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Year: 2018

Christmas is celebrated by people all around the world, in many different ways, and for some countries, the celebrations go beyond the one day. At various times throughout history the celebration of Christmas was banned due to its religious aspects, and in some countries, it is still forbidden. In England during 1644-1660 Oliver Cromwell put a stop to the observance of the day, and in America, the holiday was prohibited between 1659-1681. Christmas didn’t become an official holiday in America until 1870.

As the years have progressed the celebration of Christmas has become more secular and commercial, with the focus turning from the birth of Jesus to exchanging hordes of presents, decorating homes, eating candy canes and kissing under the mistletoe. And of course, we can’t forget the excitement of waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus. It may come as a surprise that many of today’s tried and true Christmas traditions have religious beginnings.

Santa Claus, Stockings, and Giving of Gifts

Santa Claus and his home in the North Pole are two Christmas staples. But who was Santa Claus? Where did he come from? The Santa Claus that is known and loved by many throughout the world is based on a bishop, Saint Nicholas, who lived during the 4th century.

Saint Nicholas lived in a city named Myra, which is part of modern-day Turkey, and he was known for his giving and generous heart. There are many stories told about him, one of the most famous ones is about a poor man with three daughters which explains where did stockings come from. The father had no money for the dowries for his daughters, resulting in little hope for them to ever get married.  It is believed that Nicholas dropped a bag of gold down the man’s chimney, and the bag fell into one of the daughter’s stockings that had been hung beside the fire to dry. Thus the tradition of hanging stockings beside the fireplace was born! From then on, whenever someone received a surprise gift, it was always assumed that Saint Nicholas had given it.

By the 1500s Saint Nicholas’ popularity began to wane, and for a time people tried to come up with other gift-givers, but nothing ever quite stuck. Eventually, different names began to be invented for the Saint. In the United Kingdom he became Father Christmas, in France Père Nöel, in other countries Christkind, and in early America, he was given the name of Kris Kringle which was an adaption from Christkind. For the Dutch settlers who came to America, they called him Sinterklaas, which gradually developed into today’s well-known name of Santa Claus.

In the 19th century, several writers helped to develop the story of Santa Claus. Washington Irving, the famed author of the Headless Horseman, first depicted Santa Claus as flying in the sky, but not in a sleigh, he wrote him flying in a wagon. Dr. Clement Clarke Moore wrote a poem titled, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.” The poem became famous and is now better known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” or “The Night Before Christmas.” This was the first appearance of Santa riding on a present-filled sleigh, and pulled by eight named reindeer.

Thomas Nast, a popular political cartoonist of the 1800s, first drew his version of Santa Claus in 1863. During 1879 to 1886 Nast drew Santa four times, depicting him living at the North Pole. It is believed that this is the first appearance of Santa having a North Pole residence. It wasn’t though until the 1880’s that he drew a picture of Santa Claus as a smiling, white-bearded, chubby old man, dressed in red long johns. Over the years the image of Nast’s jolly Santa became more and more popular in the United Kingdom and America, and it has become the staple for both countries.

Mistletoe

Mistletoe is a common decoration during the holiday season, as is kissing beneath it. The use of mistletoe began thousands of years ago with the Druids, but they did not kiss beneath it. Instead, they believed that it contained powers that could keep away evil and bring luck, so they used it to decorate their homes.

In Norse Mythology mistletoe represented love and friendship, and the act of kissing beneath it began in England, where a berry would be picked each time a kiss was given. Once there were no more berries, the kissing would come to an end.

Mistletoe comes from the Anglo Saxon words ‘mistel’ and ‘tan’, which can be translated to ‘poo on a stick’ because ‘mistel’ means dung and ‘tan’ means twig. Who wants a kiss?

The Christmas Tree

For thousands of years, evergreen trees have been used as decoration during the winter months, to help keep in mind that spring would soon be arriving. For Christians, the evergreen represented God’s everlasting life. When the trees were first used as a Christmas decoration is not entirely known. There are many different stories and speculations.

A woodcut engraving appeared in the Illustrated London News in 1848, titled “Christmas Tree at Windsor Castle.” It showcased the beloved and popular Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert standing with their family around a decorated Christmas tree, with gifts piled beneath it. From then on having a tree at Christmas time became a recurring tradition throughout the country.

