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The Story of Hanukkah

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, is a centuries-old Jewish celebration that commemorates the rededication of the holy Temple in Jerusalem. As legend goes, in 166 BC, the Jewish people rose against their Greek-Syrian oppressors in the Maccabean Revolt. First led by father and priest, Mattathias Maccabee, and then by his son, Judah, the rebellion lasted for well over two years, and ended in what is considered the 'miracle' of light.

The Greek-Syrian oppressors had desecrated the holy Temple in Jerusalem by erecting a statue of Zeus and sacrificing pigs upon its altar. Their leader, Antiochus, gave the Jewish people an ultimatum: conversion or death. Though outnumbered, Judah Maccabee and his followers won two important battles, virtually ridding the city of the Greek-Syrian oppressors.

At the end of the Maccabean Revolt, Judah called upon his followers to cleanse the Temple, rebuild its original altar, and light its menorah. To everyone's dismay, there was only enough untainted oil to keep the menorah lit for a single day. The flames, however, continued to flicker for eight nights, allowing the Jewish people enough time to find a fresh supply of oil. This miracle inspired the annual eight-day festival of lights, Hanukkah, which means 'dedication' in Hebrew, and reminds Jews today to rededicate themselves to the Jewish religion, culture, and people.

Today, the celebration of Hanukkah revolves around lighting the menorah, eating foods cooked in oil (such as latkes and jam-filled donuts), playing with toy dreidels, and spending time with family. Though it is not considered a Jewish "high holiday", in which restrictions are placed on school, work, or other activities,  Hanukkah has seen an explosion of commercial attention, as it usually lands near Christmas. This year, Hanukkah began on Tuesday, December 12, and will go through Wednesday, December 20.

Happy Hanukkah to all!

Sources: History and RJ

A Boston Holiday Season

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, December 06, 2017

As many of you know, the start of December is the official kick off for the Winter holiday season, and Boston is as charming a city as they come this time of year. If you're looking for fun things to do this month, then look no further because we've compiled a list of the best activities this season.

Light shows:

Greenway Carousel: From December 1, 2017 through January 1, 2018, head over to the Greenway Carousel to take a spin against the backdrop of bright, festive light shows and favorite holiday tunes. Beginning at 4:45pm and running until close, these light shows are sure to brighten up a cold winter's evening.

Somerville Illumination Trolley Tours: Several homes in Somerville go all out with their holiday decorations, and the Somerville Arts Council created a trolley tour to shuttle interested parties from house to house to check them out. Tour is Saturday, December 16, from 4:30pm to 10:00pm. 

ZooLights, Stoneham: Every year, the Stoneham Stone Zoo puts on a dazzling holiday light show from 5:00pm to 9:00pm each evening through December 31. This spectacular display is in addition to wonderful holiday-themed decorations added to many animal enclosures.

The Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus: For over 60 years, families pile into their cars for a slow drive down the Lynn Fells Parkway on the North Shore. Most residents on this mile-long stretch of road gave up counting the number of bulbs on their property, though their estimates are in the thousands.

Blink! Faneuil Hall: Holiday shoppers around the Faneuil Hall area have been able to enjoy an audiovisual show called Blink!, where 350,000 LED lights dance to the music of the Holiday Pops. The spectacle lasts about 7 minutes, but plays throughout the night from 4:30pm to 9:30pm until January 1.

La Salette Shrine: For over 60 years, La Salette Shrine in Attleboro has amazed visitors with displays of over 300,000 lights spread across 10 acres. There is also an international crèche museum with more than 1,000 crèches. Open daily from 5:00pm to 9:00pm though January 1.

Your OWN! If you can, take your visitor along for a drive around the neighborhood to see all of the holiday decorations near your home! And for a more comprehensive list of the best light shows around Boston, follow this link!

More holiday activities:


December can be a brutally cold month, and you won't always want to enjoy the holiday cheer outdoors. Instead, perhaps purchasing tickets to Boston Ballet: The Nutcracker, or the Holiday Pops show, or to Black Nativity, or to the Disney on Ice: Dream Big tour will fill you with the holiday spirit while keeping your hands and toes warm. Either way, any of these shows will prove to be quite fun. The Nutcracker and the Holiday Pops show run through December 31, Black Nativity will run through December 17, and the Disney on Ice tour will be here until January 1!

