Thursday, 31 May 2018

Puerto Rico Holidays and Festivals

Many of the popular festivals in Puerto Rico take place in the capital city of San Juan, but this does not make them any less exciting or diverse. Visitors to the region are in for a treat any time of the year with Puerto Rico holidays like Carnival in February taking over the streets or the Heineken JazzFest in March which brings together the biggest names in the jazz world.

Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian

Starting off the year in January is Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian. Held annually in San Juan, this festival offers residents one last holiday party. Lasting three nights, the event is a celebration of the saint Sebastian with a huge street party. Visitors will be treated to vibrant music, colorful dancing and, invariably, a great deal of drinking.

Carnival

One of the most anticipated festivals in Puerto Rico, Carniva, is a hallmark of February each year. Taking over the central plaza of all major cities, Carnival is a brilliant display of Puerto Rican culture at its finest. Visitors will see everything from street parades to masked dances. Although not as flamboyant as some other countries, this event is still highly enjoyable and worth engaging in.

Festival Casals

Also in February is Festival Casals which has been taking place in San Juan for over 50 years. This event is entirely dedicated to the life and work of Pablo Casals, the world-famous cellist and honorary Puerto Rican. Music spans almost an entire month and showcases some of the best classical and jazz performers from around the globe.

Puerto Rico Open

Golf lovers will be happy to know that March marks the start of the Puerto Rico Open in Rio Grande. Attracting top players from around the world, this annual event is no joke. With a prize purse of US $3.5 million, all golfers pull out their A-game to provide visitors an experience they won't forget.

Heineken JazzFest

Another beloved music festival, the Heineken JazzFest takes place in March every year in the trendy San Juan metropolitan area. JazzFest showcases both local and international talents and is an institution that has been happening for over 20 years. The main focus, unsurprisingly, is Latin Jazz, which provides a great deal of entertainment for everyone who chooses to go.

Saborea Culinary Festival

There are many food festivals in Puerto Rico throughout the year, but by far the most popular is the Saborea Culinary Festival in San Juan. Held annually in April the weekend is a feast of flavors, influences and styles. Top local and international chefs make appearances and there are a plethora of workshops to keep visitors entertained. Anyone planning on attending will definitely not leave hungry.

International Salsa Congress

An amazing display of one of the finest cultural activities in Puerto Rico, the International Salsa Congress takes place in July. Held annually in San Juan, the congress brings together dancers and salsa lovers from around the world to celebrate this vibrant and exciting form of dance. Lasting for two weeks, there are several live music shows and the main event – a piping hot dance competition.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Why Should You Get Married In Panama?

Panama is known as the perfect getaway for a short vacation and and is the perfect destination for nature lovers.
Its tropical climate and warm weather throughout the year, is a magical opportunity to visit Panama at any time.
December, January and February, the colder months in the North but still summer time in Panama. You will be able to wear your summer wedding dress you were dreaming about!
If you are dreaming about a summer wedding destination, Panama is the place for you! You will find any type of wedding you were looking for!
Panama is a melting pot and has plenty to offer. From a cosmopolitan City and a hub for an amazing gastronomy to beautiful beaches in the Caribbean and Pacific where the sunset is waiting for you.

With a great eco-diversity and untouched beaches, you would have the possibility to get married in heavenly and white-sand islands around the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. What better place to spend and enjoy a romantic and relaxed wedding than the Caribbean coast, where the turquoise sea, coral reefs, sun, turtles and exotic fishes will be present?!

You could also prefer a more adventurous wedding in the highlands of Chiriqui, immersed in the mountain fresh air, and hiking the highlands, testing local coffee and honey, learning about butterflies, zip lining and relaxing in other amazing islands in Pacific side like Islas Secas in the Gulf of Chiriqui where snorkeling and kayaking are great for those more adventurous.

Are you more looking for a totally private and shy wedding? Then, the archipelago of San Blas will be the perfect place you were searching for. But be aware that it is also going to be a real rustic wedding!

Enjoy the blue sea view for kilometers, watch at the playful dolphins leap alongside sailboats, the deserted island, palm and coconut trees, cabanas in bamboos, and be immersed in Kuna community's culture for your wedding.
*You could also decide to get married in a private sailboat, a real original experience not available everywhere…!
For the city lovers, you won't totally feel out of place! You could have the chance to get married in the charming historic Casco Viejo, enjoying romantic dinners in typical or modern restaurants, staying in a luxurious resort or smaller cozy hotels, tasting local chocolates, walking around the Cinta Costera and visiting the surroundings as the Canal, the tropical rainforest, boarding on the jungle boat or even hiking in the National Park.

You now probably got that Panama has all the options required for any types of weddings and could make your wedding a real customized, appropriate, unique and unforgettable day, whatever your cultural and religious requests are.

Most of all, as you probably know Panama is a wonderful place for sustainable and green travels, and become therefore the perfect place for the trendy and fancy "Green Wedding".
More than just getting married, take advantage of being in such a lush country for enjoying the honeymoon trip of your dreams.

By Juliette Darmon

Panama Holidays and Festivals

Panama holidays celebrate its rich cultural and geographic diversity. If you were to go to the Flower and Coffee festival in the Chiriqui Highlands, you will gain an insight into the wonderful landscapes that shape the country's interior. Head over to the Bocas del Toro Sea Fair and you will see why the oceans are so important to this nation's heritage. Spanish influence and Roman Catholicism they brought are an important part of Panamanian culture, yet certainly blended with Latin American flare, and the annual Carnaval is set to not disappoint party-goers.

Chiriqui Highlands Flower and Coffee Festival

After full bloom and a fresh harvest, you will be treated to glorious sights and smells at this ten day festival held every January. It is held in and around the town of Boquete.

Carnaval

This festival is held 40 days before Easter, the start of lent, and would coincide with other 'Mardi Gras' celebrations held around the world. The Panamanian carnival is special as every day has a theme: Friday is the grand opening, Saturday is international day, Sunday is 'Pollera' day, Monday is costume day, and Tuesday is the Queens day. Wednesday is the final day where the ceremonial act of entierro de la sardine (the sardine burial) takes place. The carnival is best enjoyed in Panama City or the town of Las Tablas.

