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Ditch the cards this Valentine’s Day

I’m not a card person – to me, it’s a waste of paper. You read the messages inside and then, as soon as the person who gave it to you leaves, it goes in the recycling bin. Some people will keep it on a desk or a bookshelf, propped up for a few weeks like some sort of artwork, but, at the end of the day, whether it’s that week or months from today, the card always gets tossed away. So, what’s the point?

According to Hallmark, one of the biggest card companies in North America, approximately 114 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged on February 15, not including the packages you may give to your kids in elementary school. Surprisingly, this is the second largest holiday for cards!

It is natural, to want to do something small for someone you care about. Getting a card is no big deal — it shows you care, but doesn’t offer a commitment of gifts or events. It’s a “look, I remembered you”, giveaway. It doesn’t really mean much, especially if there is nothing personal written within it.

Cards are also, unexpectedly expensive. They range from $3.50 to $10 depending on where you get it from. Most have generic prose spread across the page in fancy cursive fonts that are incredibly difficult to read, not to mention the message is generally sappy and cliche. There really is no good reason to buy a card for someone. Can you think of one?

Here is my two cents. Instead of spending five dollars on a card to express your love, why not try something truly original:

  1. Actually talk to your partner and tell him/her you love them. No one needs a folded piece of paper with a photo of two children in a cute embrace and the words “Happy Valentine’s Day” to enjoy the holiday. Sometimes, a simple greeting in person, over text, or even a Facebook message will brighten someone’s day. In this age of technology, there are so many options. Why limit yourself to paper?

    If you really want to go the paper route – why not try putting little sticky notes on mirrors and in cupboards where your partner can find it? It’s cute, but no one expects you to keep the sticky notes afterwards.

  2. The key to a romantic Valentine’s Day is to create memories. While gifts and cards are nice, your partner will remember if you make them a tasty dinner or take them out for an evening stroll. Technology is great, but anyone can wish someone happy birthday, anniversary, and even happy Valentine’s Day. You want to make your day stand out and the way to do that is to ditch the cards and gifts and focus on the experience.
  3. If memories aren’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with jewellery or chocolates. If you want to give a gift, make it a real gift and not just a piece of stock paper with a pre-determined message inside. This doesn’t have to be something expensive. Pick up some flowers or send your partner to work with a pre-made, cutesy lunch made of heart-shaped things. Anything is better than a card!

What do you think? Will you be sending a loved one a card? Let us know in the comments below!

Happy New Year from Women’s Post

From the staff at Women’s Post, we would like to wish you a Happy New Year!

2017 wasn’t the greatest, but there were a few good things that arose from the confusion and tragedy. In our letter to Santa, Women’s Post rounded up our wishes and desires for the next year — but now, many of us have come to the realization that it may take a little more than a Christmas miracle to achieve those goals of gender equality.
Can everyone make a pledge? No matter what your New Year’s resolution, promise us that you won’t settle. Promise us you will speak up if you see an injustice. Promise us you will fight for that promotion or raise. But, most of all, promise us you will support others instead of tearing them down — especially women! If everyone works towards those goals, Women’s Post is hopeful that 2018 is going to be much better!

 

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6 holiday traditions from different parts of the world

What does Christmas mean to you? This holiday is celebrated all over the world. For some, it’s all about the brightly lit streets and crowded stores, with people all looking for presents to share with their loved ones, but for others the holiday can be more about tradition or spiritual guidance. The interesting part is that the commonality is family, gift-giving, and myth.

Here are six Christmas customs from around the world:

Japan

In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday, but it is still celebrated by many people in the country. There is no Santa Claus. Instead there is Santa Kurohsu. Santa Kurohsu takes after a Buddhist monk in Japanese culture, who would travel to peoples homes to leave gifts and was said to have eyes at the back of his head to observe if children were being naughty. Strangely, the Japanese tend to eat a lot of KFC during the week of Christmas, thanks to clever marketing dating back to the eighties. Their unofficial ‘Christmas cake’ is strawberry shortcake.

Norway

Christmas in Norway is known as Jul and is celebrated on Dec 25. However, the gift-giving is done on Christmas eve. One of the most interesting customs is that all brooms are hidden on Christmas eve. This way, it can’t be stolen for use by evil spirits or witches.

