Cultural Journey

Cultural Journey to Jamaica

Next Stop on our Cultural Journey Series: Jamaica!


The 4,244 square mile tropical island of Jamaica is about 1,000 square miles smaller than Connecticut and overflowing with beautiful beaches, comforting food, passionate music and vibrant culture. Early settlement was dependent on the location of its plantations, and today, Jamaica’s economy hinges on the exportation of bauxite, sugar, bananas, coffee and tobacco. Since its discovery, Jamaica has been many things to many different people, cultures and religions. Its multiracial population of more than 2.8 million people strive to live their national motto; “Out of many, one people.”

Jamaican Traditions

 

Junkanoo

Junkanoo – The streets come alive every Boxing Day (December 26th) when Jamaicans parade and dance in costume to celebrate the holidays. It is believed that Junkanoo started in the 16th and 17th centuries, possibly with West African origins. It has evolved into intricate costumes and dances choreographed to goatskin drum beats and cowbells. Junkanoo parades have had cameo appearances in the Jaws the Revenge movie and the James Bond film, Thunderball.

 

Independence Day!

Independence Day – At midnight on August 5, 1962, the Jamaican flag was proudly raised, showing their independence from the British. The flag symbolizes Jamaica’s hope, agriculture and abundance with green, creativity and courage with black, and natural resources and sunshine equally divide it all by yellow, diagonal, intersecting lines. You can be sure that every year, Jamaicans celebrate this historical event by wearing the colors of Jamaica, sharing traditional foods and making the music that brings it all together.

Cricketer

Cricket – Cherry? Peach? Fruit Salad? To some, this sounds like part of a grocery list. To cricketers, these are terms for the cricket ball and various ways to bowl the ball to the batsman. Beginning in 1895, cricket has easily become one of the most popular sports in Jamaica. American baseball and English cricket share similarities such as the use of a bat, ball, an outfield, innings, pitchers or bowlers, umpires and many other aspects. Some of the best, most popular, earlier Jamaican cricketers are George “Atlas” Headley, Lawrence Rowe and Michael Holding. Two of the more recent stars of cricketing are Courtney “Cuddy” Walsh, who is one of the best in the world, and Chris Gayle, who currently holds the record for the highest innings in a Twenty20 International.

Jamaican Gems

 

Dunn's River Falls
Dunn’s River Falls

Dunn’s River Falls – Fed by spring water, Dunn’s River Falls is so beautiful, it was worth fighting for! The English defeated the Spanish Expeditionary Force from Cuba at the Battle of Las Chorreras in 1657, near the falls. Only a few travertine waterfalls in the world fall right into the sea as Dunn’s River Falls does. Tourists flock to see this rare phenomenon near Ocho Rios. Natural and manmade steps allow visitors to interact with the falls before the water is returned to the Caribbean Sea.

Negril
Negril

Negril – Rated one of the top 10 beaches in the world! Negril is unique in that it offers miles of beaches, a lighthouse, cliff diving, watersports, family fun, nightlife, resorts and relaxing, all while keeping its simple charm. Beginning its development in the late 1950’s the small town kept its beautiful secret until the first resorts and hotels were built in the late 1960’s. Tourism really took flight when a small airport was built in 1976 near Rutland Point. There is something unforgettable for everyone in Negril.

Blue Mountains
Blue Mountain Range

Blue Mountains – Jamaica’s longest mountain range are the Blue Mountains. With walking paths leading to the highest peak of 7,402 feet, the north and south coasts can be seen. On very clear days, even the outline of Cuba is visible. The mountains house more than 500 species of flowering plants and more than 200 species of birds. The climate and rainfall on the mountains provide rich soil for Jamaican coffee beans. Mostly exported to Japan, Blue Mountain Coffee is one of the most expensive and coveted coffees in the world.

