10 New Year’s Eve Traditions Around The World

Hey, everyone! How are you doing?

I am Izaskun and I am glad to be back here. For those who don’t know me, I’m Mai’s sister and I’m a Youtuber with three different channels where I talk a little bit about everything. I’ll leave the links below so you can come and say hi!

Since 2015 is about to finish every country is getting everything ready to say goodbye to the old year and say hello to the new one, hoping it brings us all we need or want. Here are ten different traditions people follow around the world.

10 NYE Traditions Around the World

Spain
When the 12 bells sound Spanish people watch the clock on the TV and eat 12 grapes, one for each bell ring. The tradition says that if you can eat all of them on time, you will have good luck each month of the New Year.

 

USA
The most known tradition is the one in which people hang out at Times Square in New York. After the countdown to the New Year they kiss a person to be sure they are going to have a year full of love.

 

Brazil
In Brazil they wear white clothes to chase away the bad spirits. Many people go to the beach, where some people jump over seven waves (one per day of the week) to attract luck. Some other people give flowers to the ocean Goddess. Tradition says that if the ocean keeps the gifts you will have good luck all year round.

 

England
In London it is a tradition to go to the Big Ben o Picadilly Circus on New Year’s Eve. However, the most important thing that night after 12 a.m. is what they call “First Footing”, which means that the first person who visits you at home will bring you good luck for the New Year (as well as some gifts).

 

Argentina
In some Latin American countries like Argentina and Venezuela they burn some handmade dolls to keep bad spirits away.

 

Denmark
A Danish tradition says that you have to go to your friends’ houses and break some plates in front of their front doors. The more broken plates you have, the better, because that means you have a lot of good friends.

 

Thailand
They celebrate the New Year (called Songkran) between the 13th and the 15th of April by throwing buckets with water to each other. They also clean up all the Buda statues and images, and some people set birds and fishes free.

 

China
In China the New Year arrives between January and February, depending on the moon’s calendar, and it lasts nine days. They clean their houses to start the New Year with clean spirits. They celebrate it on the streets with dragons’ dances and fireworks.

 

Italy
The most important tradition in Italy is to eat lentils. They think the more lentils you eat, the richer you will be.

 

Russia
The 1st of January the Ice Grandfather (someone like Father Christmas) goes to the Russians’ houses to leave some toys, Matriuska dolls and sweets for the children.

Happy New Year 2016

What is your New Year tradition? Even though I am form Spain I don’t eat grapes because I don’t like them. Instead of that, I drink a bit of Champaign while the 12 bell rings. Do you follow your country’s tradition? Do you give it a twist like I do?

Hope you have a happy ending of this year and a happy New Year 2016!

PS. Don’t forget to check out Izaskun Zubillaga,More Izaskun + Who is Izaskun?

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Why is it important to eat together as a family

Why is it important to eat together as a family

As far as I can remember, in my family we have always eaten together at least one meal a day. When my sister and I were little, that was dinner, as we had lunch at school. Then, in high school, we started going home for lunch, so we had dinner together. It didn’t need to be anything fancy; just the four of us having a meal together and enjoying some conversation.

When I moved out and went to live with my sister, we kept sharing at least one meal whenever it was possible.

Then, I came to the US.

For the most part of the year I was alone and I ate whenever I could/wanted. Mostly, alone. Then, husband and I moved in together. And even if I tried, we don’t share as many meals as I’d like to. I want to have a “regular” eating schedule, but he has weird eating habits, which makes it really difficult. I usually end up waiting for him to be hungry/wanting to eat. And that has messed up my schedule too. It’s a work in progress and one of my goals to accomplish during 2016.

