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Happy Thanksgiving! --Office Closed21-Nov-2018

Happy Thanksgiving from the team at Global Immersions Homestay! We hope you enjoy the day with y..

Welcome to Boston Homestay - Danish Ringkjobing Group!13-Oct-2018

Global Immersions Homestay welcomed a large group of visitors from Ringkjøbing in Denmark. T..


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Labor Day Around the World

Global Immersions Recruiting - Monday, August 27, 2018


American Labor Day:

The first Monday of September, the day when workers and all they have accomplished is celebrated. For most people this holiday just means they get to enjoy a three day weekend and a day off work. It also  means that sadly summer is coming to an end and the school year is starting. Do you know how this holiday came to be?

History:

12 day hours, 7 days a week was the average work schedule for an American in the 1800s during the Industrial Revolution. Adults and even children were working in unsafe and extreme conditions for little money. Strikes and rallies were formed to protest rights such as the Chicago Haymarket Riot in 1886. In New York 1882, 10,000 people took an unpaid day off work and marched for rights. This became the first Labor Day Parade which is still held today. People kept protesting for the work day to go from 12 hours to 8 hours to the point where violence was involved. Finally, in spring of 1894, President Cleveland signed a bill to pass a legal holiday for workers and their rights. To learn more about the history, click here.

Labor Day Traditions Around the World:


Many Americans have barbecues, family gatherings, go to the beach and see fireworks in early September. For more than 80 countries around the world, May Day or International Workers Day is held on May 1. In some countries, people even work on the day instead of it being a work-free holiday.

In France, people give their family members flowers. Parades and campaigns are held for workers' rights as many shops are closed. In Jamaica, people celebrate the workers who contribute to their country on May 24th, which originally honored the labor rebellion. It also used to honor Queen Victoria's birthday because she helped end slavery. In the Bahamas, the first Friday in June is taken off to remember the workers' strike held in  1942. There is a parade held in the capital, Nassau every year. 

In New Zealand, the fourth Monday in October is a public holiday to honor the 1840 eight-hour working day movement. In Trinidad and Tobago, June 19th is a day to remember the 1937 Butler labor riots. In Bangladesh, April 24th is known as Labor Safety day to honor the victims of the Rana Plaza building collapse. This day is used for inspecting safety measures in companies and businesses. 

In Italy, festivals, concerts and public demonstrations are held around this holiday. In Germany, 'Witches Night' is celebrated the night of April 30 to rid the evil spirits and pranks are played on friends. May 1, spring is welcomed by people putting up maypoles and marches being held for workers rights. In countries such as Ireland, Poland and Norway, the beginning of spring is celebrated with planting flowers and being outside on May Day.

We hope you enjoy your Labor Day Weekend!

Exploring Boston Trails

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, August 21, 2018


Are you interested in walking or biking along Boston's beautiful scenery? Learning about Boston's intriguing history? Whether you want to take a simple stroll or get your steps in for the day, check out some of these trails!


The Freedom Trail: Follow a red, brick trail through Boston that goes past 16 Revolutionary War landmarks. Walk past the site of the Boston Massacre, the Old North Church, famous burial grounds, where the Boston Tea Party began, Kings Chapel, the Old South Meeting Hall, Paul Revere's Statue and the Bunker Hill monument. 2.5 miles of rich history along this popular trail.


The Emerald Necklace: Walk through 7 miles of  green designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park in New York City. The trail starts at the Boston Common and ends at Franklin Park. It passes by Jamaica Pond and the Arnold Arboretum. 


Minuteman Trail: Learn about the Revolutionary War through this historic trail. Walk along where Paul Revere rode his 'Midnight Ride' in 1775 and see battle grounds such as Meadow Grounds, Tower Park and the Munroe Tavern. This 10 mile trail also has a railroad history from the mid 1800's. The trail connects Cambridge to Bedford starting at Alewife Station and ending at South Road. People use this trail to commute to work on bike as its well-known around the area.