Another fun way to get into the holiday spirit is on the Northern Lights Boston Harbor cruise. There are three different holiday cruises this year: the Irish Christmas Carols Cruise, the Holiday Jazz Cruise, and the Cocoa & Carols Holiday Cruise, all featuring live music, holiday decor, and delicious beverages. Take your pick of these cheerful holiday cruises!


If you're downtown completing your holiday shopping, you should also check out the different ice skating opportunities! Frog Pond is an age-old favorite for many Bostonians. Bring your own or rent some skates and twirl on the rink surrounded by holiday lights covering Boston Common's trees. The city's newest skating venue is right in City Hall Plaza for Boston's Winter Wonderland. Open 7 days a week, Boston Winter offers a skating opportunity as well as an outdoor holiday shopping market!

Love to ski or snowboard? Nashoba Valley Ski Area is only 45 minutes away from Boston and has a lovely relaxed environment. The Blue Hills in Canton, MA is a family-oriented, good-for-learners mountain, and Pats Peak is another mountain in Southern New Hampshire that has lots of ski/snowboard instructors on site and homemade food in the cafeteria. If you'd like a longer list of nearby skiing and snowboarding opportunities, follow this link!

If you're interested in Boston's history, then come out to the 244th Boston Tea Party Reenactment. On December 16, 6:30pm, meet at the Old South Meeting House near State Street to join more than 100 volunteer reenactors, including Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock. The procession will gather at the Old South Meeting House for a debate and proceed with fifes and drums in tow to Griffin's Wharf to dump a load of tea in the Boston Harbor. Rain or shine, it should be a sight to see!


Last and certainly not least, welcome in the New Year at First Night 2018! Join the million or so people who come to celebrate the New Year in Boston at this huge city-wide event. There will be entertainers, food, performances, a parade, fireworks, and ice sculptures. Be sure to bundle up and head into the city on December 31 for some great eats and even better experiences!

Thanksgiving: Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, November 21, 2017

In 1620 the Mayflower, a small ship carrying 102 passengers landed in Plymouth. They journeyed across the ocean seeking religious freedom and prosperity. Their first winter in Massachusetts was brutal and many of the original passengers and crew died before they could see the spring. They were greeted by the indigenous people who taught them how to survive in their new environment. They were taught to cultivate the land and how to live off of the land. In the fall of 1621, their successful harvest prompted a celebratory feast and select Native Americans were invited. This is considered to be America’s first Thanksgiving. 

As time passed, more days of thanks were called upon to celebrate the end of droughts and wars. These thanksgivings were held on various days and locations, depending upon what was being celebrated. New York was the first state to adopt an annual Thanksgiving holiday. Other states followed, but celebrated on different days. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln initiated the country’s annual Thanksgiving holiday to be the fourth week in November. In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday up one week to increase retail sales during the Great Depression. Due to the backlash, in 1941 Roosevelt returned Thanksgiving to its prior date. 

Table are cluttered on Thanksgiving with a variety of dishes. The foods eaten on Thanksgiving are dependent upon the background and traditions of the family as well as the region they reside. The stereotypical Thanksgiving dish for, turkey may not have been eaten at the first Thanksgiving. They are prepared in numerous ways, including roasting, baking and deep-frying. Main dishes of ham, roast beef and lobster are seen. Perhaps the most creative main, turducken is a chicken stuffed inside of a duck, which is stuffed into a turkey. Some regions have specialty dishes. Cranberries can be seen in different forms. About twenty percent of cranberries are eaten during Thanksgiving week. Creamed onions are not seen outside of New England and macaroni and cheese is primarily offered in the South. Perhaps there is something more American than apple pie. Different pies are popular in different regions on Thanksgiving. While New England and the Mid-Atlantic states love their apple pie, the South has pecan and sweet potato pie and the Midwest, and West are known to have cherry pie. 

