April 2017

Remembering Volunteers
When finding volunteers, make sure to keep all of your options open.

Volunteers can come in all shapes and sizes.

It was in 1943 that National Volunteer Week was first conceived to recognize the contribution women made to the war effort. Women worked just as hard as the men who were serving in the military but received no compensation for their efforts. After the war, the week declined in popularity until it was revived in the 1960s. Volunteer Canada delivers National Volunteer Week from April 23 to 29 to identify and recognize those volunteers who contribute to the community without a formal role or position.

The Value of Volunteers

While you may know that volunteering has a powerful impact on your community, you may not recognize specific benefits. Here are some of the ways volunteering works:

  • Promotes active participation in society
  • Gives everyone a voice in the community
  • Strengthens your community
  • Increases the ability to deliver services to those who are in need
  • Promotes general well-being and a sense of belonging
  • Connects people to the causes they care about
  • Offers duties to the volunteers

Statistics About Volunteering

Volunteer Canada reports that in 2013 Canadians gave close to two billion volunteer hours. That’s over 38 million full-time jobs for which organizations do not have to provide a salary.

Senior adults give, on average, about 223 hours each year. While this definitely benefits nonprofits, it also has a positive effect on seniors by reducing stress-related illnesses, increasing self-esteem and preventing isolation.

Volunteer Canada studies volunteers. In 2013, the organization found these characteristics of today’s volunteers:

  • They have goals of their own.
  • Volunteers want to see results.
  • Volunteers are self-directed and do not want to be micromanaged.
  • They have many different interests, and while they bring professional skills to the table, many volunteers want to use different skills when volunteering.

Choose To Be a Volunteer

It might be difficult to figure out where that time is coming from in your busy schedule. Consider this: When you are volunteering, you can really connect with people. It’s not simply busyness in which you feel like you’re just going in circles. Many employers have agreements with employees who want to give back to the community. Talk to your boss about finding time or support within your job.

You don’t have to volunteer with people to make a difference. Animal rescue organizations need help. Maybe you like books or nature? Find a group that supports something close to your heart, and ask to help. If you need help finding an organization, Volunteer Canada has many resources and can point you to local groups that match your needs.

Paula Speevak, President and CEO of Volunteer Canada, wrote, “In addition to honouring the 12.7 million Canadians who volunteer in non-profit organizations, during Canada’s 150th anniversary, let’s embrace all the wonderful ways people care. Care for each other and for the earth; from helping neighbours to mobilizing networks to raise awareness and funds for issues that matter to them.”

If you are part of an organization that uses volunteers, make sure to recognize their efforts, not only in April, but all year long. Remember how much more your group can do because you have volunteers who are making a difference.

 

Responsibilities of a Wedding Guest
A great wedding guest can make or break your wedding experience.

To be a great wedding guest, make sure that you are polite and courteous.

April showers bring May flowers, but for brides, April showers bring June flowers. Summer is a popular time for weddings, so you might start getting invitations from your friends who are getting married. To survive wedding season, be the best wedding guest you can. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • RSVP by the date requested. Do not put the invitation aside for a few days, because you’ll forget. Don’t make the couple track you down for an answer.
  • Look at the invitation to see who was invited. Do not invite anyone yourself. If your children aren’t mentioned on the envelope, they are not invited to the wedding. It is customary to invite partners, but if you aren’t married or in a long-term relationship, you may have to go single.
  • Show up if you RSVP “yes.” Barring an emergency, don’t change plans at the last minute. The caterer will charge the couple for your plate, whether you show up or not.
  • Do not talk about the wedding with friends who may not have been invited. This means on social media too. You don’t want to come off as boasting or make others feel bad because they were not invited.
  • Be on time for the ceremony. Better yet, be there 10 to 15 minutes early to get the lay of the land. When you arrive late, you disrupt the flow of the ceremony. If you do arrive late, wait for a break in the action to sneak in.
  • Dress appropriately. If the invitation says “semi-formal,” don’t wear jeans. For a beach wedding, dress more casually. Don’t wear white.
  • Put your phone on silent during the ceremony. Let your babysitter know your phone will be off for a half-hour to forty-five minutes and promise to check immediately after.
  • Don’t take pictures during the ceremony. Respect the wedding photographer.
  • Ask the couple if you can share pictures on social media before you do.
  • Send the gift, if you do, to the home of the bride or groom. Don’t make them deal with more stuff at the reception.
  • During the reception, sit where the bride and groom have placed you. Make conversation with those around you. It’s only for a couple of hours. Your phone will wait.

What About the Rights of a Wedding Guest?

