Questions to Ask Your Grandparents

09042014 know grandparents FB AG Questions to Ask Your Grandparents

 

Inter-generational relationships are one of the most beautiful gifts in the world. The relationship between grandparent and grandchild is precious in so many different ways. Yet, how well do we really know them? As we celebrate Grandparents Day today, we felt the timing was perfect to put together a great list of questions to ask your grandparents to help us all learn more about these amazing persons who hold the key to our family history.

What greater Grandparents Day gift could there be than to spend some quality time with grandma or grandpa and talk to them about some of the most important moments and memories in their life? It’s vital that you seize this opportunity before it’s too late.

While one’s life history certainly can never fit into a single afternoon discussion, the following list of questions may very well spark some conversation-starters to get your grandparents talking about one special era of their life, whether it be childhood dreams, school experiences, or becoming parents and grandparents. (Be sure to take good notes or better yet, record their answers!)

Feel free to print this list of questions to ask your grandparents, or improvise according to your own family situation:

Childhood and School

  • Where were you born? What was your house like?
  • What is your earliest memory? Why do you think you remember this particular instance?
  • Did you have a nickname?
  • What kinds of games did you play growing up? Did you have a favorite toy?
  • What was your favorite family meal?
  • Who was your first best friend, and how did you meet? Do you still keep in touch?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What was your favorite subject in school and who was your favorite teacher?

Marriage and Children

  • When and how did you meet your spouse? What did you do on dates? When did you know you were going to marry him/her?
  • What memory stands out the most from your wedding day?
  • What do you believe is the key to a successful marriage?
  • What made you decide to become a parent?
  • Why did you choose your children’s names?
  • What was your proudest moment as a parent?
  • What did you enjoy doing together as a family?
  • How was having grandchildren different from having children? What do you enjoy most about being a grandparent?

Personal

  • What is your favorite song?
  • What is the best advice you were ever given, and did you follow it?
  • If there was one moment in your life you could relive, what would it be and why?
  • What was your profession and how did you choose it? What was your first job?
  • If you could have had any other profession, what would it have been? Why wasn’t it your first choice?
  • Of all the things you learned from your parents, what do you think was the most important?
  • What is the one thing you most want people to remember about you?
  • Tell me one thing you’ve never told anyone else before.

Interviewing a grandparent can be not only a lot of fun, but informative and eye-opening as well. This may even become a fun annual Grandparents Day tradition. By focusing on a new topic or area of life each year, you will be able to get a more in-depth perspective while strengthening your relationship with each other. And your grandparents will love this trip down memory lane.

And if your grandparents are no longer with you, now is a great time to sit down and write what you do remember about them to make sure those memories are captured for generations that follow you.

What’s the greatest lesson you learned from your grandparents?

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Easy, Adorable Memorial Day Party Ideas

Memorial Day Roundup BLG AG Easy, Adorable Memorial Day Party Ideas   Looking for an easy, fun way to make your Memorial Day party really stand out? We spent some time perusing some fantastic blogs and came across some great ideas to make any party sparkle! 1. Patriotic Parfaits by Delish.com 2. American flag Mason jars by Maison dePax 3. Spray painted lawn stars by Sunset.com 4. Memorial Day cookie platter by The Bearfoot Baker 5. Fruit ice drink by Mom.me 6. Firework balloon chandelier by Colorado Balloons 7. Patriotic bandana tablecloth by My Insanity 8. Homemade pallet flag by A Lovely Place to Land   We also thought that all of these ideas would be great to reuse for the 4th of July or Labor Day! If you make one great new item for each occasion, you’ll have a fun, patriotic collection of party goods in no time!   We hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Memorial Day holiday!

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Happy Cranky Coworkers Day!

10272013 cranky coworkers blg ag Happy Cranky Coworkers Day!We can’t take credit for this one, folks! This annual holiday was created by Ruth and Thomas Roy of Wellcat Hollidays in Lebanon, PA in honor of all the complaining and just plain cranky co-workers you have to endure all year–this is the day to let them go with it and enjoy their miseries.So, if the lady next to you is always cursing up a storm or the guy in cubicle B is always banging his head on the keyboard, here’s your chance to let loose and get in the action and stir up some crankiness of your own:

  • Turn that smile upside-down and sign all your emails with an unhappy face.
  • Turn your phone volume up all the way; when you get a call, let it ring ‘til it goes to voicemail.
  • Don’t clean out the microwave after you use it; better yet—burn some popcorn.
  • Affix a Post-It on stray items reading, “This is in the way,” or place cleaning products on a communal lunch table with the tag, “Someone…Please clean up this messy lunch table!”
  • Play Bobby McFerrin’s hit song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” over and over and over again!

