Easter Traditions Around the World

Easter is recognized around the world as one of the holiest holidays on the Christian calendar and while the religious observations follow the doctrines of the Christian church, the basic contours of Easter celebration may vary depending on where you are.  Thanks to an IKEA ad that popped into my inbox this morning, the focus of today’s Easter Celebration lesson lands us in Sweden.

In Sweden, common Easter traditions include egg painting as they do in Western cultures however instead of having the children don their Sunday’s best, children dress up as Easter witches with long skirts, colorful headscarves and painted red cheeks to go from house to house, present their neighbors with paintings and drawings in the hope of getting sweets in return.

Homes are decorated with small branches and twigs of willow or birch which are then placed in vases throughout the home and decorated with feathers or other small decorations.

Families come together on Holy Saturday for a feast which usually includes herring, salmon, potatoes, eggs and other kinds of food.

Interested in learning about other Easter traditions throughout the world?  Check out your favorite locations from the list below…

Easter in Australia
Easter in Brazil
Easter in Bulgaria
Easter in Canada
Easter in Czech Republic
Easter in Denmark
Easter in England
Easter in France

Easter in Germany
Easter in Greece
Easter in Hungary
Easter in India
Easter in Israel
Easter in Italy
Easter in Mexico
Easter in the Netherlands

Easter in Norway
Easter in Poland
Easter in Romania
Easter in Russia
Easter in Spain
Easter in Switzerland
Easter in USA

Oh by the way, the IKEA email was promoting their $9.99 ($2.49 for children under 12) all-you-can-eat Swedish Easter smorgasbord on April  15th from 5-8pm.  Tickets should be purchased in advance.  Find an IKEA near you.

Swedish Easter Smörgåsbord Menu

  • 1st Course includes: Assorted herring; Hardboiled eggs with mayo and shrimp; Hardboiled eggs with lumpfish roe; Shrimp with cocktail sauce; Marinated salmon with mustard sauce; Smoked salmon with horseradish sauce; Poached salmon
  • 2nd Course includes: Cheeses (Västerbotten, Grandfathers and Herrgård and/or Fontina); Tossed green salad; Cucumber salad; Red Beet Salad; Breads (Crispbread, Crisprolls, dinner rolls)
  • 3rd Course includes: Swedish meatballs, mashed potatoes or boiled potatoes w/dill, lingonberries; Swedish ham; Prinskorv; Janssons temptations
  • Desserts: Assorted Swedish desserts and cookies
  • Beverages: Fountain beverages, hot beverages

The luck of the Irish…

We’d like to wish all of our readers a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day. If you’re like most of our friends, you’re one of the 94 million people who are wearing green today and your day will end only after you’ve stopped by an Irish Pub or two and are – dare we say it – tipsy? In anticipation of the tipsy part, we thought we’d help make those slurred drunken words you’re sure to be screaming out by night’s end sound almost impressive when recapping any of these cool facts about St. Patty’s Day.

  • St. Patrick’s Day is observed on March 17th because that is the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. It is believed that he died on March 17th in the year 461 AD.
  • St. Patrick was not Irish but actually of Scottish descent
  • It is considered lucky to find a four leaf clover on St. Patrick’s Day and Legend says that each leaf of the clover means something: the first is for hope, the second for faith, the third for love and the fourth for luck.
  • The tradition of eating corned beef and cabbage is solely an American invention – the Irish don’t actually eat it to celebrate the day. Likewise, many of the local pubs are closed on St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland.
  • Shamrocks are the national flower of Ireland. In Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day, people traditionally wear a small bunch of shamrocks on their jackets or caps. Children wear orange, white and green badges, and women and girls wear green ribbons in their hair.
  • It is estimated that 34 million Americans have Irish ancestry. That’s almost nine times the population of Ireland, which has 4.1 million people.
  • Over 8 million St. Patrick’s Day cards are exchanged in America making today the ninth-largest card selling occasion in the US.

If you’re still unsure of where to go to, what parades to attend or bars to crawl, check out this list of St. Patrick’s Day activities worldwide.  And we’d love to hear any of your St. Patty’s Day facts and encourage you to share them below.  Cheers!!

December 1st is World Aids Day

Here’s an alarming statistic: Nationwide there are approximately 33.4M people living with HIV and approximately 2M die each year from the disease.

World Aids Day is a worldwide movement that seeks to raise money, increase awareness and education, and dispel myths and prejudices surrounding HIV and Aids.  More importantly, it is a reminder for all of us that HIV is still prevalent and there is still much to do in improving the lives of those infected and minimizing the number of new cases reported each year.