Wedding guests also have rights that come with their invitation:

  • You can expect to receive an invitation if you received a save-the-date card.
  • You have the right to decline the invitation if you cannot attend. No explanation needed, just say, “Thank you, I’d love to be there, but I can’t.”
  • You can ask the couple if you need clarification about your invitation. Maybe you want to make sure you understand the dress code or are confused about the plus one.
  • You have a right to not send a gift at all. You also have up to a year to send a wedding gift.
  • If you do send a gift, you have a right to expect a timely thank-you note. You might want to give the couple a few weeks after the wedding to wrap up all their duties, but if you don’t receive a thank-you note within three months, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask if they received your gift.
  • You should take advantage of the open bar, but don’t overdo it.

Have a Good Time

A wedding is a celebration, and you should have a good time. Thank the host and hostess, typically the bride’s parents, before you leave. Don’t be offended if you don’t get a few minutes with the bride and groom. One of the best things you can do as a wedding guest is to be flexible and gracious, no matter what happens at the ceremony or reception.

Who Was Saint Elmo?
Saint Elmo's Fire was also a movie released in 1985.

Saint Elmo’s Fire is a phenomenon when a glowing ball of light occurs because of an electrical discharge in the atmosphere.

Pop culture often has references to objects or people of the past. You might have heard of the movie “Saint Elmo’s Fire,” a 1985 coming-of-age drama from the Brat Pack genre. Maybe you know that Saint Elmo is the patron saint of sailors. David Foster and John Parr composed and wrote the song “Saint Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion)” for Canadian athlete Rick Hansen to use in his mission to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries. The song went on to be used for the movie of the same name.

Do you know what Saint Elmo’s fire is? It is a phenomenon in weather that sometimes appears on ships at sea during a thunderstorm. A glowing ball of light occurs because of an electrical discharge in the atmosphere. It typically happens at the top of a sharp or pointed object, like the tops of the sails at sea, but it can also occur on aircraft wings, chimneys and spires.

How Did the Phenomenon Come to Be Known as Saint Elmo’s Fire?

To understand the roots of St. Elmo’s Fire, you have to know about Erasmus of Formia, who was also called Elmo. No one knows what year Erasmus was born or died, but it’s thought that he passed away around 303 A.D. He was Bishop of Formium, Italy, during a time when the emperors persecuted Christians. Erasmus hid for a period of seven years before being counseled by an angel to return to his diocese.

On his return, Erasmus met soldiers who questioned him. When he admitted his faith, he was brought to the Eastern Roman Emperor Diocletian. Christians had been discriminated against in the Roman empire before this time, but Diocletian had Christians tortured and killed. He was tortured before being put in chains and placed in prison, but he escaped with the help of an angel.

Arrested?

Erasmus is said to have raised up the son of an important citizen in Lycia, which brought him to the attention of the Western Roman Emperor Maximian. Erasmus was again arrested for his faith. Maximian forced Erasmus to go to a temple of an idol, but when he got to the temple, a fire came. Erasmus was tortured in a barrel of protruding spikes. After his release, he was healed by an angel before experiencing more tortures, from which he was always healed. Finally, Maximian threw Erasmus into prison, expecting him to die of starvation, but Erasmus escaped.

Erasmus Still Preaching

Erasmus did not let the Roman Empire stop him from preaching. He went to Illyricum, which is modern day Croatia, and continued to convert people to Christianity. At his death, legend says that his intestines were wrapped around a windlass, the winch that lifts anchors or heavy weights. In one story, before Erasmus died, he is said to have continued preaching to sailors even after a lightning bolt struck beside him. He is widely associated with the sea due to these two legends.

About 25 years following Erasmus’ death, the Christian Emperor Constantine reversed the persecution of the Christians, returning confiscated property and making Christianity the preferred religion of the region. If Erasmus had lived in a later time, it’s possible that he would not have been a Christian martyr.

References to Saint Elmo

If you read “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” in high school or college, you might remember this reference:

“About, about, in reel and rout, The death fires danced at night; The water, like a witch’s oils, Burnt green and blue and white.”

In literature, St. Elmo’s fire is associated with a bad omen or divine judgment. The reference appears in “Moby-Dick,” “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “The Tempest.” The next time you hear an allusion to St. Elmo’s fire, you know more of the story and can appreciate its history.

Wedding Photographer: Tips for Choosing The Right One
The proper wedding photographer will make your ceremony one worth remembering.

When choosing a wedding photographer, make sure that they are experienced and professional.