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway: If you're downtown exploring, take a quick 2 mile walk starting at the North End Park, ending at the Chinatown Park. Along the way, check out Paul Revere's house, a carousel, gardens and public art. This trail was named after President John F. Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy's mother, Rose F. Kennedy. This trail is accessible by the MBTA through the Aquarium Station, Haymarket Station and South Station.


Southwest Corridor Park / Pierre Lallement Bike Path: Want to walk or bike through Boston? Check out this 4 mile, popular commuter trail for cyclists that runs through the city and runs along Boston's skyscrapers. The path is named after the inventor of the pedal bicycle, Pierre Lallement in 1860. Starting from Dartmouth Street off Mass Turnpike I-90, the path spans through New Washington Street in Jamaica Plain.

South Bay Harbor Trail: Nearly 4 miles, starting at Melnea Cass Blvd. adjacent from Ruggles Station and ending at Pier 4, near the Institution of Contemporary Art, this trail connects many Boston neighborhoods together. Accessible through the MBTA, this trail also includes the Harborwalk displaying Boston's waterfront.

North Bank Bridge: A gorgeous 1/2 mile walk, perfect for Instagram photo opportunities on the bridge over looking Boston. Connecting North Point Park in Cambridge to Paul Revere Park in Charlestown, the path goes underneath the Zakim bridge and above the MBTA tracks.

Want to find more trails to explore? Click here for more Boston trails and here for all Massachusetts trails. 


How Do You Say...?

Global Immersions Recruiting - Friday, July 20, 2018

For the non-native English speakers in America, I imagine it's tricky. Have you thought about how we pronounce the same thing differently or have multiple names for the same object?


Here are some things America disagrees on...

  • Is it firefly or lightning bug?
  • Tennis shoes or sneakers?
  • Hair tie, hair elastic, hair band, ponytail holder or hair bow?
  • Y'all or you guys?
  • Soda, pop or coke? 
  • Water fountain or bubbler?
  • Sub, grinder or hoagie?
  • Lollipop or sucker?
  • Dinner or supper?
  • Garage sale or yard sale?
  • Crawfish, crayfish or crawdad?
  • Rotary, roundabout or traffic circle?

Words with a different regional pronunciations: crayon, aunt, mayonnaise, syrup, caramel, pajamas, cauliflower and route

Check out a full list with maps here and here.

For foreigners, American English can be confusing because usually the variation of a word someone uses is common in the area where they're are from. For example, if you are on the east coast, you might say sneakers, but on the west coast you might say tennis shoes.

Play a quiz here to determine which region you're from based on your vocabulary!

    

The Bostonian language is even more complicated. Between the thick accent that excludes the letter "r" and the sayings, it can be hard to understand. Basically in words, you replace "r" with "ah".  Some common slang phrases are...

Wicked - extremely or very such as "wicked awesome"

Down the Cape - Cape Cod

Dunkies / Dunks - Dunkin Donuts

Spa - convenience corner store

The Hub - Boston (Beantown)

Bang a U-ie - turn

Bubbler - water fountain

Pahlah - parlor meaning living room

Chowdah - clam chowder

cellah - cellar / basement

clickah - clicker / TV remote control

Jimmie's - sprinkles

Frappe - milkshake

No suh - no sir / no way

the Hill - Beacon Hill

the Vineyard - Martha's Vineyard


Take a quiz to test your Boston slang knowledge here.

For a full list of words check out the unofficial Boston dictionary here.

Click here to hear an authentic Bostonian accent and click here for a clip from James Corden and Matt Damon.

Whether you're a native speaker or a learner, good luck at understanding the American English and especially the Bostonian language!

Happy National Ice Cream Day!

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, July 12, 2018

                                                                           

National Ice Cream Day is this Sunday, July 15th!

Ever curious about the difference between soft serve vs. regular ice cream? Here's a little history lesson on the two:

   

Soft Serve 

Who doesn't love the soft, smooth and creamy taste of soft serve ice cream? It was originally invented in 1934 by Tom Carvel after his ice cream truck broke down in Hartsdale, New York.  His ice cream melted, yet customers still bought it. Carvel realized a lighter version of ice cream was a brilliant business idea. He created a secret recipe and opened a store called Carvel  within two years. Dairy Queen  had similar ideas when developing a soft serve recipe in 1938 in Moline, IL.  In a sample tasting of their new product, 1,600 servings were consumed within two hours. Still today, soft serve is a hit among ice cream lovers. It is lower in milk fat and stored at a lower temperature than regular ice cream.  Soft serve is up to 45% air in volume which gives it the fluffiness that melts in your mouth.

