Halloween Around the World

This post is for those of you world travelers spending today immersed in a culture far from the USA. I’m sure you’re doing a great job blending in, but you might be receiving just a few more stares than usual today.

Are you the only person for miles around wearing a costume?

Are you the only person for miles around NOT wearing a costume?

Well, my friend, you could be mistaken as to whether or not your country of temporary residence celebrates Halloween.

Here are some fun facts about a few of of the world’s countries that do and do not celebrate Halloween. Some might surprise you.

US & Canada: OF COURSE

Japan: YES

Western culture is all the rage in Japan, so now Halloween is, too! And, boy, do they go all out. Costumes, trick-or-treating, parties, parades, plays … Much of the holiday’s success is due to the popularity of Disneyland Tokyo where this photo was taken.

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England: NOT SO MUCH

What? All Hallow’s Eve originated in Britain. What gives?

While still observed, Halloween is largely unpopular in England. Rumor has it that Halloween has become such an outrageously festive display in the US that youth in the UK have started attempting to make more of a splash. There is now a huge security problem with “antisocial” behaviors such as egg-bombing and placing lit fireworks in the homes of people who don’t give good candy.

For theses reasons Halloween has declined in popularity in the UK.

Scotland and Ireland: YES

Celtic Halloween or Samhain sounds like a ball, but there are similar security issues in these countries. So beware!

Spain: NO

My husband and I learned during our study abroad that Halloween is not really observed in what otherwise is a total party country. On the other hand, traditional Spanish communities throw so many “carnivals” throughout the year involving costumes and candy that I doubt you’ll miss the special night very much at all. Switzerland describes a similar “festival overload.”

NOTE: In many European countries, children of British immigrants still try their hands at trick-or-treating despite the low turnout.

France: YES

Another common study abroad destination, France has opted to jump on the Halloween bandwagon—but in a much classier way than us Americans. Trick-or-treating is uncommon, as the holiday is mostly for adults who dress up to attend masquerade balls.

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No, dressing as Marie Antoinette is not mandatory.

Italy: YES (finally)

Due to the proximity of the Vatican, there was a 17th-century campaign on behalf of the Catholic Church to ban Halloween and other “pagan” holidays from Italy altogether, but thanks to the influence of American pop culture in the 1990s, Trick or Treat (in Italian “Dolcetto o Scherzetto,” literally dessert or joke) is now a household phrase.

Poland & Slovakia: NO

Since All Saints Day is perceived as a very somber occasion, many refuse to join in the “fun” of Halloween.

Hispanic South America: YES

Even though the words have no meaning, children in most Hispanic countries will walk up to neighbors doors and say, “Triqui triqui,” an attempt at the English “Trick or treat.”

Mexico: NO

You’re thinking of Day of the Dead, which is arguably way cooler than Halloween. The thing about this holiday is that you can’t wear just any costume. You have to dress like this:

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So in other words, you have to look totally badass.

Philippines: YES

Because of a large Catholic population, All Saints Day has long-term roots in the Philippines; however, since these islands are so far-removed from other lands colonized by the West, their traditional All Hallows Eve never morphed into Halloween. Only recently has the tradition of “souling” been replaced by trick-or-treating, and the holiday is still called All Saints Day.

Basically, the Philippines have long celebrated the “non-pagan” version of the holiday that first originated in British Christendom.

Australia: YES (reluctantly)

Another British colony, it’s not surprising that Australia has adopted Halloween traditions. What’s surprising to me is that many Australians are actually resistant to this type of celebration. The Sydney Morning Herald was quoted as saying that many families think of Halloween as that “American import, a satanic ritual, a junk food binge …”

Most people with bad feelings about the holiday, however, just think it’s “too American” and “not really one of our traditions.”

Wherever you are, a Happy Halloween to you!

How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 2

This post and its predecessor were written for ROC U’s blog about being a college student in the Rochester, NY area.

In case you missed Part 1, it’s here.

Now that we’ve gotten the terminology down, here are three tips to help you start your illustrious career as a citizen tourist right now.

1. Eat out.
I know what you’re probably thinking: “You acknowledge we’re broke college students, and now you want us to eat out more?”

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The truth is, to know a community is to know how its people live. To know how people live is to know how they eat. Restaurants, cafes, pubs, farmers markets, and locally specialized grocery stores (hello, Wegmans?) can give you this insight.

Stop some people on the street. Ask them where they like to eat. It’s so simple it even rhymes.

Also, if you haven’t already, it’s time to fall in love with Urbanspoon. This amazing website (and now app) sorts restaurants by customer rating, geographic location, price range, and more.

This is the “Cheap Eats” page for Urbanspoon Rochester. Go wild!

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Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.

How to Live Like a Tourist Everyday – Part 1

Today I am blogging over at ROC U blog, a tumblr populated by a group of journalism students at Roberts Wesleyan College. My post is about the best lesson I learned while studying abroad in Europe.

We hear the word “tourist” and immediately think of money-sucking “tourist traps.” We do our best to master prior to our vacations the walk and talk that will make us “not look like tourists.” We brag upon our return that the quaint places we frequented in our travels weren’t the least bit “touristy.”

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But if we turn to our good friends Merriam and Webster, tourism is simply defined as :

noun \ˈtu̇r-ˌi-zəm\ 1. the activity of traveling to a place for pleasure

How nice. Who wouldn’t want to do that? So why should pleasurable travel have such a bad rap?

Well, probably because the very next (and increasingly more common) definition is :

2. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc., for people who are traveling

The problem with tourism, as with many modern art forms, is that it has been turned into an industry.