Boquete Jazz and Blues festival

The mountainside town and coffee-growing region is home to this annual music festival held in March. It has grown in recent years, and is now on the map for international touring artists who play jazz and blues music. The town of Boquete provides an ambient feel.

Sobresaltos Dance Festival

Dance! It's the name of the game. This is a funky urban music festival held in Panama City, in the old district of the city called Casco Antiguo. It is an outdoor festival and features contemporary performances and art installations around the district. It is held in December every year.

Semana Santa

Held during Easter week, this festival is celebrated all over Panama. During this time you will see spectacular parades through the streets telling the biblical story. Depending on the town or city, the festival lasts up to five days, finishing on Good Friday.

Bocas Del Toro Sea Fair

Held for four days in September every year, the "Feria del Mar" (Sea Fair) in Bocas del Toro is a spectacular event that celebrates the archipelago's fishing traditions. There is plenty of music and dancing, and also a showcase for traditional handicraft products. The festival is held on Ismito beach near Bocas town.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Marriage In Nicaragua

If you are single, you will not have any problem meeting potential partners here. More so since there is very little age discrimination or any other type of discrimination. Also, the gay community is very much alive here as in many countries. Unfairly, the women of Central America are often portrayed as looking for sugar daddies but our experience has shown that marriages with Nicaraguan women are more likely to be successful than marriages in more developed countries. 

When there is a divorce it is usually the expatriate seeking it. If you are looking for love, you will find it here. In speaking with friends that have married here, the recurring trait they mentioned is the fierce loyalty of their spouses. Yes, a monthly social security check is a lot of money here but marriages are taken very seriously.

Who May Perform Marriages Abroad
In Nicaragua, legal marriages can be performed by either a Nicaraguan notary or judge. The US Embassy consular officer may authenticate foreign marriage documents but this is not required for the marriage to be considered valid outside of Nicaragua. 
The fee for the authentication of a document is $30.00. The civil marriage is considered the legal marriage though the family may also require the church wedding.

Documentation

To legally marry in Nicaragua, a foreigner must present a valid passport (or other acceptable identification document) and sometimes a birth certificate. In addition, persons previously married must present evidence of the dissolution of the previous marriage (e.g. a divorce decree or death certificate of the previous spouse) and/or proof that they are single. As the United States government does not produce "singleness" certificates, some U.S. citizens contract with Nicaraguan attorneys to draft a "singleness" document for their signature. With the documentation listed above and two witnesses with Nicaraguan cedulas, a Nicaraguan notary or judge can marry you.

Requirements

The groom has to be over the age of 21 or legally emancipated through court order. The bride must be over the age of 18 or legally emancipated through court order. If the bride and/or the groom are under the ages listed above and have not been emancipated, the parents and/or custodians of the underage partner must consent to the marriage.
Impediments to marriage are mental disability, pending dissolution of prior marriages, among others. It is illegal to marry your sibling in Nicaragua. For further information on marriage procedures and requirements, consult a Nicaraguan attorney or the Nicaraguan Civil Code.

Returning to Your Original Country
Just because you are now legally married does not mean the wife (or husband) or children are automatically citizens of your home country. Check with the laws of your country but for US citizens , marrying a Nicaraguan may not even guarantee a visa for your new spouse. Expect months of paperwork and background checks which may turn up interesting information.

Your New Family

Dating and courtship are much more formal here than in Europe or the states. If you get to the point of living together, you may not be married but the family of the woman will be watching and expect more of you. Marriage here almost always stipulates you will help support the spouse's immediate family and this may include uncles, aunts and cousins. It is not unusual for the Nicaraguan wife to want to remain close to her family and even if you are decades older than your new wife, she will probably want children.

MUSIC & FESTIVITIES IN NICARAGUA

Everything about Nicaragua is vibrant, colourful and dramatic; the landscapes, the wildlife, the people and, of course, the festivals and celebrations that occur throughout the year. From intense religious procession to the quiet beauty of poetic verse; Nicaragua’s events calendar is as diverse as the country itself.

SAN JERONIMO

The longest festival in Latin America’s festival calendar; San Jeronimo is celebrated for around 80 days in the town of Masaya – Nicaragua’s cradle of culture. Officially, the festivities are only meant to last eight days, but this is Nicaragua we’re talking about – it’s not the sort of country that does things by halves. The last day of September is when things kick off and the figure of Masaya’s patron saint, San Jeronimo, is removed from its place in the church and paraded through the town. As he is carried by triumphantly, the streets burst to life with music, dancing and general frivolity to create a party atmosphere that won’t calm down again until the end of November. That’s right, three whole months of fireworks and street parties; you might just need to extend your trip.

INTERNATIONAL POETRY FESTIVAL

Each year in February, revered poets from all over the world descend upon the city of Granada in celebration of the power of the written word. Granada, with its colonial architecture and fascinating history, is the perfect backdrop to this cultural festival. As you can imagine, hearing the words of such famed poets echoing along streets that have been plundered by pirates and ruled by colonialism is quite an inspiring experience. Whilst the main focus of the celebrations is, of course, poetry, other talents are also showcased and appreciated. Singers, dancers, musicians, artists and theatrical performers all get a chance to shine, making this festival a great all-rounder.

PALO DE MAYO

Often referred to as Nicaragua’s biggest and best street party, Palo de Mayo occurs throughout the month of May and is best observed in the small town of Bluefields on the country’s Caribbean coast. The celebrations get under way on the first of the month, when local communities host their own smaller festivities including foodie fairs, art exhibitions and a range of contests. Fast forward to the last Saturday in May, however, and Bluefields is transformed into one giant carnival. Live music, dancing, local cuisine; it’s all happening here. Then, on the last day of the month, locals say a special goodbye to the May celebrations by performing a traditional Tululu dance in different parts of the city. A fascinating insight into local culture and a great excuse to party.

CRAB SOUP FESTIVAL

The Crab Soup Festival takes place on the beautiful Corn Islands, so the promise of white sand beaches and azure waters should be enough to pique your interest in this vibrant affair that’s held in commemoration of slave emancipation. Big Corn and Little Corn Island host the celebrations on different days but it’s always at the end of August and both follow the same pattern of events. To begin with, the island is woken at sunrise by a live band playing in the back of a truck to ensure they’re up in time to watch the emancipation parade. Then, as lunch time comes round, everyone feasts on crab soup and enjoys dance performances, horse races on the beach and the election of the island’s beauty queen. It’s a wholly Caribbean affair that illuminates the diversity of Nicaragua’s cultures and traditions.