In 1850 the original woodcut was slightly revamped before it was published in the American magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book; the Queen’s crown was removed as well as the Prince’s sash to make them look less like royals, and thus the Christmas tree tradition had arrived in America. A few years later, in 1856, the first Christmas tree appeared in the White House.

Candy Canes

The origins of the minty, hook-shaped and striped candy are not entirely known. There are only legends and theories. One of these legends takes place in Germany in the 1670s, where white sugar stick candy was supposedly given to choirboys to help keep them quiet during the Christmas ceremony.

The hooked shape was later added to represent the shepherd’s’ staff. The well-known stripes on the candy canes didn’t begin until the 1900s when the staple red was first introduced, as well as the famed peppermint flavor.

Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year and the longest night, occurs every December. The date for the Winter Solstice varies from the 20th to the 23rd. The 21st and the 22nd being the two most common dates. 1903 was the last time that the Winter Solstice occurred on the 23rd, and it won’t happen again until 2303. It will not be occurring on the 20th until 2080. The reason for the different dates is due to the rotation of the earth, and the location of the setting and the rising sun. Also the fact that the Gregorian calendar which has 365 to 366 days each year is different from the Tropical year which consists of 365.242199 days. A Tropical Year is the length of time that the sun takes to return to the exact same spot that it was at a year ago.

While the Northern Hemisphere of the world welcomes the first real day of winter, the Southern Hemisphere will be welcoming the first day of summer. 2018’s Winter Solstice is unique due to the fact that there will be an almost full moon. A true full moon will not occur on the night of Winter Solstice until 2094.

Winter Solstice Traditions and Celebrations

The Winter Solstice is celebrated around the world in many different ways, and some of these rituals have been celebrated for centuries.

In Ireland, people gather around the Newgrange monument in Boyne Valley. The over 5,000-year-old stone monument consists of a 62-foot passageway that connects to a chamber. When the sun rises on the Winter Solstice the room fills with light. Every year people enter a lottery to be picked to stand in the room. In 2017 32,500 people entered the lottery, and only 60 were chosen to enter.

A tradition in Japan is a dip in a hot bath, filled with citrus fruits called yuzu. Even local zoos have started to place the fruits in the water that macaques, hippos and capybaras soak in.

Wiltshire, England is the home of Stonehenge and is one of the most popular places to welcome in the first day of winter. No one knows for certain why Stonehenge was built. One of the theories is that it was used as a temple to worship the sun because the stones are situated so perfectly that the sun shines through them as it rises and sets. Every year thousands of people, many of them druids and pagans, gather at Stonehenge on Winter Solstice.

Solstice derives from the Latin scientific term solstitium, containing sol, which means “sun,” and the past participle stem of sistere, meaning “to make stand.” Although “winter” has already begun in parts of the country, officially it begins on the winter solstice.  Keep warm and enjoy the holiday season whether you are experiencing a true winter or in sunnier states like Florida. Happy Winter!

 

Sources: http://mentalfloss.com/article/72659/10-things-you-probably-didnt-know-about-winter-solsticehttps://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-winter-winter-solstice#http://time.com/5060889/winter-solstice-rituals/https://www.bustle.com/p/does-the-winter-solstice-date-change-2017s-happens-to-be-falling-on-the-unluckiest-day-of-the-year-7597423

Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday that is celebrated for eight days and eight nights. It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication. Although most commonly observed in December, it has a few times taken place in November, even coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday. This year it will begin on the evening of December 2nd and will finish on the evening of December 10th.

The History of Hanukkah

In 200 B.C. Antiochus III, the king of Syria took over Judea, and under his rule, the people were given the freedom to continue their religious practices. It wasn’t until his son Antiochus IV took over that things began to change. The Jewish religion was banned, and the Jewish people were forced to worship Greek Gods. His soldiers attacked Jerusalem in 168 B.C.; they destroyed the city, killing many. The city’s Second Temple was desecrated by them building an altar to Zeus, and making big sacrifices. Mattathias, a Jewish priest, started an uprising with his five sons. The rebellion grew in number, and by 166 B.C. the Syrians were eventually defeated. The Second Temple was cleansed, the altar was rebuilt, and the menorah was lit. At first, it appeared that there was only enough oil for the candles to burn for one night, but the candles managed to burn for eight days and nights, giving them a chance to make more oil. From this wondrous miracle, the celebration of Hanukkah was born.

