Festive-season

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November 14, 2015

How New Year Traditions Evolved

I could safely say that most of us know why we celebrate Christmas Day and Easter, but what about New Years Eve? Why do so many cultures across the globe farewell the passing year and welcome in a new one with lavish celebrations, fireworks, kisses at midnight and that weird song, “Auld Lang Syne”? I wanted to find out what it’s all about and share what I’ve discovered.

The first New Year’s celebrations

According to history.com, the first celebration to mark the new year began about 4000 years ago in ancient Babylon. It wasn’t celebrated on January 1st, like we do now. Their New Years Day was celebrated in late March with the arrival of the first new moon after the spring equinox (which was based on the movement of the sun).

They developed a religious festival call Akitu (Sumerian for barley) which lasted for 11 days. Behind the festivities was the belief that good powered over evil, which served a political interest when either a new king was crowned or current ruler’s mandate was renewed.

In other cultures, such as Egypt and China, the new year was marked by agricultural or astronomical events. For example, Egypt’s new year was when the Nile flooded, bringing new life to the province.

Celebrating New Year’s Day on January 1st

It wasn’t until 46 B.C. when Julius Caesar pronounced the Julian Calendar, which similar to the Gregorian calendar used today across many cultures, including our own. This was when January 1st initially became New Years Day. They celebrated by giving sacrificial offings to the God Janus (the Roman god of beginnings), exchanged gifts, placed laurel branches in their homes as decorations and had parties. The parties were quite an event where things apparently went a lot further than the humble smooch! Noise was encouraged to ward off evil spirits.

With the rise of Christianity in Medieval Europe, New Years day celebrations were replaced in lieu of Christian events such as Christmas Day. This is how it remained until 1582, when January 1st was reclaimed as New Years Day by Pope Gregory XIII.

New Year’s resolutions

The first of the traditions which were celebrated, date back to the instigators of New Years Day; the Babylonians. Their resolutions were in the form of promises to the Gods, like paying back their debts and returning borrowed farm equipment. To them, this was important stuff. Ultimately they wanted to get in the good books with the Gods for the upcoming year.

Consuming certain foods

In many countries foods plays an important role in celebrations, but not so much in our own culture. In Spain and Spanish speaking cultures, they consume a dozen grapes just prior to midnight to secure good fortune for upcoming months.

Legumes like lentils in Italy and black-eyed peas in the southern United States also symbolize good fortune because of their coin like appearance. Pork features prominently in places like Cuba and some European countries. Ring-shaped cakes and pastries, feature in the Netherlands, Mexico, Greece and other places. The Swedes and Norwegians hide an almond inside rice pudding and whoever finds it should expect a fortunate upcoming year.

Fireworks

The Chinese are the traditional creators of fireworks and therefore most celebrations included them. Their loud noise is said to ward away evil spirits. These days we celebrate with fireworks because they are enjoyed by so many people and cities put on marvelous displays for the masses.

Auld Lang Syne

Auld Lang Syne was a poem written by Scotsman, Robert Burns in 1788 and sung to the tune of a traditional folk song. In many English speaking countries, it’s sung at midnight on New Years Eve to farewell the old year and welcome in the new one. Many people know the tune, but by midnight the words often get a bit muddled!

Kissing at midnight

Giving and receiving a kiss at the strike of midnight New Years Eve began out of superstition. The ancient Romans were believed to have been the first to pucker up to ward off loneliness for the upcoming year. It’s also rumored that things went a wee bit further than kissing and there were possibly a few orgies going on in the prominent homes. Now, they really wanted to make sure they weren’t lonely!

The English and Germans elaborated on the superstition, believing that the quality of the kiss would indicate the quality of happiness experienced for the remainder of the year. This may be why the New Years Eve kiss is believed to be a special kiss, particularly for couples.

The Time Square ball drop

1904 was the first New Year to be welcomed in at Time Square. By 1907, Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times, commissioned Artkraft Strauss to design and construct an electrically lit ball which would drop at the stroke of midnight. He wanted something other than fireworks to wow the growing crowds.

Since then the ball has dropped each year, except 1942 and 1943 due to WW2 blackout restrictions. It has been reconstructed over the years and millions of people, world wide look forward to the famous Times Square New Years Eve ball drop.