*culled from www.blacktomato.com

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Montserrat - Food and Restaurants

Montserrat’s national dish is goat water, a thick goat meat stew served with crusty bread rolls. However, diners can sample many more standard entrees at most local restaurants. Fish and chicken options far outnumber red meat on most menus and commonly served drinks include homemade ginger beer, sorrel and a variety of juices made from Montserrat’s exotic tropical fruits. Most restaurants are only open during the day and have a very casual dress code.

Bars and Pubbing in Montserrat

The best way to sample Montserrat’s bar and nightlife scene is to join one of the island’s lively rum shop tours. Comfortable vans travel around the island's many small snack bars, rum shops and other watering holes. Visitors can taste local food and play darts and dominoes alongside the regulars, many of whom extend the party outdoors on Friday nights. Montserrat bars have no official closing time.

The Bar of the Stars from Montserrat’s legendary Air Studios is now displayed at Soca Cabana (Little Bay, Montserrat), one of Little Bay’s hottest seaside nightspots. Live Caribbean bands perform regularly at the turquoise, mint and whitewashed beachfront bar, but the busiest times are karaoke Saturdays and party Sundays. Another popular Little Bay watering hole is the Good Life Restaurant and Nightclub , whose hillside setting hosts many special events throughout the year.

Montserrat’s favorite dance club is Club Paradise (Hilltop, Fogarty Hill), where DJs spin the latest techno and soca hits beneath a 1970s disco ball and fog machine. A mural of Montserrat landscapes encircles the bar, while the outdoor patio provides a welcome breeze. The Royal Palm Club (Woodlands, Montserrat) provides a more relaxing atmosphere in a plantation lounge filled with antiques and a wine bar.

Dining and Cuisine in Montserrat

The best place in Montserrat to satisfy Chinese food cravings is ANFA Restaurant and Bar (St John’s, Main Road). Although takeout orders are 80 percent of the food sold at this small restaurant, the interior boasts a bar and television. JJ’s Cuisine (St John’s Main Road), another popular St John’s restaurant, serves more conventional Caribbean fare such as seafood and an energy punch made from rum, grated sweet potato and Frangelica liqueur.

Tina’s Restaurant (Brades, Main Road) was established by a displaced southern Montserrat resident inside a picturesque green and white house five minutes from the ferry terminal. The menu includes lobster salads and the local catch of the day. Another popular Brades restaurant serving Caribbean fare, Oriole Café (Farara Plaza, Brades), is conveniently located next to Montserrat’s Tourist Board office and boasts an outdoor patio overlooking Little Bay.

Olveston offers more secluded dining experiences at Gourmet Gardens (Olveston, Montserrat), which belongs to the old Olveston Estate. Visitors can eat on the patio overlooking the garden and Montserrat’s first airport or inside the classic gingerbread house. Sunday brunches are especially scrumptious. The nearby Olveston House (Olveston, Montserrat) combines traditional Sunday British roasts and high tea with Caribbean barbecue.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Montserrat Mountain Wedding Shoot

Nothing can redefine a mountain wedding than this styled shoot at Montserrat in Spain. Nestled on the edge of Barcelona in Catalonia, this location features a monastery which offers impeccable views. Soft, simple décor and a charming couple bring this entire mountain experience full circle. The invitation suite features an exclusive design that perfectly captures the location in great detail.

There’s no denying the experience to be had with this picture-filled assortment.
The bride is a classic beauty in lace from head to toe. She wears a traditional lace veil in her gorgeous brunette updo and dons a lace V-neck gown to match.

Outside the stone walls of the monastery, the groom joins the bride under an archway. He wears a dark gray suit with a dark blue tie.
A reception table is decorated in pastoral fashion. White linen covers the table and small folding chairs await the guests.

A large centerpiece anchors the look with tall white tapers, white grapes, and small dishes of walnuts on each side.
Floral plates, gray napkins with personalized place cards, and traditional silver flatware complete the place settings.

There are a plethora of nooks and crannies from which to shoot. This small archway offers a moment of quiet pause for the bride.

She covers her hair in the lace veil. The length is utterly classic and adds gracefulness to her look. The groom joins her and they make their way to the ceremony space. They stop on a ledge that overlooks the awe-inspiring mountains in the distance.

They exchange vows, gold rings, and a kiss. The bouquet the bride carries is small and modest with white flowers and a generous inclusion of greenery.
The bride is captured overlooking the mountains with her veil draped down on her shoulders. The groom sits on a ledge in contemplative fashion.

And then they are photographed together, taking in the scenery and the moment. Naturalist John Muir once said "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." This statement is incredibly appropriate for planning a mountain-inspired wedding. Although you must climb, oh the experience at the top will be worth it!

*culled from www.trendybride.net

Montserrat Holidays and Festivals

Music plays an important part in most Montserrat holidays and festivals, from the island's Carnival which kicks off the New Year to the musical competitions hosted in Sturge Park each Boxing Day. Montserrat may be the only jurisdiction other than Ireland where St Patrick's Day is an official government holiday, but the people here extend the celebration to an entire week. The Montserrat International Fishing Tournament and Volcano Half Marathon are among the island's most exciting sporting events.

St Patrick's Festival

In Montserrat, the lively festivities marking Ireland's national holiday last an entire week. On the "other emerald isle," St Patrick's celebrates both Ireland and the anniversary of the Montserrat slave uprising on March 17, 1768. Like Ireland, the day is marked by plenty of drinking, partying and a lively parade. However, Montserrat's St Patrick's Day Festival also includes masked street dancers called Masqueraders, a recreated slave village complete with a slave feast of local food and a junior calypso competition. The Freedom Run between Cudjoe Head and Salem Park also takes place along with kite flying, top spinning and unique music combining African and Irish influences.

Calabash Festival

This mid-July festival is a celebration of Montserrat's most useful fruit, from which many of the island's traditional musical instruments, eating implements and other items are made. A cricket match, gospel concert, island boat tour, and Irish lecture series are all on the regular schedule of this seven-day event concluding with a nail and hair show followed by a jazz concert.