Venezuela

Residents in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela, adore Christmas. Venezuela is a predominantly a Catholic country so going to mass on Christmas is necessary, but it’s just the method of getting there that’s odd. Residents in Caracas can be seen roller-blading to church mass in the earl morning hours, and it’s so popular that the roads are often cleared of traffic and a special path is provided. Venezuelan’s celebrate Nochebuena, which is seen as the night before Christmas, where families exchange gifts and eat a full christmas dinner.

Italy

Christmas celebrations start eight days before Christmas in Italy, with many families headed to mass. Families offer special Novenas (prayers) and typically gather on Christmas Eve for a midnight celebration. On Christmas eve, no meat is eaten with the exception of a light seafood dish. More importantly, in Italian tradition, children await Befana, a friendly witch that travels to children’s homes to fill their stocking with gifs. This night is known as Epiphany or feast of the Three Kings, which is celebrated 12 days after Christmas, on Jan. 6.

Czech Republic

One of the most interesting Christmas traditions is reserved for single or unmarried women. An unmarried woman must stand with her back facing an open door and throw a shoe over her shoulder. If the front of the shoe lands facing the door, she is to wed within the next 12 months. It also signifies possible love in the new year. In the Czech Republic and other European countries, they also celebrate St Nicholas Day, on Dec. 5, where children wait for St Nicholas to arrive with angels and with devils. The devil might give you a lump of coal while an angel will give you sweets or fruit once a child sings a song or recites a poem for St Nicholas.

Ukraine

The Christmas trees tend to look a lot different in Ukraine, as they are often decorated with artificial spiders and webbing. Instead of the colourful balls and happy tinsel, the tree might look like a scene out of a Halloween tell. However, the story behind this Ukrainian Christmas tradition is rather fascinating. As the tale goes —an old woman was once unable to afford decorations for her tree, but when she woke on Christmas morning, she instead found a spider, who decorated the tree with it’s shimmering web.

Do you have a Christmas tradition or custom you know about? Comment below

What are you wearing this Canada Day?

Tomorrow’s the big bash — Canada is turning 150 years old and the entire nation is getting ready to party until the wee hours of the morn’.

Unless you are preparing for a family camping trip or a girls weekend out, planning Canada Day events can turn into a last-minute affair. The event is considered a holiday, but in typical Canadian fashion, most people are too modest to make a big to-do out of it.

The unfortunate part is that by now, most of the “Canada 150 gear” is sold out or overly priced. That doesn’t mean you can’t get decked out in traditional Canadian fashion this July 1, it just may take a little bit of creativity. Women’s Post is here to help! Here are some ideas for a kick-ass Canada Day outfit:

Colours: Really, if you own anything red, you are fine. Pair a red t-shirt with a pair of white shorts and it will look like you planned for this holiday months ago! Add a red bandana or hat, or even some luscious red lipstick for extra effect. White shirts work as well, but try to find some sort of red accessory to balance it out. Why not try to get some face paint at the dollar store so you can pain on our favourite maple emblem on your cheek?

Plaid: It’s supposed to be rainy and cloudy all weekend (sigh) so why not just wear the traditional Canadian plaid shirt? It has the added benefit of being warm, but also contains our nation’s colours

Dollar store: Time to be a bit creative. Even the dollar store may be out of their traditional t-shirts and temporary tattoos, but they almost always have beaded necklaces, boas, tutus, and other weird things you can slap together to make an outfit. The key is to go overboard. If you are going with the mashed up outfit full of different textures and goofy headbands, then you might as well go all out!

Non-traditional: If you are like me and red just doesn’t match your skin tone, try a different approach. Canada Day is a great opportunity to celebrate Canadian things — sports teams, bands, and even our individual cities (‘Toronto vs. everybody’). Wear that Justin Trudeau unicorn shirt you bought on e-bay that one time! That blue jays cap is good for more than just keeping the sun out of your eyes at the game. Maybe you have a “drizzy drake” tee you can grab?

Just remember to stay away from indigenous or cultural garb that isn’t your own please! Those are the only things out of bounds this Canada Day.