Image via http://up.arthuriusmaximus.com.br

January 1, 2015

Weekend Wit: Yet Another Single New Year?

As the countdown to the new year begins, everyone is planning where they will be and who they will be with when the clock strikes twelve. Plenty of couples stay home together New Years Eve. They’ve had their single fun and as the years pass by they begin falling asleep before midnight, ignoring the traditions and just pass it off as yet another night in as the rest of the world celebrates.

For singles, though it’s something very different. It’s a magical night filled with possibilities. Not many singles sit home on New Years Eve. It’s usually the biggest night of the year because they’re all out there celebrating the start of the new year and what it has to offer. Will it be a new romance, a new job or new life? The passing of one year to the next is an opportunity singles don’t want to miss out on.

They also have that traditional New Years kiss lingering in the back of their mind. Will they miss out or will they find someone to kiss as the clock strikes midnight? Who will it be? Will it be Mr or Mrs Right they meet and kiss on this magical evening?

In reality, those who do land a hot steamy kiss on New Years Eve are usually plucked out of the crowd when other singles see they have no-one to lock lips with. This only happens because everyone has had way too much to drink and inhibitions suddenly disappear because it’s New Years Eve and kissing is expected.

Regretfully, it probably won’t be the magical experience of two strangers meeting, embracing and living happily ever after. No. It will be more like being grabbed by an intoxicated stranger and having their tongue shoved down ya throat!

You know the kisses I mean? The ones that are all tongue and no lips. It’s almost like the lips don’t connect at all as the tongue takes centre stage. In reality, the stranger is probably only an hour off of passing out and it’s like they are trying to get all the tongue action they are going to get all year, in that one sloppy New Year kiss. I’m not too sure what’s so magical about that, but plenty of singles are out there New Years Eve and this is what a large majority experience.

When you stop and think about it, it’s a bizarre phenomenon, this New Years Eve kissing thing. As the clock strikes midnight, french kissing in public is the norm, not the exception. Society dictates that adults and teens for that matter, should have their tongue twisting around in someone else’s mouth. Seriously, it’s one of those traditions which makes me wonder where on earth did this come from?

Was it a shy single who wanted to take advantage of flowing booze and high spirits? Maybe they thought it was the only way they’d actually land a kiss during the year; right smack bang when it starts. Was it some intoxicated stranger who kissed another intoxicated stranger on New Years Eve and started this?

No. Apparently it was the Romans. How many centuries ago was that?! Now those people were known for avid promiscuity because they weren’t only partaking in public kissing! It was more like a New Years Eve orgy and everyone got in on the act. Ha-ha, we think our society is sex oriented. Those randy Romans really knew how to welcome in the New Year with a bang!

It’s quite amusing how their ummm tradition, has made its way into our century in a much tamer fashion and continues to engage singles year after year. Even though they aren’t publicly shagging their way into the New Year like the Romans; there remains a certain magic of New Years Eve for singles. So, if you’re single on New Years Eve, enjoy the freedom, land that kiss and thank heaven and hell you aren’t an ancient Roman!

Image via https://c1.staticflickr.com/7/6165/6200546381_565f1ceed2_z.jpg

December 28, 2014

Merry Christmas From SHESAID

Wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and a safe and enjoyable holiday season. We’re hitching a lift with Santa for a short break, but the cogs continue turning at SHESAID HQ and we’ll still keep bringing you informative, inspiring and empowering pieces throughout the festive season.

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December 25, 2014

4 Ways The Festive Season Has An Effect On Your Skin

While the festive season can be a wonderful time of light and love, it is also a time where the pressures of work and Christmas shopping combine with the pleasures of Christmas parties, high fat and sugar laden foods and perhaps a little too much Christmas spirit!

According to endota’s skincare expert, Cara Doncovio, “most of us are aware that some of our lifestyle choices around this special time can have a damaging effect on our bodies and generally it’s our skin that can bear the brunt of a hectic and stressful festive season. From Christmas-induced, to eating a diet high in sugar and fat, drinking alcohol or suffering from fatigue – all of these lifestyle choices can take a toll on our skin and we tend to forget that the skin is actually the body’s largest organ!”