You’ll probably spend more time with your wedding photographer on the day of your wedding than any other professional or person. Although many wedding magazines recommend that you ask about equipment and style, it’s more important to choose a photographer with whom you can relax and who will provide what you’re looking for. Here are seven tips to help you select the right person.

  1. There are probably hundreds of listings in your area for wedding photographers. Browse through their portfolios and find three or four with images that you like. Once you’ve narrowed your choices, set up a time to meet with the photographer. Make sure you’re meeting with the person who will be at your wedding, not a sales person/consultant or the owner of the studio. You’re putting your wedding memories in the photographer’s hands. You have to like and trust this person.
  1. Don’t choose a photographer for these reasons:
    • He or she is family or the friend of a family member. Just imagine if something goes wrong. You have to face this person at family reunions for the rest of your life.
    • The venue made the recommendation. There are some venues that actually allow vendors to pay to be on the “preferred list.” It’s marketing, not preference.
    • The wedding photographer is running a sale. Good photographers have to invest in professional equipment and pay taxes and insurance. If they’re offering a deep discount, you have to ask yourself, “Where are they cutting corners?”
    • They’re popular and booked out for 300 weddings this year. Think about the logistics of doing 300 weddings in one year. Who knows who will be actually taking pictures of you on your wedding day?
  1. Ask what you get for their services. On average, you should expect 50 to 100 photos for each hour the photographer works.  Who owns the rights to the photographs? How will you get reprints? How many of the pictures will be edited in post-production?
  2. Will the photographer do a first-look session? A first look is when the bride and groom spend a few minutes alone together before the ceremony. It helps to get the jitters out and lets you have that real moment of seeing each other in private. Your photographer can capture those raw emotions before the ceremony and then you can enjoy the cocktail hour after the ceremony.
  3. What happens if the photographer is sick? Although it is unlikely that the photographer you choose will get sick, you should know what the contingency plan is.
  4. Find out how much experience the wedding photographer has. Don’t simply look at years in business, but consider how many weddings the person has actually shot in that time frame. Someone with five years of experience who has only done 10 weddings may not compare to someone with just one year of experience who has done 50 weddings over that time.
  5. Do you get a contract that clearly outlines the details of the services? Be extremely wary of photographers who do not have a contract that offers pricing, resolution terms and cancellation terms. This is for your protection as much as theirs. Once you have a contract, any verbal statements that change the terms of the contract should be obtained in writing.

Choose Your Wedding Photographer Sooner Rather Than Later

You may need to book your photographer right after you choose the date of the wedding. However, don’t panic if you don’t get your first choice. You may be able to get a referral to someone with a similar style who doesn’t have a full schedule. Should you tip your photographer? While most photographers don’t expect tips, most will appreciate one if it is given.

Eco-Friendly Wedding Ideas
Having a more eco-friendly wedding helps reduce our carbon footprint.

Using used goods, having an outdoor ceremony, and using recyclables are a good way to have a more eco-friendly wedding.

One environmentally friendly philosophy has entered the wedding industry. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint during your special day, you don’t have to give up the vision you have for your wedding. Here are some tips to help you find ways to turn your ceremony and reception into an eco-friendly wedding.

  1. Choose an outdoor venue where the sun can provide the lighting. Many outdoor venues have the modern conveniences of toilets and sinks, making a more comfortable atmosphere for your guests.
  2. If an outdoor venue is not an option, hold the ceremony and reception during the day in a venue that offers natural lighting. Host all the festivities during the day to avoid having to use electricity.
  3. Also, hold your ceremony and reception in the same place. This will reduce the fuel emissions from guests.
  4. Look for a venue that is environmentally friendly.
  5. Print up wedding invitations on recycled paper, but instead of multiple inserts in the envelope, send your guests to your wedding website for more information. Go paperless with save-the-date notices.
  6. Buy seasonal flowers from local vendors. Use potted plants or topiaries as centerpieces. You could also use silk flowers for your bouquet and decorate with items that can be reused later. There are also many options for decorations that can be found in your garden, such as twigs, moss and ivy.
  7. Rent hybrid vehicles or use a horse and carriage to arrive and leave the wedding venue, if you must have a special moment.
  8. Rent linen napkins instead of paper. Ask for glass tabletops and forego tablecloths.
  9. Choose caterers that source from local farms and dairies. You can also serve local wines, champagnes and beers. Ask your caterer about its green philosophy. Does the company use eco-friendly cleaning products and is it careful with its paper consumption? Your cake baker should also use organic products and source locally as much as possible.
  10. Avoid sturgeon caviar or Chilean sea bass and other threatened species.
  11. Choose a honeymoon location that keeps your green vision in mind. Travel in eco-friendly methods and look for a hotel that is designed to be environmentally friendly.

