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Helping a loved one cope with a mental health diagnosis

It was seven years ago when the news of a loved one’s recent mental health diagnosis hit me with the shock of an ice-cold wave in winter. I was a recent Toronto transplant just acquainted with university life when one of my favourite people in the whole world called me to tell me the beast we knew of finally had a name and to pardon the silence, as a days-long hospital stay required a communication shutdown. I listened to the details and my heart sank to the curb as I watched the walk sign on Dundas street flash red to signal stop. Years later, this is what I’ve learned about helping a loved one cope with a serious mental health diagnosis.

Bottle your emotions

This is a rarely-prescribed piece of advice, but it is absolutely essential to keep personal emotions in check in order to make space for those of a loved one. When I found out everything this person who I adore had gone through, my heart broke in a way it never had before — and never has since. A family member or friend’s mental health diagnosis, however, is about them. Don’t cry or panic. Be the crutch they need. Express emotions to a third party later if need be.

Listen without judgement

Judging a person never paved the way for open discussion. Let this person lead the conversation. Don’t flinch at their reality. Do encourage them to share whatever they need to. Don’t suggest what they should have done or ask why they didn’t do things differently. Certainly don’t ask why you didn’t know. Many need to process by vocalizing. Be a responsible listener.

Follow up

Your friend will need you the moment someone gets a diagnosis, finishes a hospital stay, a rough week or a change in medication, but don’t just be available during those periods, but during all times – without being invasive or helicoptering, of course. If there’s a relevant book or article to pass on, do so. Asking someone how they’re doing never hurts. Find out first what kind of approach works for this person and show support within that scope so as not to drop the conversation.

Ask the important questions

There’s a sweet spot between prying and playing too polite by not asking enough. Find that zone. For example, asking someone how they’re adjusting to a new medication isn’t self-serving and it brings the conversation to a space where if they want to share more, they will.

Do what the medical professionals can’t

There are things that medical professionals with even the best bedside manner cannot do. Details of a mundane day at the office, for example, could be just the thing to make an otherwise chaotic or emotional day seem normal. During a turbulent time, penning a phone call time into the schedule to chat for even five minutes could be a big deal for someone grappling with a new mental health diagnosis. While doctors did their good work, my purpose was simply to dial the number and shoot the shit for a few minutes. That’s an important job too.

Learn what the disorder isn’t

My person’s mental health condition has a name and I know both what it is and also what it is not. It is not, for example, an eating disorder like one nurse ignorantly assumed. It is not temporary. It is also not a life sentence preventing this firecracker of a human being from being anything less than that. By knowing what a disorder is not, those who provide support reduce the likelihood of uninformed remarks causing harm.

‘It’s what ladies do’, New Zealand PM mic-drop

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern announced Friday she was pregnant!

She made the announcement on live television while being grilled by reporters about her intention to remain in her position. One reporter even asked how she managed to set up a government while experiencing morning sickness. Ardern’s response? “It’s what ladies do.”

Insert mic-drop here.

Ardern’s husband will be acting as a stay at home dad after the birth of her first child. She went on to tell the press that women get pregnant while they are working all the time, and this is no different. Her off-the-shoulder behaviour towards this news is refreshing. The questions from the reporters — not so much?

A woman’s capability to do her job has nothing to do with whether or not she is pregnant, or a mother.  To ask the question makes that correlation. In a Facebook post, Ardern makes it clear she knows more questions about her pregnancy will be coming.

Instead of asking how she is going to run a government or country, why not simply just offer your congratulations!

 

From Toronto, New Year’s traditions from around the world

As we approach 2018, it’s time to think about all the positive things we have managed to accomplish in 2017 and how our lives will be different in the new year. Luck and prosperity are just a few of the things many people from around the world hope for. In keeping with this, many people have a few customs and traditions to help make the transition easier, and hopefully bring luck along the way. Here are some New Years customs and traditions from some countries around the world.