Although food is the focus on Thanksgiving, it is not the only aspect of the holiday. Parades have become an integral part of the holiday. Since 1924, the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade has been entertaining millions in New York City and more watching on television from the comfort of their own home. The parade route travels through Manhattan with floats and balloons, marching bands, Broadway performances, celebrity appearances.The finally of the parade is Santa Claus, the symbol the Christmas season has begun. 

Other spectator events include football. The National Football League presents professional games, but community’s gather for high school games. These games are traditionally rivalry games and build a sense of camaraderie within the towns. And if that isn’t enough football, some families will have backyard touch football games.

To counter the large meal, many people participate in Turkey Trots. Turkey Trots are a road running event which are held in numerous towns and cities on Thanksgiving morning. The distances and number of participants vary. These types of events are often fundraisers for local charities.

Each year one or two lucky turkeys are awarded a presidential pardon. These birds are spared from being slaughtered and are sent to a farm for retirement. John F. Kennedy is reported to be the first president to pardon a turkey, but earlier presidents have been rumored to do so. In 1989, George H. W. Bush made the annual turkey pardon a permanent tradition.

Thanksgiving has since lost its original significance. Rather than a harvest festival, it now centers on cooking and sharing a feast with family and friends. While celebrated by most, it is protested by some. Since 1970, protesters have gathered at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, MA on Thanksgiving Day to commemorate the National Day of Mourning. For some, Thanksgiving serves as a reminder of the Native American suffering as a result of European settlers. This day honors ancestors and recognizes the hardships faced by the Native American people. Similar events are held throughout the country. 

International Food Markets

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, November 01, 2017

One thing Boston is known for is its international population. People from around the world come to Boston for higher education, to see historic sites, to catch a sports game, or just to start anew. With such an influx of international visitors, students, and immigrants, the availability of international foods has also risen. Across the Greater Boston region, international markets have popped up, and we're excited to share with you some of the local favorites:

Asian Markets:


Super 88 Market

With two locations, one near Boston University in Allston and one in Malden, this supermarket offers a wide range of Asian groceries, including produce, meats, spices, sauces, and everything in between. There's even a food court where you can enjoy some sushi or pho at your own leisure.

Location: 1095 Commonwealth Ave, Allston & 188 Commercial Street, Malden

HMart

Located on Massachusetts Ave in Cambridge, HMart is another Asian food superstore. From ready-to-serve, to Kimchi, to snacks, to household items, HMart is your one-time stop for any Asian food you are looking for.

Location: 581 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

Ebisuya Japanese Market

If you're looking for superbly fresh sushi made right in front of you while you shop for all your pantry necessities, then you should absolutely make a stop at Ebisuya. This market is located right in Medford, and has all your Japanese cooking essentials.

Location: 65 Riverside Ave, Medford

Indian Markets:


Taj Mahal Desi Bazaar

This market may be small, but it has much to offer. With a butcher on site, the Halal meat selection is incredibly fresh and the variety of seasonings and grains are plentiful for a good price. Be sure to stop by if you're planning a traditional Indian meal.

Location: 274 Broadway, Somerville

Foodland Market

Located in Cambridge, this market also has an in-shop butcher and fresh produce and spices. A local favorite, be sure to check it out!

Location: 2234 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge

African Markets:


Kaba African Market

If you're looking for African foods and spices, or natural body products, or handmade items for your home, this is a great market with knowledgeable staff right in the heart of Boston.

Location: 29 Roxbury Street, Roxbury

Merkato African Market

Specializing in Ethiopian products, this wonderful little store stocks its shelves with plenty of spices, fresh njera, and hard to find items. This shop is sure to please both mind and body!

Location: 1127 Harrison Ave, Roxbury

Middle Eastern Markets:


Hamdi Halal Market

If you're looking for high quality Halal meats at a reasonable price, this is your go to place. With a wide variety of foods and pleasant service, you will have a fabulous experience.

Location: 1433 Tremont Street, Boston

Sevan Bakery

When you visit this little store, you will discover that it is more than just a bakery. With an amazing selection of imported foods from Armenia and the Middle East, you will surely not be disappointed. Be sure to taste some of the Armenian and Middle Eastern food prepared fresh in the kitchen every day.

