Eniovden: Bulgarian Midsummer & St. John’s Eve

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Eniovden (sometimes called Enyovden or Saint John’s Eve) is a Bulgarian holiday that is celebrated annually on 24th June. This holiday has pagan roots and, as it used to be celebrated during the summer solstice (midsummer), it has a lot to do with the cult to the sun and its significance in people’s lives.

Name day celebrations

A lot of Bulgarians celebrate their name day on Eniovden. The most famous names whose bearers celebrate their name days on this holiday are Joan, Joanna, Diana, as well as all names that mean a type of herb or spice.

The power of the sun

summer midsummer
Taken by S. Zeller via unsplash.com. [Public Domain].
Bulgarians believe that Eniovden sets the beginning of winter. There is a famous Bulgarian saying, “Enyo put on his coat and went off to search for snow”. In the past, the day started very early as people used to get up at sunrise hoping to see the sun “dancing”- a phenomenon that, if seen, brings a lot of health and luck to the person who sees it. It is believed that if you see the sun rising on Eniovden, you should face it and then take a look at your shadow over your shoulder. If you see you whole shadow, you’ll be very healthy till the end of the year. If you see it partially, chances are you are going to be sicker till the end of the year.

The healing properties of water

A very famous Bulgarian belief is that on Eniovden, the sun bathes in the water (rivers, seas, etc), giving it some of its power. That is why, on Eniovden, there is a ritual that includes bathing in rivers and in the sea to take advantage of the healing properties of the water on this day. If you don’t feel like bathing (or there is no river or sea close to you), you can wash your face with dew drops or simply was it with running water.

Crop-related rituals

In the past, Bulgarians were afraid of any misfortune that could happen to their crops. A mainly agricultural people, they were also very superstitious, leading to a lot of rituals that have to do with rich crops. On Eniovden, for example, there was a ritual for “tempting” rich crops – it was usually performed on the night before Eniovden. Another superstition says that harvesting is strictly forbidden on Eniovden and Bulgarians believed that if you go to work on the field on this day, a lightning will strike you for not obeying the rule.

Herb gathering

Eniovden is known (even today) as the day on which herbs have the strongest healing powers. That’s why it is a tradition for herb gatherers to pick different herbs and healing weeds at sunrise on Eniovden every year. It is believed that the number of the herbs should be 77 and a half (the half meaning a herb for an illness that still doesn’t have a name). These herbs are then dried in the sun and used during the winter months. Almost every Bulgarian family has a drawer with herbs even today, in the 21st century – that’s because there are a lot of traditional medicine recipes that are passed on from one generation to the next one.

Enyo’s bride

On Eniovden, there was a ritual for all unmarried young women and girls to gather together and proclaim an Enyo’s bride – this was usually a very young girl (aged 5-6). They used to dress the girl as a bride with a white shirt, a special red coat and a red veil. Then the dressed “bride” would be lifted up to a grown woman’s shoulders and they would both make a round of the village, together with the rest of the unmarried girls. This ritual was performed in seek of health and rich crops.

Estonia Facts: 10+ Points About the Country, Culture, History & More

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Taken by Wikimedia Commons user V. Valdmann. [CC BY-SA 2.0].

1Estonia Facts: The Flag

The Estonian flag is a simple one, with three horizontal bands of equal lengths in blue, black, and white (from top to bottom). In the Estonian language, blue is sinine, black is must, and white is valge; colloquially, Estonians call their flag sinimustvalge, literally “blue-black-white.” There are numerous interpretations of what the colors might represent, but the most creative seems to be in this photo of a blue sky over a dark forest and snow.

Source: Flag of Estonia

2Estonia Facts: The People

Estonian inhabitants only number just over 1.3 million, making it one of the smaller countries in the world. It is also one of the least crowded countries, with a population density of around 28.5 people per square kilometer.