Cudjoe Head Celebrations

The Montserrat village of Cudjoe Head was named after a slave who fled from his master during the 18th century. Cudjoe was eventually caught, lynched, and beheaded. The slave's head was perched on a silk cotton tree as a terrifying reminder of the consequences of running away. Today, Cudjoe Head Eve kicks off the festival with a lively street party filled with vendors, music and fun. This two-day August event includes a string band and masquerades along with bikes and relay races.

Montserrat International Fishing Tournament

The Montserrat International Fishing Tournament usually takes place in October and attracts anglers from all over the world. Montserrat's tourist board and fisherman's cooperative are the co-organizers of the thrilling tournament.

Alliouagana Festival of the Word

Montserrat's biggest literary festival takes place for three days in mid-November. Authors and bibliophiles come for bird watching, hiking and Soufrière Hills Volcano viewing parties in addition to fascinating literary workshops, readings, lectures, and panel discussions.

Volcano Half Marathon

Although the 2012 marathon was recently cancelled, organizers are hopeful they can host this half marathon and fun run again in 2013 between late November and early December. Montserrat's biggest running event, the marathon takes participants past the former AIR Studios entrance, the Montserrat Cultural Centre and Soufrière Hills Volcano. More casual joggers and walkers can participate in the shorter five-mile track. All proceeds go towards Montserrat charities.

Montserrat Carnival

Montserrat's take on traditional Caribbean festivities runs from mid-December until the New Year. It's a homecoming for several former residents who fled the island after the Soufrière Hills Volcano to come back and enjoy Christmastime and celebrate Carnival, featuring beauty pageants, calypso competitions and lively street parties. Montserrat's famous Masqueraders are among the most unusual dancers during the final New Year's Day costume parade. The 50th anniversary is upcoming and expected to be the biggest and boldest celebration yet.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Monday, 28 May 2018

Mexican Wedding Traditions

Mexico was for many years an amazing destination for romance and honeymoons. With a certain number of Supreme places that make the perfect setting for the wedding , fascinating places of the country, openness, tender climate and agreeable atmosphere are just some of the causes why more couples find themselves wedded south of the frontier.

Possessing years of experience in the destination wedding business, the homeland grants wedding professionals informed, the creation of artistic performances and culinary offer out-of-this-world. With a number of cultural, adventure and social activities, a wedding in Mexico is still the excellent reason for a vacation! What really sets Mexico exclusively as a first wedding location is a great regard for weddings detail? This is essentially due to the significance of wedding in the Mexican society, which guarantees that all wedding in Mexico is just the distinguished quality.

With the people of Mexico for being such passionate and most of the traditional religious enthusiasm, the party such as weddings in Mexico can vary from weddings in other traditions, and we guess it would be joy to share some the at-dos "the most interesting that relate to a traditional Mexican wedding party and that traditionally and usually involves: close parents and friends say -No few but clusters-, kind of ethnic food, music, and religious practices, in a series of high typology celebrations. In Mexico, we glorify with honor when people commit to love.

Wedding Ceremony:

Mexican weddings are deep in customs and traditions that are infused with Mexican memoir and beliefs of the Roman Catholic Church. Many rituals still repeated in Mexican weddings as far back as seven centuries. Weddings are almost held in a Roman Catholic church, are very spiritual and involve a solid mass, where the married couple is considered for eternity. The "y el Novio Novia" (bride and groom) and accompanying standing or kneeling at the alter church.

Family, sponsors "Godparents" play a leading role in the ceremony. During the sponsors of the liturgy, can present them with gifts of a prayer book, rosary on his knees and pillow.

The "Lazo":

The "Lazo " is a kind of cord attached that can be made from something simple like a ribbon, adorned with something like a rosary – or pearls or precious stones, silver filigree, crystals, satin or crown orange flowers, fertility symbols- to symbolically join the bride and groom. It is placed around the neck of the couple – in number 8 after they exchanged vows to represent their future interconnected; the junction of two lives. It is also called "LACE UNITY." Usually, the family of the bride and groom, Padirnos or best friends of the couple is solely responsible for "lasso" honeymooners together. Tradition requires the couple to wear for the rest lasso service. the lasso is a traditional rope or beads or gems (or both in some cases) that is placed on the couple, as they say, their vows. the rope is intended to symbolize the union statement and solidarity that the couple did. the lasso tends to be limited to religious ceremonies.

Wedding "Laso" Tradition:

In some of the spiritual ceremonies of the majority that can be performed in Mexico, some of the more traditional Mayan rituals, even a lasso is also used, only it's made with natural elements like flowers or sisal, seating ritual varies from regions of Mexico and specific Aboriginal groups to run it.

An "offend" or the offer is usually made from the bride to the Virgin of Guadalupe in the church when in a Catholic ceremony, and so she kneels and prays with and leaves a bouquet of flowers to 'the altar icon of the Virgin at the end of the ceremony before the church procession.

At a certain Mayan ceremony shamans allow the bride and groom also make an offer of a flor de mayo bouquet (frangipani) in Ceiba tree, the sacred tree of the Maya, which brings together the heavens and the hell.

Padrinos:

In Mexico, the couple chooses those who would be "mentors" for the couple during the commitment and wedding. They are usually people who have represented a powerful role in the circumstances of the bride and groom or their parents, they habitually harmonize as witnesses both their civil union. Sometimes, in most popular houses or towns, the "Padrinos" support the spouse and groom and pay for parts of marriages, a sort of "sponsors" of one or other of the phases of marriage, they would also participate in church services as a guest of honor near the couple.

Those selected as "padrinos" or sponsors are given the nickname "cronies" and involves families or friends in the system close to "compadrazgo" and the exchange of gifts.

Wedding outfit:

Latina brides possess a diversity of choices for their wedding dress . While some brides chose a traditional wedding. As popular as Spanish culture is the mantilla style veil instead of regular sailing.

Created by Mexican designer Paco Mayorga is a one shoulder dress with the most dainty lace in the deeper part of the full-length dress.
The soft texture of the dress makes it very comfortable to wear and emphasizes female figure (All Photos and story: http://www.mexicanweddingtradition.com)

Depending on the region of Mexico you are and the type of education, customs for your wedding could differ greatly from each other … for wedding dresses can also vary from one place in a simple cotton silk elaborate or an embroidered velvet.