What to Wear for an Eco-Friendly Wedding

For the bridal party’s attire, go eco-friendly by reusing garments. Many brides wear a gown from their mom or grandma, but if that is not an option, shop at a vintage clothing or consignment store. You can also rent gowns, much like you rent tuxedoes. If you want your own dress, look for one made of sustainable fabrics, such as silk, hemp or organic cotton.

Instead of choosing specific bridal party dresses, allow the bridesmaids to wear dresses they already own or give just a few guidelines to allow them to choose a dress that can be worn again. Your bridal party can show off their own style while finding dresses they love.

For the groom, instead of wearing a tux that might never come out of the closet again, invest in a good suit that can be used for other special occasions. Allow the groom’s attendants to wear nice pants, button-down shirts and matching vests instead of jackets.

Reduce, Reuse and Recycle

You might have to ask your vendors what they are doing to reduce their carbon footprint. Find ways to reuse items from your eco-friendly wedding. Shop at flea markets or antique stores for decorations. Ask your decorator or designer about what he or she already has in inventory. Talk to your friends about reusing wedding decorations. It might take a little more effort on your part to be environmentally conscious, but it can also make for a beautiful wedding that matches your philosophy.

Wedding Cake Trends for 2017
Modern cake trends seem to be shifting from what was considered "normal" to becoming something completely abnormal.

Common wedding cake trends seem to be drifting away from the traditional white cake and more towards making cakes more vibrant and fun with their colors.

The most common wedding cake trend seems to be moving more toward coordinating with the bride’s colors, even if there is no white on the cake. Here are some of the trends for cakes this year:

When most people think of a wedding cake, they automatically assume it should be white. There are a lot of reasons for this. White denotes purity, which became popular during the Victorian era. The white wedding cake is also a visual link between the bride and the cake. White cakes and frosting, at one time, symbolized affluence. It was difficult to get refined sugar before the Victorian age. The whiter the cake, the more wealth a family had to obtain those difficult ingredients.

Here are some of the cake trends for this year:

  • Metallic decorations – think edible glitter for sparkle, or gold- or silver-leaf sheets in cutout embroidery lace-like designs.
  • White on white – a traditional cake with only white decorations.
  • Ruffles – no, not fabric ruffles, but embellishments of sugar frills. Include fresh or sugar flowers to finish off the cake.
  • Naked cakes – show off the inside of a cake by not frosting it. Fill the layers with seasonal fruits or nuts to add texture and taste.
  • Marbleized decorations – hand-painted designs on the frosting, set off with a simple ribbon or flower border.
  • Stained-glass – these cakes are part of the hand-painted variety but include outlining the images in black.
  • Beads – cover your cake with edible beads for a unique look.
  • Greenery and botany – don’t limit your cake decorations to flowers, but use fruits and greenery or anything organic to make it your own.
  • Navy and black – most people don’t associate navy blue or black with a wedding, but more brides are choosing one of these elegant colors as part of their attire.
  • Whimsical cakes – more brides are forgoing the elegant white cake for a tiered cake that represents their personality.
  • Ombre effect – blend colors on the wedding cake from a dark, deep tone to the lightest tint.
  • A cake trio, or quartet – a table of cakes at your reception, giving your guests two to three flavors to choose from. Not only does this make for a spectacular display, but you won’t have to choose between your two favorite flavors.
  • Rainbow cake – the inside of the cake is done in the colors of the rainbow, while the outside of the cake is more traditional.
  • A “sweet” cake – cover your wedding cake in the candies or sweets you enjoy. Some brides are even creating cakes out of their favorite goodies, opting for a different type of dessert altogether.
  • Monograms – decorate with your initials in a repetitive pattern around the cake. From a distance, it will be a pretty pattern. You could also have a sugar-made plaque with your new monogram.
  • Buttercream cakes – instead of the smooth fondant layer on the cake, more brides are going with a simple buttercream frosting in a pattern that might not be perfect. It tastes much different than fondant and can feel more casual and relaxed.

Why Stacked Wedding Cakes?

In the Middle Ages, legend has it that cakes or buns would be stacked in a large pile before the newly wedded couple. The couple would then try to kiss each other over the stack, and if they could, it symbolized a lifetime of prosperity. Eventually, the layers of cake would be stacked together with frosting. Because modern refrigeration wasn’t available, the cakes would be covered with lard to keep them moist. The lard would be scraped off before serving, but invariably, a small amount of the lard could not be removed. Bakers began adding sugar to the lard to improve the taste, and thus, the modern wedding cake came into being.