All kidding aside, our vote is to always kill ‘em with kindness—if you’re up to it, try some reverse psychology and do something nice. Buy some coffee or chocolate and give them to your curmudgeonly coworker. It’s sure to put a smile on their face—even if just for a day.

Good luck out there!

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Ways To Make Your Last Minute Boss’s Day Gift Not Look So Last Minute

10162013 bosssday quote blg ag Ways To Make Your Last Minute Bosss Day Gift Not Look So Last Minute

Gather ‘round, fellow work week warriors–National Boss’s Day is Wednesday, October 16th! We know this day is tough for a lot of office workers who struggle to figure out a good gift for their boss. And since this day tends to creep up on many a worker, we decided to put together some tips to make your last-minute Boss’s Day gift look not so last minute:

  • Naturally, we’re going to suggest sending a Boss’s Day ecard, paper card or printable card. You can attach a gift card for a quick, easy way to add a little extra thought into your selection. You’re welcome.
  • Take a spin past the water cooler to see if anyone has any brilliant ideas or wants to go in on a gift together. It’ll ease up the budget restraints and maybe someone else has heard them mention something they need. You can even run out at lunch together to power shop.
  • Cake. Everyone loves cake, right? Cake, cupcakes, cake pops… You can’t go wrong (as long as there are no dietary restrictions) with a stylish confectionary treat. Create a pretty display (i.e. take them out of the plastic packaging and arrange them on a cute footed platter with a cute ‘Happy Boss’s Day’ sign) and then share with the team!
  • Spruce up their space! Office decor items such as picture frames, trendy office supplies, or a lovely plant may be a little on the traditional side, but they help create a more relaxing environment.
  • Feed the soul! Find a great local restaurant and take THEM out to lunch! Having facetime with your superiors can not only help grow your professional relationship, but also allow for a more personal connection between the two of you.
  • Whatever you select, gift presentation counts! Pretty wrapping paper, ribbon, and a nice card with a personalized message go a long way in making any gift stand out.
  • Still stumped? Then forget the boss—buy for their pet! You’ll get kudos for thoughtfulness and thinking outside the box when you show their furbaby some love.

The main thing is, your boss will simply appreciate your recognition that they’re doing a good job, so any nice gesture you offer is sure to be a win-win.

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Coffee Day is September 29th!

 

09272013 coffee day blg ag2 Coffee Day is September 29th!

Skip sleeping in and cozy up to your favorite coffee house this Sunday to celebrate Coffee Day!

While you’re savoring a medium half-caf no-foam non-fat vanilla soy latte (or go full octane with a straight-up espresso!) we thought you’d enjoy these fun facts about our beloved, can’t-do-without-it beverage:

  • Ethiopian shepherds first noticed the effects of caffeine when they saw their goats appearing to become frisky and “dance” after eating coffee berries.
  • Coffee beans are actually the pit of a bright red berry, which makes them a fruit.
  • Originally, coffee was eaten by African tribes who mixed coffee berries with fat to form edible energy balls.
  • In the ancient Arab culture there was only one way a woman could legally divorce: If her husband didn’t provide enough coffee!
  • In 1675, the King of England banned coffee houses, claiming they were places where people met to conspire against him.
  • All coffee in the world is grown in the “bean belt”, which is the area between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. Hawaii is the only state in the U.S. that grows coffee.
  • Coffee is the second most traded commodity on earth. Oil is the first.
  • George Washington invented instant coffee!  (Gotcha! Not THAT George Washington. Just checking to see if your caffeine is kicking in and you’re still reading.)  A Belgian man living in Guatemala by the name of George Washington invented it in 1906.
  • New Yorkers drink 7 times more coffee than any other cities in the U.S.
  • A French doctor in the 1600s suggested Café Au Laits for patients, inspiring people to begin adding milk to coffee.

So go meet up with a friend to enjoy some caffeinated conversation!