For example, there is a tradition where the bride sews three ribbons, yellow, blue, and red in his underwear for good luck. The ribbons are intended to ensure the availability of food, money, and passion in the coming years and yes, it is not visible, but it is a part of the traditions and preparations, in more modern families, it would only wear a blue garter color (as in something blue).

Las Arras:

In a tradition attending backward to antique Rome, it is habitual for the groom to give the bride with coins at the ceremony. The custom of the 13 gold coins from Spain, where the sign pictures Jesus and the twelve witnesses. The gift of the pieces included more than once in a gift box or tray decorated, and are blessed by the priest in Catholic ceremonies are supposed to represent the groom's commitment to support his wife throughout their life together and acceptance symbolizes his promise to take care of him. The groom would pay 13 coins blessed in the hand of his wife and gives her a box in which to place them in a safe place.

Food:

In most traditional cities, the wedding menu may incorporate chicken or pork, fresh dishes of rice, beans, and tortillas. In the most common marriage of a beef or chicken with a side menu or potatoes and salad, is more likely. But menus can get as fancy as the budget allows, with culinary creativity and wedding menus Mexican ingredients can become the center of many celebrations.

In weddings and social events in the Huasteca region, a large Tamale called Zacahuilis is cooked overnight in a hole in the ground and then distributed between 50 and 150 people. It is made of corn powder, butter, peppers and the ground pork.

Some traditional Mexican Wedding cakes are often cakes soaked fruits in rum filled with pineapple, pecans, and coconut. The "3 leches" cake is typical in all of Mexico, but in Oaxaca for example, they prefer a normal cake that is "dry" Whereas it is to be held for several hours before consumption, in some .when typical weddings, more than 500 people is considered "normal."
Also, another cake should be remembered, is the local favorite Pastel de Almendra (almond cake), the grandmother of all say it has the best recipe … There is also the traditional candy almonds are given as favors at weddings, they can be made in all shapes and colors, and are very good!

Beverages

Famous fresh waters of Mexico are a delicacy and a lot of time had refreshments on arrival at the reception hall: Horchata, Tamarindo, chilacayota, zapote negro, Jamaica, tuna, etc.
One thing that is curious customs of Oaxaca is that in villages, before you start with the banquet, you can receive a large bowl of hot chocolate with chocolate (always prepared with water never milk) and a large piece of bread called pan yolk.

Tequila, rum, whiskey, vodka, and beer are usually taken at weddings, in many cases most of the traditional parties in typical cities have beer and local spirits instead (Mezcal, Xcanbentun, Bacanora, Posh, etc).

Mexico Holidays and Festivals


Mexico is a country renowned for its colorful fiestas, deeply religious celebrations, and community-based events. Family tends to be at the center of Mexico holidays, such as Semana Santa, when locals head to relatives homes. Although Carnanval is celebrated throughout Spanish-speaking countries, Mexico is one of the most vibrant nations in which to enjoy this hedonistic celebration, with everyone out on the streets taking part in this lively event.

Three Kings' Day (Dia de los Reyes Magos)

While everybody else is recovering from Christmas and New Year's Eve, attempting to stick to their resolutions and hitting the gym, the Mexicans are preparing for the next festival in their calendar, Three Kings' Day. Dia de los Reyes Magos celebrates the Epiphany and is held on the eve of January 6. It is a big family event, with presents exchanged and large meals including a round cake known as rosca de los reyes (kings' loaf) served as the centerpiece.
Candlemas (Dia de la Candelaria)
40 days after the birth of Jesus, Candlemas is a religious holiday celebrating the presentation of Jesus to the temple. Held on February 2, the event sees many households throw parties, colorful processions, dancing, live music, and bullfighting.

Carnaval

Late February/early March sees the most vibrant and spectacular festival on Latin America's calendar, and this is one of the best times of the year to visit Mexico. No matter where you go, it is virtually impossible to escape the party in full-swing. The most elaborate celebrations occur in La Paz and Veracruz where everybody pulls out their fancy dress and puts away their inhibitions. The dancing, drink, and debauchery goes on for days with music, dancing, fireworks, and huge parades.

Guadalajara International Film Festival

Mexico's oldest and most significant film festival, Guadalajara International Film Festival was established in 1986. Since then, it has been a springboard for some of Mexico and Latin America's most successful flicks. It has also gained acclaim for its outstanding training programs that support emerging film and documentary makers. The event usually lasts for around nine days and takes place during the first week of March.

Saints' Week (Semana Santa)

Another big family event on the calendar starts on Easter weekend. Semana Santa is a time when most Mexicans head to their family homes or go on vacation. It is vivaciously celebrated in Mexico City where many parades are held, and is one of the capital's most significant events.

Guelaguetza Dance Festival

Celebrated in the southern Mexican city of Oaxaca, Guelaguetza, which is also known as Los Lunes del Cerro, is an indigenous cultural event and one of the largest festivals in the state. Based on a pre-Hispanic ritual, the event in mid-July celebrates indigenous tribes, traditional dancing, dress, native bands, and classic handicrafts. It draws crowds from all over Mexico and is now a major tourist attraction.

Independence Day (Dia de la Independencia)

Undoubtedly Mexico's most patriotic and revered holiday, the anniversary of Mexico's independence, achieved in 1810, falls on September 16. Festivities start the previous evening when the country's president bellows the cry, "Viva Mexico," from the National Palace. It is a proud, emotional atmosphere, especially in Mexico City's Zocalo, and a great spectacle to behold.

All Saints' Day/Day of the Dead (Dia de Todos los Santos/Dia de Muertos)

Bizarre to the rest of the world, Dia de Muertos is one of Mexico's biggest celebrations. Families visit graveyards and pay their respect to lost loved ones, and in typical Mexican fashion, the festival is vibrant and colorful with skeleton themed paraphernalia adorning the streets. All Saints' Day, which remembers the patron saints and dead infants, is celebrated on November 1, with Day of the Dead following the next day.

Day of our Lady of Guadalupe (Dia de Nuestro Senora de Guadalupe)

Although it is not a national holiday, Dia de Nuestro Senora de Guadalupe is probably Mexico's most significant religious date. Celebrated on December 12, festivities begin a week earlier and occur throughout the country. The festival commemorates the appearance of the Virgin in front indigenous Mexican Juan Diego, and to this day, children go to the church dressed as him during the event.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Traditional Jamaican Marriage Customs

A traditional wedding in Jamaica typically involved the whole village or community where the couple lived. Relatives of the couple and members of the community all had roles in preparing for the ceremony. Today, modern couples seek help from wedding consultants or planners, but in the past, planning responsibilities were taken on by those who lived near the couple and knew them well.

