Tag Archives: Portugal

It’s Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday

Mardi Gras KidThere’s a lot going on today. In addition to Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday, today is also the 100th International Women’s Day, which I’ll be posting on later today.

But Mardi Gras deserves attention all on its own.

Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day before the Christian season of Lent begins. In Lent, Christians make sacrifices, fast, pray, and try to prepare for Easter, the holiest time in their religious calendar.

So Mardi Gras is the last hurrah before the solemnity of the Lenten season. And some people really do make the most of it.

In Brazil, Carnivale has a world-famous reputation as an all-out extravaganza.

In the United States, New Orleans pretty much holds the title for most festive Mardi Gras destination.

The celebrations can get wild – but there are some family-friendly traditions that anyone can adopt.

King CakeOne of the most fun is King Cake. King Cake is not only eaten during Mardi Gras, but it is also a popular food during the Christmas holidays in places such as France, Belgium, Portugal, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Switzerland, and Spain.

Inside the cake is a tiny figure of a baby, meant to be the baby Jesus. Whoever finds the figure in his or her piece of cake earns the right to buy next year’s King Cake (I like this tradition!).

In addition to King Cake, parades are a common activity at Mardi Gras festivities. You can organize a mini-parade with your family either inside or outside (depending on how frigid it is where you live). Dress up in masks and pile on every piece of funny clothing, jewelry, or decoration you can find.

Mardi Gras beadsIf you’ve got beads, flaunt them! Mardi Gras beads are traditionally distributed during parades. These plastic beads, usually found in purple, green, and gold, are fun treasures for kids to collect. You can give out beads according to your own idea of a good time. Encourage your children to compliment each other or do nice things for other friends or family members in order to earn the beads. You can keep the fun going long after Mardi Gras.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Holiday, Learn

Eat Some Grapes, Have a Laugh

In Spain and Portugal, people celebrate the new year by eating twelve grapes at midnight to encourage 12 happy months in the New Year.

In Japan, people let loose with a laugh at midnight to bring good luck to them and their families.

Each of these practices sounds so fun and charming; it’s a sure bet your family will feel the same way.

In addition, think of other things you can do at midnight to encourage a great outcome in 2011.

For example, if – like most people – you have financial concerns, consider playing Monopoly with your family on New Year’s Eve. Or dedicate a new piggy bank to help you keep track of loose change or remind you to make saving a habit.

If you feel like you and your family have been too stressed out over the past year, watch a bunch of laugh-out-loud, family friendly films to remind you to enjoy the moment.

If you’re dreaming of fun trips to exotic locales, encourage everyone in the family to dress up as if they were leaving on a vacation to their favorite spot. You might be surprised to see who is wearing a Hawaiian shirt and who’s got ski pants on!

Whatever you choose, you’re sending a message to yourself and your family that the new year can be everything you hope for.

Leave a comment

Filed under Holiday, Learn

Are You Safe From April Fool’s Day Pranks?

images-1Here’s a short list of places NOT to go if you’re averse to tomfoolery:

England

Scotland

United States

France

Mexico

Portugal

India

However, having lived in West Africa, I can tell you that former colonies of any of these countries are extremely likely to maintain the practice of April Fool’s jokes.  In Burkina Faso, it was known as the “poisson d’avril,” which means “April fish.”  This turn of phrase stems from the young and naïve fish spring fish who were easily caught on April 1.  

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Asia, Europe, Holiday, Latin America, Learn, Play