Christmas in Argentina

Christmas in Argentina

In Argentina the weather is warm at Christmas. Preparations for Christmas begin very early in December and even in November. Many people in Argentina are Catholic and they also celebrate Advent.

House are beautifully decorated with lights and wreaths of green, gold, red and white flowers. Red and white garlands are hung on the doors of houses. Christmas Trees are also very popular and they are often decorated by 8th December (the feast of the Immaculate Conception – when Catholics celebrate when Mary was conceived). Some people like to put cotton balls on the Christmas Tree to represent snow! Artificial trees are far more common that real ones in Argentina. They can also come in different colors other than green, like white or blue!

The Nativity scene or ‘pesebre’ is also an important Christmas decoration in Argentina. The pesebre is put near to the Christmas tree.

Christmas Cards aren’t common in Argentina and although some people give and receive presents, it’s normally only between close family and friends.

The main Christmas celebrations take place on Christmas Eve. Many Catholics will go to a Mass in the late afternoon.

The main meal Christmas is eaten during the evening of Christmas Eve, often about 10pm or 11pm. It might be served in the garden or be a barbecue! Some popular dishes include roasted turkey, roasted pork (in northern Argentina, some people will have goat), ‘vitel toné’ (slices of veal served with a creamy anchovy and tuna sauce), stuffed tomatoes, salads and lots of different sandwiches like ‘pan de atun’ (special tuna sandwiches), ‘sandwiches de miga’ (sandwiches made of thin white bread without the crusts – they can be single, double or multi-layered!) and ‘torre de panqueques’ (a sandwich ‘cake’ made from several layers of tortillas with different fillings).

Dessert can be Christmas bread and puddings like ‘Pan Dulce’ and Panetone as well as fruit salad, ice cream and different sorts of pies. There will also be sweets like chocolate raisins, sugar-coated peanuts or almonds, ‘mantecol’ (a semi-soft nougat made from peanut butter) and different kinds of ‘turron’ (hard nougat).

At midnight there will be the sound of lots of fireworks. People also like to ‘toast’ the start of Christmas day. Some people like to go to midnight services, but other prefer to stay at home and let off fireworks and then open their presents under the tree. More poeple are also going to over night parties and nightclubs as well now.

Another Christmas Eve night tradition are ‘globos’, paper decorations with a light inside that float into the sky (like Chinese Lanterns). The sky is filled with them on Christmas Eve after midnight.

Some people stay awake all the night chatting and seeing friends and family and then spend lots of Christmas Day sleeping. Some people may go to mass again in the morning or late afternoon on Christmas Day and there will be lots of yummy leftovers to eat!

Christmas in USA

Christmas in USA

The United States of America has many different traditions and ways that people celebrate Christmas, because of its multi-cultural nature. Many customs are similar to ones in the UK, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland and Mexico.

The traditional meal for Western European families is turkey or ham with cranberry sauce. Families from Eastern European origins favour turkey with trimmings, keilbasi (a Polish sausage), cabbage dishes, and soups; and some Italian families prefer Lasagna!

Some Americans use pop-corn threaded on string to help decorate their Christmas Tree! Making gingerbread houses is also popular to make and eat at Christmas!

Many Americans, especially Christians will go to Church to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. Many churches have special Christmas Carol services and events where the story of Christmas is told.

In New England (the American States of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine), there are shops called ‘Christmas Shops’ that only sell Christmas decorations and toys all the year round!

Americans also send out Christmas Cards, like Carol singing and there’s the unusual custom of the Christmas Pickle!

People in America like to decorate the outsides of their houses with lights and sometimes even statues of Santa Claus, Snowmen and Reindeer. Some cookies and glass of milk are often left out as a snack for Santa on Christmas Eve!

Towns and cities often decorate the streets with lights to celebrate Christmas. Perhaps the most famous Christmas street lights in the USA are at the Rockefeller Center in New York where there is a huge Christmas Tree with a public ice skating rink in front of it over Christmas and the New Year.

In Hawaii, Santa is called Kanakaloka!

Customs such as Mumming take place in some communities. On New Year’s Day in Philadelphia there is a Mummer’s Day parade which lasts over six hours! Clubs called “New Years Associations” perform in amazing costumes which take months to make. There are four categories (Comics, Fancies, String Bands, and Fancy Brigades) which are judged.

In the Southwest USA, there are some special customs which have some similarities to those in parts of Mexico. These include ‘luminarias’ or ‘farolitos’ which are paper sacks partly filled with sand and then have a candle put in them. They are lit on Christmas Eve and are put the edges of paths. They represent ‘lighting the way’ for somewhere for Mary and Joseph to stay. A popular food at Christmas in the Southwest USA are tamales.

In the south of Louisiana, on Christmas Eve, families in small communities along the Mississippi River light bonfires along the levees (the high river banks) to help ‘Papa Noel’ (the name for Santa in French as Louisiana has a strong historical connection with France) find his way to the children’s homes!