Usain Bolt

Usain Bolt – Currently holding the 100 meter world record, Usain Bolt continues to dominate as a sprinter. Born in Sherwood Content, Trelawney, Jamaica, in 1986, “Lightning Bolt” grew up playing cricket and football. By age twelve, his sprinting ability started to develop as he became the fastest in school for the 100 meter. Even surprising himself, Bolt broke the world record on May 31, 2008 at the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City, with a 100 meter time of 9.72 seconds. Besides earning many gold medals in the World Championships, Bolt took home three gold medals from the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and three more at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. What will his next feat be in the 2016 Games?

Bob Marley (Photo by Peter Murphy)

Bob Marley  – “Live for yourself and you will live in vain. Live for others, and you will live again”, Bob Marley-Passionate about music, freedom and soccer, he is the most beloved artist of the reggae genre. Born in St. Ann Parrish, Jamaica, Marley continues to be an inspiration to others worldwide. His expressive music was deeply personal, spiritual and political. Becoming widely popular after collaborating with The Wailers, his albums went platinum ten times over in the United States in 1984, though posthumously. His son Ziggy and daughter Karen were there to accept when Marley won the Grammy’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2001. Thirty-three years after his death, Marley’s legacy is still celebrated around the world for his work to promote peace and the Rastafarian culture. “In this great future, you can’t forget your past,” Bob Marley, No Woman No Cry.

Jamaican Cuisine

Reflecting its cultural and demographic diversity, some of the influences on Jamaican cuisine include Spanish, British, East Indian, West African, Portuguese, Chinese, French and Dutch. Using many of their natural resources, some main food staples consist of rice, breadfruit, legumes and plantain. Main entrees for special occasions can include seafood, beef and curried goat. This broad assortment proves to please all palates!

Click on any photo below to try a taste of  the Jamaican island in your home!

Rice and Beans
Rice and Beans
Plantain Tarts
Plantain Tarts
Salt Fish Fritters
Salt Fish Fritters
Bush Tea
Bush Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jamaican Au Pairs

Are you in need of affordable live-in childcare? Au Pair International is fortunate to work with some amazing Jamaican partners that help our host families to introduce the Jamaican culture to their children! Together we are currently featuring the following Jamaican au pairs who are seeking host families in the U.S.. Upon clicking on their photos you will be taken to their personal profile on our website.  If you have any questions or would like more information on becoming a host family please do not hesitate to contact us!

Chalsian W.
Chris-Ann D.
Jemile L.
Tenesha G.
Tenesha G.

 

 

 

 

 

Treshana M.
Treshana M.
Latoya T.
Nickoy P.
Shamar W.
Shantiell W.
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Cultural Journey

Cultural Journey to Spain

Continuing on our Cultural Journey Series to Spain!1Spain flag

Bienvenidos! Rich with history and traditions, it is understandable why more than 47 million Spaniards choose to make España their home. Occupying 85% of the Iberian Peninsula, its beautiful beaches, mountain ranges and precious architecture compliment unforgettable cuisine and a proud, fun-loving population. Spain is rated as one of the best tourist destinations in Europe, and has nurtured many famous artists, authors and entertainers. It continues to strive toward its national motto of “Plus Ultra,” meaning “Further Beyond.”

Spanish Traditions

Fútbol Fans

Fútbol Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal! Goal! Spain is well-known for its most popular sport, fútbol! Teams like Fútbol Club Barcelona and rival, Real Madrid, draw crowds of more than 70 thousand fans in a season. Competing at a world-class level, clubs have won the FIFA World Cup (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) and have earned both silver and gold Olympic medals. Two of the more popular footballers in Spain are Lionel Messi, playing for F.C. Barcelona, and Cristiano Ronaldo who plays for Real Madrid. Becoming a professional sport in 1926, Spanish fútbol clubs have continued to cultivate their fan base and acquire elite players, making it the most important spectator sport in Spain.

Parade Float

Carnival – Besides religious and New Year’s celebrations, Spain hosts many festivals throughout the year. During the last week of February, Spain hosts Carnival. With slight variations in different cities, these celebrations are about having fun parading brightly colored costumes, dancing and music to entertain thousands of festival-goers.