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Talk Like a Pirate Day

09192013 pirate day blg ag1 Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast, me hearties!

“Talk Like A Pirate Day” be celebrated on September 19, ‘n ye ‘would-be’ buccaneers best learn t’speak th’ lingo. If ye reckon that jus’ sayin’ “arrr” at the’ end o’ every sentence will fill yer sails and float yer ship–recon again, landlubber!  It’ll jus’ get ye tossed o’erboard!

So don’t settle fer bein’ an imitation pirate—be authentic  ‘n colorful like a real swashbucklin’ scallywag o’ th’ sea! Lookey here fer some official Pirate Talk tips:

  • Ye be needin’ t’ be rigged up wit a Pirate name—get yer’s here!
  • Change yer Facbookin’ language t’ “Pirate”, ye’ landlubbers!
  • Send all ya scallywags an “Arr!” with a pirate ecard.
  • Wearin’ a eye patch will make ye’ more feared than th’ black spot.
  • A pirate without a crew is bereft indeed! Assemble yer mates and get loaded to the gunwalls with pirates grogg of rum, pineapple juice, coconut juice, or what’ere ye’ scallywags can muster.
  • Talk wi’ yer hands as much as ye tongue, as pirates be loud and animated. Just be careful wavin’ that hook around… ye could put n’ eye out!

09192013 pirate day2 blg ag1 Talk Like a Pirate Day

Now get to celebratin’! ARRR!

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Yom Kippur

09142013 yom kippur blg ag1 Yom Kippur

Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is the culmination of the Jewish High Holy Days that began with Rosh Hashanah. It is considered to be the holidays day of the year for Jewish people and is traditionally observed with fasting and attending prayer services at temple. It is believed that the fate of each person for the year to come is sealed on this day.

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Top 13 Tips for Surviving Friday the 13th

09132013 friday the 13th blg ag Top 13 Tips for Surviving Friday the 13th

If the very thought of Friday the 13th sends chills up your spine, you may have paraskevidekatriaphobics  (say that 3 times fast!)  An irrational fear of Friday the 13th influences millions of people in the U.S., causing U.S companies to lose an estimated $800 to $900 million in business due to workers who refuse to travel or go to work on Friday the13th!

Whether you’ve bravely hauled yourself to work or are huddled under the covers watching Dr. Phil today, we thought we’d help calm your nerves and offer you 13 tips on how to make it to Saturday…

  • Get out of bed on the right side (that is, not the left side). This side is guaranteed to make your day luckier according to some superstitions.
  • Wear red underpants!  Apparently this color will bring you more luck than other colors!
  • If you come upon a ladder, it’s probably best not to walk under it. (Let’s not push the luck-giving capabilities of our red underpants.)
  • It’s not a great day for exploring woods, caves, or cemeteries. We know the sudden urge to go spelunking can be strong, but try to resist for a day, okay?
  • Drop the mop!  Friday the 13th is a great excuse to not clean because apparently handling a broom is unlucky on this day.  So is changing the sheets, flipping the mattress, or doing the laundry. (Woohoo! You don’t need to tell us twice!)
  • Do not start a new job or business today, as it will be followed by collapse or bankruptcy.
  • If traveling today (though you really shouldn’t) stay away from the 13th floor, which will be easy because many large hotels don’t have a 13th floor—they skip right over it to 14!
  • Furthermore, if you MUST stop for gas in a creepy station full of creepy people, just turn around and go home–your trip is over.  If you hear a banjo, put the pedal to the metal and floor it!
  • Throw salt over your left shoulder (to blind the devil!). This is usually reserved to counteract the bad luck of spilling salt, but we’re thinking that we might do it throughout the day as a sort of insurance policy.
  • Black cat? Give it a pat! In some cultures, black cats are actually bringers of good luck and one crossing your path is a good omen.  So, don’t be afraid to cuddle Jinxy today.
  • Do NOT go digging around for your old OUIJA board and NEVER read a book of demon summoning aloud, even as a joke—it can only lead to further problems.
  • Try to focus on good thoughts and good outcomes. Research has actually shown that people who believe in bad luck tend to bring it on! (we’re still not cleaning, though. Or changing out of our red underpants.)
  • No rabbit’s foot? Grab an acorn! In Norse folklore, both the acorn and its bearer, the oak tree, bring good fortune. No harm in keeping one in your pocket all day.