Source: Wikipedia

3Estonia Facts: Quality of Life

Estonians enjoy high standards of living across a variety of areas. For new mothers, maternity leave up to 3 years is allowed, with up to a year and a half of their full salary! Universal healthcare is another benefit for Estonians, and they don’t skimp – they spend over 5.5% of their GDP on it. Free education and public transportation in cities such as Tallinn are several more of the perks of living in Estonia.

Source 1: Economist
Source 2: Fraser Institute

4Estonia Facts: Male vs. Female

Like many of the former countries of the USSR, Estonia has much more women than men – 88 men for every 100 Estonian women. This means that Estonia comes in at #10 on this list. The same survey shows also a wide gender imbalance in terms of estimated lifespan – Estonian women live about 9.5 years more than their male counterparts.

Source: UN World Population Prospects, 2015 via Pew Research

5Estonia Facts: The Language

The Estonian language (eesti keel) is one of the few languages in Europe that is not within the Indo-European language family; rather, Estonian is part of the Finno-Ugric language family, related to Finnish and, more distantly, the Hungarian and Sami languages.

Source: Estonian Language

6Estonia Facts: Technology

Estonians are proud of their grasp of tech. Estonia became the first nation to hold legally binding general elections over the Internet in 2005, and claim another first in 2007 by holding their parliamentary election also online. The startup scene is also booming in Estonia, with some even dubbing Tallinn as the “Silicon Valley of the Baltic.” Skype and TransferWise are two of its greatest success stories.

Source: Wikipedia

7Estonia Facts: The Geography

It might be quite flat, with the Suur Munamägi in the southeast being Estonia’s highest point at only 318 m (1043 ft). However, it is also one of the greenest countries, with forests covering somewhere between 50% and 60% of the entire land (depending on the source). Estonia is also home to 3794 km (2357 mi) of coastline, more than 1400 lakes, and over 2200 islands.

Source: Wikipedia

8Estonia Facts: Chess

Like many former Soviet states, Estonians are proud of their skills at chess; Paul Keres was a grandmaster, considered by many to be one of the greatest of all time. At his funeral, 100,000 mourners attended – about 10% of Estonia’s population at the time.

Source: Paul Keres on Wikipedia

9Estonia Facts: Literacy

Estonians, according to a recent UNESCO survey, enjoy the honor of having the third highest literacy rate in the world – 99.8% literate for both men and women. The only countries which scored higher were Latvia, its southern neighbor, and North Korea, which reported a somewhat improbable 100%.

SourceUNESCO Institute for Statistics, 2015

10Estonia Facts: Interesting Sports & Hobbies

As with its Nordic neighbors, Estonians seem to be great at many physical activities. They are one of the most successful countries per capita in the Olympic Games – with 34 medals as of 2016, they rank at #10. Estonians also have some popular sports that have not yet made it into the Olympics: wife-carrying (a race where husbands carry their wives on their shoulders) and kiiking (a giant swing which goes the full 360 degrees) are some of them.

Source: Medals per Capita

11Estonia Facts: Religion

Europeans are less religious than the peoples of other areas, on average, and it has a strong correlation with a country’s standard of living and education levels. However, still somewhat surprising is the fact that Estonia tops the list as the least religious country in the world; only 14% of Estonians answered “yes” to the question “Is religion an important part of your daily life?”

Source: Gallup Poll from 2009

12Estonia Facts: Tourism

Estonia is one of the rare countries where tourists (per year) outnumber the residents. With almost 3 million visitors and only just over 1.3 million inhabitants, these tourists outnumber the Estonians at around 2.2:1. More than half a million of these visitors arrive by cruise ship.

Source: UN World Tourism Organization, 2015 statistics

What do you think of these facts? Got any more to add to this list? If you do, leave a comment below, and if it checks out, we’ll gladly add it to the list! If you’re interested in further learning about Estonia, check out its destination page on our site for stories, photos, information, and more facts.

