When walking the same halls everyday, its hard to recognize just how much world events and public issues effect our school community. Read below, and take a look at issues facing the world around us.
“Though the mountains divide and the oceans are wide, it’s a small world after all”~ Sherman Brothers
Does Money Really Amount to Love? : The Expensive Valentine’s Day
By: Veronica Venditti
Greeting cards, candy, and special nights out; with the average person spending approximately $164 on Valentine’s Day celebrations, February 14th can be incredibly expensive. But do all the fancy chocolates and gifts translate to real love?
The history of St. Valentine’s Day is rather murky; in any event, St. Valentine is depicted as a martyr for the Catholic Church and “a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure” (History, 2018). Somehow, a day dedicated to love was eventually born on the supposed death or burial date of St. Valentine.
Valentine’s Day continued to evolve, creating new societal expectations. Small notes and tokens of affection were being traded as early as the eighteenth century, and the day’s extravagance has continued to grow from there. In 2016, approximately $19.7 billion was spent on Valentine’s Day gifts in the United States alone.
Although many of us are still spending money on the people we love, it seems society’s heart is no longer in it. Only 30% of Canadians consider the holiday personally important, while a vast majority (83%) say people put too much pressure on Valentine’s Day (Harris, 2016). Many couples are spending a simple night at home rather than an expensive night out; perhaps this old-fashioned holiday is not reaching as many people as it used to.
Valentine’s Day may still be an important milestone for some, yet for those who are single, the holiday often lacks significance. At worst, it can make people feel marginalized and alone, left out from the typical Valentine’s Day traditions. While being single on February 14th can be annoying, there is an upside: an extra $164 in your pocket!
Photo By: Jackson Corzato
Christmas around the World
By: Jackson Corzato
Christmas: The only part of winter that seems to be just a little bit enjoyable. The time of gingerbread lattes, and saying that you’ll get aunt Margaret what she actually wants instead of another gift card to HomeSense. When you go crazy after hearing Mariah Carey for the five hundredth time, but end up miserably mumbling ALL the lyrics to the entire song. But most importantly, it’s the season meant for appreciating all the amazing things we are privileged to have, spreading as much love as possible, and giving with all of your heart. Sometimes, while celebrating our own traditions, we sometimes fail to recognize the other amazing traditions that are celebrated across the world at this time of year. As we take a mini trip around the world, briefly showing what it’s like to celebrate Christmas in other parts of the planet, you can discover how other people celebrate this splendid time of year!
Christmas in Kenya – Although most countries in Africa do not have the climate to create a dreamy White Christmas like we do in Canada, complete with snowball fights and ice skating, you would be amazed by the stunning and beautiful Christmas scenery in Kenya. Instead of the iconic living room Christmas tree you might find in North American and European homes, they celebrate with the native African Cyprus Tree. Houses and cities are vibrantly decorated with balloons, flowers, and greenery. Families and friends come together on Christmas Eve, and celebrate with a wonderful party, sharing in a special Kenyan Christmas dish called Nyana Chroma, consisting of meat with rice on chapati bread. Due to some impoverished parts in Kenya and many other parts of Africa, gifts may be difficult to exchange. Some charitable organizations such as Operation Christmas Child are given to the people of Kenya. As they might say in the language of Swahili, Heri ya Krismasi’!
Christmas in Japan – Imagine walking through the streets of Tokyo during a December night, feeling as if you are in a dream; you’ve never seen so many Christmas lights. On every tree you can possibly see; on cars, buildings, and more, there are lights all around. Sculptures of lights that shine like giant crystals, accompanied by lit walkways and bridges, feel like tunnels of stars as you make your way through. Christmas in Japan is more than an astonishing light show, but a time of peace and love. Christmas Eve is mostly seen as a romantic holiday, meant for spending time with your significant other or anyone you have an abundance of love for, kind of like Valentine’s Day! It is also a day for rest and quiet. The holidays here also collide with another important date: the first emperor of Japan’s birthday, December 23rd, which is widely celebrated all throughout Japan! Also, another Japanese Christmas icon may be familiar with you, Japanese shortcake (or Christmas cake), which is eaten on Christmas Day by many. For the finishing touch, Christmas Day in Japan is popularly accompanied by a meal we all know well: Fried Chicken! December 25th is the busiest day of the year for KFC restaurants in Japan. Anyways, we better be traveling Northwest now, off to the cold and beautiful terrains of Northern Europe. Until next time Japan! メリークリスマス!