Brazil: jump seven waves 

NYE in Brazil is well celebrated and can feature spectacular firework displays all along the famous beaches in Rio. Many people find themselves hanging out by the beach and not just to watch the fireworks. Wave jumping is another tradition. If you jump over each wave while making your wish, this will increase your luck and bring you joy for the new year. If you want to increase your chances in love, make sure the first person you greet in the new year is someone special.

Turkey: wear red underwear

Wearing red underwear is common in many countries on NYE, especially those in Latin America. Many people head to the malls to buy themselves some red undergarments for their NYE celebrations. Wearing red panties guarantee passion and love for the new year ahead for many women. It is also common to wear yellow underwear to bring happiness and money. Perhaps aim for a red panty with yellow polka dots?

Spain- lucky grapes

There is a tradition, as well as a superstition, in Spain where people eat 12 grapes at midnight. These grapes are known as the lucky grapes and can be traced back to a custom in 1895 by grape growers. If you eat 12 grapes at midnight, each grape will represent the 12 months of the new year and the 12 wishes you are permitted. These 12 grapes must be consumed in the first 12 minutes of the new year. If you get a sour grape amongst the bunch this could mean a sour month in the year ahead. It is also common to find this tradition in the Philippines and other Spanish countries and communities.

Denmark- break plates

If you live in Denmark and you have a broken dish, don’t throw it out. Instead, smash the remains on NYE. This tradition is odd, yet serves as a sign for friendship in that country. After midnight, it’s not uncommon to find a pile of broken dishes on your doorstep, as this is a sign that someone values your friendship. Smash plates and other wares against your friend’s door as a sign of lasting friendship and love — just make sure it’s not glass.

Jamaica- clean your house

Similar to many other Caribbean islands, Jamaicans have a tradition of cleaning out their homes for Christmas and for the New Year. You clean out all the negativity and leave room for positive space in your life. People find the time to buy new decorative items for their homes and even repaint their houses. Many people around the world also take a broom on NYE and (literally) sweep all the negativity held throughout the year.

Japan- ring 108 bells

This may not be a personal requirement for the New Year in Japan, but many temples ring the bell 108 times at the stroke of midnight. Ringing the bell 108 times represents 108 worldly temptations a person must overcome in the Buddhist belief.

Italy- Pucker up

particularly in Venice, there is a custom of mass kissing that takes place at the stoke of midnight. As fireworks  light up the sky over St Marks Square, couples are encouraged to start smooching!  Many couples make this a romantic event. It’s not odd to kiss at midnight, as this is common in many cultures around the world, including here in Canada and in the united States. kissing someone at the stroke of midnight is meant to set the tone you wish to establish for the future with that person. It is about maintaining the bond. If you’re single and don’t have anyone to kiss, I say to kiss all your problems from 2017 goodbye.

Happy 2018!

10 movies to put you into the Christmas spirit

By no means do you have to agree with me, but I feel like I’ve watched enough Hallmark/Lifetime Christmas movies to rank the best Christmas movies of all time. I have become an expert. There are the classics, the romantic comedies, and the plain silly ones, but some remain stuck in our hearts and minds and we end up watching them almost every time Christmas rolls around. Here are 10 Christmas movies that will make your holiday season. Grab your hot-chocolate and let’s go.

10. Love Actually

If Love Actually was not on this list, something would be severely wrong. This holiday favourite is a must watch on my list. Since it’s release in 2003, there is something about the unique story pattern of the several characters that remains to be sweet, honest, loving and romantic. The classic cue card scene is Love Actually will always give me goosebumps.

9.  The Holiday

The Holiday remains one of those feel-good romantic comedies, that will leave you inspired and hopeful, even if you are suffering from a breakup during the Christmas season. It will make you laugh and it will make you cry. Also – Jude Law, am I right ladies?

8.  The Santa Claus

I don’t recall how old I was when I first saw the Christmas movie. Released in 1994, this family comedy served up Tim Allen as an accidental replacement to Santa Claus. The Santa Claus is the first of a trilogy and gives a modern twist to a classic tale. It’s cute, cheesy, and just entertaining to watch. Apparently, our editor watched all three movies in one day!