Estonia Destination Guide | More Trivia & Lists Articles

Kielce, Poland: A Day Trip Guide

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Świętokrzyskie (“Holy Cross”) Voivodeship (province), in the midst of its namesake, Poland‘s Świętokrzyskie Mountains, is where you’ll find Kielce. The capital and largest city of this province, Kielce (KYELT-seh) is where over 200,000 Poles call home.

I usually get my first taste of European cities by way of the train station, and I often get a feel for the place through that first impression. The railway station in Kielce gave me a faithful representation, but unfortunately, it foretold a bleak trip. However, I just had to dig further to experience the Kielce which the locals love and know.


Top Attractions in Kielce, Poland


Palace of the Kraków Bishops

Pałac Biskupów Krakowskich KielceProbably the most popular of the attractions Kielce offers, and about the most impressive, the Palace of the Kraków Bishops (Pałac Biskupów Krakowskich) is a must-see. Completed in 1644, it was originally used as a summer residence for the bishops of the Diocese of Kraków. Today, it is home to the local branch of the National Museum of Poland.

Pałac Biskupów Krakowskich, plac Zamkowy 1, 25-001 Kielce [see in Google Maps]

Henryk Sienkiewicz Street

ul. Sienkiewicza KielceRunning straight through the heart of Kielce, from the main railway station in the west to the Kielce Cultural Center in the east, Sienkiewicz Street (ulica Henryka Sienkiewicza) is over a kilometer of cobblestones, cafes, and random shops. Stay alert – though it feels like a street where you can walk off the sidewalk, and people do, cars still cross it and drive through it.

Ul. Henryka Sienkiewicza [see in Google Maps]

Market Square & Museum of Intercultural Dialogue

The Market Square (Rynek) in Kielce is not as focal a plaza as its counterparts in other Polish cities; however, this is probably due to Kielce having plenty to offer in several parts of town. Dominating Rynek is the Kielce government building, with restaurants and shops surrounding an open area of trees, benches, fountains, and monuments.

Rynek Panorama Kielce

Check out the Dialogue of Cultures Museum (Muzeum Dialogu Kultur), also known as the Museum of Intercultural Dialogue, while you’re at Rynek.

Rynek, 25-001 Kielce [see in Google Maps]
Muzeum Dialogu Kultur, Rynek 3, 25-001 Kielce [see in Google Maps]

Next Page: Attractions Continued »

Sandwiches Around the World (Infographic)

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What do Sandwiches Look Like Around the World?

“It’s a very simple concept, taking some fillings and putting them between two pieces of bread, but the humble sandwich is a universal snack which is loved all around the world, no matter which country you’re from. With that in mind, we’re taking a quick look at twelve unique sandwiches from around the world.”

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This infographic was created for SousVideTools.com. It was edited down here into separate slides to reduce the page load time of the entire, large graphic, but you can find the full infographic here »

Iceland: the Country of Ice & Geysers

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Iceland is a beautiful faraway country that is very often hiding from our view. But why? This beautiful country is not so far away from us and not as cold as it initially seems.

But first things first. Let’s start with the fact that Iceland is an island in the North part part of the Atlantic Ocean that still pleases its inhabitants with its restless temper. The thing is, that the process of its development is happening now, that’s why it is rich with volcanoes and geysers.

The island is quite desolated since it is located far from all the other countries and continents, that’s why sometimes it is called the “Atlantic retreatant. Perhaps that is why Iceland slips away from the majority of people.

The country itself is quite unusual. On the one hand, it is washed by the warm Gulf Stream, and on the other hand, it is full of ice, which creates its unique and special character. The country of ice and geysers – this is all Iceland.

Its unique climate creates environmental conditions with very interesting and unusual places appeared, where you can rest, relax and enjoy the beauty of landscapes. And I will tell you about these landscapes.

Let’s start with the fact that in Iceland there is a lot of ice and snow that are transformed into the water by heat. And there is nothing unusual in it, but here, in this very country, special landscape is formed under the influence of ice and river steams and it attracts the attention. Here there is a lot of caves, hollows, and even glaciers themselves are full of crevices which tourists like to get into. Moreover, the country may boast with its waterfalls the number of which is much bigger than, for example, in European countries.