How to Enjoy Life After 50’S

How to Enjoy Life After 50’S

As people live longer, conceptions of age and aging are changing throughout the world. In fact, the old truism about fifty being middle-aged no longer holds true and “fifty is the new forty. But you may not be sure how to embrace life after 50. By exploring the world around you and maintaining your health, you can enjoy just how nifty life after 50 is.

If you are over 50, chances are that you have older children, may be retired, and may find yourself have more free time. Allow yourself to explore the world around you with activities you might enjoy such as travel, trying different foods, or taking classes.
Make a list of things that interest you and that you can try out as you have time and money. For example, maybe you wanted to get your pilot’s license. Learn as much as you can about it and then pursue flying if you like. Similarly, maybe you always wanted to visit Germany. Start your “travels” at home with books and travel sites about Germany and plan a trip or an extended stay.
Embracing your curiosity may be easier at your age, as you may have fewer time constraints and responsibilities than you did when you were younger. Being over 50 often gives you the benefit of being able to focus on your own needs and goals. Exploring your curiosities can be healthy and enjoyable

A large part of engaging with the world is staying mentally and physically active. This helps you to be physically healthier and mentally happier. Try out new activities or invest more time in ones you love. This can add more character to your life and may introduce you to wonderful new experiences and people.
Engage in activities and hobbies like painting, dancing, or collecting coins; try a new sport like Pilates or yoga. Anything you do to stay moving and active can help you stay young and healthy.

Take classes in a subject that interests you or continue your training for your job. Challenging your brain can keep you engaged may keep your brain from aging.
Attend classes, lectures, seminars, or other continuing education programs to stimulate your brain. Many universities offer courses to “senior associates” or may post courses online.
Taking classes and continuing education may open up new and exciting experiences for you.

Learning keeps the brain young

Learning keeps the brain young

York University and the American Academy of Neurology also conducted their own studies about bilingualism and dementia. Both institutions found that switching from one language to the other activates areas of the brain responsible for executive functioning. This involves the same area that is responsible for completing tasks.

According to the studies, utilizing this part of the brain often can decrease cognitive decline and can delay the initial effects of dementia. It must be noted that a third language is not required unless you are already bilingual. For multilingual individuals, learning a new language when you reach the age of 50 is a good way to improve brain health.

Socialization can help improve an older individual’s general well-being. A new language can open a whole new world for seniors because they get to learn about a new culture at the same time. They’d also get to watch films in their second language without having to rely on subtitles. If you think you’re already too old to learn something new, it’s time to prove yourself wrong. Learn a new language today and reap its long-term benefits.

Bilingualism Improves Cognition

Bilingualism Improves Cognition

Bilingualism is beneficial to brain health, according to researchers at Edinburgh University. After examining medical records of 648 patients with Alzheimer’s disease in Hyderabad, the researchers found that monolingual patients developed dementia earlier than those who spoke two languages. The lead researcher Thomas Bak notes that learning a new language later in life is beneficial because it helps exercise the brain.

Experts in senior health agree with Bak. The brain needs exercise and learning a new word every day or a new language can structurally and functionally alter the brain. It can make it more efficient and more flexible. Playing brain games that keep the mind young is also advisable. This includes crossword puzzles, card games, and scrabble. Seniors can also improve their problem solving skills by building something. If you have always wanted to build a birdhouse, for example, starting this project will help you exercise your brain. Experts also suggest that you carry cash for your daily purchases. Counting your change and remembering simple mathematical computations is a good brain exercise. With regular exercise, the brain will be better at focusing, remembering lists, directions, and sequences.

Neuroplasticity and Seniors

Neuroplasticity and Seniors

The brain’s neuroplasticity has been blamed for giving seniors a hard time to learn new language skills. It is defined as the brain’s ability to form and restructure synaptic connections, mainly in response to learning or injury. While neuroplasticity decreases as we age, a proverb that says, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” may also stop seniors from learning a second language, much less a third one.

The science may be right but the proverb is wrong for the most part. Research on neuroplasticity challenges the assumption that seniors cannot learn a new language. This particular research notes that you can never be too old to learn new tricks. However, the researchers are not denying the fact that learning new things is much harder as a person grows older. This should not discourage seniors from learning Spanish or any other language though.

Albert Costa, a professor of neuroscience in Barcelona’s Universitat Pompeu Fabra, said in an interview with the Guardian that older individuals learning a new language have an advantage over their younger counterparts. This is mainly because older people are armed with larger vocabularies. As a result, they will learn more words that are included in the arsenal of a native speaker.

Although this is advantageous, Costa adds that it is much more difficult for seniors to master accents. The good news is, there are game-like tutorials that can teach males and females ages 6 to 90 or over to speak a new language of their choosing. These games include voiceovers that teach participants how to pronounce certain words.