Location: 599 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown

Arax Market

This shop is a small Armenian grocery store that also boasts products from Turkey, Greece, and the Middle East. A local favorite, everyone recommends the olive bar and the baklava. Check it out!

Location: 585 Mount Auburn Street, Watertown

Eastern Lamejun Bakers

This little store offers a wide variety of imported gourmet essentials, including Armenian appetizers, every spice you can think of, snacking goodies, and loads of the best dips you can find. Don't forget to try their stuffed grape leaves!

Location: 145 Belmont Street, Belmont

Russian & Eastern European Markets:


Berezka International Food Store

In business for over 30 years, this Russian grocery has expanded to include more than just food. Beyond the fresh foods and imported Russian spices, they now have a department entirely focused on natural remedies. There you can find all sorts of high quality natural herbs, teas, and tinctures. Be sure to check this store out!

Location: 1215 Commonwealth Ave, Boston

Babushka Deli

This special little spot is a gem for those who find it. From kosher goodies to Greek spreads, this one of  a kind store has the Eastern European product you have been looking for. Go in with an open mind, and your day will surely be made.

Location: 62 Washington Street, Brighton

Latin American & Caribbean Markets:


Tropical Foods

This supermarket is known as the store with "the best of both worlds". Not only does it function as a regular grocery store (selling milk, eggs, veggies, etc.), it also provides ethnic products, such as special produce, curries, rice, beans, and unique/hard-to-find specialties from the Caribbean, Central/Latin America, and Africa.

Location: 450 Melnea Cass Blvd, Boston

La Internacional Food Corporation

This is a must-go for your Central and Latin American food shopping needs. Their selection of spices, cheeses, beans, and more are extraordinary. Known as a friendly and well-stocked store, this is a great local market to do some of your ethnic shopping at.

Location: 318 Somerville Ave, Somerville

Mineirao One Stop Mart

This little shop lives up to its name! With a restaurant/butcher in back, and a stocked grocery store in front, you are sure to find everything you may need. Traditional Brazilian products and brands line the shelves of this store, and all at an affordable price!

Location: 57 Union Sq, Somerville

These are just a few of many, many international food markets in the Greater Boston/Boston area. Be sure to do some of your own research and pop in to the next local market that you see!

Día de los Muertos

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is an ancient Mexican holiday whose celebration has now spread across Latin America and to parts of the United States. It is also one of the most misunderstood holidays to date. Since it takes place near Halloween, many people assume that Day of the Dead is a Mexican/Latin version of Halloween.


Dia de los Muertos was originally celebrated by the Aztecs at the end of August to signify the end of their harvest season. When the Spanish conquistadors brought Catholicism to Latin America, una mezcla (a combination) happened. With the Catholic tradition, came All Saints' and All Souls' Day in early November. Over time, Dia de los Muertos coincided with these Catholic holidays and is now celebrated on a similar two-day structure on November 1 and 2.

It is thought that at midnight on October 31, the gates to heaven open to allow the spirits of the dead to reunite with their loved ones for 24 hours. On the first day of Dia de los Muertos, November 1, families remember children who have passed away. On the second day, November 2, loved ones remember adults who have died. The central belief on Day of the Dead is not to mourn those who have passed, but to celebrate their lives. Families leave little toys and candy shaped as skulls for the children, and food, favorite possessions, and alcohol for the adults. Celebrations usually include live music and dancing from homes to graveyards, where families will gather around the graves of those who have passed.

Day of the Dead is an incredibly important holiday for Mexican and Latin people, as many believe that happy spirits will provide protection and good luck to their families. Sometimes people spend up to two months building ofrendas (homemade altars to leave offerings on) for their loved ones. This tradition keeps families and villages close - both with each other and with their deceased relatives.

