Tag Archives: tradition

National Cherry Blossom Festival 2018

The National Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event which celebrates springtime in Washington, DC as well as the 1912 gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. This year’s festival will be MARCH 17-APRIL 15!

The predicted peak blooming period of the cherry blossoms for this year is APRIL 8-12.

Here are some of the highlights:

Smithsonian Kite Festival – Saturday, March 31, 2018
Washington Monument Grounds
10 am-4:30 pm

Petalpalooza Fireworks Festival – Saturday, April 7, 2018
Waterfront Park – 600-900 Water Street, SW
1-9:30 pm
Fireworks at 8:30-9:30 pm

Cherry Blossom Parade – Saturday, April 14, 2018
Constitution Avenue from 7th to 17th Streets, NW
10 am- 12 pm

There are many more great events, visit the festival website for more information.

Helpful links:
Cherry Blossom Festival Website
National Park Service Bloom Watch
Metro Website (use the trip planner feature on this website to find the metro options, taking metro is much better than driving for the festival events)

Photo & Video: National Cherry Blossom Festival 

February 2 – Groundhog Day

Traditionally, the groundhog is supposed to wake up on February 2, and come up out of his burrow. If he sees his shadow, he will return to the burrow for six more weeks of winter. If he doesn’t see his shadow, he remains outside and starts his year, because he knows that spring has arrived early. In the U.S., the “official” groundhog is kept in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and is called “Phil.” Though not based in science, it is a fun US tradition.

groundhog

Schultüte – German School Cones

800px-Schultuete_ausgepackt

What is a Schultüte?

From Wikipedia:

A “Schultüte” (or School Cone, even though the word “Tüte” translates more as “bag” from German), often also called Zuckertüte (“sugar bag”, especially in Eastern Germany) is a paper (and later plastic) bag in particular.

When children in Germany and Austria set off for their first day in school upon entering first grade, their parents and/or grandparents present them with a big cardboard cone, prettily decorated and filled with toys, chocolate, candies, school supplies, and various other goodies. It is given to children to make this anxiously awaited first day of school a little bit sweeter.

Want to make one for that special child starting school? I found tutorials on several websites:

Alphamom

UK-German Connection

Mother Huddle

Chanukkah Begins at Sundown this Friday

Chanukah

We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths.  Some celebrate Christmas, some Chanukkah, some Kwanzaa and some celebrate more than one of those or none of the above.  That is something that makes America special, we can all be different, but still one united together.

I wanted to give a brief overview of Chanukkah and some of the customs you might observe.  Something important to note is that Chanukkah is not the Jewish equivalent of Christmas.  From a religious standpoint, it is a relatively minor holiday.  So, the amount of emphasis put on Chanukkah and how it is celebrated will vary from one family to the next.

If your host family celebrates Chanukkah and you don’t, I would encourage you to take part and experience the customs of another religion.  This can be a great opportunity for culture sharing.  The same is true, if you are a host family and your au pair celebrates a different holiday than you.

Here is a simple explanation from Judaism 101:

Chanukkah is the festival of lights, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after a successful revolt against the Seleucid Greeks. As part of the rededication, the victorious Jews needed to light the Temple’s menorah (candelabrum), but they had only enough oil to last one day and it would take eight days to prepare more oil. Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted for eight days. The miracle of the oil is commemorated with this eight-day candlelighting holiday.

Chanukkah begins between Thanksgiving and Christmas. About half of the time, it overlaps with Christmas, but there are many years when Chanukkah ends long before Christmas. In 2002, for example, Chanukkah began on Thanksgiving and ended in the first week of December, but that is unusual.

Almost all Jews light candles with their families for at least some nights of the holiday, so people like to be at home during this holiday. Although almost nobody takes off from work or school for this holiday, many may not want to work nights or travel during the holiday so they can light candles with the family, and accommodations should be made for this.

Here are some links for more info and children’s activities:

Some local Chanukkah events:

National Menorah Lighting December 13, 2009, 4 p.m. The Ellipse, 1600 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC (202) 332-5600. Celebrate the beginning of Hanukkah with speeches, music, activities for kids and the lighting of the National Menorah by Rabbi Levi Shemtov. This event is free, but tickets are required.

Chanukah Family Spectacular December 13, 2009, 5 p.m. Bethesda Row, 4801 Bethesda Ave., Chabad of Bethesda-Chevy Chase sponsors an event, featuring the largest Lego menorah in the Washington area, entertainment, crafts for the kids, latkes and chocolate coins.

Note: You will see Chanukkah spelled Hanukkah and several other ways. The correct English spelling is up for debate.