Traditional weddings required elaborate preparations, including the cooking of vast amounts of food and several cakes. Cakes were carried to the wedding location by a procession of married women clothed in white dresses and head-ties. This was a solemn and silent procession during which no one spoke. The cakes themselves were covered with white lace so that the bride did not see them until the day of her wedding.

Before the ceremony, ring games were played, and people dined on the wide array of foods available. The festivities lasted until daybreak, when those in attendance would then pray for the couple before they left to prepare themselves for the wedding ceremony. 
If the ceremony was held in a church, it usually followed the form of an English wedding . The groom wore a new suit, and the bride wore a white dress and veil.

The wedding reception was held at the groom's house in a special booth built specifically for the event and usually made of coconut boughs and decorated with flowers. At the reception, the wedding cake was cut, the couple was toasted, delicious foods were consumed, and everyone enjoyed a great deal of dancing. The reception typically lasted until the afternoon with everyone playing games and singing songs.

On the Sunday after the wedding, which is known as Tun T'anks Sunday, the wedding party went to church, and after services, visited the home of the bride's parents for a second reception. This second reception was even larger than the first one, with more food and more cakes beings served. The top layer of the wedding cake was given to the minister who performed the ceremony, and the second layer went to the newlyweds.

Throughout the evening, participants made bids on the newlyweds, collecting a sum of money then given to the bride. Highlighted at the end of the evening was a dance with music provided by a fife, banjo and guitar.

Quadrilles were usually danced, with one of the sets comprising the bide, groom, their parents, maid of honor and the best man. Gifts were given by everyone in attendance; in the past, these gifts were usually animals or other kinds of provisions. Following the last reception, the newly wedded couple went to their new home and usually remained there for a week. In olden times, the couple was excused from working in the fields during this time, and family members would bring them food and give them advice.

In modern times, many of these folk customs and traditions are no longer observed, and new practices have been introduced, but the old ways are still remembered fondly and respected.

By Stephaniek

*culled from www.jamaicans.com

Jamaica Holidays and Festivals

The Jamaicans jump at any excuse to celebrate and the calendar is loaded with parties and events embracing the Caribbean culture and its people. Bob Marley Week and the Jamaica Carnival are a must-see for visitors, which both take place in winter.

Bob Marley Week

The legendary Jamaican reggae singer is commemorated for a week in early February. The event spans his would-be birthday, February 6, and includes concerts and talks about the famous Rastafarian. All Bob Marley attractions liven up at this time, including the Bob Marley Museum, Kingston (his former home) and the Bob Marley Mausoleum in Ocho Rios, his birthplace.

Jamaica Carnival

The biggest event of the year shows off Jamaican culture in all its glory, with street parades, soca, calypso music and dancing. The multi-day festival in mid-February takes place all over, but with the main street parade is in Kingston. See ladies on the beach for the Beach Jouvert and the Road March for the finale.

Ocho Rios Jazz Festival

The biggest jazz event of the year takes place in Ocho Rios over eight days in mid-June. Venues all over the resort town come alive with the sounds of the Jimmy Smith Trio, and the streets are bathed with dancing, food and barbecues galore.
Emancipation Day
Emancipation Day on August 1 is a good time to see parties and locals enjoying themselves. It marks the day when Queen Victoria proclaimed British Empire slaves free in 1838. Expect lots of flag-waving, dressing up, and dancing throughout Jamaica.

Independence Day

Jamaica celebrates its independence from Britain, which came on August 6, 1962. The colors of the Jamaican flag—green, black, and gold—are always noticeable here, but none more so than on this day. To celebrate this Jamaica holiday all towns and resorts put on parties with lots of dancing and eating.

Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament

Jamaica is a major fishing destination and the Marlin Tournament in late September has been drawing anglers for decades. Guests can enter online and compete for the Trophy from the Jamaica Tourist Board. At the same time is the Port Antonio Local Canoe Tournament.

Africa Jamfest

Arty types will love the Africa Jamfest, which showcases art, music and fashion at Montego Bay, Kingston and other destinations in Jamaica in October.

Reggae Marathon

The sound of reggae accompany the Reggae Marathon in Negril in late November or early December. It's a fun event that includes a half marathon (13.1 miles) or 10 k (six-mile) run along the beautiful coast in the west. There's a party at the end with lots of opportunity to swill Red Stripe beer.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Friday, 25 May 2018

Happy Birthday Poem

Today is my birthday!
I will shine my light;
shining it so bright;
So bright like a star;

Spreading my light
wherever I am;
Am I a star?
Shining into the future;
Cause I shine, shine, shine!
Like a star that I am...

Happy birthday to me;
Another feather to my cap;
Another year to my years;
Many more of creative years;
Happy birthday to me!

Join me in the celebrations!
Celebration galore!!

A Traditional Honduran Wedding

It is always interesting to see how couples in other parts of the world begin their matrimonial bliss. Here in Honduras there are some unique customs. Typically the couple marries on a Tuesday, which is an ancient custom of unknown significance. 

The actual ceremony takes place in a stream near the village where the couple will live. They feel that the running water in the stream is symbolic of the eternal passage of time and the life and fertility that springs forth from the water. After the ceremony all who have come to share the day eat rice and beans, and dance traditional dances. 

Then before the evening ends two gecko's are placed on the head table. If they begin to mate it is believed that the couple with be blessed with many offspring. It looks like this couple will need a big house! They will love their life for sure. Well thats all the reports from Roatan today I'm sure its easy to see why i love my life here on this island!

By  Gina Kelly

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Honduras Holidays and Festivals

As a predominantly Roman Catholic country, most Honduran towns will have an annual celebration to honor their patron saints. These Honduras holidays are large and lively, and include street parades and performances. The biggest event in the country loved by all Hondurans is the annual carnival held in La Ceiba. San Pedro Sula also hosts a large traditional festival called the Feria Juniana with lots of live music.