Hanukkah Traditions

The lighting of the menorah is the most significant part of the holiday. There are nine candles, the shamash (which means attendant) is used to light the other eight. Each night a candle is lit until by the eighth night all of the candles are lit. This is done to honor the miracle that took place in Jerusalem all those years ago.

It varies from house to house who lights the menorah; some even have a menorah for each member of their family. The menorah is generally placed in either a doorway or a window, and is lit most often after sunset, and will burn for thirty minutes. A blessing is recited before the menorah is lit and afterward hymns are sung.

Another way that the oil miracle is honored is by partaking of foods that are fried in oil. Latkes (potato pancakes) and sufganya (jelly-filled donuts) are two of the most common foods that are eaten during Hanukkah.

The Dreidel

A game with a dreidel is commonly played. A dreidel is a spinning top that has four sides, with Hebrew letters on each side. The four letters make up an acronym for the Hebrew phrase “nes gadol hayah sham” which translates as “a great miracle happened there.” The game consists of playing for a variety of items: coins, chocolate coins, and nuts. These items are divvied out equally to each player. Each player places one of their items into the pot, and the game begins. When the dreidel is spun and lands on a specific side, the spinner of the dreidel will either win one of the items, all of the items, or have to add an item to the pot. Once a player loses all of their items they are out of the game. When there is only a single player left, the game is over.

Hanukkah is not a “Sabbath-like” holiday, therefore, is no obligation to refrain from activities that are forbidden on the Sabbath, often Saturday.  Families go to work and school as usual but may leave early in order to be home to kindle the lights at nightfall.  Many families exchange gifts each night, such as books or games, and “Hanukkah Gelt” is often given to children. However you celebrate, we wish you a joyous Hanukkah with your loved ones. 

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The dynamic of the workplace has changed a lot in the past years. People are no longer used to working in an office for 8 hours and then going home. They need something more than that to be productive. Businesses are now embracing an open, flexible, and collaborative way of working. Therefore, they encourage employees to speak their mind, come up with new ideas, and contribute to the success of the business. Furthermore, a cohesive team will always perform better than individuals performing their tasks separately. Thus, if you want to move your business forward and keep your employees motivated, then you need to promote teambuilding in the workplace.

This article is going to show why it is essential to offer your teams teambuilding activities.

What’s the Role of Teambuilding in The Workplace?

Better Communication Amongst The Team
A flexible workplace is great as it allows the team to work whenever they want, from any location they want. How great would that be to have the opportunity to work on your projects from the comfort of your home or with a stunning view in front of you? However, modern and flexible workplaces present a serious risk which is lack of communication. When people are not sitting in the same office, they might tend to forget how to communicate with each other.

Team building comes as a solution to this problem as it gets the team together. When you offer team building sessions in the workplace, you give the opportunity for different departments to connect. For example, office-based employees will meet the remote workers in person. Therefore, team building allows your employees to have fun but also gives them the opportunity to discuss with each other current projects they are working on face to face. Together they can solve some of the most stressful tasks.

Better Relationship Between Manager and Employee
Team building activities are an opportunity for management and employees to interact in a less formal atmosphere. It often shows a different side of each of their personalities. In a modern workplace, it is very important that respect and trust go both ways between the employee and their manager and vice versa. Therefore, a team building activity gets them out of the working protocol and allows them to show their human face.

During team buildings, the managers get a chance to know their employees better as they will see how they react in a more relaxed and fun environment. The more time the managers spend with their teams during a team building, the better their relationship will evolve. Employees will gain more trust in their managers, and it will become easier for them to speak to them one on one and talk about their ideas for the business. What is more, during a team building, managers might discover a hidden talent of their employees which they can then use for a new project.

Caring for The Company’s Culture
Businesses have started to focus more and more on creating a strong workplace culture. When you say culture, you think of the company’s vision, mission, ethics, and personality. Apart from the products and services it offers, the employees are the biggest asset a company could have. They are also responsible for transmitting the company’s values to the outside world. Team building is the perfect way to motivate your employees and boost their morale.

By organizing team buildings, you will reinforce the company’s culture and show your employees how much you care about their wellbeing. In addition, by engaging your employees in team building activities and strengthening your company’s culture, you will retain and attract the top talents on the market. Thus, by developing a solid and healthy culture, and working with the best employees in your industry, you have no other option than success.