 

 

 

Flamenco Dancer
Flamenco Dancer

Flamenco – Combining music, dancing and guitar playing into Flamenco is another beautiful Spanish tradition. It is said that this tradition was created by migrants bringing instruments and songs of their culture. Characterized by different levels of intense emotion and changing themes such as death and despair in one section, love and humor in another. The Flamenco conveys a story to its viewers. Beautifully-colored costumes and harmonious music entrances audiences and evokes the intended emotions.

Treasures of Spain

6Playa de las Catedrales
Playa de las Catedrales

Playa de las Catedrales – Located in Ribadeo, it is one of Spain’s top beaches. Famous for its rock formations, the “Beach of the Cathedrals” only reveals its beautiful arches at low tide. Visitors are reminded of the ocean’s strength and revel in nature’s creations.

 

 

 

 

Alcazar de Segovia
Alcázar de Segovia

Alcázar de Segovia – Originally built in the 12th century, Alcázar de Segovia was home to Castilian monarchs who each added on to the castle, causing continuous construction through the 16th century. Looking like a ship breaking through the rocky hilltop, Alcázar de Segovia is a top tourist destination in Spain.

 

Weeping Woman, 1937

Pablo PicassoKnown as one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga, Spain, in 1881. Helping pioneer the artistic style of cubism, his work steered the direction of today’s art. His depictions of reality transferred through his work. Like many artists, Picasso’s humble beginnings turn to posthumous fortune as some of his paintings are listed in the top ten most expensive, selling for more than a million dollars.

 

 

 

Tilting Windmills,
Windmills in Consuegra Spain

Miguel de Cervantes – Born in the Spanish capital of Madrid, Cervantes was a novelist, playwright and poet. He is most known for his humorous story about a man of La Mancha, Don Quixote. Translated into more than 60 languages, Cervantes wanted to portray real life by using common speech in the strong narrative. Though authoring many other works, Don Quixote earned his literary status among peers.

 

Basílica i Temple Expiatore de la Sagrada Família
Basílica i Temple Expiatore de la Sagrada Família

Basílica i Temple Expiatore de la Sagrada Família  – Spainish architect Antoni Gaudí took over construction of Basílica i Temple Expiatore de la Sagrada Família in 1883 and finished about 15-25 percent of the church before his death in 1926. Architects struggle to adhere to Gaudí’s design, and work complete the church by the scheduled date of 2026, a century after his death. This incredible display of Gothic architecture has become one of the most visited tourist destinations in the world.

Culinary Art of Spain11cuisine

Being a gateway between Europe and Africa, Spain has been fought over throughout history. As a result, different inhabitants have influenced Spanish cuisine. Spain is known for its olives and wine, tying it to Greek and Roman culture. Its Celtic heritage introduced meat and fish pies, and the Moorish culture brings the use of honey, citrus fruits, almonds and various spices such as saffron. Of course each region has its own variation of traditional dishes and pepper in some modern twists as well. One can be certain that a Spanish meal will be rich in taste and history!

For a mix of traditional and modern dishes, click on any photo below to bring a taste of España to your home!

Empanadas
Flan

 

Gazpacho
Gazpacho
Paella
Paella

 

Spain Au Pairs

Are you in need of affordable live-in childcare? Au Pair International is fortunate to work with some amazing Spanish partners that help our host families to introduce the Spanish culture to their children! Together we are currently featuring the following Spanish au pairs who are seeking host families in the U.S.. Upon clicking on their photos you will be taken to their personal profile on our website.  If you have any questions or would like more information on becoming a host family please do not hesitate to contact us!

Rosa Marie J.
Rosa Marie J.
Sandra A.
Sandra A.
Latorre_photo
Maria M.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laura B.
Laura B.
Laura C.
Laura C.
Mireya H.
Mireya H.
Sara S.
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2014 Au Pair of the Year Winner!

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Congratulations to Svetlana K. – Au Pair of the Year!