 

7. Bad Santa

Bad Santa is definitely not your classic family-friendly film, but it will leave you laughing all the way through. Santa is unlike anything you expect and proves that the holiday season isn’t for everyone !

6. Elf

This 2003 light-hearted comedy tells the story of Buddy, played by Will Farrell, who as a human,grew up in the North Pole amongst Santa’s elves. However, he always feels like he doesn’t fit in, so he travels to New York in search of his real family. This movie provides lots of fantasy, laughs, fun, and a touch of romance.

5. Family Man

This is one that I always end up watching during the holidays. Released in 2000, this romantic comedy, explores thephrase, “be careful what you wish for”! It’s a reflection of the choices we make in life and how it impacts our future. It definitely causes you to reflect during this holiday season and be thankful for your family.

4. La La Land

While technically not a christmas movie, it was released during the holidays of 2016 and starts with an opening winter scene in balmy LA. This musical/romance flick starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone is whimsical, dramatic, and will leaving you dancing amongst the stars. Its a reflection of life, love and how our careers can inevitably take over our lives.

 

3. Serendipity

Serendipity is one of those moves that will always leave you hopeful and touched. This romantic comedy sticks true to its name. It revolves around events that happen by chance that result in a happy or magical situation. It taught me that what is meant to be will be. Love finds a way.

2.  Home Alone

Home Alone is without a doubt a holiday classic. Many people feel like it’s not Christmas time unless Home alone is on television.  Home Alone and the subsequent movies to follow in the franchise always provide fun entertainment for the family. The message is always the same: no matter how much you fight with your family and friends, nobody wants to be alone at Christmas.

The Polar Express

This 2004, 3D animated film transports us on a magical and inspiring adventure based on the children’s book by Chris Van Allsburg. Viewers are invited along for ann adventure on a magical train ride to the North Pole. This movie heightens the sense of imagination and self-discovery, especially for children.

Hope you enjoyed this list of Christmas movies? While many classics like Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmas, and A Christmas Story were omitted, that doesn’t mean you can’t fit them into your viewing schedule.

Happy Watching and Happy Holidays. Comment your favourite movie below!

5 last minute, impressive D-I-Y holiday gifts

I love gifts that have thought behind it, like personal touches, For instance, last Christmas my niece gifted me a homemade brown sugar and lemon hand scrub, which smelled just as delicious as it sounds. This holiday season, it’s all about that age old saying: ‘it’s the thought that counts’. With the right amount of ingredients, you can craft Christmas presents that will leave others impressed, without spending a ton of money. Here are five do-it-yourself holiday crafts you can git to your loved ones (or even to yourself)!

Hot Chocolate Mix

It’s rather fun to put together deconstructed kits. There is nothing better than some homemade hot-chocolate on a chilly winter night. All you would need is some mason jars, ribbon,  hot cocoa mix, mini marshmallows, crushed candy-cane for topping, and any additional ingredients you choose. There are so many variations: try creating melted snowman hot chocolate by using white chocolate and decorated marshmallows or add a small bottle of Baileys to your chocolate kit for an adult-friendly beverage option.

Sugar Scrub

The options are almost endless when it comes to choosing the ingredients for your sugar scrub. Sugar scrubs are easy to make and make easy and thoughtful gifts. For instance, if your sister loves lavender, consider adding lavender oil to the mix. With a base of brown sugar and coconut oil, adding additional ingredients will be easy.

 Hydrating Face Mists

There is nothing like a little burst of a facial mist to brighten your day. These face mists are easy and portable, and will keep you going on those long days. Depending on the skin type you want to target, you can try a green tea hydrating mist for dry or sensitive skin. Combine water with green tea bags and rosewater, and put it in a spray bottle. The best thing is that these mists can also double as natural toners.