Regular Ice Cream 

Variations of ice cream can be traced back centuries to the ancient world.  It began in China around 200 BC where they used a mixture of milk, rice and snow. In 400 BC, Persians ate ice flavored with fruit and rose water. At this time in Ancient Greece, snow with honey and fruit was served at markets in Athens. In Rome, Emperors carried ice from mountains to combine it with fruit. During the sixteenth century, Mughal Emperors in India had ice transported to make fruit sorbets. By the 1600's, ice cream became popular in Europe appearing in recipes in French cookbooks. Ice cream finally reached North America by the mid 1700's as it was introduced by Quaker colonists. Fast forward to the 1840's and ice cream makers were invented in England and America by Agnes Marshall and Nancy Johnson. Today, the average American eats anywhere from 19-23 pounds of ice cream annually. It contains at least 10% milk fat and 16% sweeteners. 12% is milk and 55% is water.



    

Looking for the BEST ice cream in Boston?

There's obviously the infamous Ben & Jerry's,  Emack and Bolio's, and J. P. Lick's, but what about some other local shops?  Here are a few to try around Boston: Gracie's Ice Cream, Christinia's Homemade Ice Cream, Forge Ice Cream Bar,  Lizzy's Ice Cream, Tipping Cow Ice Cream,  BerryLine, Amorino, Toscanini's, Cold Stone Creamery, Juicy Spot Cafe, Blackbird Doughnuts,  Molly Moo's Ice Cream and Cafe.  

Looking for non-dairy options? Try FoMu which serves dairy free ice cream, vegan, gluten free, soy free and kosher sweets.

For more detailed information and the top 10 list check out these links below:

https://www.bostonmagazine.com/restaurants/2018/06/29/best-boston-ice-cream/

https://boston.eater.com/maps/best-new-ice-cream-boston

     

Craving Gelato and the Italian experience

Head to the North End to be transported to Italy to enjoy some delicious gelato.  During the summer, you can stroll the streets of the North End while enjoying a cone without the airfare!  Click here for a list of places in the North End where you can find the best gelato.

Fun Facts about Ice Cream

  • Chocolate ice cream was invented before vanilla
  • Vanilla is the most popular ice cream flavor
  • In Norway, the record for the tallest ice cream cone was over 10 feet tall
  • 90 % of American's have ice cream in their freezer
  • New Zealand consumes the most ice cream
  • A record holding 1.75 gallons of ice cream was eaten in eight minutes 
  • Some of the strangest ice cream flavors are lobster, octopus, horseradish and raw horse flesh... ew!

Whether you're chilling at home or out at the beach, we hope you beat the heat and celebrate a day for eating ice cream!

   


Set up Camp This Summer

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, July 05, 2018

Spend some time in the great outdoors this summer at one of Massachusetts' many camp grounds. Although some of these sites are located only a short distance from Boston, you'll feel miles and miles away from the loud noises of the city. Massachusetts has several different State Parks that are open for camping. You can visit this state website for a full list of camp grounds and to reserve a campsite.

Wompatuck State Park: Hingham, MA

Wompatuck State Park is easily accessible from Boston, just 35 minutes South of the city.  The 3,526 acre park extends from Hingham to the nearby towns of Cohasset, Scituate, and Norwell. The land was originally the property of Indian chief Josiah Wompatuck who gave the land to English Settlers in 1665. During WWII and the Korean War, the land served as an ammunition depot for the U.S. military. Wompatuck offers 262 campsites, of which 140 have electricity. The campground also contains a 12 mile network of bike trails as well as areas for fishing, running, and walking. The park is also pet friendly and a popular spot for dog walking.  

