Valentine’s Day Traditions from Around the World

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and traditionally in the United States this means giving your significant other sweets, gifts, flowers, and/or cards. Just like with other customs, language, and geography, traditions surrounding this holiday differ the world round. Here is a look at some of the more interesting traditions from countries around the globe.

Information for this blog came from 18 Valentine’s Day Traditions Around The World In 2022 To Make The Day Of Love Special!, 14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Valentine’s Day Traditions Around The World, 9 unusual Valentine’s Day traditions around the world, and 10 Valentine’s Day Traditions All Around the World.

Argentina

Argentinians don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day in Feb, but “the week of sweetness” in July. It’s the day when lovers exchange kisses and receive chocolates and other sweets. In the country, the day actually started as a commercial invention but later became Valentine’s traditions.

China (Southwest)

In Miao, southwest China, the “Sisters’ Meal” festival is celebrated on 15th March. During the festival, women wear silver accessories and beautiful dresses, which are probably the most gorgeous Valentine’s Day customs around the world. They cook various dishes of colored rice that’s offered on silk fabric to young men walking on roads. The destiny of the lovelies inside the object found in the chosen rice. Two chopsticks mean love and a clove of garlic means the love is over before it has even begun.

Finland and Estonia

Finland and Estonia celebrate Friend’s Day on February 14, a day for honoring both friends and significant others. Cards and gifts are still given out and can be for anyone from a best friend to a neighbor. February 14 is also a popular day to get engaged in both countries. Additionally, Estonia has an interesting tradition for single people—they can take a ride on the Love Bus in hopes of meeting someone special.

France

In addition to being known as a destination for lovers, this country has a very rich history when it comes to Valentine’s Day including the more mundane origination of the first Valentine’s Day when Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife while imprisoned in the Tower of London in 1415.

Another traditional Valentine’s Day event in France was the loterie d’amour, or “drawing for love.” Men and women would fill houses that faced one another, and then take turns calling out to one another and pairing off. Men who weren’t satisfied with their match could simply leave a woman for another, and the women left unmatched gathered afterward for a bonfire.

During the bonfire, women burned pictures of the men who wronged them and hurled swears and insults at the opposite sex. The event became so uncontrollable that the French government eventually banned the tradition all together.

Germany

The Germans love their pigs and often give out related gifts on Valentine’s Day. Not real ones, maybe just little keepsakes and cartoons. Pigs are considered a symbol of luck in Germany, and they’re just as common in Valentine’s Day displays as cupids are in the States.

Ghana

In Ghana, Feb 14 is celebrated as the “National Chocolate Day.” It is a step that the Ghana government took in 2007 to increase tourism in the country. Ghana is among the largest cocoa-producing countries in the world. On Feb 14, one can attend performances, music events, and restaurants that have themed menus for the special day.

Japan

In Japan, it’s the gals who spoil the object of their affections with chocolates – but it’s the type of chocolate given that counts.

For husbands, boyfriends, or prospective partners, high quality/extremely delicious honmei-choco (‘true feeling’) chocolates are hand delivered, while colleagues or acquaintances receive giri-choco (the cheaper ‘obligation chocolate’). If you’re unlucky (or unlikeable?), you might even end up with a box of cho-giri choco: ultra-obligation chocolate reserved for the most unpopular of male colleagues. Ouch.

When White Day comes around on March 14, those who received honmei-choco are expected to return the sweet favor by giving their loved ones presents worth two to three times the chocolates they received, like jewelry or fancy underwear.

The romance, or lack of, doesn’t end there though, with romantic celebrations continuing on the 14th of the month throughout the year; May’s Rose Day, June’s Kiss Day, and December’s Hug Day to name a few.

Norway

Translated into English roughly as ‘joke letters’, Gaekkebrev – a Norwegian tradition originating in the 18th century – is more romantic than it sounds. Secret admirers pen poems to their beloved, before cutting intricate patterns into the paper and pressing a small white Snowdrop flower inside. The ‘joke’ comes from the letter’s signature – or rather, it’s absence. Instead, budding poets sign off with a dot for each letter of their name.

If the lady correctly guesses who her admirer is, she wins an Easter egg at Easter. If not, the yolk is on her, and she has to give him one instead.