Cookie Mix

Back to the idea of putting together deconstructed ingredients, why not put together your own little d-i-y baking kits for your loved ones or friends. Measure out the appropriate ingredients for your favourite cooke mix and layer in a mason jar or bundle a collection of tubes. Feel free to write out your own recipe card to include with the gifts for an even more personalized touch. The same can work for cakes and other pastries.

Bath Bombs

D-I-Y bath bombs are fun and easy to make. Using a base of baking soda, epsom salts, and citric acid, you can combine different essential body oils and essences to come up with the perfect scents. You can also add colour, glitter, and even petals to your homemade bath treats.

Are you putting together some DIY holiday gifts? Let us know what you made in the comments below!

Coco —the film you didn’t know you needed this holiday season

Disney’s latest movie, in collaboration with Pixar Animations, is called Coco. This is a movie every child, and even every adult, should see. When walking into the theatre, I did not know what to expect. I’m a long time Pixar and Disney lover and generally find that their movies are good. It’s home to classics like Toy Story and the last Pixar movie I saw, Finding Dory. Last summer, there was Moana and I left the theatre full of pure happiness knowing such family-friendly movies are still out there.

When I decided to see Coco, I didn’t gather much from the trailer. I knew it was a movie based on the Mexican celebration for Dia de Muertos or Day of the Dead. This historical holiday is based on Mexican heritage and can be traced back to Indigenous culture. It is a day where families gather and celebrate the memories of their loved ones who have passed away. Families visit graves and lay offerings and gifts to their ancestors. They also put up pictures of loved ones lost. This opportunity is to encourage the souls of their loved ones to visit.

Disney’s attempt to tackle such a historical topic in a manner that could be presented to children was bold and risky, but it paid off. The concept of death is not uncommon in Disney/ Pixar movies, but it has certainly never been highlighted in such a manner like the movie Coco.

This movie is about family traditions and values. Family dynamics in turn shape us more than we can imagine, even based on the practices of our ancestors. Without giving away too much, the story follows  a 12-year-old boy named Miguel Riviera, with his trusty side kick, a stray dog named Dante. They end up, through a series of mishaps, in the land of the dead where Miguel seeks the help of his great great grandfather. The land of the dead displayed in Coco is full of skeletons, bright lights, lots of music, lots of dancing, and lots of culture. Miguel has a love of music, but this is heavily frowned upon by his family based on the actions of his great great grandfather. Spanish music played a big part in the sounds of this movie, with original songs like Remember Me, performed by Benjamin Bratt, who played a famously ( dead) musical and film star, Ernesto de la Cruz, Miguel’s musical idol. Other songs included The World Es Mi Familia and Un Poco Loco.

The role of Miguel was voiced by 12-year-old newcomer, Anthony Gonzalez. who delivered an energetic and heartwarming performance. Nothing, however beats the actual star, Coco, who is Miguel’s great grandmother. She deals with memory loss due to her age, but dreams of one day being reunited with her ‘papa’ who is now in the land of the dead.

If you decide to watch this movie, it wont be odd to start thinking about your own family ancestry and remembering your loved ones lost. Coco captures the heart and actual soul of what it means to value and pay respect to your family as generations go by.

Coco was released on November 22 and can be found at your local movie theatre. Have you seen Coco? Comment below

Fun gift ideas for your kids this Christmas

I’m sure your holiday shopping list is already long enough, but have you started actually buying your holiday gifts yet? When it comes to the children in our lives, whether it’s your own kids, nephews, nieces or little cousins, the best gifts you can give them during the holidays is a sense of family and fun. But, they will still be looking out for gifts from Santa under that tree, so here are some toy ideas for the little ones in your life, or maybe for yourself because we are all kids at heart.

Colouring Books

So, colouring books have changed a lot since the 90s. Somehow, within the last year or so, colouring books became fun again, with many targeting adults as a stress reliever. With that being said, there are many options available for kids with beautiful illustrations. If your kids are into Harry Potter, consider getting them a Harry Potter Colouring book by Scholastic. This book also comes with many different options under the HP theme, including magical creatures and magical places. This book is recommended for ages 8-99 on the Scholastic website.