The most beautiful is the Golden waterfall (Gullfoss in Icelandic). It gained its name for a reason. Waters of this huge waterfall fall down from a precipice and under the sunlight it seems that golden and flaming river bursts out from the shores. Hundreds of tourists come here every year to enjoy the truly wonderful scenery of how golden sparks sparkle and flicker in water. Besides, Gullfoss is always included into any trip and country excursion.

The second place that is worth to be visited is the national park Vatnajökull. Of course, the name is quite difficult, but the beauty of this place will make you forget about any name, believe me. Besides, this is the hugest park not only in the whole Iceland but also in all Europe! The total area is over 12 thousand square kilometers. The park was created not so long ago – in 2008, and combines several elder parks.

So what beautiful is in here? Everything! Here you may find blue ice that gives you a thrill, deep dark lakes and wild nature not touched by human presence – everything your soul longs for if you like nature, forceful and really wild. And if you also like to swim and take photos, you’ll surely love it here. The most of photos of Iceland are done at Vatnajökull.

Here there are many excursions to the glacier, all conditions for rest, meals and even living. You will be able to try canoeing, climb up the Bergmann mountain, take a tour on a snowmobile, sailing-ship and then rest at a cozy and warm house or a hostel enjoying hot and flavoured tea and beauty around you.

I cannot help remembering one more beautiful place for a rest in nature. Thingvellir (Þingvellir) is a valley that is significant for all Icelanders. Here in 930 the first parliament named Althing (Alþingi) was established. Even today a lot of people visit what had left of this place because true Iceland appeared here, the country that exists till now.

And besides all of this, it is a wonderful green park that cannot be left unnoticed. If you have seen photos of beautiful small houses covered with greens up to the tops, be aware that this is Thingvellir.

Iceland geysers
Taken by Wikimedia Commons user M. Brenn. [CC BY-SA 2.0].
Geysers are the real face of this cold country. But is it so cold as it seems if really hot blood rages in it? Very hot blood.

The Geyser Valley, or Haukadalur, is a resort place for many tourists. Here you may find both small geysers and simple warm streams and really hot and huge geysers that burst out and throw the stream of boiling water full of sulphur into the air. Here is an advice: do not get very close to them, as such water may really hurt you.

The most popular geyser is the big Geysir or Stóri Geysir (this strange Icelandic language). The second in popularity is Strokkur that is a bit smaller than its big brother. Hot water and steam sometimes get up into the air up to 30 meters and in unique days even up to 60 meters – this is the power these “hot guys” use to burst out water.

Interesting fact: did you know that Icelanders use water from geysers not only for looking on it but also for the advantage for themselves? The most of Iceland houses are warmed by this water.

Unique event for Northern countries, Aurora Borealis, is the most beautiful here even though it may be seen in other places, for example, in Estonia or Finland. Yes, it is seen here and both locals, very friendly on their nature, and visitors from all over the world may enjoy its beauty very often.

In long, dark, northern nights, the sky is filled with the magnificent light with green, blue and golden colors that reflect on the white snow surface. You may see this event from any place on the island. The only thing you need is to find a hideaway, far away from street lights, and get soft blanket and warm tea.

So why Aurora Borealis is so special here? And where else will you be able to see the exciting Polar light in the dark sky and red streams of volcanic lava bursting out of the ground? I think, nowhere.

Yes, everything may happen, just do not be afraid.

And have you ever seen the desert? I think, yes. Even if not the real one, but on the photos surely: yellow and hot and resembling the illimitable ocean.

And can you imagine the limitless, long and wide black desert under the cold sky? What if I tell you, that you will be able to find crystal-clear rivers and deep lakes in this black desert?