Russia (Belgorod)

Belgorod, Russia banned the holiday because it is designed for commercial purposes and “does not help young people to develop spiritual and moral values.”

Slovenia

In Slovenia, St Valentine is one of the patron saints of spring and February 14 marks the first day of working in the fields for the New Year. It’s believed that this is the day that plants start to regenerate (there’s even a proverb that says “St Valentine brings the keys of roots”).

There’s also a belief that birds ‘propose’ to each other on this day, and to bear witness to the occasion, you must walk barefoot through fields that are often still frozen. It’s Saint Gregory’s Day on March 12 when people generally celebrate their love for each other (in a hopefully warmer, less frostbite-y way).

South Africa

Like many parts of the world, South Africa celebrates Valentine’s Day with festivals, flowers and other tokens of love. It’s also customary for women in South Africa to wear their hearts on their sleeves on February 14th; women pin the names of their love interest on their shirtsleeves, an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia. In some cases, this is how South African men learn of their secret admirers.

Wales

You won’t find the Welsh celebrating Saint Valentine — instead, people in Wales celebrate Saint Dwynwen, the Welsh patron saint of lovers, on January 25th.

One traditional romantic Welsh gift is a love spoon. As early as the 17th century, Welsh men carved intricate wooden spoons as a token of affection for the women they loved. Patterns and symbols were carved into these love spoons, each signifying a different meaning. A few examples include horseshoes, which stand for good luck; wheels, which symbolize support; and keys, which symbolize the keys to a man’s heart.

Today, love spoons are also exchanged for celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries and births.

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2022 ILA Catalog: Overview and New Product Highlights

The new 2022 ILA Catalog is now available for download. It is full of the products you’ve known and grown to love, along with many new products designed to help you live a more well-rounded independent life. This blog will look at the 5 sections in the catalog, highlighting several new products within each heading. To request a print copy of the catalog call 800.537.2118.

Vision

This section of the catalog includes products such as watches, magnifiers, lamps, braille and blindness aids, glasses, and educational games. When looking for this section in the catalog it covers pages 1 through 45 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

Vision Buddy Television Viewing System: The Vision Buddy television viewing system allows a low vision user to see television programs more clearly and easily, using a virtual reality headset.  This brings the television viewing directly in front of the user and may allow them to see the entire frame of their television program.  Using simple plug and play connectivity, Vision Buddy connects to nearly any television, satellite, or streaming player and then streams the HD quality video directly into the headset using real time image correction.  The video image can also be zoomed in or out for optimal viewing.  Sound from the TV can either be heard through speakers in the headset or via headphones which can plug into the headset. 

OrCam MyEye Pro with Smart Reading: The OrCam MyEye Pro is a revolutionary text to speech reader which mounts to a pair of eyeglasses and instantly allows a user to hear aloud any printed or digital text.  The lightweight and wireless MyEye attaches magnetically to a pair of eyeglasses and provides intuitive  reading of text on any surface, both close up and at distance.  Sound is transmitted through a tiny speaker on the device or through a connected Bluetooth device.

Household

This section of the catalog includes products such as kitchenware, daily living aids, telephones, and telephone accessories. When looking for this section in the catalog it covers pages 46 through 56 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

SMPL Motion Alert Kit: The SMPL sensors and pagers allow a caregiver to monitor the movements of a loved one in their home within a range of 100-200 feet from the caregiver.  A base combination must include at least one pager and one sensor.  The pager uses radio frequency technology and can receive an alert up to 250 feet away (outside) from the sensor.  Pager can be clipped to a belt and can alert the caregiver to a motion with a combination of sound, vibration, and flash.

3 Blade Slicer and Dicer: This slicer and dicer with 3 interchangeable blades is a great way to keep fingers and knives separated in the kitchen.  As such, it is a great tool for a visually impaired cook and helps keep them safe in the kitchen.  Keep chopping those onions!

EZ Outlet: This electrical outlet cover replaces your existing cover and provides a 3-dimensions guide to help you plug an electrical appliance into the wall. Its deep, contoured guide allows you to safely direct your plug into the electrical slots, without getting fingers near the actual socket. Great for people with limited vision or motor control. Requires simple installation with a screwdriver to replace your existing cover.