Personalized Bedtime Book

This one is definitely geared towards the younger kids. Give them the opportunity to get excited while seeing a character of themselves come to life in a version of their favourite bedtime story. Places like Me Bookz lets you choose your storyline, upload a picture of your child, add in details, and place your order for a hard copy version of your child’s story. You can also add an additional character to the story, just in case you want to add in your child’s favourite/ or annoying sibling. This gift is definitely something your child can hold onto and cherish even as they get older.

Chocolate Pen

If you have a little one that’s chocolate obsessed, why not give them the unique and yummy option of writing with a chocolate pen. This isn’t an actual pen made of chocolate, but a pen that dispenses liquid chocolate which hardens at room temperature. This opportunity allows your child to draw little 3-D versions of their treats before they eat them. This makes decorating cookies even easier and promotes creativity for your child. The Chocolate Pen also comes with different colours of chocolate, including white chocolate, pink and blue. The kit also comes with different candy moulds so your child can feel like a true master chocolatier.

PlayStation 4 Slim/ Nintendo Switch

If you have a child, or even a teenager that’s been after you to get the Playstation 4 , but you’re not willing to commit to the price, try going slimmer. The Playstation 4 Slim was released late last year and costs a fraction of the original Playstation 4. if you’re looking for the hottest option this year, price aside, the Nintendo Switch is generating a lot of positive buzz in the gaming world.

Hatchimals

This is an interesting one. I’ve seen it quite a lot of them while shopping around. The Hatchimals seems to be the latest craze for young kids, where children can watch and wait in anticipation as their new toy pet hatches out of an egg. This magical egg offers a thrilling surprise as your children learn about nurturing and love. Hatchimals even comes with a surprise twin option or various different critters that your child can watch grow.

Popin Cookin Kits

Unusual, cute and unique, these Popin Cookin kits by Kracie are popular in placed like Japan, where users of all ages are invited to craft miniature versions of food. I will admit, I have watched many You Tube videos on this trend and it’s quite fascinating. Your kids can craft miniature donuts, hamburgers, complete with fries and a soda or even sushi, pizza and ramen. These kits can be ordered on Amazon or maybe you can find one in a random grocery store in Little Italy like I did.

An Experience Coupon

This may be the most creative gift you give your child or children in your life. Think about their interests and take them on a fun outing for the holidays. Maybe it’s a trip to the spa to pamper your princess with her first manicure or a trip to the aquarium to delight them with creatures of the sea. Any memories made are worth more than a dozen presents.

Merry Christmas Shopping and let us know in the comments below what you plan to buy for your kids.

5 holiday desserts from around the world

What’s the best part of travelling? For me, it’s about the local culture, including the unique foods. This holiday season, you don’t need a passport to experience any of these international cultural traditions. North American holidays are known for turkey, stuffing and an assortment of sweet and sticky pies, but what are some other holiday desserts you can find around the globe?

Women’s Post showcases five unique and decadent international desserts from different cultures that are bound to impress guests at your next holiday party:

Phillipines- Pinoy Fruit Salad

Filipino food is amazing! While known for their glazed Christmas ham or desserts like halo-halo, during the Christmas season one of the most popular sweet treats is fruit salad. Yep, fruit salad, but this isn’t any random fruit salad. Normally, Filipino fruit salad, sometimes called Pinoy fruit salad, takes one can of fruit cocktail mixed with heavy cream and sweetened condensed milk. You can also find versions with coconut meat, coconut milk, jello, tapioca pearls or added pineapple. Talk about easy, creamy and delicious.

France -Buche de Noel

This dessert might look familiar to some North American homes. Buche de Noel or Yule Log is a traditional sweet treat found in France and French-influenced countries during the Christmas holidays. It is made using a classic sponge cake coated in chocolate buttercream and rolled in chocolate shavings to resemble an actual log.