Cara says: “There’s no fool proof recipe for clear and glowing skin, but there are a number of steps and precautions you can follow to increase your chances of maintaining a festive Christmas glow this year.”

endota spa, Australia’s largest day spa, has teamed up with independent GP, Lily Tomas to provide their top tips for a skin survival guide this Christmas:

Stress

endota spa recently revealed that 56 per cent of Australian women report an increase in stress levels at this time of year.

According to Cara: “Most of us are aware that high levels of stress can play havoc on our skin, but we often don’t realise quite how much of a direct effect this can have. I’m often asked if there is anything you can do to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and the first thing I tell them to do is relax and stop frowning! It may seem obvious but constant muscle tension (like frowning) can lead to permanent wrinkling, as facial expressions used when we are stressed can cause deep lines (like crow’s feet or frown lines), often lasting beyond the stressful period.”

The best way to tackle stress as advised by Dr Tomas is to get to the root of the problem – take a look at what the triggers are which are causing you to be stressed and then explore ways in which you can address these triggers, as opposed to attempting to only remedy the skin which is affected. “The best gift someone can give at this time of year is the gift of relaxation! The most effective way of reducing your stress levels is to solely dedicate time to relax; I recommend a relaxation massage at your local day spa as during a treatment is one of the only times you are asked to turn off your phone. Spas are an oasis of calm and the dramatic reduction in the levels of cortisol is generally a sign of a massage’s effectiveness.”

Food

Put down the piece of chocolate. We all know that too much sugar is a no no for our skin, but do we really know why? Well, research has shown that high sugar foods can significantly damage the collagen and elastin in your skin.

“Sugar attaches to the collagen through a process called glycation and when this usually springy and resilient collagen and elastin becomes dry, brittle and inflexible, the more likely it is you’re your skin will sag and develop wrinkles in the long term,” Cara says.

“This Christmas your collagen and elastin are going to need all the help they can get. A fabulous natural ingredient which helps look after collagen is extract from a type of Aloe Vera plant called Aloe Vera Barbedensis; the extract from the plant is full of the necessary co-factors, i.e. the vitamins and minerals that are needed to stimulate the dermal fibroblast (a cell which looks after the maintenance of our collagen).”

Aloe Vera Barbadensis is one of two core ingredients that makes up all of the products in endota spa’s ceutical anti-ageing range – the collagen serum is a must for those who are looking to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Alcohol

“I’m sure many of us can appreciate the feeling of dehydration the morning after a heavy night at the work Christmas do, but it’s not just a lack of liquids which our bodies are struggling with the morning after; the effect of alcohol on the skin has a similar effect to the rest of your body,” Cara says.

Drinking too much is also thought to deprive the skin of vital vitamins and nutrients; specifically Vitamin A, which is essential for cell renewal and turnover, which is why sometimes the skin can lose its glow.

“Water serves as a type of internal moisturizer for your skin, which is why staying thoroughly hydrated can help to smooth out wrinkles, and make your skin appear brighter and younger. It is therefore key to remember to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water – try and drink a glass of water between every alcoholic drink you have and this will improve your chances of staying hydrated,” Cara explains.

“There are a number of natural ingredients I recommend looking out for when trying to rehydrate the skin; for example, macadamia oil is extremely hydrating and penetrates the skin brilliantly. I also recommend shea butter, lillypilly and rosehip and myrrh oil as they are packed full of antioxidants. I personally love endota’s organics lilly pilly body moisturiser!

“As increased blood flow can leave the skin drier, I recommend maintaining a consistent skincare routine which includes cleansing, toning but most importantly moisturizing day and night. I always opt a regenerating night cream for the night time and a hydrating, but SPF moisturiser for the daytime.”

Lack of sleep

“If you are consistently not getting enough sleep it can affect your skin’s regeneration function, resulting in dullness, fatigue, under-eye circles and bags and bloodshot eyes,” Cara says.

“It is important to remember that the skin around the eyes is where it is the thinnest on the entire body, with just 10 layers – it is for this reason you’re eyes are extremely sensitive and often the first giveaway if you’ve had a late one the night before!

“If you suffer from puffy eyes, use cucumber slices as mini ice packs on the eyes; they constrict the blood and lymph vessels that bring fluid to the area – there is a genuine reason behind this!”