This is true. Iceland, the land of glaciers and geysers, has many volcanoes; acting ones that sometimes like to scare everybody with loud noise and rumble. Their activity had led to the desolation of island’s center and because of them it is full of ashes that create this beauty. The huge black desert full of river veins with mountains on the background will not leave you indifferent.

And these are not all beauties of this country. Iceland is the real treasure for those who are able to love nature, cold air and beauty. Friendly and nice Icelanders are always glad to show this all, support and help you if necessary.

The country of contrasts – warm of geysers and cold of glaciers, green valleys and black desert, will stay in your memory forever.


This article was originally written by Polina Mironchuk in Russian for our Russian-language sister site Vezdebrod. It was translated into English by the indispensable Marina Simochkina. If you’re interested, check out the original (in Russian) here »

For more on Iceland, see the Iceland destination guide »

Jelenia Góra: Spending a Day at Poland’s “Deer Mountain”

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Located in the southwest corner of Poland, Jelenia Góra (yeh-LEH-nyah GOO-rah) is a glimpse into centuries-old history and timeless natural splendor. The small city, which in Polish translates to “Deer Mountain” (more on that later), stands in the middle of four mountain ranges: the Izera Mountains to the west, the Kaczawskie Mountains to the north, the Rudawy Janowickie Mountains to the east, and, most prominently, the Krkonoše (Karkonosze) Mountains to the south, along Poland‘s border with Czechia.

A Jelenia Góra Day Trip

Ok, now let’s explore Poland’s 44th largest city! If you arrive via train, particularly to the main station just west of the airport, you will have a perfect point to begin and end a day in Jelenia Góra; most of the main sites I will talk about are located on the same road as the station, 1 Maja (1st of May Street), to the west, though the road’s name changes towards the old town.

Church of the Holy Cross

Jelenia Góra Church of the Holy CrossThe Church of the Elevation of the Holy Cross (Kościół par. pw. Podwyższenia Krzyża Św. w Jeleniej Górze) is the first site you’ll take in as you head west on 1 Maja, on your right-hand side. Silesian protestants were obliged to pay the Holy Roman Emperor Joseph I for permission to build it. Completed in 1718, the grand, gilded interior can hold up to 7000 congregants.

Kościół par. pw. Podwyższenia Krzyża Św., 1 Maja 45, 58-500 Jelenia Góra [see in Google Maps]

Next Page: Continue Into the Old Town »

World Happiness Report 2017

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World Happiness Report 2017 Cover PhotoOn 20 March 2017, the United Nations declared their “International Day of Happiness” and released a related “World Happiness Report 2017” rating countries from happiest to saddest.

The World Happiness Report 2017, put out just today, subjectively measures happiness and well-being. This “World Happiness Report” is the fifth in an annual series, from the project beginnings in 2012. This year, the report ranked 155 countries by their happiness levels.

Let’s get to the good stuff: this first table is the “World Happiness Report 2017” rating countries from happiest to saddest:

World Happiness Report 2017 - Scores




Norway took the top spot, and all of Scandinavia were in the Top 10, as they always seem to be.

This next table shows each country as to how far they improved or worsened compared to the last Happiness Report:

World Happiness Report 2017 - Changes



World Happiness Report 2017: Summary

The first World Happiness Report was published in April, 2012, in support of the UN High Level Meeting on happiness and well-being. Since then the world has come a long way. Increasingly, happiness is considered to be the proper measure of social progress and the goal of public policy. In June 2016 the OECD committed itself “to redefine the growth narrative to put people’s well-being at the center of governments’ efforts”.

In February 2017, the United Arab Emirates held a full-day World Happiness meeting, as part of the World Government Summit. Now on World Happiness Day, March 20th, we launch the World Happiness Report 2017, once again back at the United Nations, again published by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, and now supported by a generous three-year grant from the Ernesto Illy Foundation.

World Happiness Report 2017 Source:

Helliwell, J., Layard, R., & Sachs, J. (2017). World Happiness Report 2017, New York: Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

∗ Permission to republish material from this publication was granted as long as the above reference was posted.