England- Christmas Pudding

Christmas pudding, Christmas pudding ! What’s Christmas without some traditional Christmas pudding, especially if you’re from the U.K. Also known as plum pudding, this dessert is usually served after Christmas dinner and is made using a mixture of dried fruit,spices, molasses. There are no plums in the actual pudding, but lots of raisins. The pudding is often steamed for approximately three hours. Many people often soak the fruits before hand in Brandy  and once the pudding is done it is splashed with more alcohol. This helps to preserve the pudding for almost up to one year,

Guyana- Black Cake

Similar in look to the christmas pudding, this cake is made using minced dried fruits that have been soaked in cherry brandy or rum The fruits are mixed with flour, eggs and sugar, spices and molasses or browning. Once baked, the cakes are generously soaked in rum. This Christmas treat can be found in many Caribbean islands including Jamaica and Trinidad. Black Cake or Caribbean fruit cake are also popular at weddings and is said to bring prosperity and luck.

Australia- Pavlova

Even though it’s technically summer in Australia during the Christmas holidays, this doesn’t mean that Australians can’t indulge in a refreshing Christmas- summer dessert treat. This popular meringue- like dessert is named after Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova after she toured New Zealand and Australia in the 1920’s. Pavlova is made using egg whites, sugar, and cream, but it has a firm and crunchy exterior and a delicate inside. This dessert is usually served on Christmas day.

What are your favourite global holiday desserts? Comment and indulge!

How to manage your child’s development in a digital world

How much TV is too much TV ? While this answer can vary for adults who indulge in binge-watching sessions of their favorite show, the same should never apply to children.  Many parents often seek the advice of pediatricians on how early to expose your children to the lights and sounds of the readily-available electronic babysitter.

There are television shows, You-Tube videos, and even apps on your phone that can be used to keep a toddler or infant at bay. However, children under two years old should not be exposed to screen-time, including “educational apps” or Face Time. This long standing recommendation comes from the Canadian Paediatric Society. In June of this year, the CPS released new guidelines on screen-time for young children after finding that too many children under the age of four are sedentary —something that is often caused by excessive screen time.

Children between two and five are should only be online less than one hour a day, and this is with the proper supervision of the parent or caretaker. This means parents shouldn’t simply hand the device over to their child and walk away. Many parents of young children choose not to expose their children to television or any of these digital devices over fears of what the child may absorb from the media.

Children’s minds need to be enriched, but this can be done through proper family time, meaning parents should put down  their own devices and focus their time on the child. Time spent reading and doing interactive physical activities, like building blocks and flash cards, will be more beneficial than an electronic device, which is more distracting.

Michelle Ponti, is a London, Ontario pediatrician who is a part of the team that wrote the new Canadian guidelines and concluded from the study that screen-time does nothing for infants and toddlers.

” The youngest children cannot learn from screens. They are not developmentally ready to transfer what they see on a screen to real life.” Ponti said.

While studies have shown that high quality educational shows, for instance Sesame Street, can be good for a pre- schooler’s educational learning ability, the concern comes from how much time is spent in front of the screen. These electronic platforms cause the loss of one-on-one contact with children, resulting in loss of proper eye contact, hyper activity, distracted tendencies and other learning issues. Most of the negative observations arose after children watched more than two hours of television.

These small changes can have an impact on future behaviour and development of your child. Indeed, some situations may seem overwhelming, but parents should keep in mind that handing off a screen to your child has no educational benefit.

The CPS guidelines are a bit different from those across the border in the US. The American Academy of Pediatrics made a special exception for cases including Skype or Face-Time, which doctors may not necessarily categorize as screen-time.

Nevertheless, both US and Canadian pediatricians agree that parents today need to consider more than 10 years ago, when screen-time from electronic devices were limited or almost non-existent. You should also consider how your own parents may have practiced learning activities with you. This often included learning blocks, books or bouncy chairs.

Remember to minimize screen-time and be a healthy model for your child as they develop in a digital world.

What are your thoughts ? Comment below

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