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Holidays

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Yu Sheng, the salad that Malaysian Chinese toss to ensure prosperity for the coming year. Photo by Jade Chan.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on February 16 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

This is the Year of the Dog, which is one of the 12 rotating Chinese Zodiac signs.

Those born in the Year of the Dog are thought to be loyal, industrious, and courageous.

Chinese New Year is now celebrated by parades featuring dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family gatherings and feasts, and, on the 15th and final day, a Lantern Festival featuring illuminated red lanterns.

According to legend, Chinese New Year traditions stem from thousands of years ago… Continue reading

A mess o' crawfish.

A mess o’ crawfish.

Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 13 this year, and is celebrated in America most notably in Louisiana.

In my limited Mardi Gras experience, I’ve noticed that Louisianans like to dance to Cajun music, dress up and ride in Mardi Gras parades, catch beads, drink copious amounts of liquid refreshments, and eat crawfish.

I love seafood, but when I was presented with a heaping platter of boiled crawfish in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a few Mardi Gras celebrations ago, I was a little intimidated.

While crawfish look like little lobsters, they’re way too small to crack in the same way. So how do you eat them without making a fool of yourself in front of the locals?

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I was taught by a local expert (and it works!):

1. Pick up one fully boiled crawfish.… Continue reading

Times Square on New Years' Eve -- I'll be watching at home

Times Square on New Years’ Eve — I’ll be watching at home

The one time I don’t like to travel during the year is between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Theoretically, it’s the week when I clean up my office, get my affairs in order, and enjoy more time with family and friends. Oh yes, and watch some football, especially my beloved Michigan Wolverines, who often play in a bowl game on the morning of January 1 so I have to be abstemious the night before.  Go Blue!

In practice, it doesn’t always work out that way, but I still prefer spending New Year’s Eve at home with my wife, Netflix, and clam dip, unless we’re invited to a small party with nearby friends or family. I lived in New York for 20 years and never made it to Times Square to see the ball drop — not on… Continue reading

I love Chicago -- in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

I love Chicago — in summer. Photo by Clark Norton

Did you know that Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh are the best places to celebrate Christmas in America?

And I’m sorry to have to tell you this, residents of Hialeah, Florida, but you finished dead last for Christmas cheer in a survey of the 100 biggest U.S. cities, conducted by the financial site Wallethub.

You Hialeahans might as well stoke up the coal furnace right now, because all you’ll get in your stockings are lumps of the sooty stuff.

But back to the merry cities of Chicago, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, followed close behind by New York City and Seattle, all dubbed tops for Christmas joy — and affordability, although some might question the latter.

Orlando, Atlanta, Washington, DC, Las Vegas (NV), and Portland (OR) rounded out the top ten.

How These Results Were Determined

Wallethub surveyed “29 key… Continue reading

Despite Disney's best efforts, Davy Crockett did not invent Thanksgiving.

Despite Disney’s best efforts, Davy Crockett did not invent Thanksgiving.

Here are the answers to the Thanksgiving Holiday Quiz in my most recent post.  Let me know how you did!

1..Which historical figure is most identified with Thanksgiving in America?

a. The Earl of Cranberry

b. Davy Crockett

c. The Sultan of Turkey

d. Governor William Bradford

Answer: D — Governor William Bradford of Plymouth Colony, who is said to have declared the colony’s first Thanksgiving feast in 1621.

 

2. Who  invented the green bean casserole, and when?

Dorcas Reilly's recipe has sold countless cans of mushroom soup.

Dorcas Reilly’s recipe has sold countless cans of mushroom soup.

a. Betty Crocker in 1949

b. Dorcas Reilly in 1955

c.  Fanny Farmer in 1930

d. Julia Child in 1963

Answer: B — Dorcas Reilly in 1955. Reilly was a product developer for the Campbell Soup Company, where she came up with the idea for green… Continue reading

How many Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

How many Americans eat turkey on Thanksgiving?