Enhance Creativity
The team working at Trust My Paper is using team buildings to enhance the members’ creativity. Why? By creating a fun and relaxed environment for your employees will help them think outside of their normal routine. There are many jobs which require high creativity skills, which puts employers in a difficult situation as they need to continually find innovative ways to help their teams find their inspiration sources.

What is more, when meeting other team members, employees can share fresh ideas and develop their problem-solving skills. In addition, team building breaks any barriers that could exist among team members. This is a great opportunity for them to start trusting each other more which will also have a positive impact on their creativity score.

Overall, team building can help with everything from trust, collaborating, and maximizing the potential of your team members. A team building event can transform a team into a unified group which can than translates into increased productivity and improved trust between employees and their managers.

 

Article by Marie Fincher

Marie Fincher is a digital content director at Trust My Paper company with a background in marketing, technology, and business intelligence. She frequently writes about data science, BI, new marketing trends and branding strategies. Marie gradually changed her focus from working in marketing to writing about it.

It may come as a surprise that the term “Black Friday” did not originate with shopping. It was first used to reference a stock market crash that occurred on September 24th, 1869. It wasn’t until the 1950’s that the name became associated with retail. On the day after Thanksgiving, people would fill the city of Philadelphia for the yearly Army-Navy football game. Items were repeatedly stolen from stores during this chaotic time. Traffic would clog the streets, thus resulting in the policeman giving it the title of Black Friday.

The beginning of Black Friday

Around 1961, Philadelphia store owners caught onto the fact that they could make a healthy profit during the busy Friday.  They were worried that the negativity associated with the cop-given name would put a damper on their attempts at sales. They tried to change the name to “Big Friday.” The name change didn’t stick. For twenty years the name and the money-making concept stayed within the Philadelphia area.  It did not expand to the rest of the country until the 1980s.

Another shocking fact is that for years Black Friday wasn’t the biggest shopping day of the year. Up until 2003, the Saturday before Christmas held this title. But as the Black Friday concept grew in popularity, more and more stores joined in. Gradually the big sale day began to expand beyond a single day. For the first time in 2011 stores opened on the evening of Thanksgiving.

The Canadian Thanksgiving

Even though Thanksgiving is strictly an American holiday (Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated in October), the allure of Black Friday has spread to other countries. In 2007 Canada started their own Black Friday deals to help keep business within their borders. In 2010, thanks to Amazon, the United Kingdom joined in on the craze, and in 2011, Romania caught the buzz, followed by the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The start of Cyber Monday

For many years Black Friday consisted of only in-store deals, but as the use of the internet grew more companies started to branch out into online sales as well. In 2005 the National Retail Federation (NRF) took note that more and more people were doing their shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Thus Cyber Monday was born. It is believed that the increase in shopping on that particular day was because a lot of people at the time didn’t have access to fast internet at home, thus waiting until they were at work. Stores quickly caught on to this phenomena, helping to make Cyber Monday one of the most popular days to shop online.

 

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Thanksgiving, as it is known today, is vastly different then from how it originated. There wasn’t always a Macy’s parade, or watching a football game, nor was pumpkin pie a dessert staple. These tried and true traditions only came into existence many years after the first Thanksgiving.

How it all began

In November of 1621, after a harsh year and the loss of many lives, the Pilgrim settlers of Plymouth Colony joined together with the Wampanoag Indians. They held a three-day feast to celebrate their first prosperous harvest of corn. It may come as a surprise to some that turkey was not as huge as a staple item at the first Thanksgiving as it is today. A journal entry written by Edward Winslow states that prior to the feast men were sent to go “fowling,” which more than likely resulted in them bringing back wild turkey, but also duck, goose, and swan. There were also five deer that the Indians brought with them to the feast.

The other food items that made up the rest of the feast is somewhat of a speculated mystery. Corn was most certainly a staple item and was served in the form of porridge. Pumpkins would have been eaten, but not in pie form that way we enjoy them today. Also due to the location of Plymouth, it is highly believed that shellfish made up a large part of their feast.

Thanksgiving Declared

This three-day event did not become a yearly tradition, and it wasn’t until 1789 that a specific date for Thanksgiving was first decided on. President George Washington declared November 26th to be a day of “thanksgiving and prayer.” He wanted the people of America to “express their gratitude for the happy conclusion to the country’s war of independence.”