Christmas in Scandinavia – We’ve just arrived in Scandinavia, and I could very much say I have never seen such a strikingly beautiful winter world as in Northern Europe. From the extraordinary landscapes of Iceland, to the historic architecture of Denmark, there is absolutely no doubt that this would be the Christmas experience of a lifetime. Let’s start our Nordic adventure in Sweden. The Christmas Holidays here begin with Saint Lucia Day on December 13th, where celebrations of the important figure Lucia, who secretly celebrated Christmas under a non – Christian rule in early Sweden and is seen to be the founder of Christmas in Sweden, begin. Usually in Swedish households during Christmas, the eldest daughter of the family will dress as Saint Lucia by wearing a long white robe and a crown of candles. On Christmas Day, Traditional Swedish food is brought together for a feast for the entire family. Tomte, the mythical gnome who lives in the forest, is said to bring the gifts just like Santa Claus! From all of our friends in Sweden, God Jul!
Next, we will cross the Norwegian Sea for a brief and cold voyage to Iceland! Due to its geographical location (very north), the season of Christmas in the time of December has the least amount of daylight, but that just means more opportunities to witness the beautiful northern lights! Want to guess how many Santa’s there are? There are thirteen! They’re called the jolasveinar, which translates to the “Yuletide Lads”, and are all siblings whose parents collect naughty children and cook them for dinner. Instead of receiving presents under the tree, children place their shoes on their windowsill. If you’re nice, you may get a gift, but if not, you’ll be left with a potato. Well, we wish that we could stay for a bit longer in these miraculous landscapes of Iceland, but it’s about time we get to Finland! Gleoileg jol!
Ah, we’ve arrived in the gorgeous country of Finland! Despite them being our rivals in World Hockey Championships, they are ever so friendly to us. On Christmas Eve in Finland, many people go to a sauna in order to be purified from sin just before they celebrate Christmas Day. Some Finnish families use Christmas Day as an opportunity to pay a visit to lost loved ones at cemeteries. Also, Christmas seems like it never ends here in Finland, where you can be greeted with “Hyvää Joulua” a month before Christmas and even two weeks after, nor do the festivities stop!
It seems as though our time has ended in the Scandinavian countries, but as much as we’d love to stay, we better be off to somewhere warmer. Guess where our next destination is scheduled, mate!
Christmas in Australia – Christmas time here in Melbourne, and the rest of Australia, is celebrated at the beginning of summer holidays! Not to be confused; it’s still December 25th, but due to the location of the country, the seasons are lopsided. It’s so warm here that we’ve been invited to a Christmas Eve party on the beach, where we’ll have a nice barbeque. We’ve been told that we are waiting for the arrival of Santa Claus, but that he’s a bit different from back home. Apparently, his reindeer take a break and instead, some kangaroos pull his sleigh, called the “six white boomers”. Scheduled for Christmas Day is a very special Christmas caroling event that takes part in every part of Australia, where everyone comes together and sings Christmas songs that are broadcasted on National Television. Some Australian musicians and celebrities take part in it too! One group you may know is the Wiggles. Before we go to our next destination, we’ve been kindly offered some Christmas ice cream because it’s getting so hot outside. Oi Hoo Roo, Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!
Christmas in Mexico – During the nine days before December 25th, children in Mexico participate in a beautiful event called Posada. Candles are lit, lanterns are hung, and many other colourful decorations are put up to create a lovely atmosphere at night. Each night, children take part in many activities surrounding the story of Mary & Joseph trying to find a place to stay and give birth to Jesus. At the end of the night, a party is thrown with lots of games, food, and prayers. EVEN PINATAS!!! A nacimiento, or the nativity scene, is the most popular and iconic symbol of Christmas in Mexico. Also, I bet that you’ve never seen a place with so many poinsettias as in Mexico in the Holidays! Spread across the table is an abundance of tamales, cinnamon bunuelos (almost like a beavertail!) and Mexican Christmas Punch. Make sure you visit Mexico for Christmas someday; it is surely one of a kind. Feliz Navidad!
Thank you for listening to my brief stories about our Christmas Adventure! I hope that these few words changed how you see Christmas every year, opened up your mind about the world, and inspired you just a little bit.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.
Having Fun or Making Fun?