Want to make a statement? Buy a cheap white t-shirt and write something on the back with a marker or with paint. With all those cameras, this is the perfect time to express concern over an issue that is important to you. Whether it’s the environment, election reform, or disdain for a particular bill being discussed in the house right now — use this opportunity to get your point across. Just avoid offensive language, as no camera will focus on your shirt if it contains profanity.

And of course, you can always use this statement to share messages of love!! Not everything has to be about activism.

 

What will you be wearing this Canada Day? Let us know in the comments below!

Remembering our true past when celebrating Canada’s 150 years

Canada is gearing up to celebrate 150 years this summer with several events planned across the country. Fireworks, parades, a ‘ready, set, fire’ event where participants will have the opportunity to shoot a vintage gun in Nova Scotia, and a festival on the confederation bridge in P.E.I. are few of many events planned to celebrate Canada as a unified country. It leaves me to wonder though, what are we really celebrating?

Canada — at that time made up of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia — became a confederation on July 1, 1867. The remaining provinces joined over time, with Nunavut as the last territory in 1999. Regardless of the specific timeline of when Canada became a completely unified country, its history has not always been perfect. The destruction of aboriginal cultures since confederation is a very dark part of Canada’s past, but nonetheless must be recognized during this celebration.

Canada is as much a country of amazing feats, as a product of colonization. Residential schools, the destruction of languages, culture, and land, and the continuing ignorance of the plight of many native peoples in our country are few of the many hurts aboriginals have suffered.

On Canada’s 150th birthday, take a moment to pause and meditate on the complex challenges that aboriginals have experienced as Canadian citizens and as a culture. Lead singer of Tragically Hip, Gord Downie, is certainly leading this push to recognize Canadian aboriginal culture, recently putting on a Secret Path performance that focuses on indigenous issues in Canada. He also announced a project for restaurants and public spaces to dedicate legacy rooms to aboriginal issues across the country as a way to celebrate 150 years.

Want to learn more? The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation opened in 2015, and demonstrates the history of aboriginal affairs in Canada. There are millions of records of violence towards Canada’s indigenous peoples and is a worthy place to visit in honour of Canada’s 150th year celebration.

At the same time, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is making efforts to recognize native issues to celebrate 150 years. Funding of $1.8 million was announced for the Reconciliation in Action: A National Engagement Strategy and focuses on reconciliation efforts. Indspire is a speaking tour that represents exceptional indigenous youth and the government gave 200,000 dollars to the initiative. Support of these projects is included in the overall budget for the 150 years celebration, but there is much left for the Federal government to remediate relations with Canadian aboriginals.

Canada has been a confederation for 150 years, but has been home to aboriginals for much longer. It is important to take a moment to pay our respects to the true forefathers and foremothers of our country, and remember the true history of Canada, including the past we are ashamed of.

Valentine’s Day should be about celebrating women

Valentine’s Day is often about separating into couples or honouring your own self-love and independence, but this year I challenge every woman to try something a little different. Instead of giving power to the things that separate women from one another, whether it be by being with our partners or on our own, let’s use the holiday of love to begin building a community of women helping women. Let’s build a community of love, if you will.

January has been a painful month with a megalomaniac fool running the show down south (do I even need to mention his name?) and a relatively silent leader up north, who isn’t saying much to the big bully downstairs. It is a tough time to be a woman, a minority, a member of the media, or anything else other than an old white man. To add salt to the wound, the sun is rarely out and everyone is sick with the cold or the flu. Honestly, what is a girl to do?

In times of great trial, it is necessary to resist spiralling into a great depression by being positive. In an effort to be optimistic, women should use Valentine’s Day as an act of solidarity! Whether it be hanging out with a few friends, or getting your grandmother, mother, and sister to all go out for dinner with you, celebrate the collective community of femininity.