Similarly to using cucumber, there a number of healing properties associated with natural ingredients, for example pea extract has been known to stimulate collagen which improves skin elasticity and firmness. Green tea extract is also packed with antioxidants which help to shield against environmental damage and fortify against future damage.

Dr Lily Tomas recommends “sleeping with your head slightly elevated to prevent fluid from pooling around the eye area.”

December 23, 2014

Meal Ideas for a Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Preparing a Thanksgiving feast can be hard enough, but what to do if your guests are vegetarian? The traditional holiday dinner is generally formed around a baked turkey, or other meat dish. Here is a three-course meal plan that is sure to win you points with the vegetarian crowd this Thanksgiving.

RELATED: Easy Vegetarian Weekly Meal Plan

Entree

Option 1: Pumpkin soup
This old favorite will warm you to your toes on a frosty thanksgiving day. It is hearty, delicious and, most importantly, easy to make!

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Option 2:  Oven-roasted roots frittata
This highly nutritious dish is guaranteed to please health-freaks, and have the meat-eaters reaching for a fork. Match with a side salad to complete the dish.

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Option 3: Homemade pizzas two ways
This is a perfect sharing option to kickstart everyone’s meal. This recipe includes a butternut squash and feta recipe, as well as a caremalized onion and pesto pizza. Drool…

pizza

Main

Option 1: Pumpkin Curry
Who said serving a curry can’t be as satisfying? Vegetable curries are rich in flavor, nutritious and the perfect wholesome thanksgiving main.

Pumpkin curry

Option 2: Mushroom risotto or pasta
Like curry, risotto or pasta dishes are great to make in bulk and will satisfy a large group of people. While my pick is a mushroom recipe, you could also try an arrabiatta, nepolitana or garlic and parsley sauce – ingredients are simple and cater to a broad range of tastes.

Mushroom risotto

Option 3: Whole baked snapper
If carving the bird is a climactic part of your meal, why not try carving the fish? A whole baked fish will not only look impressive, it will take half the time and effort than that required to successfully cook a turkey.

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Dessert

Optrion 1: Apple or pecan pie

Considering dessert is the easiest to adapt to a vegetarian diet, you can stick to the tradtional pumpkin, apple or pecan pie this Thanksgiving.

Apple Pie

Option 2: Sour cherry pierogi

Swap the traditional desserts for an eastern european favorite – Pierogi! Pierogi or polish dumplings will impress the quirky crowd with your worldly cooking skills.

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Option 3: Mulled wine

Perhaps you’ve been drinking it throughout the meal, but if not welcome your guests to the living room to enjoy a warm cup of mulled wine. It’s the perfect way to wind down after a big meal. To be enjoyed by adults only.

Mulled wine

November 26, 2014

How Breaking up is hard particularly over Festive Season (contd)

KEEP HIM TILL NEW YEARS DAY

If you’re the shy, non-partying type (that is, unlikely to pick up a total stranger at a party) taking Mr.CuteSmile along to the never-ending round of Christmas drinkies may be a good idea. He will provide the perfect escape route when the boss’s wife (or even worse, his mother) corners you with her riveting thoughts on why the rain last month ruined her rose garden. And you’ll save money on cab rides home – just make him the designated driver.If your boy’s a big spender then it may serve you well to keep him during this important gift-giving season. Especially if he’s been hinting at buying you that wildly expensive Sony stereo you’ve been lusting over. Make sure he throws in a few CDs too, though.

You’ve most likely already booked your Xmas holiday to Bali together so dropping him now could incur a hefty cancellation charge. Plus you’ll have to go on the trip by yourself, which depending on your capacity to flirt, may or may not be a good thing. And it’s probably too late to book a spot on the trip to Fiji with your single friends.

Depending on how enthralled you were with MrCuteSmile (i.e. to what extent you ditched your girlfriends to see him), you may need a bit of extra time up your sleeve to patch up some friendships and re-aquaint yourself with old friends before you enter the lonely life of singlehood. Start treating all of your friends (i.e., calling them twice a day) in exactly the same way you did when you were single. Immediately.

If you have nothing planned for New Year’s Eve, then keep him. There’s nothing worse than having no one to pash during the Happy New Year cheer.

December 2, 2000