s Day (and other holidays like it) are celebrated around the world.

Valentine’s Day in Italy: St. Valentine has the key to your heart

In Padua, Italy, people traditionally gave each other small metal keys for Valentine’s Day as a symbol of love. Epilepsy was once known in northern Italy and surrounding areas as “Saint Valentine’s affliction.”  So, small children also receive St. Valentine’s keys to ward off epilepsy.  Read more

Happy Father's Day!

Today is Father’s Day in at least 72 different countries around the world, everywhere from the United States and the UK to Zimbabwe. But how did Father’s Day get started, and why do so many countries celebrate it on the third Sunday of June?

Father’s Day was the brainchild of Sonora Smart Dodd, a twenty-eight year old woman who helped her father raise her younger siblings after her mother died in childbirth. Only two years earlier, Mother’s Day had been established as a holiday in the US, and she felt that fathers deserved similar recognition.

The first Father’s Day was a local celebration held on June 19, 1910 by the Spokane Ministerial Alliance in Spokane, Washington, where the family had settled.  Father’s Day didn’t really begin to take off until the 1930’s, though, when Dodd returned from school and began promoting it again. She wasn’t alone in her fight, and while some of her allies (like the tie/menswear industry) had less-than-altruistic motives, they had the money and national clout needed to gain acceptance for the holiday.

The third Sunday in June was made an official US holiday in 1966, by President Lyndon Johnson. It’s since spread around the world, and even countries who aren’t celebrating it today generally have a day set aside on the calendar for it.

Perhaps the most unusual way to celebrate Father’s Day comes from Germany (though they celebrate it on Ascension Day instead of the third Sunday in June.) Here, it’s tradition for men of all ages to band together and go out hiking, pulling a wagon filled with beer, wine and food behind them. These days, however, many German fathers eschew this tradition in favor of more family oriented celebrations. After all, when your family is trying to celebrate your virtues as a parent, it’s simply bad form to get smashed.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! Are you celebrating? How?

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by LadyDragonflyCC

How to Celebrate May Day Around the World

Yesterday was May Day, and that means it’s time for a party. Or a protest. Maybe both.  Why are May Day celebrations around the world so different? To find out, let’s take a look at the history of the holiday and the places where it’s celebrated.

Traditional May Day Celebrations Around the World

In the northern hemisphere, May Day celebrates the coming of spring (or of summer, depending on where you are).  Many May Day traditions have roots that go back to before the arrival of Christianity.

For example, the ancient Romans celebrated the end of April with a six-day-long festival in honor of the goddess Flora. The festival featured games, performances, “lustful” animals like hares and goats running rampant, flowers and a sacrifice to Flora at the end.

Meanwhile, Celtic cultures traditionally observed Beltane on the first of May, with bonfires, flowers, decorating a May Bush, and offerings to the fairies to keep them from making mischief at the expense of the villagers’ herds.

Traces of these ancient rites remain in traditional May Day celebrations around the world, often mixed in with Christian beliefs.

May Day Around the World: United Kingdom

For example, in parts of the UK, May Day celebrations include dancing around a maypole, crowning a May Queen and traditional morris dancing. Some towns have also brought back Jack in the Green, a drunken ruffian character clothed in foliage. Jack in the Green was once a common sight at May Day festivals until Victorian morals did away with him.

Meanwhile, Cornwall hosts unique May Day celebrations, including the ‘Obby ‘Oss festival in Padstow and Flower Boat parades in Kingsand, Cawsand, and Millbrook. For the  ‘Obby ‘Oss festival, villagers decorate the town with a maypole, flowers, and greenery.  Teams of dancers parade through the town. One of them carries a model hobby horse with jaws that snap shut and tries to snatch young women as they pass by. Read more

Translation to Spanish, Holidays and Robbery

Travelling is great, it offers you the opportunity to see something else, explore a different country than yours, be open to another culture and overall try new things. Food, people, landscapes, habits, animals, nature, clothes…everything can be completely different from what you have experienced before. Landing in a new country is like landing on a new planet where some changes can affect you for the rest of your life, you even might want to stay there forever because you feel that you fit better in this new land than your home country. Who knows!?

However, for the majority of us, this is just a stopover in our daily life, break the habits for 1 week or 2 and escape the reality thanks to a change of scene. Leave the routine to come back fresher, relaxed and happy. I think we all need that from time to time and I’m definitely always up for a trip abroad. However, there are always few rules to keep in mind when travelling to a foreign land: get a medical insurance, check that you have all your ID and important documents with you, make sure you have enough money to survive over there (plus put some cash in your pocket in the local currency), buy a guide, book an hotel or a backpack, bring a dictionary and learn few basics in the local language if you can.

Last one is very important because if you want to be able to understand and be understood, it’s always handy to know few expressions in the language your hosts are speaking. What happens if you don’t? Well, let me tell you the story about a Spanish couple who was in holidays in France… Read more

6 Major Shopping Days Around The World For International Business

In the United States, the holiday shopping season officially started on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping holidays in the world, but it’s certainly not the only one, or even the biggest one.

If your business is marketing to international customers,  you need to know the days they plan to shop. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 6 of the biggest shopping days around the world. Read more