Semana Santa

Literally translating to "Easter Week," this festival is a multi-day celebration in March or April every year depending on the Christian calendar. The best place to witness it is undoubtedly in the Honduran mountain town of Santa Rose de Copan, which is close to the Mayan Copan ruins. Here there are six separate parades reenacting biblical events from the Easter story, and the effort and detail is a true spectacle.

Punta Gorda Festival

A uniquely Honduran festival celebrating the Garifuna community, Punta Gorda takes place annually on April 12. It commemorates the day in which 4,000 Garifuna people were placed on the island of Roatan, thus commencing their settlement of the islands and Caribbean coast. Punta Gorda has the biggest celebration, with many gathering here to take part in the festivities.

Feria de San Isidro

Held annually in the town of La Ceiba the week preceding the third Saturday in May, this festival sees over a quarter million Hondurans flocking to the town to take part in the celebration. It is a lively fun-filled event full of street pageantry similar to Mardi-Gras in New Orleans.

Feria Juniana

Held the last week of June in San Pedro Sula, this festival has a host of live musical performances, eating and drinking. The climax is a parade down the thoroughfare of Avenida Circunvalacion on June 29.

National Garifuna Festival

Held on the third weekend of July, this festival celebrates Garifuna culture and draws in communities from Belize and Guatemala, as well as Caribbean Honduras. It is held in the town of Bajamar, near Puerto Cortes, and is a huge party of drinking and dancing.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Haitian Wedding Tradition


It's a wedding day in Haiti. Be it the Haiti on Hispaniola or the one in the hearts across the Diaspora, a Haitian wedding tradition permeates through geographical and economic boundaries. The customs set out to usher a new couple into their married life are simple, poignant traditions that are quickly being adopted by people outside the Haitian sphere, while being simultaneously forgotten by those within it.

No one is formally invited to a Haitian wedding. This is perhaps one of the first differences between other wedding traditions. It is also one of the reasons why the customs are currently mostly practiced within the rural areas, where word of mouth gives an individual access to a wedding celebration.

Wedding goers will sprinkle the streets along which a groom will lead his bride to the church. It is a journey she doesn't make alone, as her bridesmaids often accompany her for the walk. The church is often brightly decorated with colorful swaths of cloth, and the bride takes a seat facing her groom with their maid of honor and best man, respectively, seated beside them. Behind the groom sits the witnesses, and the entire bridal party signs the marriage certificate as a part of the official ceremony.


At the reception, the newly married couple, their witnesses, and less often, the bridesmaids, are seated at formal tables. However, food prepared by family members of the husband and wife is shared with all and gifts are given to the couple. A major difference is that the cake is never cut at the reception, but in the marriage home a few days later.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Haiti Holidays and Festivals

Haiti's culture encompasses aspects of the original indigenous inhabitants, the African freed slaves, French Roman Catholicism, and the folklore of voodoo. The most important Haiti holiday is Carnival, a flamboyant display of pageantry similar to the Mardi Gras of deep-south American cities like New Orleans.

New Year's Day and Independence Day

New Year's Day is a widely celebrated holiday across countries following the Christian calendar, but this day is also when Haiti commemorates the country's independence. Jean-Jacques Dessalines declared the nation free from the French colonizers in 1804, making it a joyous occasion.

Ancestry Day

The day after New Year's Day, January 2, Ancestry day commemorates the country's forefathers and other loved ones. Processions and family meals are customary.

Carnival

Called "Kanaval" in local Creole, this event takes place annually in January or February and traditionally coincides with the start of Lent. All of Haiti comes alive as the cities are filled with colorful parades and pageants, dancing and singing. The festivities turn into night-long parties where the locals come together in celebration. Lent varies according to the Christian calendar, while Carnival takes place in the preceding weeks, concluding on Shrove Tuesday ( "Fat Tuesday").

Rara

Rara is another festival that is linked to the Christian calendar, taking place on Easter week. There are many parades with traditional Haitian-style and Afro-Caribbean music being played. The lively atmosphere is boosted by the many percussive instruments ringing through the streets, with melodies from a bamboo trumpet-style instrument called a vaksen.

Krik? Krak! Festival

Usually held in May, this family-orientated festival is filled with traditional storytelling of Haitian folklore. There are many other Voodoo celebrations happening throughout the year in different locations.

Dessalines Day

Held on October 17, this holiday celebrates the death of the modern nation's founder, Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Haitians are proud that their country became one of the first independent nations in the Americas and was the first ever republic to be led by people of African descent.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Guatemalan Wedding Culture

Ceremony

Fifty percent of the Guatemalan culture is Catholic. Therefore, when a couple decided to get married, it is common for them to be wed in a Catholic church. The entire ceremony is also spoke in Spanish. It is very similar to a traditional Catholic wedding in the United States. In many services (at weddings, but also in a traditional Mass), it is common for people to share the peace. In the United States, people shake hands with acquaintances, hug those they are close with, or nod to others who are farther away. In the Guatemalan culture, you grab their left forearm with your right hand and try to shake hands using your left.

Dress

It is common for the bride to wear a long, white veil. The belief is the longer the veil, the happier the couple will be. She would also wear white shoes and a traditional blouse and skirt. The groom needs to wear a traditional suit.

Invitations

Invitations to the wedding are simple, but similar to American weddings. The invitations are usually sent out about a week prior to the wedding because they believe that there is no purpose for invitations to be sent out months in advance.

Reception

It is common for guests to skip the ceremony and attend only the reception. Many people assume that they are invited, even if they never received an invitation. There is also no alcohol served at weddings because most Guatemalans maintain a temperance. However, some party guests will bring their own alcohol if they are think it's appropriate. The reception usually last late into the night and most of the guests dance in a similar style as many Americans do: hand on the waist and hand-in-hand.

Other

-It is common for couples to have a significant age difference. Whether it is five years or ten, it is perfectly acceptable to marry someone who is not the same age.

-Family is also expected to attend the wedding. They gather around the bride and the groom and support the couple as a silver rope bounds them together to show their union.

-Depending on how traditional the wedding is, the bridal party may wear all white just like the bride.

*culled from www.sites.goggle.com

Monday, 21 May 2018

Guatemala Holidays and Festivals

Guatemala holidays have a long Mayan history and culture, but the Spanish influence means it remains a Roman Catholic country. For this reason, many of its annual festivals are linked to religion and in true Latin American spirit, they are a spectacle to behold, a favorite being Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). Often times events are merged with indigenous and uniquely Guatemalan culture, such as Semana Santa. Or for Mayan only festivals, there is the Coban Folklore Festival or Mayan New Year.