Good luck out there, friends!

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New Rosh Hashanah Traditions

09062013 rosh hashanah blg ag New Rosh Hashanah Traditions

Rosh Hashanah is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends to celebrate old traditions, but if you’re looking to offer the holiday a fresh twist, check out some of the ideas below to help make your celebration just as sweet as the new year to come:

Throw a Symbolic Potluck

Invite your friends over and ask everyone to bring a dish that symbolizes something they hope for this year. For example, someone might cook entirely from local organic food, with intentions to pay greater attention to their relationships with the people and things closest to them.

Savor the Sweetness

Gather some family or friends and bake the traditional Challah bread. The way challah is braided and shaped has different symbolic meanings, so  each person could try their hand at a different shape. While the challah is baking, you can prepare an impressive display of apples and honey using carved out apples as individual honey pots.

Letters to Ourselves

Prior to your gathering, ask everyone to write a letter to their future selves. The letter should reflect on where they are now and where they want to be in half a year. Collect everyone’s letter as they arrive, and inform them that you will mail them their letters in six months. This is a wonderful way to get everyone to think about the year ahead and all they hope for themselves and others.

However you choose to celebrate, spending time with people you love is the most important part! Please be sure to send them our warmest wishes as you celebrate the High Holy Days.

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L’Shanah Tovah!

09052013 rosh hashana blg ag LShanah Tovah!

Last night at sundown, the Jewish New Year began with Rosh Hashanah. This two-day celebration is a time of reflection and repentance, and marks the beginning of the High Holy Days. It’s a time for sending good wishes for the year and gathering with family and friends.

Fun facts about Rosh Hashanah

How much to do you know about Rosh Hashanah? We’ve compiled some interesting facts about this Jewish New Year celebration:

  •  Rosh Hashanah means “beginning of the year” in Hebrew.
  • A significant ritual is the sounding of the Shofar—a hallowed out ram’s horn that is blown like a trumpet and used as a call to repentance.
  • No work is allowed on Rosh Hashanah.
  • The common salutation is “L’shanah tovah,”  which means “for a good year.”
  • Pomegranates are eaten because the number of seeds believed to be contained in the fruit (613) is the same number of mitzvoth (commandments) associated with the Jewish faith.
  • Fish is a typical dish served and represents knowledge, since its eyes are always open, and it is customary for the head of the fish to be placed in front of the head of household.
  • The most popular food custom is eating apples and honey to express hope for a sweet new year.
  • According to the Talmud, the world was created on the first day of Tishri, the seventh month of the Jewish calendar. So, Rosh Hashanah is considered a birthday of sorts for the world.

Happy New Year from us to you!

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Happy Eid

 08072013 ramadan american greetings Happy Eid

Today marks the end of Ramadan, the holiest and most blessed month of the Muslim calendar.

This evening at sundown, the festival of Eid-al-Fitr begins and men, women and children attend mosque for special prayers. During the celebration, homes are decorated with lights and time is spent with family and friends to enjoy large meals and exchange gifts.

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Observing Ramadan

07082013 ramadan american greetings1 Observing Ramadan

Ramadan takes place during what is considered the holiest and most blessed month of the Islamic calendar—the time when the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and calls for Muslims to abstain from food and drink for 30 days during daylight hours.

Each year, there are varying start and end times around the world depending on the lunar calendar. During Ramadan, fasting begins at dawn and continues through sunset. This year, Ramadan in the United States is estimated to begin on Tuesday, July 9, once the new moon is sighted, and continue for approximately 30 days until Wednesday, August 7.

In addition to fasting, Muslims observing Ramadan pray, take time for inward reflection and to focus on their faith as well as complete charitable acts. Mosques throughout the United States and around the world hold night prayers called Taraweeh in which the entire Quran is recited over the 30-day period.

Before the sun rises, most Muslims begin the day with prayer and the suhoor or early morning meal. Once the sun sets, fresh or dried dates are used to break the fast, as was the known tradition of the Prophet Muhammad. Breaking of the fast includes prayer and the evening Iftar—a meal eaten with family that often features nutritious and hydrating foods to help sustain and replenish the body from the fast.