Harold Parker State Forrest: Andover, MA

Only 20 miles North of Boston, Harold Parker State Forest is an ideal campsite for those who want a real "forest" camping experience. Each campsite is spread out so that campers are immersed in the nature and secluded from one another. The camp ground has more than 35 miles of roads and trails that are great for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Fishing and non-motorized boating are also permitted on any of the campground's 11 ponds. While in the area campers can visit nearby State Parks, such as Bradley State Park, Boxford State Park, Cleveland Farm State Park, and Willowdale State Park.

                                             Salisbury Beach State ReservationSalisbury, MA

Salisbury Beach is a popular tourist destination North of Boston on the New Hampshire border. The State Reservation is a perfect spot for those who want to stay by the beach and don't mind being surrounded by other campers. There are 484 campsites arranged to resemble a small town, completed with lettered streets. The camping experience at Salisbury Beach is therefore very different from a secluded campsite in the forest. Each campsite is a short walk to the ocean and is equipped with water, a picnic table, a BBQ grill and bathroom and shower facilities.

Camp Nihan Education Center: Saugus, MA

Camp Nihan, located in nearby Saugus, MA is the perfect campsite for larger groups. The 65-acre camp ground offers group campsites as well as cabins furnished with bunk beds and a dining area. Camp Nihan also offers free nature education classes to visiting schools and non-profit groups. The area, once a Native American campsite, is home to a variety of wildlife such owls, otters, and turtles. The Saugus river runs through the camp grounds and contains different species of freshwater fish. The campsite is also a short hike away from Breakheart State Reservation, where campers can go for swimming, hiking, and other activities.

International Summer Festivals

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, May 29, 2018

June 22nd will be the longest day of the year. The Summer Solstice signifies the first official day of summer in the United States and the start of what will hopefully be a period of warmer weather in Boston! The meaning of the Summer Solstice varies across cultures, though many recognize the start of summer with special holidays, festivals or rituals. While the United States does not have a popular holiday related to the start of summer, other areas of the world have specific cultural traditions that celebrate the Summer Solstice. Here is how some countries welcome the start of the summer season.

Kupala Night

Kupala Night is a celebration observed in countries with Slavic ancestry such as Ukraine, Russia, Poland, and Belarus. The festival signifies the end of the summer solstice and the start of the harvest season. During this festival participants build fires that they then jump over to demonstrate bravery and strength. A strong theme of the festival is love, and couples will jump over the fire while holding hands to prove that their relationship will last. Additionally, women will float flower wreathes in rivers, which men then try to capture, in the hope of also capturing the interest of the woman who floated the wreath. A sinking wreath is considered a predication of loneliness while a floating wreath indicates the prospect of love. Some participants will also search through the woods for the mythical "fern flower", which is thought to bring good fortune if found, although botanical experts do not believe that this flower actually exists. Historically, this search was an excuse for unmarried couples to spend alone time together without a chaperone, though today is done just for fun. While the festival has Pagan roots it has been incorporated into the Christian calendar as "St. Johns Eve" however, it still contains Pagan elements such as fortune telling rituals and the wearing of flower crowns. Many of these traditions are customary to rural areas as the holiday has been given a more modern twist is major cities where fireworks and concerts are also held.


Midsummer

At the start of the Swedish holiday of Midsummer, many Swedes head to the country side to begin their five week summer vacation.  On Midsummer's Eve (usually a Friday between the 19th and 25th of June) cities essentially shut down as many businesses close and streets are deserted. Families gather together in the country and have large celebrations complete with traditional dances around a may pole and crafting flower wreathes and other decorations. A typical midsummer meal is a variety of pickled herring and potatoes as well as grilled salmon or ribs followed by strawberries for desert. After dinner many Swedes go out dancing. Midsummer is also a popular time for weddings or christenings. Despite the fact thatSwedes are not particularly religious, many people want to get married at a country church during this time of year.


