“Happy Longest Day of The Year” Day

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June 21st 2013 celebrates the Summer Solstice or the longest day of the year. It also marks the beginning of summer for those in the northern hemisphere. Here’s some information on the event and a few fun things that you can do to honour the occasion!

Firstly, it is important to note that there are two solstices per year- the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice. A solstice is an astronomical phenomenon, whereby the sun reaches either its highest or lowest point in the sky relative to the celestial equator. The term comes from the Latin words sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still).

The Summer Solstice takes place during a hemisphere’s summer, which means that Europe, North America, Asia and parts of Africa celebrate the occasion between the 20th and 22nd of June, while those in Australia, South America and Antarctica mark their Summer Solstice between the 20th and 23rd of December each year.

It is also referred to as the longest day of the year (for those in the northern hemisphere), as the event occurs on the day which has the longest period of daylight. For those south of the equator it is simultaneously the shortest day of the year with the least sunlight.

For those of us who thought that winter would never end, June 21st marks a special day: the start of summer! So, as a way to celebrate the date, we’ve compiled a short list of some fun things to do this Summer Solstice. See how many you will do and remember to enjoy the extra daylight (and sunshine!)

1. Cook outside / BBQ

2. Plant a tree

3. Go camping

4. Make a birdfeeder

5. Go swimming

6. Sit outside and read a book

7. Fly a kite

8. Eat some ice-cream

9. Take a trek up a hill / mountain

10. Watch the sun set

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Another Eggscuse for Chocolate

*drool*

*drool*

*WARNING: this post will contain numerous Easter puns (see the above blog title), all in very poor taste. It is your job, as dedicated readers, to A.) Find all of these puns and B.) Add your own ones in the ‘comments’ section below. Eggstreme dedication and patience required*

Easter is just around the corner and we all know that means one thing: Easter eggs! Eggsciting stuff, right? That’s right, Tesco (American version = Fresh & Easy, I think) are offering their ever-tempting deal of 2 eggs for €3 (I’m not working out the dollar/ any other currency rate) and I plan on scrambling to the store and taking advantage of this offer when I am home (I’m flying home tomorrow night for a few days over Easter… but more about that in tomorrow’s blog!).

Anyhoo, as I was saying… Easter! Basically, if you’ve been living under a rock for the last few hundred centuries, then Easter is celebrated at the end of Lent in memory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. More recently though, the tradition has become a lot more commercialized (hasn’t everything?) and the notion of Easter eggs has gradually seeped into multiple cultures. In Ireland, for example, the Easter eggs that we have come in an eggscellent range of sizes; small, medium, large (you get the gist!). In Germany, I’ve noticed that the eggs seem to be much smaller (but I could be wrong, that’s just what I’ve observed from my time spent shopping in Aldi).

Personally, I love Easter eggs, because for some uneggsposed reason the chocolate they use for the eggs tastes absolutely AMAZING and WAY better than it does for the rest of the year (even though I’m presuming it’s the same chocolate that they use… odd!). And yes, before you ask: I am a self-confessed chocoholic (Dairymilk and Galaxy are my favourites!)

But I’m not actually writing this blog post to inform you about my eggstra strong love for chocolate. I’m actually here to tell you a little bit about how Easter is celebrated in some other countries, because what is life without diversity! So here we go:

*Sidenote- This is, of course, just a very tiny sample of some Easter customs, as I am not an eggspert in this area. Please feel free to add traditions from your own country/ any other countries whose traditions you know of. I like to learn about new places! Thank you *

Germany- is regarded as the birthplace of modern day Easter icons like the Easter bunny and the Easter tree. Children in Germany have to find eggs and chocolates hidden by the Easter bunny (Osterhase) on Easter Sunday. Other traditions include baking lamb-shaped cakes and hanging painted eggs from the Easter tree with colourful ribbon.

France- incorporates the Easter Fish and Flying Bells into its Easter festivities. On April 1st, as an April Fool’s Day trick, the children try and stick a paper fish onto the backs of as many adults as possible. The Flying Bells (Cloche volant) symbolize the mourning of Christ and are rung on Easter Sunday morning to bring chocolate and eggs to the children.

Russia- participates in the tradition of decorating the Easter eggs. Eggs are usually painted red, to symbolize Christ’s blood. The family dinner is also a very important part of Easter in Russia. Cakes known as kulich (кулич) are baked and families play games with the eggs, such as smashing two boiled eggs off each other and seeing which one breaks.