Click here to read on at ROC U’s tumblr.

“Cold Water” (Hamlin Beach)

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Josh and I recently had the wonderful and much-needed opportunity  to spend an afternoon relaxing with friends over a picnic on the beach. We hadn’t planned it this way. but it ended up kind of being a celebration of Josh landing his new job at Paychex and Neme scoring not one, but two part-time jobs as a line cook. Kristen and I are so proud of our men 🙂

I packed some beachy snacks (trail mix with real coconut slices for the win!), and we made the long trek to Hamlin Beach State Park where we relaxed in the breeze and the sparse sunlight. Everbody kept complaining that they were cold, but I was praising God that my pasty limbs could enjoy the day without fearing the sun’s beating rays.

The swimming area was actually closed, so we went to a secluded area to make sure no one could see us get into the water–

I mean, so we totally didn’t get in the water! *cough*

Actually, I was the only one who ended up appreciating the, shall we say, “brisk” waters of Lake Ontario. I had a ball frolicking and swimming on my own, but there’s only so much solitary swimming and frolicking you can do before you get really bored . . . and look really stupid.

And they were having so much fun without me . . .

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I cannot express enough love for this picture

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The trip was all Stryker’s idea!

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“Photo shoot!”

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“Does this look pensive and mysterious?”

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“Gah! Skirt getting blown into the waves! Better go for cute and quirky . . . and wet.”

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“Eh, screw it. I’m just wet.”

Title is from the song of the same name by Damien Rice

For Your Inspiration: Creative Commentaries

Hi all!

Sorry for the absence. I have been darting back and forth between my home in Rochester and the beautiful city of Canandiagua in order to spend time with my extended family who have traveled up from Georgia and Pennsylvania to vacation for the week.There were beaches, boating, cookouts, amusement parks, and only the teensiest sunburn.

I have also had my hands full with two feline bundles of joy who don’t quite sleep through the night. (Apologies to those of you who were offended or otherwise put out by my “baby” joke. I found it humorous.)

Then there’s the whole job-hunting situation. Interviews, meetings, and query-letter-typing have a way of feeling like they have consumed your whole day no matter how long they actually take.

Anyway, excuses aside, I thought that rather than stress myself out with writing a new post for the blog I would link you to some of the best creative fodder I have bumped into online recently.

What is the Shortest Poem?Screen shot 2013-07-08 at 1.21.27 PM

If you have not yet discovered the YouTube channel Vsauce yet, you haven’t lived. Michael may be my  favorite human being on the planet. Watching just a few of his videos will make it clear to you that he possesses one of the most well-rounded brains on the planet. Math, science, art, and the humanities are all one mass of intellectual musing to him. This video is about poetry and artistic brevity.

Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Theatremusic-man

A sweet love letter to the theatre from the blog of a personal friend I have had the pleasure of both acting with and directing in the past.

ginabrillion Gina Brillon – First Latina Comedian Wins NBC Stand-Up Deal

I discovered this gal on a channel-flipping encounter with The View. This routine never gets old. I could listen to her do her South Bronx Puerto-Rican accent all day. I’m holding out to see if she has any Spanish language material. I wish this funny girl lots of success.

visualstorytelling13Visual Storytelling: New Language for the Information Age

Maria Popova at Brainpickings is pure brilliance, but this article is more informational and inspiring than anything I have even seen her compose in the past. I especially love the inforgraphics about how to make movies.

kutcher_jobsTrailer for Ashton Kutcher’s Steve Jobs Film

Saw this at the beginning of Now You See Me (which was great). Artsy indie film and technology moguls? I don’t know if it’s Josh or me who is more excited!

L’Angelus and Pure Louisiana – “Ca C’est Bon!”

I know I’m a total sap when it comes to music, but this song literally makes me cry tears of joy every single time I hear it.

There is just so much right about this style of music. It’s full of passion, simple pleasures, and the joy and beauty of the everyday struggles of this life. It’s a snapshot of a culture, really. That is a big factor in why I finally got turned on to country music after all this time. It’s about a culture of hope and of happiness in any circumstance.

L’Angelus is a band of siblings with roots in Louisiana–Cajun roots. So what picture of Cajun culture do I get from their music? Well, there are hurricanes, sugar cane, fiddles, falling in the love with the girl next door, and a whole lot of speaking French with southern accents (which I absolutely heart, by the way.)

Does that about cover it?

Oh, and there’s also amazing food! But that’s something that I’ll have to experience for myself rather than vicariously through a song. That would just be too painful . . .

Anyway, I’m in love with this band, in love with their music, and singing this song in the rain today.

What I Wore: Piko Party!

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Marshalls top, American Eagle jeans, Payless leopard flats, silver hoop earrings from who knows where, watch from Loomis Barn

Josh and I went to our friend Piko’s birthday party recently. Piko is from Ethiopia and is one of the most colorblind people I’ve ever met. It enables him to see people for who they really are and what they have to offer–and he is one of the most brilliant, well-rounded, warm, engaging people I have ever met as a result.

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This backyard party boasted Russians, Jamaicans, Hungarians, Swiss, French, Africans from all over who spoke French, and then Josh and I . . . yeah, we felt pretty darn uninteresting lol. Oh, and then there was Piko’s girlfriend my classmate Rachel who is a black Jew. Can’t get much more interesting than that.

This group of people were the open and loving type that making conversation and laughter completely effortless. We were truly blessed to spend an evening with them.

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