The Duanwu Festival

The Duanwu Festival, known in the West as the "Dragon Boat Festival", is a traditional Chinese holiday that takes place each year near the summer solstice.The festival is also often called the "Double Fifth Festival" as it takes place on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar Calendar. This year the festival will take place from June 16th to 18th. The Festival celebrates Chinese poet Qu Yuan, who is considered to be a martyr in the country. Qu Yaun was a member of the ruling house in the ancient state of Chu.  He drowned himself when the powerful Chinese state of Qin captured Ying, the Chu capital. The story of Qu Yuan describes how local admirers of Qu raced out on boats to try to save him. When they could not find Qu, they dropped balls of sticky rice into the river so that fish would eat them instead of Qu's body. This is the origin of Duanwu's dragon boat races and the reason why people snack on "zongzi", or sticky rice balls, during this holiday.

Boston will hold its own Dragon Boat Festival this summer. The 39th Annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival will take place over the weekend of June 9th - 10th and feature Dragon Boat races as well as performances, art, and food.


The Bon Festival

Japan's Bon Festival, or Obon, occurs this year on August 13th - 15th. The three day celebration honors Japanese ancestors and has become an opportunity for families to reunite and spend time together. During the festival people hang lanterns outside their houses to help guide their dead ancestors back home. Families will also visit and clean the graves of loved ones who have died. Perhaps the most significant tradition of the Bon Festival is the Bon Odori, a traditional folk dance that welcomes the spirit of the dead. The dance is different in each region with songs a lyrics specific to that area.

Boston will also host Obon celebrations this summer. Historically Japanese schools such as Boston Higashi School and Showa Boston will each have their own Bon Festival featuring music, dancing, and Japanese food.

Source: WikipediaCulture Trip, Meet the Slavs, Sweden.se, Colorzine

Cherry Blossom Season is in Bloom

Global Immersions Recruiting - Tuesday, April 03, 2018

Spring is here (although from recent weather you probably can't tell)  and that means cherry blossom season! Cherry blossoms usually bloom in Japan from late March - mid April, or even early May. Cherry blossom viewing is a cultural event in Japan, observed by many. Hanami, or "flower viewing" refers to the custom of enjoying the cherry blossoms after winter has gone. A typical hanami usually involves holding an outdoor party under cherry blossom trees. Observers will bring a picnic of food, beer, or sake and relax as sakura¸ or cherry blossoms fall from the trees.

Several cities in Japan are famous for their hanami festivals. Hirosaki, the Japanese city centered around the 17th century Hirosaki Castle, holds the Sakura-Matsuri festival every year. Yoshino-Yama, a mountain in Japan's Nara Prefecture is considered to be one of the best viewing spots in Japan, as the mountain is covered in over 30,000 cherry trees.  Other notable spots include the Japan Mint in Osaka, and Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Our Groups Coordinator, Gen, is working for us in Japan until July. He sent these beautiful photos of cherry trees in bloom in his home city.




The U.S. is also home to cherry blossoms. A grove of cherry blossom trees was gifted to the United States from Japan and now align the title basin in the West Potomac Park. These trees bloom every year, usually in April. The cherry blossom blooming is not nearly as celebrated in the United States as it is in Japan, however D.C. does have an annual cherry blossom festival and annual cherry blossom festival parade.

Source: JNTO

When the Clock Strikes 12

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 28, 2017

Whether viewed as an anthem, lifestyle, or fact, it’s 5 o'clock Somewhere. On December 31, a different hour is anticipated. The New Year is rung in all over the globe, in each time zone with fireworks and festivities.

First Night Boston, the oldest and largest event of its kind in the country, derived from a woman’s dream for a nontraditional night out. In 1975, Clara and Bill Wainwright attended a New Year's Eve party and found it predictable. They envisioned an Inclusive family-friendly celebration. The couple began organizing their project of a creative night by meeting with local artists. With partners and sponsors, they were able to plan more more than a hundred individual events across the city, including concerts, displays, and fireworks. New England weather is unpredictable, and the temperature reached a windchill of ten degrees below zero. About 25,000 people bundled up to experience First Night. It has since become a tradition and inspired similar events throughout the country and the world. 