In 1827 Sarah Josepha Hale, the author of the famed nursery rhyme, Mary Had a Little lamb, began a crusade for Thanksgiving to be proclaimed as a national holiday. She wrote multitudes of letters to many politicians, as well as countless editorials. At last, in 1863 the celebration of Thanksgiving became official. President Abraham Lincoln declared it to be a national holiday to be celebrated on the last Thursday of November.

President Roosevelt put an end to this tradition in 1939, during the Great Depression. He moved the holiday to a week earlier in hopes that it would create more holiday sales. This change was opposed by many, and in 1941 Thanksgiving was once more declared as a national holiday. It would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Thanksgiving today

Pumpkin pie, one of the most beloved Thanksgiving desserts, began its development in the late 1600’s, although these recipes mainly consisted of sliced pumpkin baked in a crust. There wasn’t a recipe that closely resembled the well-loved modern day pie until 1796 when Amelia Simmons published a cookbook with two pumpkin pudding recipes. Libby’s, a Chicago based canning company, came out with canned pumpkin in 1929 thus helping the pie movement to continue to grow into what it is today.

Thanksgiving wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, at least according to the nearly 4 million people that watch it from the streets of New York City, along with the 50 million people that watch it on tv from the comfort of their homes. The famed parade began in 1924 and had been run every year except for 1942-1944 during WWII. The 1927 parade featured the first parade balloon, Felix the Cat, and from then on balloons have been a significant feature of the parade.

Football and Thanksgiving is another long-running tradition. The first Thanksgiving game took place in 1876, between Yale and Princeton. At the time, football was still developing into the game as it is known today, and for years games between colleges were played on this day. Professional football leagues didn’t play on Thanksgiving until 1920; sometimes with as many as six different games, today there are only three. Ever since 1934 the Dallas Cowboys and the Detroit Lions have played on Thanksgiving.

Whatever your family’s traditions may be, Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday meant to show appreciation and thanks. BEST is thankful for all our amazing clients and non-profit partners. Without these organizations nationwide, we would not be able to offer over 16+ CSR programs and help those in need through our charitable donations.  THANK YOU!

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An escape room is a so-called “game”. It’s an adventure where groups between 8-10 people are “locked” in a room. Players must solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objective at hand. Players are given a set time limit, usually one hour, to unveil the secret plot which is hidden within the room.  

How it began

It all started in 2012 when Swiss physics professor created a scientific escape game for his students. The game was later offered to the public under the name of Adventure Rooms and distributed as a franchise in twenty countries. The Adventure Rooms introduced scientific puzzles to the game and thus Escape Rooms were born. This new craze has really taken off and there are now over 8,000 escape room venues worldwide.

Escape Rooms are now portable!

Best Corporate Events advanced the Escape Room concept and made it high-tech and portable!  Teams are assigned iPads loaded with the puzzle challenges. They visit Smart “Stations” and solve the puzzles at each station in order to advance to the next. Similar to Escape Rooms, each completed challenge helps you move on to the next. The only difference between the traditional Escape Room and Best’s Escape SmartHunt® is it allows you to get out and explore! The traditional format of an escape room includes teams of 8-10 people physically “locked” in a room.

They must solve puzzles or challenges including padlocks codes to complete the mission of “getting out”.  Much like Escape Rooms, the Escape SmartHunt can contain its own storyline. The storylines were developed to enhance the experience. Rooms can be rated Easy to Very Hard, for those groups looking for a greater challenge. What better way to interact and create memories with your team than the creation of a dramatic experience. Offering just the perfect amount of stress and pressure, individuals are challenged and more inclined to succeed with that small factor of fear in the back of their minds.

Here are the many benefits to completing an escape room with your team.  

  • Teams learn to work together.
  • They must interact to solve the common goal.
  • Everyone’s skills are put to use.
  • Your strengths are magnified when needed.
  • It’s a perfect activity for groups of any size.
  • Improve workplace relationships.
  • Improve productivity in the office.

By adding iPads loaded with the SmartHunts app, teams are presented with a unique and enhanced challenge different than any other escape experience.  Now, you can have an escape event delivered for any size group at any meeting venue, in breakout rooms at a hotel, at a resort, or even as a tour around a city!  Teams begin their adventure by solving brain teasers to break into a locked container that holds a SmartHunt iPad and all other supplies needed to succeed. Once each team unlocks their container to accesses their iPad, they are free to begin the remaining challenges.