Around the World in 20 Street Foods Infographic

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Around the World in 20 Street Foods

“One of our favourite things about travelling the world is trying out the street foods each country has to offer. It’s fascinating (and tasty!) to see what cultures from across the globe grab for a bite to eat when they’re on the move, so we’ve taken a look at 20 of the best. Some might be instantly recognisable and some you may never have heard of, but trust us, they’re all worth trying if you get the chance!”

20 Street Foods Infographic #1: Jerk Chicken, Jamaica

Jerk Chicken

Where: Kingston, Jamaica

Cost: 400 Jamaican dollars / £2.35 for a quarter chicken

Calories: 271

Ingredients: Chicken on the bone and secret recipe marinade (usually consists of allspice, thyme, scotch bonnet chilies, ginger and spring onions

20 Street Foods Infographic #2:

Gelato

Where: Rome, Italy

Cost: €2.00 / £1.65 for two small scoops

Calories: 90

Ingredients: Cream, milk and sugar

20 Street Foods Infographic #3:

Arepas

Where: Bogotá, Colombia

Cost: 2000 Colombian Pesos / £0.50 each

Calories: 150

Ingredients: Corn flour

20 Street Foods Infographic #4:

Falafel / Taʿamiya

Where: Cairo, Egypt

Cost: 3 Egyptian pounds / £0.25 each

Calories: 488

Ingredients: Falafel (made from fava beans) in pita bread with pickled vegetables, salad and tahini sauce

20 Street Foods Infographic #5:

Bakso

Where: Jakarta, Indonesia

Cost: 17,500 Indonesian rupiah / £0.99 for a bowl

Calories: 303

Ingredients: Beef meatballs, tapioca, noodles, rice vermicelli, beef broth and salted vegetables

20 Street Foods Infographic #6:

Churros

Where: Barcelona, Spain

Cost: €1.50 / £1.25 each

Calories: 234

Ingredients: Flour, usually rolled in cinnamon sugar or dipped in hot chocolate

20 Street Foods Infographic #7:

Chilli Crab

Where: Singapore

Cost:  25 Singaporean dollars / £14 for 1 kg

Calories: 565

Ingredients: Crab in sweet and sour tomato, egg and chilli sauce

20 Street Foods Infographic #8:

Gimbap

Where: Seoul, South Korea

Cost: ₩2,300 / £1.50 each

Calories: 295

Ingredients: White rice and seaweed with additional fillings such as fish, meat and eggs

20 Street Foods Infographic #9:

Tostada

Where: Mexico City, Mexico

Cost: 55 Mexican pesos / £2.20 each

Calories: 173

Ingredients: Toasted tortilla, common toppings include refried beans, guacamole, salsa and cheese or seafood options

20 Street Foods Infographic #10:

Xiaolongbao

Where: Shanghai, China

Cost: ¥37 / £4.20 for ten

Calories: 309

Ingredients: Dough, minced pork and aspic

20 Street Foods Infographic #11:

Poutine

Where: Québec, Canada

Cost: 7 Canadian dollars / £4

Calories: 740

Ingredients: Chips, cheese curds and gravy

20 Street Foods Infographic #12:

Pulled Pork

Where: Charlotte, North Carolina, United States

Cost: $6 / £4.5

Calories: 283

Ingredients: Pork, bun and BBQ sauce

20 Street Foods Infographic #13:

Bubble Tea

Where: Taipei, Taiwan

Cost: 35 New Taiwanese dollars / £0.60

Calories: 160

Ingredients: Tapioca, milk, brewed tea, sugar and water

20 Street Foods Infographic #14:

Pierogi

Where: Kraków, Poland

Cost: 12 Polish złoty / £2.30 per dish

Calories: 170

Ingredients: Flour, egg, water and salt dough dumpling, filled with meat, potato or cheese

