Turkey Day Traditions Around the World

cornucopiaSince the first Pilgrims at Plymouth joined the Wampanoag American Indians for Thanksgiving in 1621, food remains the centerpiece of this all-American holiday. Not only do we gather around the table to give thanks with our family and friends, but we feast on a cornucopia of home cooking. Traditional American Thanksgiving tables include over-stuffed turkeys, creamy gravy, buttery mashed potatoes and the often reviled cranberry sauce. Top all this off with a slice of pumpkin pie for desert and you have a room full of family and friends primed for a couple of hours indulging in America’s favorite pastime – football.

However, Americans aren’t the only ones using the fall harvest as an excuse to indulge in family feasting. A number of other cultures across the globe have festivals of thanks, leaving in the culinary gluttony while passing on the pig skin.

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Enjoy the Sandman for 5 More Minutes on the Festival of Sleep Day

Beep, beep, beep, bang! After a deep sleep, the last sound you want to hear is the alarm clock, and you might even take your frustration out on it by slamming the snooze button or pushing it off the nightstand. Sleep can be hard to come by due to stress, anxiety and noise pollution, and some people have a history of insomnia that they just can’t shake. Everyone knows that eight hours of sleep every night is important for overall health, but you can’t always guarantee a good night’s sleep, no matter how hard you might try.

On Monday, January 3, feel free to not set your alarm and relish in those peaceful dreams, because it will be the Festival of Sleep Day! This is the perfect time to dedicate to sleeping — it’s after the holidays, and it will give you a chance to catch up on your slumber so you can take on the New Year.

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The History of New Year’s Eve Resolutions

New Years Eve - Times SquareWhat are your top five resolutions for the New Year? Everyone has something that they can work on, and the new calendar year enables you to start over with a clean slate. Maybe you want to get fit, quit smoking, be more adventurous, eliminate your debt or enjoy life more.  Setting resolutions can be empowering, because this annual ritual gives you a chance to assess your life and make adjustments where you see fit.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a resolution, one that is perfect for everyone’s list is resolving to spend more time with friends and family. Between life and work — and sometimes lack of sleep — remembering to keep an open communication with loved ones can easily fall by the wayside. Fortunately, Baby New Year is giving you the gift of time to work on these things.

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Around the Globe: Celebrating Christmas and Ringing in the New Year

New Years Eve in Sydney, Australia
The stroke of midnight on New Years Eve in Sydney, Australia

Sharing time with family and friends is an important part of the equation for a joyful Christmas and elated New Year. However, the small details are probably what make these moments more rewarding and memorable. Roasting marshmallows by the fire, playing board games, enjoying wine and savory appetizers — these simple activities are what bring everyone together.

In your home, what is on the itinerary for Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Maybe you will share a family meal together on the day commemorating the birth of Jesus, but on New Year’s, you might plan on heading to a friend’s house for a party. Remember, if you bring a date to both events, you can kiss under the mistletoe and when the clock strikes midnight!

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Centuries of Bell Ringing Form an American Tradition

The World Peace Bell in Newport, KY

The clang of a bell certainly calls attention.  Whether it’s done to herald an announcement, celebrate a marriage or simply call the family in to dinner, bells have been ringing all around the world and throughout history.  Bells placed in particular locations had specific purposes and some of those have made their way into our culture as icons of the past.  Others are more practical and have played a big role in family life for centuries.

Country Dinner Bells

Picture a Western ranch or a sprawling Midwest farm.  With the family and farm staff hard at work and scattered across the property a dinner bell became an essential tool.  There were no loudspeakers to call in the crew and no microwaves to heat up the food if it got cold.  Everyone needed a signal that it was time to gather for a hot meal and the dinner bell was a perfect solution.

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Rejoice in Freedom: The History of Hanukkah

Tree of Life MenorahThe end-of-year holiday celebrations have a way of immersing you into different traditions and values. Between office parties and social gatherings with friends and family, you’re bound to meet people from various religious beliefs. Christmas is celebrated on Dec. 25 and Kwanzaa falls on Dec. 26, but the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah starts earlier on Dec. 1. Hanukkah has an intriguing history that begins in rebellion and ends in a revolution to freedom.

Hanukkah is an eight-day festival of lights that starts at sundown on Dec. 1 and continues until sunset on Dec. 9. The first candle on the menorah is lit on the first day’s evening and then the remaining candles are lit for each following day. The menorah represents a significant moment in history, and it symbolizes freedom and publicizes a legendary miracle.

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Have a Jolly Christmas Spirit: The History of Santa Claus

1930's Coca Cola Ad featuring Santa ClauseIn America today, children grow up knowing Santa as a jolly old man, and he is the one who delivers the presents every Christmas Eve to homes all over the world. In order to accomplish such a feat, he flies through the air on a sled led by magical reindeer and has help from elves to make the toys. Since Santa keeps a list of children who have been naughty and nice, this notion gives children a reason to behave all year round so they receive gifts instead of coal.

In an effort to keep the spirit of Christmas alive for boys and girls, parents often go above and beyond the call of duty. Some eat and drink the milk and cookies that are put out for Santa, while others wrap “Santa’s” gifts in different wrapping paper. How do you prove the existence of flying reindeer, you might wonder? Some dedicated mothers and fathers use the household pet to make tracks in the snow. When children are young, it’s amazing what parents will do to preserve the magic of Christmas.

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Meet the Outdora Staff!

Here at Outdora, we like to stop and smell the BBQ every once and a while. Join Barbecue Stu and the rest of the staff at Outdora for a fun-filled afternoon of burgers on a Lynx grill, salad, red bull, Sonoma sunshine and more!

A Surprising History of Teak and Its Uses

Largest living teak treeeTeak outdoor accessories have always enjoyed a distinct reputation.  Known for durability and a sleek, rich appearance, when you invest in outdoor items made from teak you are joining a long line of wise consumers that stretches back centuries.

Teak trees are native to South East Asia and are found across India, Myanmar and Thailand.  The heat and nearly tropical conditions in those areas are ideal for the tree’s growth.  One teak tree can reach heights of up to 200 feet, producing a massive amount of timber in one specimen.

Original Uses

Native tribes of southern Asia discovered the durability of this lumber and used it to build tribal homes, tools and quite possibly furniture.  They were a long way from the designs and quality found in today’s teak outdoor decor, but the appeal was obvious even then.

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Delving Into the Psychology and Power of Sound

Sound waveSound is all around us in some form or another.  Rarely do we ever experience complete quiet and even then the sound of our breathing and heartbeat are faintly heard.  But sound is so much more than just a background for life.  It can be used to balance a body, heal diseases, alter moods and communicate.

Music for Your Mood

Music and song are almost a surefire way to alter your mood.  Mostly that change is for the positive – an upbeat tune that cheers you, a soothing rhythm that relaxes you or an energetic song that gets you moving.  There are also times when music will make you sad, lonely or even angry.

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