 

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Svetlana was selected by Au Pair International among several contest entrants to be our next Au Pair of the Year!

After losing his wife to cancer 2 years ago, John decided that it would be beneficial to have additional support for his son Bryce in her absence. After contacting Au Pair International with his concerns, they both decided to welcome Svetlana into their home in May of 2012.

According to John, “Svetlana has become a mother, daughter, friend, sister and lifelong part of our lives. I can’t imagine her return to Russia in 6 months. At 22 years old, she has shown such maturity and compassion for Bryce and built a deep loving relationship with him. Bryce has truly benefited from her presence. With a huge hole in our home from the loss of Patty, Svetlana stepped in and helped Bryce feel loved and cared for during a situation that is difficult to imagine and understand.”

Svetlana is recognized as being an invaluable member of her host family and is the proud recipient of an Apple IPad!

To read more about Svetlana and read the nomination letters please Click Here!

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Congratulations to our Au Pair of the Year Contest Runner Up Winners

Colecia and Marina!

 

Colecia L. from Jamaica – Nominated by the Robertson Family!

Colecia1 Colecia2 Colecia3
Colecia’s host mother writes “Collette has been a wonderful addition to our family. We have 5 young children and she came here with a joyful heart, eager to quickly bond with us, and a willingness to help. She went above and beyond to understand our children’s unique likes and dislikes, and became a “big sister” to them. Collette has also been a wonderful addition to our community. For example, a local family recently adopted several children from Haiti, some of which have a disability. One young girl in particular (the same age as my daughter) is a double-amputee and has only been in the United States for a few months. The little girl has learned English, gotten prosthetic legs, and is really enjoying her new life with her new family. One thing was missing though -her new family didn’t know how to properly care for her hair since she was from a different culture. Collette pitched in without being asked and helped their family know what to do, and has braided the little girls’ hair several times. This may seem like a small thing -but this was huge because it continued to give this little girl a more positive self-esteem and her smile now goes from ear-to-ear.

Click Here to read more about Colecia’s nomination!

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Marina N. from Germany – Nominated by the McNeil Family!

Marina2Marina3Marina1According to her host family, “Marina has incredible patience and continuously goes above and beyond in creating new ways to teach, guide and encourage positive behavior in a calm atmosphere. Marina has always honored us as parents and takes great pride in continuing the parenting and discipline methods throughout each day from potty training to bedtime routines. She believes it’s important for the three of us to be on the same page to create clear messages of consistency and uniformity. Our two children Toren, who is 3 years old, and Sophia, who is 4, have built a very special bond with Marina that is unexplainably perfect. People often tell us, “Marina is so amazing with your children”, and “you are so lucky to have her” or “I honestly thought she was their mother because of the way she cares for them.” We have the greatest trust and respect for Marina and know she will always make the best decisions regarding our family in any situation.”

Click Here to read more about Marina’s nomination!
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Au Pair International Heads to New York!

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Join us in New York from April 23-25!

Invite your friends and enjoy the company of other au pairs from around the country as we explore famous tourist attractions such as the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Central Park! Other exciting attractions include the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Rockefeller Center. Don’t miss a chance to eat at the Hard Rock, see a show on Broadway, or pay your respects at the September 11th Memorial Site!

Cost To Attend: (Hotel and Subway expenses only)
– 2 star hotel/hostel: $400
– 2 star w/o Broadway Show: $300
– 3 star hotel/hostel: $550
– 3 star w/o Broadway Show: $450
** A $50 Early Registration discount will be applied if paid in full by March 1st!

Attend University in New York for the Weekend!

Complete part of your Au Pair Program educational requirement in style! After visiting the sites of New York City you will have the option of staying for an additional 3 days from 4/25-4/27 to accomplish 3 credit hours of post secondary education at LIU Post University! The cost to attend will be an additional $350 and includes the following:
– Accommodations and 5 meals
– Transportation from the train station
– 3 Credit hour course of your choosing to include:
– Cultural Dynamics and American Society
– Marketing and Social Media
– History of American Music
** Classes fill up quickly so act FAST!