The Fine Line Between Cultural Appropriation and Halloween Costumes
By: Veronica Venditti
October 21st, 2017- When you think of Halloween, several things come to mind: scary movies, trick-or-treating, candy, and of course, costumes! While dressing up is one of the more famous aspects of this holiday, few people really think about what their chosen disguise represents. In today’s world, where equality and equity for all races and genders is a hot-button issue, Halloween costumes (and the stereotypes they represent) are finally being examined.
One of the major issues with Halloween costumes is the act of cultural appropriation or “the adoption of certain elements from another culture without the consent of people who belong to that culture” (Nittle, 2017). Cultural appropriation often results in the belittlement of cultures, and can take away the true meaning behind a ritual. While many people choose Halloween costumes that derive from the appropriation of culture, few understand just how offensive their disguises can be.
Society may be more sensitive to issues of race and gender now, but there are still real examples of cultural appropriation in Halloween costumes today. “Can you imagine being Mexican, hearing Donald Trump call all Mexicans rapists, and then seeing guys partying in sombreros on Halloween? Or being a Muslim and unable to get on a plane without being pulled out of the security line, and seeing someone dressed up as a terrorist?” (Refinery 29, 2015). While certain costumes may seem ‘perfectly acceptable’ to you, society needs to be more mindful of the thoughts and feelings of all cultural groups. “It’s important to recognize that most people aren’t just offended to be offended” (Shrayber, 2017); there are real historical events or negative biases attached to minorities, and there is a good chance that if someone finds your costume offensive, there’s a reason for it.
There is even a war being waged against cultural appropriation in children’s costumes. “Moana” (being a new Disney princess) is sure to be a popular costume, yet some parents question whether the costume is appropriate. On the one hand, the character of Moana is of Polynesian origin, and therefore represents an ethnicity with its own distinct culture that is to be respected. On the other hand, some parents feel that bringing the idea of cultural appropriation into the conversation results in racism and a new double standard, “unless you… plan on condemning any non-white Snow White, Cinderella, or Belle you see” (Moroney, 2017).
The truth is very straightforward: there is no clear answer on cultural appropriation. Will society continue to wear costumes that emulate and offend minorities? Which costumes are considered appropriate and which ones culturally appropriate? While it can be difficult to know, here are some tips to ensure that you do not find yourself committing cultural appropriation:
- Inform yourself. Before committing to your costume, research the history of your chosen disguise and if it holds any cultural significance.
- If you appreciate another’s culture, don’t try to imitate it. “Performing” a certain cultural element is a good sign of cultural appreciation.
- Finally, be thoughtful. Even though you don’t mean to offend, certain people might take offense anyway. You don’t know everyone’s history or experiences, so always consider what others might find rude or distasteful.
Breaking Records and Not in a Good Way: 2017 May Be the Worst Year for Tropical Storms
By: Veronica Venditti
Wednesday, September 20th, 2017- By now, everyone has heard about the devastation in the Caribbean, Mexico, and Southern United States. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on Texas, and Hurricane Maria left the entire island of Puerto Rico without power. Of the thirteen cyclones that formed during this year’s hurricane season, seven have turned into full blown hurricanes (Rubin, 2017). It has certainly been a deadly month in terms of tropical storms, but could 2017 really be the worst year on record?
There is a definite possibility, according to Colorado State University tropical meteorologist Phil Klotzbach. He stated that “only eight other years in recorded history… [have] generated seven or more Atlantic hurricanes by the same point in the season” (Rubin, 2017). However, the worst may lie ahead; there is still 40% of 2017’s hurricane season left to go.
It is hard to imagine anything worse than Hurricane Harvey, the Category 4 storm that left Texas with $190 billion worth of damage (Holmes, 2017), or Irma, the strongest hurricane to hit Cuba since 1924 (Pulver, 2017).
With Global Warming becoming so apparent in today’s world, is there really any way to prevent against these intense storms? Global temperatures have risen almost 1 degree in 100 years (NOAA, 2017), and while that seems like a small number, the rising heat is melting ice and raising sea levels and temperatures. This warming, as well as changes in ocean conditions, are contributing to the frequency and severity of extreme weather, thus leading to a more intense hurricane season.
Global Warming is changing our world, and with it comes changing weather. Currently, 2017 is now on track to surpass 2005 in terms of major hurricanes (Rubin, 2017). With this hurricane season’s peak just behind us, and Hurricane Maria heading north, there may still be more in store for certain areas of the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico.
For more information regarding disaster relief, or to donate, please visit: relief/hurricane-relief http://www.redcross.org/about-us/our-work/disaster-