For our second annual Thanksgiving Day Quiz — an updated version of last year’s first annual quiz — we shall delve into the history and the mystery of this travel-related holiday, when most everyone in the United States either heads to Grandma’s house or Grandma flees to the buffet at Golden Corral.

Either way, there’s bound to be turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, pumpkin pie and at least one relative who hits the sauce too much, cranberry or otherwise. It’s a quintessential American holiday, epitomized by food, football, family and friends.

But how much do you really know about it? Here’s the quiz, and Happy Thanksgiving!

Cranberries

Cranberries

1..Which historical figure is most identified with Thanksgiving in America?

a. The Earl of Cranberry

b. Davy Crockett

c. The Sultan of Turkey

d. Governor William Bradford

2. Who  invented the… Continue reading

Here’s Part 3 of  guest contributor Myles Stone’s Viet Nam Diary, featuring his insightful narratives during a recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, during which he received a visit from my son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and my 16-month-old (and already well-traveled) grandson, Conrad. (Myles’ wife, Aimee, and baby daughter, Mimi, rounded out the  contingent of travelers.)

All were born after the Viet Nam War ended in 1975,  and thus bring a fresh perspective to the country that so consumed the baby boom generation in the U.S. during the turbulent 1960’s and early 1970’s.

In this post and the next, Myles recounts a visit to Viet Nam’s old imperial capital of Hue during the late April holiday marking the reunification of the country. As with all his posts, photos are courtesy of the family photographer, wife Aimee.

By Myles Stone

Photos by… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Answer: Malaysia. Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Here are the answers to the How Much Do You Know About Independence Day? quiz from my previous post. (If you haven’t taken the quiz yet and want to, I’d suggest returning there first.) Some of these questions were tricky, others merely difficult, and a few were relatively easy, especially with True or False questions offering just two choices. The multiple choice questions seemed to give people the most trouble, based on feedback I received. Thanks for joining in, whether Baby Boomers or younger!

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

Answer: False. Vermont was not one of the original 13 colonies.

2. Which U.S. president was born on the Fourth… Continue reading

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan's Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan's Famous.

Where in Asia would you find this location of Nathan’s Famous hot dogs? Photo from Nathan’s Famous.

Americans all know about fireworks, barbecues, hot dogs, parades and the other modern-day manifestations of the July 4 holiday, but how much do you really know about Independence Day, especially as it relates to travel or travel destinations?

Take this quiz and find out. (Baby boomers, how well do you remember your history?)

1. True or false: As one of the 13 original colonies, Vermont was the only one that refused to ratify the Declaration of Independence.

2. Which U.S. president was born on the Fourth of July in Plymouth Notch, Vermont?

3. Name two Asian countries where you can now buy a Nathan’s Famous New York hot dog, similar to those gobbled up in the annual hot dog eating contest at New York’s Coney Island:

a. Indonesia and Japan

b.… Continue reading

This is the year that the Rooster gets to crow.

This is the year that the Rooster gets to crow.

Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival), starts on January 28 this year and continues for 15 days.

It’s the most important festival time of the year in China — when millions of Chinese travel to their home villages and cities to be with family or friends for holiday reunions.

One of the world’s most celebrated festivals, Chinese New Year is also a star occasion  in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and some other Asian countries as well as Chinatowns around the world. And in recent years, the celebrations in New York, London, Vancouver, Sydney and other overseas cities have spread out of Chinatowns.

Parades with dragon and lion dances and fireworks, family feasts, and, on the final day, a Lantern Festival illuminated by red lanterns are all traditional.

This is the Year of… Continue reading

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According to government and private surveys:

  • Leading-edge baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1955) and seniors account for four out of every five dollars spent on luxury travel today.
  • Roughly half the consumer spending money in the U.S.--more than $2 trillion--is in the hands of leading-edge baby boomers and seniors.
  • Baby boomers (born 1946-1964) travel more than any other age group.
  • When asked what they would most like to spend their money on, baby boomers answered “travel” more than any other category, including improving their health or finances.

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