In many countries, mealtime is treated as sacred. In France, for instance, while it is acceptable to eat by oneself, one should never rush a meal. A frenzied salad muncher on the métro invites dirty glares, and employees are given at least an hour for lunch. In many Mexican cities, townspeople will eat together with friends and family in central areas like parks or town squares. In Cambodia, villagers spread out colorful mats and bring food to share with loved ones like a potluck
http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/07/the-importance-of-eating-together/374256/

Here are some of the reasons why I think it’s very important to eat together:

  • Communication

When a family has busy schedules (work, classes, other commitments) eating together provides some time to talk to each other without distractions like tv, laptops or phones. It gives a chance to share what happened during the day and it’s a moment to give some attention to each other.

  •  Model Manners

Many kids (and adults) don’t know how to behave at the table. Chew with the mouth open, check the phone while eating, shout, sing, dance, play with the food, stretching… I am thankful that my parents taught me table manners. That way I won’t embarrass myself and the people that are around me when going out.

  • Enjoy new kinds of foods

Why not have some theme dinners during the week? Italian, Mexican, Mediterranean, American… If you have kids they will grow up knowing to enjoy more types of foods and they will be culturally richer. Also, the more different foods that they like, the easier will be for them to eat out when they’re traveling.

Family dinner

  • Nourish

We all know that eating homemade food is way healthier than eating out, and taking a moment to stop everything that you’re doing to have a meal is as important as what you eat. Take a break. Sit down. Relax and enjoy the food. Eating what you cooked gives a feeling of accomplishment too.

  • Portion control

One of the things that I realized when I came here is that portions are huge in restaurants! I love food and where I come from we get pretty good portions in restaurants, but here are simply huge. Sometimes we just eat all of it instead of getting a to-go box, and that’s when we get the “I ate too much” feeling. When eating at home you can control how much you eat, and you can always save the leftovers for later without giving it too much thought.

  • Save money

Everyone knows that it is cheaper to cook at home than eating out. Make the effort and you’ll save some bucks!

  • Being self-sufficient

Why not making cooking a family thing? Cooking together can be a fun experience and your kids will learn how to prepare their favorite plates. Is it just me or is it sad when an adult doesn’t know how to cook but scrambled eggs?

I have also found some studies that show that eating meals together as a family help kids get better grades at school and say no to drugs and smoking (CASA report).

I think these are pretty powerful reasons to cook and sit down at the table with your family and share a meal and some conversation. What are your thoughts on this?

 

30 things to accomplish before 30

So here I am, less than 3 years to be 30, and I don’t know what to do with my life. Anyone else can relate? As I said before, this year is quite a test for me. Whatever I wanted before I got to the States (career, hobbies, love) has been thrown out of the window. Kind of. I am a “little” lost.

So while I try to find myself again, I’ve been trying different things and thinking (a lot) about what my options are. In the meantime, I am setting several goals and I have made a life list that I definitely want to complete.

I have seen in several places lists of things to accomplish before 30, and I thought to myself that it would be a great idea. When I turned 25 it felt like a punch in the stomach. I didn’t think that I had accomplished that much compared to what I wanted. With this list of things to accomplish I want to get to my 30th birthday feeling that I actually did something, that I’m moving forward instead of just living life.