This is not the year for Valentine’s Day to be a comparison between those who have a boyfriend and those who don’t. Doesn’t that seem like such a blasé past-tense way to celebrate a holiday created precisely to celebrate love? By separating women into those two camps, it limits our potential to collectively unite and feel empowered and loved with each other. Let’s continue the momentum from the Women’s Marches around the world and foster a true sense of community and love. There are simply too many women who are not finding valuable connections with other women and are instead desperately lonely and wanting of men on holidays such as Valentine’s Day, which traditionally focus on monogamy.  Instead, use Valentine’s Day as yet another reason to enjoy the beautiful women in your life. Our women communities matter too and deserve as much time and space when it comes to celebrating love.

I will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year by looking at my beautiful daughter and revering in her exquisite and effeminate existence. I will be celebrating my mother’s strength and sage wisdom, and thanking her for teaching me how a woman with integrity acts. I will be surrounded by various women influences who have stood by over years of tears and doubts, celebrations and all the mess in between.

Celebrate women on Valentine’s Day. I mean after all, who will be beside you laughing and reminiscing when you are old and bony in the nursing home?

How to survive planning a child’s birthday party

Planning a child’s birthday party should be fun and easy, right? It is, after all the, time to celebrate another year of a kid’s life with 10 to 20 screaming mini friends while trying to balance allergies and make sure your child’s dreams come true. Alright, perhaps not so easy, but with a plan in place, and with the help of this survival birthday how-to guide, children’s birthday party planning will be a breeze.

Though birthday planning can be overwhelming, it will become easier once you simplify it and start at step one: location, location, location. Where are you having your ultimate kid’s party? There are many options ranging from the movie theatre to a gymnastics centre or a more classic home party at your house. It can be more difficult to plan a winter party because the outdoors obviously won’t work, but here are a few indoor birthday party ideas for winter babies:

  • Indoor Trampoline party
  • Beading studio for jewelry party
  • Art studio for pottery making
  • Indoor playground
  • Gymnastics centre
  • Rock Climbing
  • Baking yummy treats party
  • Homemade Pizza Party
  • Craft and Arts party

If you are on a budget and can’t afford the $250 plus fees at these expensive venues, opt for a party at home or a room in the local community centre to save on costs. Through the City of Toronto for example, there is an option to rent a room for an arts or baking party, or to rent out the gym for a more sports-themed extravaganza.  For my daughter, we decided to do an arts-themed party at the community centre because we are short on space for a group of children at the house.

After the location and time are booked, it is time to decide how many kids to invite. This is a difficult decision because it is hard to think about disappointing kids that aren’t invited. On the other hand though, if too many kids are invited the costs will go through the roof and planning it will become very time-consuming. Most parties would include about 10-15 kids, because not all the invitees will be able to attend due to other weekend recreational activities. Make sure to include a note in the invitations about letting the host parents know about allergies when people RSVP.

Budgeting for various party expenses is imperative to ensure that overspending doesn’t occur. Use an excel sheet or google doc to keep track of expenses and to organize what is left to be done prior to the party. Try to get friends and family to help out instead of paying venue staff. People love kids’ birthday parties because, frankly, children are hilarious and cute when they are excited. By getting family and friends to help on the big day, it will make things go smoothly and then the parents have some adult companions to enjoy the festivities with.

Last but not least, have fun! There will be points of stress and it is nerve-racking thinking about how your child’s birthday party adds up compared to their classmates’ parties, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that your child is smiling and happy.

What are your survival tips for planning a child’s birthday party? Let Women’s Post know in the comments below.

It’s 2017! God, it’s gotta be better than last year, right?!

Thank goodness 2016 is over! Am I right?!

It’s been a rough year. A lot of crazy stuff happened around the world and, personally, I’m feeling the weight of it all. But, the best part about a new year is that that last one is over. There is no need to think about it or wonder what could have happened to change things. Instead of dwelling on the past, it’s time to look to the future. And that is a refreshing thought.

The only problem with a shit show year is that people may feel pressured to overreach, maybe even try to make up for 2016 all at once. Trust me, there is no need to change your entire life in the month of January. You have an entire year, let’s not rush things.

You aren’t going to listen to me, are you? That’s okay! Starting anew can be a wonderful feeling. What I worry about is the February crush, when everyone realizes the goals they’ve set are unattainable, and all of the bad things that happened the previous year have consequences that could last until 2020. What happens then?