Teams move from location to location and complete a series of escape-themed activity challenges in an effort to earn a key to “escape”. Examples of challenges include clues, puzzles, hidden items, a drone obstacle course, laser mazes, and Nerf® targets, all leading to discovering the secret code which provides the key to the lockbox and their escape. Teams scan QR codes using their iPads to earn points for completing each activity. When all activities are completed, they receive a secret code needed to redeem their key they need to escape!

Can your team complete all the challenges, follow the clues, and find all the stations needed to escape? There is only one way to find out.

Source:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/its-no-puzzle-why-escape-room-adventures-are-so-popular/2015/01/16/938370de-9b4f-11e4-96cc-e858eba91ced_story.htmlhttps://www.newsweek.com/2015/05/01/art-escape-room-323150.html

Program-Pairings

We now offer Program-Pairings, perfect for a full-day experience! These programs complement one another, with the second program reinforcing the lessons learned in the first program. Pair your two favorite programs for a FULL DAY of meaningful and high-level learning!

Escape Smart Hunt® and Corporate Survivor
In this competitive 2-part series, points earned and the items found during the fun and exploratory Smart Hunt will be directly transferred to Corporate Survivor! Will you be in the lead going into the afternoon showdown or will your team showcase survivor comeback skills and steal the day (and the gold medals!)?


Bridge to the Future™ and Build-a-Green Machine 
What’s better than having your team build an amazing cardboard and duct tape bridge which visually represents the goals and future aspirations of the organization?  By following that up with building a small fleet of Green Machines and racing them around the room and over the bridge while vying for gold medals! While the bridge will need to be strong enough to support the entire group for pictures, the Green machines will be donated to a local non-profit organization for children in need!!


Team Olympics and Game Show Mania
Do you have a group that loves direct No-Holds-Barred competition? Then we have a double dose of “Bragging Rights for the rest of the year” right here!  Start with an Olympic-style event replete with relay races and assorted beach or field activities. Now take the points that each team earned and move it indoors for the cerebral challenge of the infamous Game Show Mania! Can your team demonstrate the physical AND mental prowess necessary to win the gold medals and championship status!? GAME ON!!


Speed Networking and Total Recall
Imagine a fun and fast-paced rotating table-top activity session which will have each participant interacting and enjoying the company of their associates while getting to know each other better. Now those team members become part of a competitive project. In a communication skills showdown, teams must figure out how to replicate an existing pre-assembled structure which only one of their team members can actually see!

Time Management and Igniting Team Performance™
Going beyond a typical “classroom style” experience, our energetic and experienced facilitators will create a fun and interactive environment while imparting numerous tips on key topics such as efficiency, handling urgent matters, and pre-planning as lessons for participants to apply to their work day.  Followed by a rich and interactive experience with activities which challenge the group and showcase high-performing team attributes including goal setting, role clarification, and meeting management.

 

Please note, these are samples of programs we recommend pairing. Many other Program Pairings can be created to suit your group’s goals and objectives.

Diwali is a Hindu celebration known as the Festival of Lights. It’s India’s biggest holiday and is observed for five days. It has been celebrated throughout the country for over 2500 years.

The word Diwali is derived from the Sanskrit word “Deepavali” which translates as “series of lighted lamps.” The festival is celebrated in either October or November, varying from year to year according to the current cycle of the moon. This year it will be celebrated on November 7th.

The origin

Stories about the origin of the festival vary depending on religion and the area of India where it is celebrated. Many of the stories focus on good conquering over evil. Such as in the northern region of India where it is believed to represent King Rama rescuing his wife Sita from the evil King Lanka. In Gujarat, which is in the western region, the festival is a new year celebration. There is though one common defining factor for all who celebrate Diwali. Tarandip Kaur writes that “it marks the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.”

Each of the five days holds a certain meaning and has different names according to the region where it is celebrated. Day one focuses on wealth and fortune. Many people buy kitchen utensils and gold on this day. People also clean their homes and spend time together gambling. On day two, people create Rangolis which are colorful and intricate designs created out of either flower petals, rice, chalk, or colored sand. Day three is the namesake of the festival, and on this day diyas (clay lamps) and candles are lit throughout homes, and fireworks are shot up into the sky. There are sumptuous feasts and prayers are said to the goddess Lakshmi. On day four, in some areas, the start of the new year is celebrated. Day five is a day of commemorating sisters. To honor the bond between them, siblings gather together and share food and prayers with each other.