A Favorite Fall Activity: Apple Picking!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, September 06, 2017

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

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

Belkin Family Lookout Farm

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

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

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

Brooksby Farm

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

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


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

Dowse Orchards

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

Price: $16 for 1/2-peck bag


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

Honey Pot Hill

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

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


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

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

Boston/Greater Boston Farmers Markets

Global Immersions Recruiting - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Did you know that there is at least one farmers market operating every day of the week in the Boston/Greater Boston area? These markets provide fresh, locally grown products to their communities. Here's a weekly rundown of where you can find a farmers market:

Sunday

If you're in the Cambridge area, be sure to check out the Charles Square Farmers Market in the Charles Hotel Courtyard (1 Bennett Street) from 10am - 3pm. A bit further southwest, you can find yourself at the Needham Farmers Market in front of the Needham Town Hall (Garrity Way) from 12pm - 4pm.

Monday

The Central Square Farmers Market in the Bishop Allen Drive at Norfolk Street (parking lot) in Cambridge is a popular option on Monday's from 12pm - 6pm. The South Boston Farmers Market, located in the W. Broadway Municipal Parking Lot (446 West Broadway, South Boston), is another great market that accepts WIC and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program coupons. It is open from 12pm - 6pm.

Tuesday

The Harvard University Farmers Market in Cambridge, Harvard Science Center Plaza (Oxford and Kirkland streets), is a well located market near the fun and excitement of Harvard Square. It is open from 12pm - 6pm. The JP Farmers Market is another cute niche tucked away in the Bank of America parking lot on Center Street in JP. Stop by from 12pm - 3pm to check out the locally grown produce and vegetables! If you are out west in Newton, be sure to plan a stop at the Newton Farmers Market at Cold Spring Park (1200 Beacon Street) from 1:30pm - 6pm. The Copley Square Farmers Market is one you cannot miss! From 11am - 6pm, in the shopping heart of Boston, come down to check out the beautiful fruits and veggies local vendors bring to Copley Square.

Wednesday

Cambridge Center Farmers Market near the Kendall/MIT MBTA station (on Main Street) is a popular choice from 11am - 6pm. The Charlestown Farmers Market at the intersection of Austin and Main streets is open from 2pm - 7pm. If you are a bit north of the city, you can check out the East Boston Farmers Market behind the Maverick MBTA station (209 Sumner Street) from 3pm - 6:30pm. Located west of Boston? No problem! Check out the Dedham Farmers Market in front of First Church of Dedham (670 High Street) from 3pm - 7pm. Lastly, the Oak Square Farmers Market in Brighton (Presentation School Foundation parking lot) is open from 4pm - 7pm.

Thursday

Come out to the Kendall Square Farmers Market every Thursday from 11am - 2pm, located at 500 Kendall Street. The Brookline Farmers Market is a long-standing market that's been running for over thirty years! Check it out from 1:30pm - 6:30pm in the Center Street West Parking Lot in Coolidge Corner. Mission Hill Farmers Market is another fun experience, located in Brigham Circle on Huntington Ave and Francis Street, from 11am - 6pm!

Friday

Friday's in Cambridge return to the same place as Sunday's market, just from 12pm - 6pm instead! And if you missed out on Tuesday, the Copley Square Farmers Market returns on Friday's from 11am - 6pm.

Saturday

Saturday is a big day for farmers markets in and around the city! Cambridgeport Farmers Market can be found in the Morse School Parking Lot from 10am - 2pm. The Braintree Farmers Market, a local favorite featuring meats, fruits, veggies, and Vermont maple syrup, is held in the Town Hall Mall (1 JFK Memorial Drive) from 9am - 1pm. The family friendly Roslindale Farmers Market meets every Saturday from 9:00am - 1:30pm in Adams Park (Roslindale Village). Union Square Farmers Market in Somerville is a local hotspot for good eats from 9:00am - 1pm! There are TWO farmers markets in JP on Saturday: Egleston Farmers Market from 10am - 2pm located across from the Sam Adams Brewery (29-31 Germania Street) and JP Farmers Market returns at the same place as Tuesday from 12pm -3pm! And finally, if you have a chance, be sure to check out the Waltham Farmers Market from 9:30am - 2pm at the Arthur J. Clark Government Building (119 School Street)

Every day of the week:

Boston Public Market, located at 100 Hanover Street (Downtown, Haymarket), is a farmers market that sells meat, fruits, vegetables, and many other local products from 8am - 8pm every single day!!! Be sure to check it out while you are in Boston!

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

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.


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