Healthcare

This section of the catalog includes products such as blood pressure monitors, scales, medication management, and personal protection equipment. When looking for this section of the catalog it covers pages 57 through 62 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

Nail Clippers with 4X Lighted Magnifier: This illuminated magnifier makes nail care and personal hygiene easier with its 1.5″, 4X illuminated magnifier attached to a large easy to use set of nail clippers. 

Professional Grade Face Shield with Replaceable Visor: Independent Living Aid’s full coverage, professional grade face shield comes with reusable visors and can be used in a variety of settings which require high standard, extended wear usage.  Manufactured according to Medical Device standards, this safety visor has an over the head elastic band and 6 points of cradle adjustment to provide a customized fit for long term wear and comfort.

Mobility

This section of the catalog includes products such as canes, walkers, transfer aids, and bathroom aids. When looking for this section of the catalog it covers pages 63 through 67 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

Walker Tray with Non-Slip Mat: This single piece tray slides over the handles of an existing walker to provide a carrying surface for meals, magazines or crafts.  It measures 20.75″ x 15.75″ and has a non-slip surface to prevent items from rolling off.  It also has 2 recessed cup holders for carrying a drink or a coffee. 

9 Section Telescoping Cane – 54″: Nine section Titanium telescoping cane automatically locks at each section for lightweight, durable usage.  Cane uses push button locking so it won’t inadvertently collapse when in use if pushed too hard.  Single push button action collapses the entire cane.   Shaft is metal colored; bottom of the cane is red.  Luminous graphene reflective material coats each joint and allows for better reflectiveness in the dark.  Lighter in weight than regular mobility canes. Collapsed cane measures 11.5″ long.  Fixed metal tip has a 0.8″ diameter. Includes an elastic wrist strap.

Hearing

This section of the catalog includes products such as amplifiers, alerting systems, smoke detectors, and hearing aid maintenance. When looking for this section of the catalog it covers pages 68 through 85 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

TimeShaker 6Q Clock and Bed Shaker: The TimeShaker 6Q is an electric LED alarm clock with FM radio which also includes a super strong wired bedshaker and a Qi induction wireless charging pad for any device enabled for Qi wireless charging.

SquareGlow Home Kit: Communicate through light with the SquareGlow alerting system.  The SquareGlow line of products is a wireless home or office alerting system which alerts the user to different activities in the home via a system of unique SquareGlow flashers.  Each flasher has 7 customizable colors and 52 ringtones with 4 sound levels ranging from 30-110dB.

Assistive Technology

This section of the catalog includes products such as computer accessories and software, cassette players, headphones, and screen readers. When looking for this section of the catalog it covers pages 86 through 92 (not counting the cover page or table of contents page).

AudClick 2 Alexa Enabled Speaker: Pair your own smartphone or tablet to this portable speaker and access Amazon’s Alexa Voice Control to let you stream music hands free from popular music services like Amazon Music, TUNEIN, iHeartRADIO, and more. To ask for music or to ask Alexa a question, click the top ring of the AudClick2 portable speaker and ask Alexa to play your favorite music.  Through the AudClick2, you can also control any Alexa compatible smart home devices in your home, including smart bulbs, smart TV’s and smart thermostats. 

OrCam Read: OrCam Read is a revolutionary handheld scanner and reader that instantly reads aloud text from any printed surface or digital screen. Point and click the marker-sized device and capture either full pages of text or targeted text sections. OrCam Read can even capture street and building signs in the distance.  OrCam Read is an excellent tool for anyone with any kind of reading challenge, including dyslexia, reading fatigue, visual impairment or those who read large amounts of text – empowering them with real-time access to print material.

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Calendars are an important part of keeping track of day-to-day activities and helping ensure things are not forgotten. There is actually a myriad of reasons that regularly maintaining a calendar is important not only to stay on track but also for your health. This blog will look at some of the many benefits that calendar keeping can bring. Information in this blog came from 5 Benefits of Using a Calendar Every Day, Five Reasons You Should Be Keeping A Calendar, and Why should you use a calendar?

Accountability

Just the act of making an appointment helps set a date and time aside for a specific activity. Not only is setting aside a specific date and time helpful for meetings and doctor appointments, but you can also use this strategy to carve out time to spend with friends or to complete specific tasks on your to-do list. Now you don’t have to leave it up to chance that you’ll finish that lingering task because you already assigned a date and time for it.