Contact Lisa Kempton for more information!
LKempton@aupairint.com

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Cultural Journey – Jamaica visit

jamaica_stream_water_221749Last month I had the amazing opportunity to visit our offices in the country of Jamaica. This was the first time that I had been to Jamaica, so I took everything in as I arrived. After a layover in Miami, I was on my way and landed on the ground in pitch black. I headed through immigration, customs and then waiting for my ride to my hotel, I confirmed with our offices our meeting for the next day. I was so excited to see the island and to meet with all of our prospective au pairs at the office in Mandeville.

The next morning, I had a driver pick me up to drive me from Montego Bay to Mandeville. The drive was beautiful and I feel as though I was able to see the real Jamaica as I rode in the passenger seat (on the left side of the car) through the windy, hilly roads which were not always paved. Jamaica is very tropical and when the big storms surge through, they raise havoc on the road, creating very large potholes. As the country is full of poverty, you often see individuals filling in the holes in the road in hopes of making some extra money for doing the hard labor. This was my first introduction into how hard working the Jamaican jamaicapeople are and how much pride they have for their country and culture. The drive was beautiful and I couldn’t help but marvel at everything I saw. So many fruit and vegetable stands on the side of the road, people walking to school with their kids, dogs and sheep running around and people just enjoying their lives. I had all of the various trees pointed out to me and also the beautiful birds. We were in a hurry to get to the meeting and it took over two hours to actually arrive to the center of the island for the meetings.

When I arrived at the offices of our partner, I was introduced to all of the staff and had a tour of the facilities. The most impressive feature being the classroom where they offer various development courses for all of the individuals. The office helps the residents, from 18 to 80, in professional development in order to assist them in finding employment. They have a partnership with the Katrinauniversity, as well as the government, to provide these options to encourage all to continue to improve themselves. Every single person I encountered was courteous and kind, even given the fact that they are not used to seeing someone like me (a tall, very American woman) walking around their town.

Our wonderful partner meets with all prospective au pair candidates one on one and advises them on their opportunities, how to improve their background to make them a better candidate and screening them thoroughly for accuracy in their application. All applicants are advised on what it means to be an au pair in the USA, how to work with a host family and also go through a complete First Aid/CPR training program before they leave. Now, after discussions with the offices, they will even be educating the drivers on driving in the USA to better prepare them for what it is like to drive in our country once matched with a family.

After seeing the offices, meeting the crew and seeing how the operations works, the next thing on the itinerary was to meet some of the applicants, both current and prospective, in the classroom in order to talk more about the program, what to expect, what American families are looking for and what our agency represents. All I can say about this is WOW! I was so impressed with each and every one of the applicants. They were kind and courteous and had wonderful questions for me about the program. I actually made some notes for girls that I thought would be fabulous applicants for my own family in a few months, if they are still available! The biggest questions seemed to be what the families were like, what types of things they could do with the kids, how they could be classthe best au pair, etc. Now, normally when I meet a group of prospective au pairs, the questions are “where does the family live”, “how much time will I get off”, in addition to the normal questions about the families, but I didn’t get these questions at all from this wonderful group of ladies! They really were most concerned with having the opportunity to come to the USA, take care of children and experience the life. The energy that they gave off with their excitement and smiles was contagious! I walked away from the meeting truly feeling positive that we decided to start offering candidates from Jamaica.

We finalized the meeting and then I was treated to a delicious lunch with the staff of the office who could break away from helping their candidates and chatted more about how we could continue to improve. The staff of the Mandeville office is really interested in continuing to build the program, support the candidates and make sure that they are well prepared to offer the best to our host families. Again, making me more sure that we made a great choice by chosing Jamaica as one of our source countries for applicants.