The 2010 theme for World Aids Day is Universal Access and Human Rights – two very important components in ensuring that those infected with HIV/AIDS have the same access to medical care and treatment as those without it and are treated fairly, without bias or discrimination, regardless of sexual orientation or medical history.

Remember….there are 33.4M people living with this disease which means there are fewer degrees of separation in who is impacted, either directly or indirectly by HIV/AIDS.  That also means that we all have a responsibility to take actions that protect human and civil rights and demand that appropriate measures for preventing, treating and caring for those affected by HIV/AIDS are taken.

If you’re looking for ways to show your support of World Aids Day or show your support and care for HIV/AIDS, here are a few ideas:

  • Wear a red ribbon (exactly like the one in the photo above)
  • Attend a World Aids Event.  A searchable database of events nationwide can be accessed here.
  • Host a candlelight vigil at your church or community center
  • Volunteer at your local hospital to read to children who were born with HIV/AIDS
  • GET TESTED!!!  To find a listing of facilities offering free HIV/AIDS testing visit www.yourstdhelp.com/free_clinic_locator.html

For more information on HIV/AIDS, visit the DHSS web site at www.nj.gov/health/aids or call the DHSS AIDS hotline at 1-866-HIV-CHECK.

The Countdown to Christmas Begins…

The passing of Thanksgiving means the official start of the holiday season.  And while many people are out riding the black Friday tidal wave, others are transforming their home into a haven of holiday happiness.  I currently fall into category B, except decorating at my parent’s house is far more chaotic an experience than from what takes place at my own.

You see, for 30+ years now, the tradition at my parents house has involved unearthing tangled tree lights from the depths of the basement, balancing out too much of one ornament type or color with not enough of the other, and an overabundance of tinsel.  It’s a very hectic beginning to what always ends up being a beautifully decorated home.

Today I’ve decided to let my parents in on a little secret – the holidays don’t have to be hectic!  Oh, that and STORAGE BINS ARE YOUR FRIEND.  For as little as $8.99, anyone can easily simplify the process of setting up and breaking down for the holidays by purchasing heavy-duty Sterlite (or a comparable brand) plastic bins. As you open the stored decorations, carefully assess their condition by asking the following questions:

Do any of the lights need to be replaced? How about candles, garland or ornaments?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, add the items to a list that can be referenced when shopping for post-season clearance sales.

What about the bins? Is your method of storage effective?  Have they held up to the job? Are they easy to stack?

If you answered no to any of these questions, it’s time to reconsider the type of boxes that you’re using – plastic has more durability than cardboard – so add this to your list of Must-Buy items for this season.  Also, many storage companies have developed storage that caters specifically to holiday decor, such as wreaths, delicate ornaments, or ribbon. Tipz Time is a cute online resource for all of your storage needs.  And once the holiday has come to an end, use them to safely re-store your decorations and ornaments until next year.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 Thanksgiving is a time to reflect on the many reasons we all have to be thankful and as you close out this Thanksgiving with friends and family, be reminded of the continued love and support they provide that only grows stronger through the years. 

We’re also reminded of the love and support that our friends, families, loyal readers, clients and event-goers contribute  daily to the SocialBFly team. So if you’ve never heard us say it, THANK YOU!!  We are eternally grateful!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Today is Mulled Hot Cider Day

image courtesy of bright shining light candle company

Toast to the cooler temperatures, colorful leaves, and shorter days with a comforting glass of hot cider.  Growing up, we did this every year to inaugurate the changing seasons but it’s also a delicious brew for the holidays and it’s simple to make.  Add these ingredients to your shopping list:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 quarts cider
  • 1 teaspoon whole allspice
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 3 inch stick cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • cinnamon sticks for each cup, optional
Mix spices in a tea ball.  Combine the brown sugar, salt, and cinder in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium low heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.  Finish it off by placing a stick of cinnamon in each cup.  Cheers!

July is National Picnic Month!

Picnics can be an excellent location to have a romantic lunch or dinner getaway from reality au pair.  They can also be the setting for a fun-filled summertime barbeque with family and friends, but this month I think the focus should be on ROMANCE.

There are several key elements you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your picnic.  The first of which is LOCATION.  Wouldn’t it be grand to hop on your private jet for a romantic afternoon picnic on the sandy beaches of Costa Rica?  I can see it now…but the reality for most of us is if it’s not a planned vacation, that perfect scenario is not really a….well, reality.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t plan something just as beautiful and there are a variety of nature’s best backdrops to choose from.

Beaches. Who doesn’t love sand between their toes and an ocean breeze at their back?  For a comprehensive list of public beaches nationwide, click here.