If you’re in school, or part of an office work environment, keeping an accurate and up-to-date calendar of due dates of important assignments, tests, projects, and discussions reminds you of what you need to complete and when. Rather than being overwhelmed at seeing assignments and obligations as a long checklist of things you need to do, a calendar provides the space to plan for each due date at the appropriate time.

Prevent Information Overload/Realistic Expectations

Your brain was not designed to keep track of all of your appointments, deadlines, and commitments. Productivity guru David Allen likens the brain to a computer and warns that we only have so much “Psychic Ram.” Our minds can only process so much information at once.

When planning out tasks and activities on the calendar, be realistic. Carve out enough time for each task and write down what time you’ll start and finish the task. If in doubt, slightly overestimate how long it’ll take. Overestimating is a great way to ensure we don’t feel rushed and allows us that extra time in case unexpected events come up. Using a calendar might make us realize that not all of the tasks we had in mind for today can be finished, but it shows us which activities can be.

Setting Priorities

Which tasks are important? Which tasks add value to our lives, and which ones don’t? Putting items on the calendar makes us choose what we want to spend our time on, and what we don’t. This allows us to make room for what’s important and filter out the rest.

It’s an unfortunate feeling when you receive and accept an invitation to a fun event, only to realize later that you already have a commitment during that time.

A calendar allows you to see quickly when you are free and when you have prior commitments. Planning events or other special occasions also becomes easier when you know your availability.

Procrastination/Staying on Track

Struggling with procrastination? Having a specific date and time set aside for a task tells us when we have to do it. It helps us eliminate the excuses and makes us get to work. No longer will we let tasks roll down our to-do list. Now we can catch them before they start to get postponed.

For families keeping a family calendar helps keep the entire family on track. If you’re a parent and are returning to school, or chauffeuring children from event to event, your family may want to stay in the loop of what’s going on in your life. With a calendar, your family can know what night you have class and when important events are. Maintaining open communication, through the use of a calendar, can help your family stay on the same page—literally.

Boundaries

When we see the calendar, we see how our day is structured. It stops us from spending too much time on one activity, and not enough time on another. We can even schedule fun activities and breaks in our calendar to help make sure they don’t drag out and make sure we don’t forget to have fun too. If it helps, use a timer. Once the timer goes off, it’s a reminder to move onto the next task. If the task isn’t complete, schedule another block of time for the task the following day.

Boundary setting can help ease anxiety. Class nights. Assignments. Family events. Athletic games. Work functions. Volunteer sessions. Special occasions. Home improvement lists. Second jobs. There may be a variety of things going on in your life. Having to remember every detail in your head, without writing them down, can elevate your stress in balancing each area of your life.

Calendar Tips

Maintaining an up-to-date calendar can help with day-to-day anxiety, keep you on track, and help you stay accountable. But what are some ways to help ensure that this is being done?

  • Set aside a time every day to go through what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. From this to do list add events to your calendar to ensure you remember to get to them in a timely fashion.
  • Conversely, you should also set aside a time each day to ensure that you are checking off items after you have completed them if you are not checking them off as you go.
  • Color code your various schedules—work, home, school, etc.—to easily distinguish where you spend your time.
  • Keep your calendar in a location that’s easily accessible and visible.
  • Want to use electronic and paper calendars? Keep both for different uses or in separate locations. For example, use a paper month-view calendar for special events and an electronic week or day-view calendar for more detailed assignments, meetings, etc.

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The Art of Resolutions: Things to Avoid, Things to Strive for, and Things to Do as a Family

Every year millions of people from across the world make resolutions for the new year. Statistically a great many fail but others succeed. What separates those who give up from those that persevere? Sometimes it can be really small seemingly inconsequential things and other times it is just knowing the dos and don’ts in planning them out from start to finish. This blog will look at pitfalls to avoid, advice for success, and why tackling them as a family versus individually could be the best plan of action. Information in this blog comes from Avoid These Common New Year’s Resolution Pitfalls, Don’t Make These Doomed ‘Health’ Resolutions (and What to Strive for Instead), and Family Health: Resolutions and practices that can benefit everyone from children to grandparents.