20131003_144703Well, lunch was finished and a quick pop-in the offices to say good-bye to the crew and I was back in the car for my long journey back to Montego Bay. Again, I cannot even express in words how magnificent this drive was for me. I love to travel and getting to see the country from the road was a real treat. I did not have the opportunity for any photos, as the driver was keeping time, so no side trips or pulling over to the side of the road! Back at the hotel and I couldn’t stop thinking about everyone I met and saw on my one-day trip to Mandeville and back. I feel so fortunate that I consistently get to visit new places and meet the wonderful participants of our program and partner offices and this was a trip that I would always remember. I spent the next day on the beautiful beach, snorkeling and really getting to know some of the locals who worked at and around the hotel. I loved learning more about the cultural and the people of Jamaica, what a determined and hardworking nation of people!

This posting was written by Katrina Vanderhulst, Director of International Programs for Au Pair International.

API has some amazing applicants from Jamaica currently. Please take a moment to review their profiles and consider interviewing a candidate to be your next au pair so that you can also share in the learning of the Jamaican culture, teach them about American culture AND have a reason to visit Jamaica after their program year is complete! Ya mon!

Bonus: Match with an au pair from Jamaica by the end of 2013 and save an additional $100 off of your program fees!

StaceyAnnHougarth2

Stacey-Ann H.

“I am 24, have 7300 childcare hours, and love to make people smile!”

SammiJoeHarrow1

Sammijoe H.

“I have nearly 15,000 childcare hours and know First Aid!”

AvaGayeGames1

Ava-Gaye J.

“I have 3500 childcare hours and want to be a nurse!”

CharnelleWolliston2Charnelle W.

“I am a teacher with 60,000 childcare hours and First Aid certifications!”

ShanekeRicketts2Shaneke R.

“I have 6000 childcare hours and plan to become a Pastor!”

Or check out our other au pairs from Jamaica on our website.

Cultural Journey

Cultural Journey to France

Au Pair International is kicking off our Cultural Journey series where you will be exposed to the traditions, attractions, etiquette and cuisine of individual countries that participate in the United States Au Pair Program.  Learn about the backbone that has come to define the culture of each country and be introduced to their au pair program participants that we currently have available for placement!

The first featured country in our Cultural Journey Series is France!

Home to over 65 million people, good fashion and good food is considered to be the epitome of what defines France as a country.  This beautiful place has been called home by a countless number of poets, artists, actors, composers, and world-renowned chefs. From the talented Alexandre Dumas, Brigitte Bardot and Georges Bizet to fashion legends like Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Coco Chanel.  The French culture has made a lasting impression around the world and will continue to be a prominent influence for decades to come.

Attractions

Anyone that has ever had the pleasure of visiting France, or aspired to do so, is familiar with the rich culture and iconic attractions that bring in millions of tourists each year.   Those destinations listed below are just a small glimpse of the inspirational and awe-inspiring sites to behold that grace the countryside of France.

Versailles
Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles – This former French royal residence and center of government is now a national landmark located in the city of Versailles. The estate was officially declared the royal residence in 1682 and has housed such occupants as Louis XIII, Louis XIV, Louis XV, Louis XVI, and Louis-Phillippe. The palace boasts famous rooms like that of the Grands Appartements (State Rooms) and the Galerie de Glaces (Hall of Mirrors). It was in the Hall of Mirrors that the Treaty of Versailles was signed in 1919.

Mont St Michel
Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel – A World Heritage Site located on an island just off the coast of Northern France.  It is believed that Aubert, Bishop of d’Avranches, founded a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe at the request of the Archangel Michael. The Bishop built and consecrated a small church on the island on October 16th 709. More buildings continued to be erected through the 19th century at which time it was turned into a prison. Mont Saint-Michel is currently an international pilgrimage site that attracts people world-wide.

The Louvre
The Louvre

Musee du Louvre – The Louvre can be found in Paris, France and is not only a historic monument but one of the largest museums in the world. It is home to over 35,000 pieces of artwork, sculptures, and artifacts including the Venus de Milo, Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People, and Cy Twombly’s Ceiling.  The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace which began as a fortress that was built in the late 12th century under Philip II.  The Louvre attracts an astonishing 8.5 million visitors per year!