At the conclusion of Ramadan, the three-day festival of Eid-al-Fitr begins and men, women and children attend mosque for special prayers. During the celebration, homes are decorated with lights and time is spent with family and friends to enjoy large meals and exchange gifts.

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Happy Canada Day!

07012013 canadaday american greetings Happy Canada Day!

From Vancouver to Halifax, July 1 marks Canada’s birthday and the date that Canadians commemorate their independence from the United Kingdom. “Canada Day” or “Fête du Canada” is a national day of celebration filled with parades, citizenship ceremonies, free concerts and fireworks.

Originally known as “Dominion Day,” the holiday recognizes the July 1, 1867 anniversary of the British North America Act that united Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Province of Canada into the Dominion of Canada, becoming the second largest country in the world.

First acknowledged as a proclamation in 1868 and then a statute in 1879, “Dominion Day” became more widely celebrated in the 1980s. For years, observances have been held in Ottawa, Ontario—the nation’s capital—and eventually those events were nationally televised. In the early 1980s, government support and funding was made available to inspire and plan more celebrations across the country. The holiday was officially renamed “Canada Day” in 1982.

Canada’s largest celebration is still in Ottawa, where activities include official flag raising and changing of the guard ceremonies. A host of public events featuring performing artists and musicians and multicultural entertainment continue throughout the day then culminate with a brilliant fireworks display behind Parliament Hill. The Canadian Prime Minister and Governor General typically preside over the festivities, and sometimes the Queen of England or another member of the royal family attends the celebration.

Since many families and friends across Canada celebrate Canada Day with picnics, barbeques and outdoor activities, we thought we’d share a few delicious recipes that use some of Canada’s favorite natural resources:   

Happy Canada Day to our friends to the north! And thank you for some of our favorite things Canadian like Hockey, Smarties candies and Velcro to name just a few.

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National Teacher Day

05072013 teacher appreciation american greetings National Teacher Day

There are few people more deserving of appreciation than the everyday heroes who influence our children’s daily lives and affect who they will become.  Since its origination in 1944, the purpose of National Teachers Day, now expanded to National Teachers Week, is to honor teachers for their contributions to children’s success—and simply thank them for caring.

Here are some thoughtful ways for you or your child to show teacher appreciation—without breaking the piggy bank:

  •  Store, Restaurant or Movie Gift Card
  • Flowers, Plants or Seeds – for their seeds of wisdom.
  • Symbolic Sweets – Lifesavers, Starbursts, Candy Kisses
  • A Lovely Poem
  • Handwritten Note – even if it’s in crayon!

And if you are a teacher reading this, we would like to offer our sincerest gratitude for the amazing work you do—all year long!

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Tax Day is Here!

 

04152013 tax day american greetings Tax Day is Here!

“I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” ~ Douglas Adams, Humorist/Novelist

Did you meet the Tax Day deadline…or will you be hearing a whooshing sound?  Hopefully your forms are signed, sealed and stamped, and you’ve got some spare time for some fun tax day trivia:

So, why is the deadline today? When the 16th amendment of 1913 started taxing anyone earning $3,000 or more, the filing deadline was actually March 1.  Rumor has it, the date was changed to April 15 in 1955 because the IRS wanted more time to do the work.  And to the IRS’s defense, processing returns really is a daunting task. If each form was processed in one minute, which would be warp-speed, it would take one person about 445 years to get the job done.

But just doing one tax return can be a challenge for even the smartest citizen.  Albert Einstein once said, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax.”  And that’s when tax forms were only three pages long.  Now the easiest tax form  has 33 pages of instruction!  So it’s probably no surprise that some people simply skip filing.  But it is a shock to find out who breaks the law.  In 1952, Joseph Nunan was imprisoned for five years for tax evasion…and to think that he was once the Commissioner of the IRS!

On the other end of the spectrum, the IRS’s favorite taxpayers are married, childless people who rent their homes and earn a decent salary—because they get the fewest breaks. And speaking of breaks, did you know car accidents tend to go up 6% on April 15? It’s probably due to people racing to the post office — so slow down and try to have a stress-free day!

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Celebrating The Seder Meal at Passover…

passover moodboard 032620131 Celebrating The Seder Meal at Passover...