20 Street Foods Infographic #15:

Halo-Halo

Where: Manila, Philippines

Cost: 47 Philippine pesos / £0.75 for a cup

Calories: 153

Ingredients: Shaved ice, milk and various fruits

20 Street Foods Infographic #16:

Bánh Mì

Where: Hanoi, Vietnam

Cost: 15,000 Vietnamese dong / £0.50

Calories: 579

Ingredients: Crispy baguette filled with a mix of coriander, pickled carrot, daikon and meats

20 Street Foods Infographic #17:

Bunny Chow

Where: Durban, South Africa

Cost: 10 South African rand / £0.50 for a quarter-loaf

Calories: 178

Ingredients: Loaf of bread filled with a variety of thick curries

20 Street Foods Infographic #18:

Simit Bread

Where: Istanbul, Turkey

Cost: 75 Kuruş / £0.20

Calories: 325

Ingredients: Bread with sesame seeds and molasses

20 Street Foods Infographic #19:

Bhelpuri

Where: Mumbai, India

Cost: 5 rupees / £0.05 for a cone

Calories: 322

Ingredients: Puffed rice, vegetables and tangy tamarind sauce

20 Street Foods Infographic #20:

Ceviche

Where: Lima, Peru

Cost: 25 Peruvian Nuevo Sol / £5

Calories: 226

Ingredients: Raw fish marinated in lime juice, salt and chilli

This infographic was created for SousVideTools.com. It was edited down here into separate slides to reduce the page load time of the entire, large graphic, but you can find the full infographic here »

And, our own article about the benefits of eating street food here »

4 Amazing October Festivals & Traditions from Around the World

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4 Amazing October Festivals & TraditionsWhat do you think of when you hear October? Oktoberfest? Probably (even though most of it takes place in September). Halloween? For sure! Everybody thinks about pumpkin lanterns and scary costumes in October. But there are other, less popular (yet not less fascinating) October traditions from around the world that deserve to be mentioned.

If you happen to travel to any of the countries below in October, make sure you participate (in one way or another) in their local October traditions and festivals:

Amazing October Festivals: White Night

Paris, France, During 1st Week

The White Night (or Nuit Blanche in French) is an annual event that takes place on the night before 2nd October to the delight of all tourists and local Parisians. During the White Night, you can become part of this amazing festival of Parisian culture and entertainment. All tourists’ attractions, libraries, museums, etc. are open till morning and the public transportation works all night! If you want to soak in the atmosphere of Paris at night and enjoy an unforgettable night full of street shows and cultural events, this is when you should visit the capital of love. What a great way to experience the cultural mixture of one of the oldest capitals of Europe!

Amazing October Festivals: Círio De Nazaré

Belém, Brazil, 2nd Sunday

Celebrated annually on the second Sunday of October, 2nd, Círio De Nazaré features the largest river festival procession that is famous not only in Brazil but all over the world. A must-see sight, the procession consists of thousands of people following an effigy of the Virgin of Nazaré (she is put on a platform heavily decorated with flowers). If you happen to witness this amazing procession, don’t be surprised at the barefoot men and women holding onto a rope (a symbol of the strong link between them and the saint) and children dressed like little angels. The traditional celebration of Círio De Nazaré ends late at night with live music and entertainment and a lot of dancing and having fun.

Amazing October Festivals: Festival of Dashain

Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Patan, Nepal, 1st Two Weeks

Dashain, the longest (and most favorite) festival of Nepal, is an annual 2-week festival that is something like Christmas for the locals. This is a period in which offices and schools are closed and people spend some quality time with their families. If you are in Nepal during Dashain, you will see thousands of kites in the skies of Kathmandu! This festival is the time when people go to see their family elders, they wear their new clothes and exchange gifts (just like we do on Christmas). A rather controversial act that the developed world (and especially animal activists) does not agree with and cannot accept are the animal sacrifices – on the night of “Kal Ratri” tens of thousands of goats are slaughtered as a sacrifice to the goddess Durga.