Eiffel Tower
The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower – The Eiffel Tower has become known as a French icon and the most prominent symbol of both Paris and France. This iron latticed tower was named after its engineer Gustave Eiffel and was erected in 1889 as the entrance arch to the World’s Fair. It is the most visited paid monument in the world and plays host to over 7 million people each year.

Traditions

Christmas – Many old French traditions can be related to one holiday season or another. For example, holding a puppet show on Christmas Eve is a common occurrence, after which the children anxiously await the arrival of Père Noël (Santa Clause). Instead of the traditional American stocking, French children set out their shoes by the fireplace in the hopes they will be filled with presents by morning. Children also believe in Santa’s counterpart, Père Fouettard, who can be found giving out spankings to those children who were less than angelic during the year.

Easter – During the Easter season, children in France can also be found hunting the ever elusive Easter egg. Church bells fall silent starting the Thursday before Good Friday and will remain silent until Easter morning. It is believed that when the “Flying Bells” leave they take with them the grief and misery of the mourners of Christ’s crucifixion. They travel to Rome to visit the Pope and then make their return on the morning of Easter Sunday along with chocolate eggs which are hidden for children to find. As the bells toll for the first time it is tradition to hug and kiss those around you.

bastille dayBastille Day – Marking the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, Bastille Day is one of France’s most colorful traditions. Originally built as a medieval fortress, the Bastille eventually became a state prison.  It was during the unrest of 1789 (on July 14th) that a mob approached the Bastille to demand the arms and ammunition stored there. When the guards resisted, the mob attacked and captured the prison releasing the seven prisoners held at the time. The taking of the Bastille signaled the beginning of the French Revolution and a symbol of the end of the ancien régime. The site had become associated by the people to the harsh rule of the Bourbon monarchy and was scheduled for demolition during the late 18th century.

Wedding’s – Made popular during the era of Napoleon, it is custom during wedding ceremonies to “behead” a bottle of Champagne using a saber. According to legend, Hussards (skilled cavalry men) under the general’s command started to celebrate victory by swinging their sabers and neatly slicing the tops from Champagne bottles.

Vacation – While the French Culture is home to many traditions, none are so envied here in the United States (or at least by this blogger) than that of the 5 week holiday! Yes you heard that correctly. Almost all French employees are entitled to 5 full weeks of paid holiday per year. And while they are blessed to live amongst the French countryside most natives can be found taking holiday elsewhere or skiing in the French Alps!

Etiquette

Whether preparing to welcome a French au pair into your home, or planning a trip to this culturally rich country, knowing proper etiquette can save you much embarrassment and ensure that your interaction is a pleasurable one. Listed below are but a few do’s and dont’s to know when interacting with the French.

  • First names are generally reserved for close family or friends of your French guest/host. Plan on using last names and appropriate titles unless you are asked to specifically use their first name.
  • As with most people, the French value their privacy. Refrain from asking personal questions unless you have established a clear friendship with your host/guest.  While interviewing your French au pair it is quite appropriate to ask such questions that coincide with the intent of the program, however, be careful not to overstep your boundaries.
  • Telling your traditional jokes to break the ice may not be appreciated by your French host/guest.  Instead, try engaging in intellectual conversation or offering up a bit of satirical wit. You will find that sharing funny stories that stem from real life situations are widely accepted.
  • Upon greeting family and close friends, the French often offer one another a kiss on both cheeks. If you are not among this set of people it is appropriate to shake hands with a quick light grip.
  • When meeting your French host/guest it is highly encouraged to gift high quality candies, cookies, cakes or flowers that are beautifully wrapped. Try to avoid gifts of 6 or 12 (for lovers) and gifts of odd numbers; especially that of the number 13. In addition, refrain from gifting chrysanthemums, red roses, or wine unless it is of the highest quality.

For more tips on French etiquette and discouraged gestures head over to EDiplomat! 