Parks and Playgrounds. Public parks, reservations, and botanical gardens can provide an airy beauty to your picnic experience.  If you have kids, there’s no reason you can’t still enjoy a semi-romantic picnic while the kids tire themselves out at the jungle gym.  Of course, at some point you will be required to jump in to push swings and encourage your little acrobat to reach for the next monkey bar but in the moments when the kids are playing amongst themselves, take the time to just appreciate one another. For a comprehensive list of public parks and playgrounds nationwide, click here.

The Mountains. If you and sweetie are more of the adventurous type, a short hike through the mountains to the picnic site can be a fun way of burning some calories and kicking up those endorphins.  It can also be a very private setting and that’s all we’re going to say about that (wink, wink).

Outdoor Theatre. Though there are few still in operation, finding one and using it as your picnic location will make it even more nostalgic.  For a list of outdoor movie theatres, click here.

Home Sweet Home. Your home can actually be the setting for annual picnic celebrations. Why call off picnic season due to cold weather when you can just take picnic season indoors? Especially when a perfectly prepped backyard can be just as titillating as your living room fireplace or bedroom floor.

With a little imagination, picnics can be an easy way to celebrate family, love and life all year long,

Socialbfly says…If you’re looking for a scenic outdoor multifunctional location in New Jersey, we recommend the NJ Botanical Gardens in Ringwood, NJ which is open from  8a-8p all year long and FREE to the general public.

The second key element you’ll want to consider is your PACKING LIST.  Where you decide to host your picnic will ultimately require you to examine the items on your final packing list but there are some basics necessary ingredients:

  • Picnic basket
  • Picnic blanket
  • Can opener, bottle opener, and corkscrew
  • Sunscreen
  • Ice packets
  • Citronella candle and insect repellant
  • Trash bags
  • Plastic ware and napkins or paper towels
  • Wine glasses
  • Camera
  • Music

Though there’s little room for something to go wrong during a picnic, Murphy’s Law is more often than not waiting to work her charm.  And besides, isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?  You might want to take these along as well, (especially if you’re hiking):

  • First aid kit
  • Extra pair of clothing (in case you’re swimming)
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • Insect net
  • Antihistamine (for the allergy afflicted)

It is a good idea to utilize a location that you’re familiar with and when you arrive, park close to your picnic site.  The summer months are notorious for passing thunderstorms and I promise you won’t really be interested in walking 2 miles back to your car if a storm cloud passes over.

Third and final key element is THE MENU.  The foodie in me argues that this should have been first but in my own defense, I didn’t list these in order or importance…just in order.  And now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’d like you to introduce you to my friend, Ms. Ilia Daniels, who is an a-maaaaaz-ing cook and in our friendship circle is referred to as the Diva of [fine] Dining.  She’s also the owner and head cook of BreakBread Catering, a full service event catering company which also provides personal chef services and cooking classes which, for the cooking impaired like me, are absolute gems – there’s a huge chance I may one day be able to cook for my family.  I called to get her feedback on what she thinks should be inside of the picnic basket and her suggestions will make you rethink peanut butter and jelly and run to the supermarket right now:

  • Hummus and Pita
  • A Bottle, or two, of your favorite wine
  • Individually packaged sandwiches like tuna with capers and olive oil  [BreadBreak Tip: lightly toast the bread to reduce sogginess]
  • A pasta accompaniment that can easily be served cold.  She makes a flavorful Farfalle Pasta with Broccoli that fares well hot, room temperature or cold.  (see her recipe for Farfalle Pasta with Broccoli here)
  • Fruits:  Melons and berries serve as the perfect dessert.  For three different variations of a fruit dessert, consider topping it with a Chantilly cream or yogurt.  You can also consider grand marnier infused strawberries. (see her recipe for Fresh Summer Peaches and Raspberries with Chantilly Cream here)
  • Sliced veggies and olives to go with the Pita
  • B.M.T – Basil, Mozzarella, and Tomato
  • Water, water and MORE water…there’s nothing romantic about being dehydrated and water can also serve to clean an unexpected cut or insect bite.

She cautions against “messy” dishes and those that include mayonnaise (or other dairy products) because they tend to spoil easily in hot weather and suggests mayo packets instead.  Packets are also a good idea for toting other condiments including ketchup, relish, salt, and pepper.

When selecting your basket you’ll want to choose a size that can support the number of dishes you intend to serve.  When packing your basket you’ll want to pack the heavier items on the bottom.

FACT: The most popular picnic food is watermelon.

A picnic, overall, can be a romantic and relaxing way of spending quality time with your loved one(s) without putting a lot of financial stress on yourself.  Invest in your love life and block out a weekend afternoon and properly celebrate National Picnic Month.

Thank you to our Blog Contributor(s):

  • BreakBread Catering. Ilia Daniels. Want more delicious recipes? Follow on Twitter @BreakBread_Co.