First thing first. Let’s tackle THIS year before we worry about the next one. Here are some tips for setting those New Year’s resolutions and planning for that high-expectation 2017:

Take time to reflect: I know you would rather not think about the past year, but it’s important to do so. Reflection offers insight into who you are and who you want to be. Think about the decisions that led to happiness and the decisions that led to that depression. Use this time to find out what works for you and what doesn’t. Also find out what is within your control. The results of certain elections and the needless deaths around the world may influence your unhappiness, but there may not be much you can do about it. Maybe you need to get involved in a charity or nonprofit? Make some donations to the causes you are passionate about? These decisions can only happen if you reflect.

Forget physical health: You will always want to change something about your appearance. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get rid of that muffin top, or simply put more effort into your wardrobe — this type of New Year’s resolution never lasts and always leads to disappointment. Instead, why not focus on mental health and feeling happy. This will still include going to the gym, but you will be going for YOU and not for those few pounds you still have to lose. Spend more time outdoors, meditate, think about your own happiness for once. Be selfish this year. I promise it’s okay to do so!

Start small: Pick one thing per month to do or change. That way, your body and mind are able to adjust. For example, say you will go to the gym two days a week in the month of January. In February, you can start eating less sugar. In March, maybe start a weekly dinner with friends and family. Start meditating for 10 minutes a night in April. If you keep this up, by the end of 2017, all of these habits and new traditions will come naturally to you.

Spend more time with friends and family: Nothing incites depression more than loneliness. Everyone is always “too busy” with work, kids, and commitments. Make 2017 the year of re-connecting and/or making new friends.  Plan a monthly dinner with friends so you can catch up and break from the craziness of regular life. Use this opportunity to vent about work and ask for advice about personal problems. And laugh. I’m a firm believer that laughter is the natural cure to everything!

Be active: No, this doesn’t mean spend more time in the gym. This means do more outside of your home. Get rid of your daily work-home-television routine and put down your phone. Go for more walks, go skating, or visit a museum on their “free” days. Get to know the city you live in. Plan a trip somewhere. Travel or plan a staycation. Nothing lifts spirits as much as a new experience.

Ultimately, focus on yourself this year. I hope these tips help make your 2017 a hell of a lot better than 2016.

And remember to walk away from 2016 like this….it will not hold you back!

 

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Top 5 Pride events in the next two weeks

Pride has arrived and it is time to celebrate Toronto’s 1st annual pride month, beginning on June 1 and continuing until July 3. Events will be happening all across the city to celebrate the beginning of a amazing tradition! The problem? There are so many events it’s difficult to decide which ones to attend! Don’t worry though, Women’s Post has you covered.  Here are the best of the best for the first two weeks of Pride.

Pride Flag Raising Ceremony

The Pride Flag Raising Ceremony marks the official start of Pride Month. It will take place on Wednesday, June 1 from 9 to 11 a.m at Queen’s Park. Premier, Kathleen Wynne and Mayor John Tory will be present with other honourable guests to help hoist the pride flag. The event is free and not one to miss!

Pride Month Launch Party: At the AGO

The AGO is hosting a launch party for Pride on June 2 from 7 to 11:30 p.m to celebrate the beginning of Pride. Toronto artist Bruce LaBruce, known for his acting, and film-making of underground gay pornography, has invited four of his favourite queer performers that includes performance artist Ron Athey, artist Narcissister, musician No Bra and queer musician and artist Gio Black Peter. The party also includes art-making activities, pop-up exhibitions, and thematic food from Night Market. Advance tickets are $13 and jump to $16 at the door. Get your tickets quickly, they are set to sell out before the event.

1st Annual Family Pride Day at Centreville

Centreville Theme Park is hosting its 1st annual Family Pride Day at Toronto’s Centre Island on June 5 from 10:30 a.m to 8 p.m. The venue is a popular destination for families and is set to be a fun-filled day for families looking to celebrate Pride. The amusement park and farm admission will be free, but ride tickets are an extra cost. Buy ahead of time using the promo code “Pride2016” and receive a discount on ride tickets as well.  This all ages event is a way to celebrate pride in a family friendly way and teaches kids how fun Pride month is.