Things to Avoid

Many people have an all or nothing mentality which could make even the best of resolutions fail. Learning how to properly make achievable goals is the key to success. The following four examples are things to avoid when making any sort of plans for a better tomorrow. (From the article entitled, Avoid These Common New Year’s Resolution Pitfalls)

Don’t expect miracles

There’s nothing magical about Jan. 1. Sure, the end of the year is the perfect time to reflect on your personal situation and how you might improve it, but that doesn’t mean you can (or should) expect New Year’s resolutions to overhaul your life.

Extreme goals—rapid, unsustainable weight loss; starting a million-dollar company; doing a DIY gut renovation on your entire house when you’ve never held a hammer—aren’t just wishful thinking, they’re also potentially dangerous. Because they’re such tall orders, you’re unlikely to make much, if any, progress, which only fuels feelings of shame and guilt. What’s worse: Any progress you do make will come at the cost of your physical, emotional, and/or financial well-being.

Don’t overcommit

Another great way to fail at New Year’s resolutions is to set way too many of them. A long list of goals can be totally overwhelming, which pulls your focus and makes it harder to actually achieve what you set out to do. If you truly want to make some life changes, keep the scope manageable. For most people, that means sticking to two or three resolutions at the absolute most.

Don’t set up future conflicts

Resolution overload isn’t just a matter of taking on more than you can reasonably handle. It can also look like setting an appropriate number of goals that directly conflict with each other. For example, making 2022 the year you finally build a home gym is a great goal—as long as you don’t also make it the year you cut down on hobby spending. Before deciding on a resolution action plan, do a quick sanity check to make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the foot.

Do keep it simple and specific

The best way to keep your resolutions realistic and plausible is to be as specific as possible. Rather than simply saying you want to “get healthy” or “go green” or “focus on your relationships,” define what those goals actually mean to you.

In practice, this means asking yourself pointed questions: Is “getting healthy” code for “changing your diet?” If so, what kind of changes do you want to make, and why? What does “going green” look like in terms of daily behaviors? What relationships do you want to “focus on,” and how? Whatever your answers may be, use them to lay out specific, concrete criteria for meeting your goals. This way, you’ll know exactly what it takes to stay on track—and when all your hard work has finally paid off.

Things to Strive For

Now that we have looked at things to avoid let us take a look at some ways which can enable you to succeed instead.  Suggestions in this section come from the article entitled, Don’t Make These Doomed ‘Health’ Resolutions (and What to Strive for Instead).

Looking to lose weight? Consider what will make you healthier even if you don’t lose weight. Exercising 150 minutes per week? Eating more fiber, veggies, and protein? You can do those things alongside weight loss goals, or even instead of them. That way you’ll be supporting your health whether you end up losing your goal weight or not.

Want to incorporate more exercise into your life? Is there an exercise you have actually enjoyed in the past? Maybe you could find a way to do it, or to find something similar. Join a dance class, for example, or take up hiking. Or if you really don’t know what you want, try something different each month of the year and see what sticks.

Just rehashing the same old resolutions you yearn to accomplish year after year? What can you learn from your previous attempts? Maybe your resolution required perfection; this time, set some more realistic goals (like “meditate every week” instead of “meditate every day”). Or maybe your resolution was too vague. If so, take it piece-by-piece and make a plan, not a wish.

Things to Do as a Family

Doing things as a family helps everyone stay on the same page and offer encouragement along the way. What sorts of things work best when done as a group? The following are examples provided from the article entitled, Family health: Resolutions and practices that can benefit everyone from children to grandparents.

Exercise regularly

Government research shows that exercise benefits all people: young children to seniors, pregnant women or those in post-delivery, people with chronic conditions or a disability, and those trying to reduce the risk of chronic disease. Set a doable exercise goal and stick with it to gain the heart, muscle and mind benefits that it brings.

Eat healthfully

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that poor diet can contribute to obesity, heart disease and some cancers. To address this:

  • Limit added sugars, saturated fat, sodium, and alcoholic beverages.
  • Bake or broil, rather than fry.
  • Think variety. The 2020–2025 edition of Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourages a varied diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products and lean proteins. Oils can be from vegetables or other foods such as seafood and nuts.
  • Consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist.

Unplug

The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry states that too much screen time may lead to problems with sleep, weight, poor self-image and lower school grades, so spend quality time with your family—unplugged—and foster use of games and activities that encourage exercise, creativity and enrichment.

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