30 things to accomplish before 30

So no more talking. I’ll leave you my list here 🙂

    1. Make the European tour a reality. Hopefully, we’ll make it true next year, but it might have to be in a couple of years… One or two months of traveling and discovering places and cultures. Yes, please!
    2. Celebrate my wedding with my family.
    3. Figure out what I want in life and pursue it. Sounds easy?
    4. Volunteer for a cause. I was actually thinking of contacting a dog shelter. Still gotta work on that.
    5. Visit all 50 states. Not sure if I’m going to make it, but I’m sure that I’m going to try!
    6. Buy our first home. And…
    7. Have a baby! It’s no secret that I’ve been ready to be a mom for a few years now. At least in my mind. If only I had the economic stability…
    8. Learn Bulgarian enough to be able to have a conversation. My husband being Bulgarian, it makes sense, right?
    9. Write a book. Don’t they say it’s one of those things that everyone should do before dying? I have written some stories, but I want to try and write a book. And, why not, send it to a publisher.
    10. Get a tattoo. I have a couple planned, I just need to get them done.
    11. Start a family tradition.
    12. Go to a couple of Backstreet Boys’ shows of the same tour. No shame! Always wanted to do that and I don’t want to wait anymore. Hopefully I’ll be able to do so on the next tour!
    13. Throw a big dinner party at home. Friends, family… all invited!
    14. See a Broadway show. Of course.
    15. Try more exotic foods. I’m a little picky with food, but it’s always good to try new things, right?
    16. Watch the sunset on a plane. Pretty!
    17. Learn how to take really good pictures.
    18. Make new friends. This is a tough one. Never been that good on making friends. Not lucky with the people I met either.
    19. Dance until the morning. And see the sunrise after.
    20. Run a half marathon. I’d like to run a Spartan, actually. They seem pretty fun with all the mud.
    21. Go skinny-dipping. Sounds like fun!
    22. Perform at a karaoke bar. Not very fan, but you gotta go out of your comfort zone, right?
    23. Throw yourself a huge birthday party. Yeah, girl!
    24. Go scuba diving. And admire all the animals and plants under the water.
    25. Go camping. I did that with my parents when I was a kid and it was really fun!
    26. Unplug for a full week. And enjoy life like the old days.
    27. Leave a note for a stranger. I always wanted to do this. What about wishing a good day with a smile on an anonymous note? I’m sure many people would appreciate it!
    28. Give blood. No need to explain.
    29. Get taken care of at a spa.
    30. Adopt a dog. And/or a cat.

 

PS. Let me know in the comments what things you have on your list! Maybe we can complete our lists?

The power of reading

When I was a kid my parents taught me to enjoy reading and I barely watched TV. We had so many books at home that they barely fit in the shelves and the storage box we had under the sofas. And we still went to the library every couple of weeks to get new material.

I remember staying there 2-3h sometimes going through books, reading and deciding which ones I was going to take home. And I used to bring 3-4 books EVERY TIME. That was when I was between 8 and 13 years old.

One of the requirements to pass my Spanish class when I was 10-12 years old was to read at least one book every 3 months. One book in three months, guys!

The teachers asked us to bring some books to class so everyone had access to them. At one point I was really into Agatha Christie and her mystery novels, so I took one that one of my classmates had brought. When I got home I started reading it and I didn’t stop until I was done with it. I was so into the story I couldn’t stop reading! The next morning I went to the teacher and asked her for another book. She looked at me and she told me “Wow, you don’t read books, you devour them!” I don’t know if it was the tone or the look on her face that made feel almost guilty of reading so fast.

Sorry I’m not sorry.

Book shelves

I discovered most of the Disney stories from the books, instead of watching the movies as the other kids. For the first 4 years of my life, actually, we didn’t even have a TV. And I think that’s one of the best things that could ever happen to me. Even when my parents had the money and bought a TV, I didn’t usually watch it that much. My parents encouraged me to read before going to bed, when I was bored, when I had nothing else to do or any other time.

When I see kids now, they have their heads into their phones, tablets, laptops, TV or other devices. That is pretty sad. And I’m not even going to talk about all the problems that come from looking at a screen all day.

After High School I stopped reading that much and I’ve been a few years barely reading, but now I’m going back to it. I have put myself a reading goal of 3 books per month (right now I’m doing 1.5) and that’s something that I really want to accomplish. Reading has so many benefits, like providing mental stimulation, stress reduction and vocabulary expansion. And it has always had the power of taking me to other places, like my problems are on break for a while. It’s also a very good option for these rainy days. Just curl up with a blanket, a warm drink and a good book.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go finish The Girl With No Shadow by Joanne Harris…

Do you like to read? Which book are you guys reading at the moment?