Amazing October Festivals: Diwali

India, 5 Varying Days

The 5-day Indian festival Diwali (also known as the Festival of Lights) is one of the most famous Hindu festivals. Each of the 5 Diwali days has its own specific celebrations and a special meaning. This festival also marks the beginning of the Hindu New Year with people preparing days in advance for it by cleaning their houses as the goddess Lakshmi is believed to visit them during Diwali, bringing wealth and prosperity for the New Year with her. Fireworks, Lighting rows, lamps, lanterns, and all other kinds of lit objects are among the most often used symbols of light during the Festival of Light. * Note: Often, Diwali starts in November.


Updated: 2017-01-22
Reason: Migration of site from the old, long URL (www.dauntlessjaunter.com) to this long-overdue shorter one 🙂 (we may have updated some typos or metadata while we were at it)

Seven Reasons to Visit New Zealand During Springtime

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Ahead of the summer crowds, New Zealand’s springtime months set a unique tone for enticing outdoor experiences. Spring in New Zealand is a lively season inspired with colour, flavoured with early produce and new wine releases, and populated by new life and creative festivals celebrating everything from seafood to arts and culture. Days are getting longer and this is a season of many faces – from trim city gardens and farmers’ markets heaving with fresh produce to green pastures filled with lambs and the fresh powder snows of the late ski season.

Travel north to south and you will see the season as it unfolds. Renowned for its spectacular scenery and diverse landscapes, a New Zealand spring awakens the country region by region over several weeks as the warmer temperatures spread southwards across 1600 km (900 miles) and from 34 to 47 degrees latitude south.

Blooming spring

Spring is definitely the season to admire the beauty of New Zealand’s flora and forests, wild and landscaped, at their very best. From the yellow swathe of  kowhai trees with their nectar-heavy flowers that are a magnet for native songbirds, and the surreal green of unfurling fern fronds to massed spring bulbs, wild lupins and brilliant rhododendrons, new life pops up everywhere to be celebrated in a series of garden festivals throughout October and November.

Hobbiton – New Zealand’s most famous garden – is never more glorious than when the pretty as a picture hobbit gardens blossom while, from north to south right across the country, many gardens of international and national significance open their gates to the public. In the North Island, the Taranaki Garden Spectacular (28 October – 6 November, 2016) is a major festival with 50 gardens on show, but en route don’t miss Hamilton Gardens internationally-acclaimed themed gardens or Rotorua’s lovely thermal park. In the South Island, the massed daffodils of Hagley Park and Otahuna Lodge in Christchurch offer a truly spectacular moment in springtime.

Hobbiton Spring House Garden
Hobbiton – New Zealand’s most famous garden – is never more glorious than it is during spring. Taken by L. Hatton via New Zealand Tourism.

Put a spring in your step

Spring provides plenty of clear, settled days for exploring the great outdoors. Mild spring days and a lack of crowds mean this is a good time to discover some of New Zealand’s multitude of walking or cycling tracks. Hire a bike and cycle the spectacular Karangahake Gorge gold miners’ trail in the Coromandel, the thermal trails around Rotorua or through the southern vineyards of Queenstown’s Gibbston Valley.

Take a walk on the wild side with Foris Eco tours on one of New Zealand’s best day hikes through Whirinaki’s ‘dinosaur forest’ to meet the locals in their natural habitat; or dig your heels in the sand on the rugged southern coast of Westland where World Heritage protected temperate rainforests meet the ocean and local wildlife – penguins, New Zealand fur seals or elephant seals – can be found enjoying balmy spring days with their latest offspring.

Or visit Rainbow Springs’ Kiwi Encounter, in Rotorua, to meet the cute new kiwi chicks as they hatch out of their impossibly (for the mother) large eggs.  The first of the new season’s little kiwi will hatch in September and there are likely to be another 100 eggs come into the hatchery over the next few months. Claire Travers – Kiwi Encounter husbandry manager is expecting the 2016-17 season to be another bumper season.

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