The highlight of the Passover celebration is the tradition of seder which is a fifteen-step, family-oriented, ritual-packed feast! Observed on the first two nights of Passover, it is based on the Haggadah which is a book of instructions, prayers, blessings and stories and provides the order for the ritual meal. Haggadah means “the telling” in Hebrew and refers to one of the most important steps of the seder which is the recitation of  the Exodus story. It is interesting because the text in the traditional Haggadah is almost the same as was first written in the eleventh century. However, now there are hundreds of versions used, each with a different spin. The most symbolic of the foods served at the seder meal is definitely the matzah which is eaten three times to fulfill the requirements of Jewish law. Matzah is an unleavened, flat, crispy bread and signifies the urgency in which the Jews fled Egypt — they didn’t even have time to let their dough rise!

Other customs of the seder meal include drinking four cups of wine, serving a variety of delicious kosher foods and reclining during the meal in celebration of freedom. It is truly a festive event. Shalom, Everyone!

In the mood board: Happy Passover Fun Song ecard from American Greetings

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The Meaning of Passover…

03252013 passover wish american greetings The Meaning of Passover...

Passover begins today at sunset and is an eight-day celebration that commemorates the freedom of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.  But here’s more of the story…

After decades of slavery to Egyptian pharaohs, God helped the Israelites escape by sending ten plagues to Egypt.  At the stroke of midnight, the tenth plague killed every first-born Egyptian, but God spared the children of Israel by passing over their homes—hence the name for the holiday.  Pharaoh finally relented and virtually chased  600,000 Israelites out of the land.  In fact, they left in such a hurry, the bread they baked didn’t have time to rise or leaven before they made the trek back to Israel. Originally, the unleavened bread was tossed into baskets and baked by the sun, resulting in a flatbread or cracker.  Now, those who adhere to Jewish dietary laws rid their homes of all leavened bread, called chametz, before Passover begins. Passover is divided into two parts.  The first two days and last two days are full-fledged holidays, while the  “intermediate days,” called chol hamoed, are semi-festive and work is permitted.

Wishing you all a Healthy and Happy Passover!

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Celebrating Purim

02242013 img1 Celebrating Purim

Today is Purim! This festive Jewish holiday commemorates the bravery of a young girl, Esther, who saved her people from being massacred in Persia in the fourth century BCE. Her story, which is the basis of the Biblical Book of Esther, tells of how she won the heart and hand of King Ahasuerus with her great beauty. She kept her heritage a secret, but when her guardian, Mordecai, discovered the evil vizier Haman was going to have all Jews killed, she risked her life by revealing her identity to the king. Miraculously, the tables were turned on Haman, as the king adored Esther; her people were saved while Haman was put to death.

This wonderful holiday is celebrated with the community, and at the synagogue, the Scroll of Esther—the Megillah—is read. But don’t think this is a somber event! Every time Haman’s name is mentioned, the congregation hollers and shouts, and shakes graggers, or noisemakers, to drown out the evildoer’s name, which adds to the fun. Temples and community centers often host plays and carnivals, and the children dress up in costumes ranging from superheroes to Queen Esther herself.

Of course, a holiday wouldn’t be complete without delicious food, and Purim is no exception! One of the most important treats is hamantashen, a filled, three-cornered pastry named after evil Haman. Kreplach, a filled pasta, is also traditionally served at the seudah, or the celebratory meal. It’s definitely a day for partying!

Friendship and charity are important themes of Purim, and so people give gifts of food to friends and donations to those who are in need. After all, the joy of the day, and the miracle of good over evil is something that’s meant to be shared.

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Groundhog Day

3284121 groundhog1 Groundhog Day

Did you know that Groundhog Day, which is celebrated mainly in the United States, is closely linked with Candlemas Day originated by the early Christians in Europe? According to folklore, it was the Germans, Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers, who eventually brought this tradition to North America. Interestingly, the groundhog closely resembled the English hedgehog, which was considered to be a wise and sensible animal. The settlers decided that if the sun was out on February 2, this wise animal would see its shadow and have the good sense to jump back in its hole for another six weeks of winter.

Well, six weeks or not, we must all persevere — happy wintering, everyone!