The first major city to experience the New Year is Sydney. The largest fireworks display of the world is presented on the harbor, with the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House making the show only more alluring. A ceremony presented by the Aboriginal peoples, showcases eucalyptus smoke billowing over the water, cleansing the Harbour of bad spirits. Family Fireworks go off at 9 pm for young Aussies to view, with the larger presentation following at the stroke of midnight. The parade of boats illuminated with strings of lights, glide through the harbor.

Perhaps the most thought celebration spot for New Year’s Eve is New York City. With millions gathering to watch the ball drop in Times Square and hours of notable musical guests, it is no wonder it is the most famous. The pricey alternative to partying outside is to have reservations or attend parties at the restaurants or bars overlooking the festivities. Crowds aren’t for everyone, which makes the televised broadcast, “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” such a success. 


“Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest” now features segments from the Las Vegas party with additional guest appearances from celebrities. The Las Vegas Strip is known for entertainment, making it one of the great party destinations. On New Year’s Eve the road is shut down and transformed into a street party with live bands and pyrotechnics from various locations.

Another city known for partying, Rio de Janeiro is a top New Year’s Eve Destination. Known for its Carnival blowout, the New Year’s Eve bash maintains the same level of excitement, making it the largest New Year’s Eve party in the world. Over two million flock to the two and a half mile stretch of sand, known as Copacabana Beach. While Copacabana Beach is the most popular, smaller events will take place on other beaches and locations. Locals will traditionally wear white and will toss flowers and offerings into the ocean. Oceanfront stages host live musical and dance performances.


Needless to say, cities around the world are well-versed in celebrating the New Year. What are YOUR plans to welcome in 2018? 

Everyone here at Global Immersions hopes you have a fabulous New Year!!

Christmas: Then and Now

Global Immersions Recruiting - Thursday, December 21, 2017

The winter solstice marked the short, harsh and dark winter days were coming to an end. Longer days and extended hours of sunlight are highly anticipated and brought hope to those seeking comfort in the sun. This Pagan celebration was soon absorbed by others and transitioned into a Christian holiday. The winter holiday became an anniversary celebration of the birth of Jesus. From one religion to another and constantly evolving, Christmas of today has religious implications but the commercialized aspects have far outgrown the religious ones. Narratives once revolved around Jesus, but Santa Claus has since become the integral character for Christmas stories.

Not always the popular holiday it is today, Christmas was outlawed in Boston from 1659 to 1681. Puritan beliefs countered the celebration and those participating in Christmas festivities were fined five shillings. While other settlements did not have these strict regulations and Christmas slowly gained popularity. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States in on June 26, 1870. Globalization and developing technologies have changed and spread traditions. Each family has different traditions, as does each country. Other traditions and celebrations are unique to a country or town.

Christmas trees have become a symbol of Christmas. Christmas trees were first seen in Germany and immigrants brought the concept to the United States. Thought of as a Pagan tradition, it was not widely embraced initially. The first record of a Christmas tree being publicly displayed was in the 1830s. This display in Pennsylvania was created by German immigrants who had been decorating such trees in their communities for years. Popularity of Christmas trees grew after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, who was German, were photographed with their children around one.

St. Lucia (Lucy) Day is celebrated widely, but most common in Scandinavia on December 13. The name Lucy refers to “light” and the celebration initially coincide with the winter solstice. To commemorate her death, a girl will dress in a white gown with a red sash around the waist. A crown of twigs and nine lit candles adorn her head. Processions are common in towns and one girl is selected for the honor of leading it. She will dress with the sash and crown of candles, but the other participants will carry a candle


Gävlebocken, the Gävle Goat, is a holiday display in Gävle, Sweden. Comprised of straw, the goat has cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars to create and maintain. Since the tradition was introduced in 1966, the Gävle Goat has been destroyed by vandals 35 times in the past 50 years. Increased resources have been allocated to the protection of the display.  

While everyone might be dreaming of a white Christmas, some have white sandy beaches. In the Southern Hemisphere, Christmas is in the middle of summer. Australians  tend to go to the beach and have a picnic as their Christmas meal. The weather permits plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.


All in all, Christmas around the world is celebrated in various styles and fashions, but most people would agree that the most important part of Christmas is the time we spend with family!

Merry Christmas to all!

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


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