What I loved about this summer

What I loved about this summer

This summer has been a little weird and different in many senses. It was my first summer married, there has been a lot of stress sometimes and it has been somehow like an emotional rollercoaster.

As summer just ended and cooler days come to stay, I wanted to take a look back and appreciate the best moments of summer. It’s not something that I usually do (look back to appreciate things), but that’s one of the changes that I want to make in my life.

There goes a list of the things that I loved the most about this summer.

  • Panama City Beach mini vacation. Ok, it was a month before summer, but I usually link everything beach related to summer. And it was amazing. I couldn’t get up early to see the sunrise, but I got to see every sunset there. The apartment was right next to the beach and it felt like paradise to me. For those who don’t know me, the beach gives me life. When we got to PCB we had the windows down in the car, and the moment I could smell the sea I went crazy happy. It just changes my mood completely. Does anyone feel the same way?

Sunset in Panama City Beach, FL

  • My sister finished her classes in LA and came to spend a whole month with me and my husband before going back to Spain. She didn’t have a good experience in LA so I was hoping that month would somehow make up for that. We didn’t get to do all that we wanted as it was really hot, but we still did a lot of fun things.
  • Also, in late august, my parents came to visit for a couple of weeks. We mostly stayed in the city and walked around. A lot. One of the days we were walking for about 5 hours nonstop. Yeah, crazy, right?
  • Hiking in the Cloudland Canyon. Nature is such an amazing thing. And I’d like to go hiking more often. Not only it’s a great way to stay active and work out, but you get to enjoy wonderful views. Also, if I get to see some squirrels I’m like a happy kid LOL. *Yes, I have a really weird arm in that picture… but it was the best one haha*

Cloudland Canyon

  • Second 4th of July for me in the US, but last year I had to work. This year I got to enjoy the fireworks with my husband (although I was a little… ahem… disappointed. More on that later). Next year I hope we can go/make a barbecue that day and then go see some other fireworks. We’ll see.
  • We were invited to a Pakistani wedding. I have been to several weddings, but it was the first time that it was a muslim one. I enjoyed and learnt a lot. I’m still amazed with the dresses. OMG! *picture is not mine for personal reasons*

Indian wedding sari

  • I hiked a couple of times Stone Mountain. Both times in the late afternoon, so we could enjoy the sunsets. It doesn’t matter how many sunsets you see, it is still something magical!
  • The airport is a place that I enjoy going to. Usually I prefer when it’s because I’m going to fly somewhere, but I also love to pick up people. It is something about planes. And the thought of traveling. I don’t like that much to drop people off, though. Mostly if talking about my parents or my sister.
  • Even if I’ve been in Atlanta for a year and a half, I hadn’t visited the aquarium It was amazing to see all the animals. The belugas were huge and the dolphins super cute. Our ticket didn’t include the dolphin show, but a behind the scenes tour. Although it makes me sad going to a zoo (I haven’t gone to one in 15 years or so) or an aquarium (again, first time in like 15 years), it was really nice to have a closer look to all the animals. One day I’d like to swim with dolphins (one of my favorite animals), but I’d have to make sure that they are free and well treated. They should definitely not be in a pool.

Atlanta Aquarium

  • The DragonCon is something that I wanted to see since last year. Working in a hotel in downtown Atlanta, I could see the costumes, but I had to work every afternoon while it lasted. This year, though, I went to see the parade and walked around watching the costumes and taking pictures. Sadly, the first day I couldn’t take as many pictures as the battery of my phone died, but I still managed to take some. Kudos to the participants, as I know that many of them spent several months making the costumes. I saw three people “dressed” as the Avatar characters and it was mostly body painting. How many hours did they spend in the morning getting ready? WOW.

DragonCon - McGonagall + Avatar + Rumpelstiltskin

I’m leaving out a lot of things (2h Skype sessions with my friends, going out with some friends to have dinner, pool days relaxing and playing…), but the list could be freaking long.

Now, tell me. What are the things that you loved the most about your summer?