The Evolution of French Cuisine

Modern French cuisine is among the most delectable and pleasurable dining experiences any food connoisseur will partake in.  Likened to a well orchestrated musical composition, French cuisine focuses its attention on the freshness of ingredients and enhancement of the individual flavors that make up its composition as a whole. Both pleasing to the palate and pleasant to the eye, it is indeed poetry on a plate.

Modern French cuisine has undergone several changes during its lifespan to evolve into what it has become today.  This evolution began in the 17th and 18th centuries when Marie-Antoine Careme  started the process of refining each dish to enhance its flavors. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, world-renowned chef Georges Auguste Escoffier worked upon Careme’s accomplishments to further refine the recipes and help establish a more organized way for French restaurants to operate. Designating individual chefs to specialize on certain elements of a menu, Escoffier paved the way for modern-day French Cuisine to become a well oiled machine.

Below you will find the links to some traditional French cuisine recipes. Whether a novice in the kitchen or an accomplished chef, these dishes will be sure to please your discerning palate!

Beef Bourguignon
Beef Bourguignon
Pear Tarte Tatin
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French Au Pairs

Are you in need of affordable live-in childcare? Au Pair International is fortunate to work with some amazing French partners that help our host families to introduce the French culture to their children! Together we are currently featuring the following French au pairs who are seeking host families in the U.S.. Upon clicking on their photos you will be taken to their personal profile on our website.  If you have any questions or would like more information on becoming a host family please do not hesitate to contact us!

CamilleFauvarque2
Camille F.
Christina Kanyinda
Christina K.
Marion Pereira
Marion P.
Benjamin S.
Benjamin S.
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Simple Tips For Dealing With A Tantrum

Almost every parent has had to deal with a tantrum at some time or another. Although not all children throw tantrums, many use such episodes to exhibit anger and frustration occasionally. While these episodes generally do not have lasting physical or emotional effects, they can be used by children to manipulate other people and to draw attention to themselves when dealt with improperly.

Checklist for tantrum management

Here are some of the most important things to remember when dealing with a tantrum:

  • Do not use the tantrum as an opportunity to punish your child
  • Do not offer a reward in order to control the tantrum
  • Maintain your calm and try to ignore the tantrum
  • Make sure your child is safe
  • Try to isolate your child if possible.
  • Do not let other people’s reactions affect your actions

Maintaining control

As a parent and an adult, it is your responsibility to stay in control all throughout the tantrum. By punishing your child, giving in to his demands, or worse, losing control yourself, you will not only prolong the episode but almost certainly ensure its reoccurrence. If you instead strive to maintain control over the situation, you will be sending a clear message that this type of behavior is unacceptable.

Dealing with tantrums at home

It is generally easier and safer to deal with a tantrum at home, since your child is in what is essentially a controlled environment. When faced with a tantrum at home, the first thing you should do is to carry your child calmly where he can be alone safely. You should then leave your child by himself and return only when he has calmed down.

Of course, this is easier said than done, but it is absolutely necessary in order to drive home the point that tantrums will not be tolerated. If you have to stay within sight of your child for safety reasons, do not respond to the tantrum at all, and only initiate communication when he has calmed down.

Dealing with tantrums in public

Dealing with tantrums in public is a lot more challenging, although maintaining control is still your primary concern (after ensuring your child’s safety, of course). If possible, you should calmly lead or carry your child to a less busy place, or even to your car. The same principle will then apply as when dealing with a tantrum at home: leave your child alone until he has managed to calm down.

Discussing the tantrum with your child

Once your child has managed to calm down, it is important to discuss the episode as soon as possible. Instead of focusing on the issue that caused the tantrum, it would be best to deal with the behavior itself. It might also be helpful to present alternatives to throwing a tantrum; you might be surprised to find how readily your child will consider them when presented with options.

Dealing with tantrums is never easy, although there are ways to do so without causing any more harm to your child. What methods have you found most effective in dealing with tantrums?

Guest Post by Kole for ivf Burlington isis