Worldwide celebration

The celebration of Diwali is worldwide. Leicester, England hosts one of the largest of the festivals outside of India. The Golden Mile, which is a stretch of road in Leicester, is filled with over 35,000 people each year and is decorated with over 6,000 lights. Ever since 2013, Times Square in New York has hosted a Diwali Festival, and in San Antonio, Texas there has been a Festival of Lights Celebration for the last ten years, attracting over 15,000 people.

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When people hear the words Dia de Los Muertos, meaning Day of the Dead, they often think of it as being the Mexican version of Halloween. The two are in fact entirely separate holidays. Whereas Halloween is often dark, focusing on goblins, ghouls, costumes for adults and trick-or-treating for children.  Día de Los Muertos is a two-day vibrant celebration honoring family members who have passed.

How it began

The celebration began thousands of years ago with the Aztecs, the Toltecs and the Nahua’s. They believed that grieving for those who had died was disrespectful. Thus the Day of the Dead was born and they decided to celebrate the dead instead of grieving them. This Mexican holiday gradually grew into what it is today. It has become more widespread, now celebrated in countries such as Guatemala, Brazil, Spain, and the United States.

Día de Los Muertos takes place on November 1st to November 2nd. On the 1st it is believed that children who have passed can come back and be with their families. Whereas on the 2nd is when the deceased adults come back to visit.

The traditions

One of the traditions is the building of Ofrendas or altars. They are created in homes or at the families graves. But these altars do not serve the purpose of worship, but to encourage the visits by the souls. The altars help guide the deceased to visit the living. Each altar contains four elements representing earth, wind, fire, and water. Earth is generally some type of food items, such as Pan de Muerto, or Day of the Dead bread. The Wind element is Papel Picado. Papel Picado is colorful and decorative papers usually hung as banners for decoration.  The Fire element is candles situated in the form of a cross on the altar so the spirits can find their way. Lastly, water is often placed in a pitcher.

The Ofrendas are also decorated with marigolds, photos of the family member, monarch butterflies and Calaveras de Azucar.  Calaveras meaning skull is popular during Dia de Los Muertos and is made from sugar. The deceased’s name is often written on the forehead in icing.  In 2008 the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared the holiday as being part of “cultural heritage,” adding it to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

A Day of the Dead parade did not exist until the 2015 James Bond film, Spectre. It showcased a parade filled with people dressed in various elegant and colorful outfits, donning skull masks and makeup. Ever since 2016 Mexico City has held the parade. At this parade is where you will find a colorful display of floats, giant puppets, and dancers, which attracts thousands of viewers every year.

Sources:

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/destinations/north-america/mexico/top-ten-day-of-dead-mexico/https://insider.si.edu/2016/10/5-facts-dia-de-los-muertos-day-dead/https://theculturetrip.com/north-america/mexico/articles/day-of-the-dead-in-mexico-10-traditions-customs/https://www.tripsavvy.com/foods-for-day-of-the-dead-1588709

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      What is a Keynote Speaker?

      Keynote Speaker is an often-misunderstood term associated with simply a motivational speaker, breakout speaker, industry expert, etc. Most professional speakers are not actual trained Keynote Speakers, who are specialists, therefore in much lower supply, and in higher demand.

      Keynote Speakers are experienced, professional communicators who engage an audience, capturing the essence of a client’s meeting. They are able to highlight it to their audience while simultaneously delivering their own key concepts and proprietary content in an entertaining and impactful way. Most companies understand that this specialization is very much worth the time (around an hour) and the investment.

      In order to capture the perfect essence, a Keynote Speaker spends the necessary time researching a client’s industry, their issues, and their audience to craft a customized presentation into a unique and distinctive moment specifically for the client’s event.

      As a top Keynote Speaker, Tom Leu strategically uses compelling storytelling, humor, powerful visuals, audio and video clips, and audience participation elements to weave an impactful message into your event in a fun and memorable way. Tom can also pair his Keynote with Best Corporate Events programming, laying a foundation and setting a tone that best prepares participants for maximum engagement in the forthcoming team events that day.