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Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day

 

ag blog quote 10082012 12 Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day

Today we are celebrating two holidays.  First, Happy Thanksgiving!  And no, we’re not early—it’s Canadian Thanksgiving!  The concept of a day of gratitude can be traced all the way back to 1578 for our neighbors to the north, but the idea was formalized in 1872, when the country was grateful for the recovery of the ill Prince of Wales. Beginning in 1879, celebrations were held every year, mainly to give thanks for the harvest.  Although the holiday is officially observed on the second Monday in October, you will find many Canadians traveling and getting together with family and friends for their thanksgiving meal on any one of the three days during the weekend.  And yes, just like Americans, many Canadians do enjoy turkey, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie along with some football on this noteworthy day.  So join in the fun and be sure to say “Cheers” with a glass of spiced cider!


ag blog quote 10082012 21 Canadian Thanksgiving/Columbus Day

Second, it is Columbus Day — a public holiday in many parts of the United States that honors the exploration achievements of Christopher Columbus and for some, celebrates Italian-American heritage.  Christopher Columbus’ famous journey to the Americas in 1492 was noteworthy in that it marked the first intertwining of Europe with the New World.  It also proved that our globe was much bigger than even Columbus had imagined.  Today you may find celebratory festivities and parades, especially in communities with a large Italian-American presence, honoring the courage and adventurous spirit of Columbus and his crew.  And if there are no events near you, perhaps you can commemorate the day by serving one of these easy Italian recipes for dinner tonight!

Regardless of where you live, there’s so much to appreciate and celebrate in this beautiful autumn month of October!

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Rosh Hashanah

09172012 artwork roshhashanah Rosh Hashanah

L’Shanah Tovah—To a Good Year!  Our best wishes to you and yours for a happy, healthy year as we celebrate Rosh Hashanah. This holiday, which literally means “Head of the Year,” is the Jewish New Year—and this year is 5773 on the Hebrew calendar. The two-day celebration that began at sundown last night also marks the beginning of the High Holy Days, which end with Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Now though, is a time for sending good wishes for the New Year and for gathering together with family and friends. Jews around the world go to temple services on these sacred days, where special prayers are recited, and the shofar is often heard. The striking sound made by the ram’s horn heralds the New Year and calls us to look within and to reflect and see where we need to repent and make amends.

With traditional gatherings, challah and apples dipped in honey are often served to symbolize a sweet New Year. You can make this more meaningful for the children in your family by having them create their very own apple-shaped honey holder.  Adults will enjoy it, too!  Continue the good wishes by serving tzimmes—a sweet, stew-like dish that is easy to add your own personal touch to, and by making a delicious honey cake for dessert.  This start to the High Holy Days is filled with hope and happiness and meant to be shared with those you love.

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Celebrate the 4th of July

ag blog artwork 070220121 Celebrate the 4th of July

Get ready for the 4th of July! There’s so much to celebrate about our great country, and the 4th of July is the holiday to do just that! The first rule of the day is to show your patriotic pride, so be sure to wear red, white, and blue clothing. It’s easy to improvise by adding colorful bandanas, jewelry and hair accessories, or you can even paint your nails red, white and blue!  It’s also great to share the meaning of the day with others by displaying an American flag. Old Glory is always an inspiring sight, not just on the 4th, but all year long.

This year’s holiday falls in the middle of the week, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less special. Simply consider keeping your festivities closer to home, and you can also share 4th of July Printable Cards with everyone you’ll be spending the day with, or send patriotic ecards to people you might not get to visit. Many cities have parades, which are fun for kids and grown-ups alike: check your community’s website for details. Afterwards, nothing beats a backyard cookout with family and friends. Keep the theme of the day going  (and keep the kids busy) by making fast, yet festive 4th of July decorations. Use craft sticks to make stars, ribbons to decorate flowerpots, and more!  And of course, don’t forget to serve good ol’ American food like burgers and hotdogs, but add in some patriotic treats like a yummy Fruit Flag.

The 4th of July just wouldn’t be complete without fireworks, would it? Again, check with your community to find out the times and locations, and then plan on extending your backyard celebration. If you’ll be watching from a park, pack up those lawn chairs and any leftovers—or better yet, make some Patriotic Popcorn to bring along. Often, band concerts accompany the show, but if not, bring along some instruments—or just your voice—and start a Fourth of July sing-a-long that will make those fireworks even more spectacular, and provide a perfect ending to our nation’s birthday celebration!

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