Hungary- does things a little differently! A bucket of water is poured onto a woman of the Palóc minority on Sunday and Monday. The woman wears her traditional clothing while she has the water thrown at her.

Norway- also cherishes an interesting tradition. Not only do they carry around pieces of bread in their pockets on Holy Saturday, but there is the belief that all murders will be solved at Easter and so detective films are usually shown on the television and magazines publish crime stories.

And that’s Easter in a nut shell… or should I say in an egg shell! (Oh c’mon, someone had to say it!) I look forward to hearing any other egg-related puns you may have to offer, but please remember- try to be original with them, we’re trying to crack people up here!

As always, hugs xo

Ireland (sham) rocks

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As the Irish representative in Germany I wanted to write briefly about St Patrick’s Day, which is celebrated this Sunday, March 17th. Although currently residing in Nuremberg, I will be sporting green this weekend in honour of my country’s patron Saint. Some of the festivities associated with St Patrick’s Day include:
– Wearing green, white and orange clothing and hats
– Painting shamrocks on your face
– St Patrick’s Day parades, including colourful floats, music and dancing from all over the world
– Dying the rivers green (Chicago is famous for doing this every year)
– And of course, having a pint of Guinness!
St Patrick’s Day is celebrated not just in Ireland, but also in countries such as America, Argentina, Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, New Zealand and Australia. It has become a worldwide event, with people who have never even been to Ireland dressing head to toe in green. It is a day to celebrate all things Irish and I’m looking forward to seeing what Germany has to offer come this Sunday. As they say in Ireland, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!” (Happy St Patrick’s Day!)

* * * * * *

Als die irische Vertreterin in Deutschland wollte ich kurz über dem St. Patricks Tag, der diesen Sonntag am 17. März gefeiert wird, berichten. Obwohl ich im Moment in Nürnberg wohne, trage ich dieses Wochenende wohl grün, um den Namenspatron Irlands zu ehren. Einige der Feierlichkeiten, die mit dem St. Patricks Tag verbunden werden, sind:
-grüne, weiße und orange Kleidung und Hüte tragen
-sich Kleeblätter auf das Gesicht malen
-St. Patricks Tag Umzüge, bunte Festwägen mit Musik und Tänzen aus aller Welt
-Flüsse grün einfärben (Chicago macht das jedes Jahr und ist dafür bekannt)
-und selbstverständlich, ein Bier (z.B. Guinness) trinken!
Der St. Patricks Tag wird nicht nur in Irland gefeiert, sondern auch in Ländern wie Amerika, Argentinien, Kanada, Großbritannien, Japan, Russland, Neuseeland und Australien. Er ist mittlerweile zu einem weltweiten Ereignis geworden, an dem sogar Leute, die noch nie in Irland waren, von Kopf bis Fuß grün tragen. Es ist einen Tag um alles Irische zu feiern und ich freue mich schon zu sehen, was Deutschland in dieser Hinsicht zu bieten hat.
Wie man in Irland so schön sagt, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona Duit!“ (Einen schönen St. Patricks Tag!)

Mum’s the word

mothers day

Ok, so I know it’s celebrated in May in certain countries (America and Germany are just two that I know of), but Mother’s Day is just around the corner in Ireland! This Sunday, March 10th, mothers all over the country will (hopefully) be showered with cards and gifts from their children to show them how loved they are.
I have a very soft spot for my mum, as she is also my best friend ❤
We get on great and chat about everything with one another! Over the years our relationship has only gotten stronger, despite the odd argument along the way.
I am currently in Germany so I cannot physically be with my mum this weekend, but we will Skype and keep in contact no matter what. My brother at home has bought a few things for her, which I will reimburse him for when I get home at Easter. Still though, I would like to do something nice for her to show her how great she is and how much she means to me, and I’m just looking for suggestions off you guys!
Whether it’s a poem written for her, or something I can send home to her, or even something I can do for her when I get home- I’d just like to say thanks to my best friend, and to the best mother in the world!
Appreciate any help you guys might have, and also feel free to tell me about your own mothers… I always love a good mom story 🙂

Danke schön xx

p.s Here’s the link to a lovely (but definitely tear-jerking) blog post about a wonderful mother who is sadly no longer around. If you’re going to check it out, I advise bringing tissues!
http://k8edid.wordpress.com/2013/02/23/tea-with-my-mom/