Coffee Harvest Celebration

Guatemala is a world-famed exporter of high quality coffee, and every February the town of Frajianes celebrates the arrival of the harvest. There are many great processions through the town with food and dancing on the 2nd and 4th.

Semana Santa

Easter holy week takes place in March or April depending on the Christian calendar, and celebrations take place all around Guatemala. During the events, you will see Mayan traditions mixed with Catholicism.

Coban Folklore Festival

This annual festival takes place every year in late July or early August, and is known locally as Rabin Ajau. The town is located in the highlands, surrounded by cloud forests and coffee plantations, and exports cardamom and other spices. It showcases the indigenous traditions through music and dance, and a Mayan beauty queen is selected from various hopefuls.

Dia de la Asuncion

This annual festival celebrates the day of assumption on August 15 in Joyabaj. You will see the palo volador which features men swinging upside down from poles.

Dia de los Muertos

Literally translating to "Day of the Dead," this popular Latin America festival is celebrated all over Guatemala on November 2 with the flying of kites in Santiago Sacatepéquez and wild horse racing in Todos Santos Cuchumatán. Be sure to sample fiambre, a local dish which is only served on this day.

Mayan New Year

The Mayan calendar only consisted of 260 days so the date of New Years varies. During the gathering, you will celebrate Mayan life and renewal at many of the sacred sites around Guatemala.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Grenada Holidays and Festivals

It’s no doubt that most visitors are drawn to Grenada because of its amazing nature, yet there are many cultural events that make it an intriguing and fun-filled destination any time of year. The islanders love the pulse and beat of soca and calypso, and in true Caribbean spirit, they love to dance, carnival style. The Grenada Carnival, also known as Spice Mas, runs annually every August and reflects the sheer energy of the Grenadians, whereas the world famous Sailing Festival reflects their prime position in the sea.

Port Louis Grenada Sailing Festival

Since its commencement in 1996, this annual sailing festival has grown to attract boat enthusiasts from all over the world. Taking place at the end of January, it features four days of yacht racing, regattas, and ends with a street festival.

Independence Day

This Grenada holiday held in February is celebrated all over the islands to mark Grenada’s independence from colonial rule. The official highlight is a military parade at Tanteen; however, the real fun starts as you dance into the night with the locals at one of the many beach parties.

Carriacou Carnival

A sister of the larger festival held on Grenada Island each year, this carnival held at the beginning of March is another excuse for the locals to get down and party. Unique to this event is the Shakespeare Mas, which is an intriguing contest of quotations.

Spice Mas (Grenada Carnival)

The main cultural event of Grenada, Spice Mas is held every year in August. A colorful and cheerful carnival, you will hear the tones of calypso played while you watch the pageants go by. Don’t be afraid to join in the fun - the locals wouldn’t have it any other way!

Carriacou Panrang Festival

Held every year on the weekend preceding December 25, this festival celebrates music, arts and culture on Grenada’s second largest island and attracts big crowds.

*culled from www.iexplore.com

Saturday, 19 May 2018

A Traditional Wedding : The Salvadoran Way

The Engagement

Traditionally, it was not considered proper for couples to be seen together in public unless they were engaged or married, but this has changed a lot in urban areas. One tradition is asking the girl's father for permission. One month before the wedding, the groom asks the girl's father for permission to take the girl out of her family house. He goes to her house early in the morning with a band, if he can afford the expense. All the neighbors come to see the new bride and to tell her something nice.

The religion

Many traditional Salvadoran weddings follow the Catholic tradition. The reception takes place in a Catholic church, or cathedral. The married couple with take communion at their wedding.

The Wedding Party – Who is Involved

Traditionally in El Salvador, the groom's father and the groom's family pays for the wedding, even the bride's wedding dress. Parents play an important role, they walk the bride through the street to the wedding place (church).
The wedding couple's godparents are very important during the wedding, too. The godparents are the people who are responsible for the spiritual growth of the kids. They have roles throughout the marriage ceremony.
Many wedding parties are very large as the kids in the family play a part in the wedding.

Traditional Wedding Food
"COMIDAS LATINAS" (LATIN FOOD)
Appetizers – "pasteles" are meat patties
- "empanades" are pastries with meet and vegetables
Main meal – some people set up stations where
you can make your own fajitas and tacos
- other must-have dishes include rice and beans
- paella, "arroz con pollo" (chicken with rice)
-"ropa vieja" (beef stew)
- fried plantains (bananas)
- tamales
- pupusas
Desserts - flan (custard made from milk, eggs, vanilla,
and caramelized sugar)
Wedding Cakes – Some traditional wedding cakes are
made with dried fruit and soaked in
rum.

"BEBIDAS" (DRINKS) Some of the popular drinks are:

Sangria - a punch that is made from wine, brandy, sugar, fruit, and soda water.
Wine - Chile, Argentina, and Spain all produce excellent white, red, and sparkling wines.
For non-alcoholic drinks, sodas come in many different kinds of tropical flavors, and "batidos" are fruit shakes made from fresh fruit, ice, and milk
"cafe con leche" is often served with the wedding cake.

The Reception and the Dance

Some of the popular kinds of music to play at a wedding are:
Salsa
Merengue
Mambo
Flamenco
Samba
Some people hire a mariachi band or a big band to get everyone dancing.

Customs and Traditions

As part of some wedding ceremonies, thirteen gold coins, which represent the groom's wealth (money) are blessed by the priest, then passed back and forth between the bride and the groom. Then they put the coins down on a Bible.
A large rope or rosary is wrapped around the shoulders of the couple in a figure 8 to show they will stay together.

The Wedding Dress: "vestido de bodas"
Some brides chose to wear a dramatic mantilla veil, or a slim dress with a bolero jacket.
Some pick a dress with Flamenco-style ruffles at the hem.
Brides in many Latin-American countries wear a light blue petticoat or slip beneath their dresses.
In Spain, brides wear black dresses to show their devotion until death. Touches of red and black, for both bride and groom, also add a Latin touch.

By Zachariah Patience

*culled from www.sideplayer.com
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