Human Rights Panel: Bathhouse Raids

Join Margaret Atwood and other panelists on June 7 at 519 (519 Church St. ) from 7 to 9 p.m to discuss the Bathhouse Raids that occurred on Feb. 5 1981 in Toronto. Atwood was very vocal against the raids at the time and will speak about the community impact surrounding the event. Other panelists include Metropolitan Community Church Pastor, Brent Hawkes who went on a hunger strike in order to obtain an official enquiry into the raids and Susan Cole, a journalist and member of BroadsideFeminist Collective.  

Second City Show Tunes Karaoke

Second City has paired up with Acting Up Stage Company and Theatre 20 to provide Show Tunes Karaoke for Pride Month in Toronto on June 15 from 10:30 p.m until midnight at The Second City Mainstage (51 Mercer Street). The event includes drinks, singing your favourite show tunes ranging from broadway tunes to classical songs.

Party your heart out and learn about the history and triumphs of the LGTBQ at the same time at these events in the city. Stay tuned for part two in Pride Month, there is more spectacular celebrations to attend in the second half of June too!

 Which pride event are you looking forward to? Share in the comments below!

How to be the best maid of honour you can be

Most women dream about being a bride and getting married, but I’ve always hoped to be asked to be a maid of honour. It is flattering to know that one of your girlfriends adores you so much they would be willing to have you stand by their side during one of the most memorable moments of their lives.

My dream came true when a long-time friend asked me through a hilarious Ryan Gosling meme:

ryan gosling

I responded by calling her on the phone, crying tears of happiness.  Now that the initial buzz has worn off, I’m ready to do the best job possible for my bride.

Being a great maid of honour takes work. You have to be attentive and available for a variety of tasks and traditions that are important and memorable. The first and foremost job of a maid of honour is to be there for moral support. Frankly, many men are not interested in planning their weddings and even though I am classified as a tomboy oftentimes, I love looking through beautiful dresses. When the day approaches, being available for those stressful moments and last minute cancellations is essential and can make all the difference between a great maid of honour and a flop.

Attending appointments with the bride is important. Between trying on gowns and helping pick out flowers, if your bride wants you there, it is essential to prioritize your schedule. Each bride will have her own idea of which appointments she needs you to attend. Because this is the bride’s choice, it is important to set out expectations. Asking and communicating will help avoid disappointments or overdoing it. Helping with do-it-yourself projects for the wedding is a fun way to spend time with her and help out at the same time for the big day.

Certain brides will pick the maid of honour dress and others will let you decide. I’ve been asked to choose my own and I find it vital to make sure it is within the colour scope my friend loves and reflects her style. Compromising between a dress that fits your body well but still coordinates with the colour of the wedding is important.  But never forget, what the bride wants, the bride gets. It isn’t your wedding.

The bachelorette party and bridal shower are the main responsibilities for a maid of honour. Some family members will want to plan the bridal shower, so it is important to decide with the bride what events you will be planning. The bachelorette party is definitely a tradition for the maid of honour to organize. Some brides want an exciting and loud party in another city and others prefer a quieter event at a low-key bar. Getting pointers from the bride to plan an event that suits her will ensure a good time. Also, avoid the cheesy games. They are irritating and no one wants to hear the forced laughter these games incite.

On the big day, make sure to be fully available to the bride for any last minute errands that need to be done. Being well prepared in advance will help. The maid of honour is the go-to person on the wedding day so the bride can enjoy her wedding without being bothered with the little things. Be an impromptu wedding planner if needed.

Everyone talks about the best man’s speech, but the maid of honour’s speech is just as important. It is a must-have at the wedding reception. Prepare in advance, because you don’t want to get tongue-tied in the moment. Speak from the heart and speak about the positives of both the bride and groom in a personalized manner. I would avoid making fun of the married pair unless it is very endearing- but you know the couple best.

Being a maid of honour is an unforgettable experience and the ultimate test of your friendship bond. Doing a good job will ensure your bride has a memorable wedding day and she will be so grateful if you can be supportive and helpful. This is an important milestone in a great friendship and will make memories for years to come. Also, don’t forget the most important part: have fun!

Have you been a maid of honour? Share your tips in the comments below.