Category Archives: North America

Is the Easter Bunny French?

The origins of the Easter Bunny – that long-eared rabbit who generously leaves candy in the baskets of good boys and girls and hides brilliantly colored eggs for them to find – can be traced to Alsace, a region that is now located in France but which was for many years part of Germany.

The first written mention of the Easter Bunny came in a book by Germany’s Georg Franck von Frankenau called De Ovis Paschalibus (About Easter Eggs).

The Easter Bunny came to America in the 1700s when German immigrants came to Pennsylvania and brought with them the legend of the Osterhase, an egg-laying hare. Children made nests for the rabbit to lay colored eggs.

Eventually, the Osterhase, or Easter Bunny, began to deliver chocolate, jelly beans, and other candy and gifts.

To thank the Easter Bunny, children left out carrots to help him keep his energy up!

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French Islands in North America

You’ve heard about the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, but have you heard about the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon, located off the coast of Canada at the entrance of Fortune Bay?

Amazingly, hundreds of years after France relinquished its hold over other North American territories, it maintains the islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon.

Equally amazing is the history of the islands, which transferred back and forth between England and France several times since Europeans took notice of them in 1520. At that time, they were held by the Micmac Indian tribe.

Today, the islands are a French territory. Located close to the Grand Banks, fishing is a major industry for the residents of the islands, although many also work in the public sector.

Approximately 6,300 people live on the two islands; more than 5,700 of them live on the island of Saint-Pierre.

Since the islands are so small, there are no street names. Residents give directions using landmarks, nicknames, and people’s residences as markers.

The only time the guillatine was used in North America was on a man convicted of murder on the island of St. Pierre. The guillatine had to be shipped from France. It was never used again and is now in a museum on Saint-Pierre.

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The Best Countries for Women & Girls

Photo courtesy of DoSomething.org

Happy 101st International Women’s Day!

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing some news about women from around the world.

The British newspaper, The Independent, reviewed data from around the world to evaluate how women are faring.

Studies show that by focusing on education for women in developing countries and providing them with the means to support themselves and their families, the rates of poverty and child mortality decrease dramatically.

Working together, we can create a world where every child has access to a quality education, health care, and enjoys their human rights and liberties.

Politics

In Rwanda, women hold 45 out of 80 parliamentary seats. This is the only country in the world where there are more women than men at this level of political prominence. Belize, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia have no female members of parliament.

Photo courtesy: AlmostAllTheTruth.com

Business & Work Place

Thailand has the most women managers in the work place in the world. Forty-five percent of senior managers in Thailand are women. In the US, only 20 percent of women hold senior management positions. In Japan, only 8 percent of senior management jobs are held by women.

In Jamaica, almost 60 percent of the high-skilled jobs are held by women.

Life Expectancy

Japanese women have the longest life expectancy in the world – 87 years.

Sports

The United States is the best place in the world to be a female athlete. Five out of the ten best-paid female athletes in the world are from the US. Saudi Arabia, on the other hand, has never sent a woman to the Olympics.

Literacy

Lesotho has the best female literacy rate compared to the men’s rate in the world. Ninety-five percent of women in Lesotho can read and write. Only 83 percent of the men in Lesotho can read and write.

Best Overall

Taking political participation, education, health, and employment statistics into account, Iceland has been named the best country in the world for women.

In honor of International Women’s Day, let’s do our best to encourage and inspire the girls and young women in our lives so that we can make every country the best country on earth for them.

To read the entire report, click here.

For more facts about the status of women and girls around the world, check out DoSomething.org’s website and Almostallthetruth.com.

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Filed under Africa, Caribbean, Europe, Holiday, Latin America, Learn, Middle East, North America

International (& Inspirational) Thanksgiving Quotes

If you’re struggling for conversation around the dinner table or just really want to make sure your children understand why we celebrate Thanksgiving – and why so many cultures around the world set aside a day for gratitude – here are some quotes from around the world about Thanksgiving Day and the importance of giving thanks (and a few food-related proverbs!).

Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings. J. Robert Moskin

Let us remember that, as much has been given us, much will be expected from us, and that true homage comes from the heart as well as from the lips, and shows itself in deeds. Theodore Roosevelt

On Thanksgiving Day we acknowledge our dependence. William Jennings Bryan

Give thanks for unknown blessings already on their way. Native American proverb

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. Cicero

If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies in yourself. Native American proverb

Who does not thank for little will not thank for much. Estonian proverb

After lunch, rest; after dinner walk a mile. Arab proverb

A guest sees more in an hour than the host in a year. Polish proverb

Fear less, hope more,

Eat less, chew more,

talk less, say more,

Hate less, love more,

And all good things will be yours.

Swedish proverb

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Canadian vs. American Thanksgiving Celebrations

Although very similar culturally, Canada and the United States have distinct differences. One fun way to think about these differences is in the ways each celebrates the holiday of Thanksgiving.

Although Thanksgiving celebrations are held in some way in many parts of the world, the celebrations in Canada and the United States date from roughly the same time period and have been influenced by many of the same cultural groups.

Date Differences

One of the biggest differences between the celebrations is the date. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October and the celebrations usually last into the weekend. Generally, Canadian Thanksgiving falls on the Columbus Day holiday, which many Americans – particularly Italian-Americans – celebrate with parades.

However, prior to the 19th century, many Canadian provinces set their own date for Thanksgiving celebrations. In the early 1900s, many Canadians celebrated Thanksgiving in November but this date was changed following World War I since it fell too close to Remembrance Day (or Veterans Day) ceremonies. In 1957, Canada officially declared the second Monday in October for Thanksgiving celebrations.

Americans have celebrated Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed a bill into law that changed the date that President Abraham Lincoln had assigned to Thanksgiving. Lincoln had chosen the final Thursday in November, which does not always fall on the fourth Thursday, in an effort to unite the northern and southern states following the Civil War. Roosevelt changed the date in an effort to give the country an economic lift during the Great Depression.

Holiday Origins

Canadian Thanksgiving traces its origins to Martin Frobisher, an English explorer who was trying to find a Northwest Passage. Upon arrival in Canada, he and his companions held a celebration to give thanks for a safe arrival after a difficult and dangerous journey.

As with most things in Canada, the French had an equal influence on the holiday. French explorer Samuel de Champlain led a group of French settlers to Canada in the 17th century who then held a great feast at the end of the successful harvest. There are even reports that they shared their food with the indigenous people of the area.

American Thanksgiving is generally believed to date from the Pilgrim harvest celebration in 1621. However, many researchers believe the first Thanksgiving was actually held by Spanish explorers in Florida in 1565. In 1619, settlers in the Virginia colony also held a feast to celebrate the anniversary of the settlement.

Celebrations Today

Canadians celebrate in much the same way that Americans do: feasts, parades, football, harvest decorations, travel, and time with family. Unlike most Americans, though, Canadians have no fixed day for the traditional Thanksgiving feast. Since the holiday falls on a Monday, Canadians serve up their feast Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, although most people hold their feast on Sunday.

The Feast

Many Canadians roast a turkey and serve cranberry sauce, stuffing, potatoes, and pies for their Thanksgiving feast, although a baked ham might also be the featured dish.

FineCooking.com has some great recipes to give you a taste of what a traditional Thanksgiving feast is like in Canada. Here’s just a few to whet your appetite.

Pumpkin Stuffed with Everything Good

 

Potato Gratin with Gruyere, Bacon & Leeks

 

Maple-Bacon Glazed Turkey with Wild Rice & Cornbread Stuffing & Bourbon Gravy

 

Cranberry Sauce with Vanilla, Maple Syrup & Cassis

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