Choosing the Wedding Officiant for Your Ceremony
A wedding officiant marrying a couple.

Choosing the right wedding officiant can take your wedding from being great to being spectacular.

Once you’ve chosen a date, chosen your wedding colors and booked a venue, you have thousands of other details to manage in regards to your ceremony. A wedding coordinator might be able to handle the catering and decorations, but you and your future spouse are the only ones who can choose the wedding officiant. Whether you’re looking for a professional and skilled officiant or want a friend to do the service, you should still ask questions. Here are some of questions you can ask a potential officiant:

  • Are you available on our wedding date? Consider this carefully if travel is involved. Better to check the calendar first. Don’t forget to check the availability for your rehearsal dinner.
  • Can you personalize the ceremony? Many religious leaders use the ritual from the church, but some wedding officiants will allow you to customize your ceremony. At the ULC, we offer a template for our ministers, but it can be personalized to your own style.
  • How many pre-wedding sessions do you require? Although a friend or family member may not require pre-wedding counseling, some officiants might. It can help you get to know each other better, but the wedding officiant might charge for the sessions too. Find out what to expect before you sign a contract.
  • Do you charge a standard fee or do we make a donation to the church? When talking to a professional officiant, you want to make sure you know how much will be charged. Every minister is different. If you’re talking to a family member or friend, it might be awkward to bring up a fee, but remember that this person will be going above and beyond for your wedding, similar to your attendants.
  • How will you respect our wishes, if our beliefs don’t fall in line with yours? In today’s culture, it might be difficult to find a wedding officiant who believes exactly what the two of you do. Consider how the officiant acts when presented with personal requests and whether he or she respects your beliefs.
  • Do you want to come to the reception? Will you be bringing a guest? When you are having a catered dinner, one or two extras can throw the numbers off. You might be close to the fire code limit or not have enough seating for two extra. Make sure to find out all expectations before the wedding.
  • Do you have any restrictions on whether we can be married? Some officiants might not marry couples outside of their own faith. You may not be allowed to have another officiant take part in the ceremony.
  • Do you plan on giving a sermon during a wedding? We’re not sure why people think that a wedding is an appropriate place to proselytize, but some do.
  • What do you plan to wear? Can you adjust to our wedding style? If you’re having a themed wedding, better find out if the officiant will participate or not.
  • What happens if you get sick? No one wants to think about getting sick, but the reality is always there. Find out what the backup plan is before the wedding.

Other Considerations When Choosing a Wedding Officiant

Does the officiant make you feel comfortable? You want someone who is genuinely interested in your wedding and services. This person will be welcoming your guests and playing best supporting actor to you and your partner. Does the officiant have the presence to handle a noisy guest? What happens if someone stands up and says that you shouldn’t get married?

Before you start talking to wedding officiants, think about what you expect. Do you want someone spiritual or secular? Do you have special readings or music you want included? Will your officiant adapt to your wedding or do you have to adapt to his or her plan? By taking time to consider your options, you will find the right person to lead your ceremony.

The Importance of Reading to Children
Mother with her daughters reading a book at home.

Reading to children has so many benefits that will help them to develop.

Do you remember the movie, “Three Men and a Baby?” There’s a scene in the movie where Tom Selleck’s character is reading a sports article to the baby. He says something to the effect of, “It doesn’t matter what you read to a child. Reading is beneficial to the development of a child.” Most people know that reading to children is fundamental for academic excellence. However, there are a number of other benefits of reading to toddlers and preschool-age children:

  • Children have a stronger relationship with the reader. Cuddling up while sharing a good book keeps you in touch with each other.
  • It promotes basic speech skills. It reinforces speech and language sounds.
  • Children who have books read to them have better ways of expressing themselves. They can relate to how the characters of a book talk to each other and can use those skills in their own relationships.
  • It teaches children how to read a book. No one is born with an innate knowledge of reading left to right.
  • Toddlers learn to increase their attention spans through with books. Even though many children squirm when they start out with story time, as you practice reading to them, they’ll find more discipline to sit still and enjoy the story.
  • Reading also helps children adjust to new experiences. A story about starting school to a child who is anxious about going to school all day helps a child see that he or she isn’t the only one who is scared.
  • It can also expand a child’s vocabulary.

In a 2014 study out of Harvard University, it was discovered that when dads read to children, especially girls, there is an even bigger benefit than when moms read to children. Additionally, men tend to be more abstract when talking about what they’re reading. For example, a woman approaches reading very factually. An example might include a mom asking a child, “How many blue fish do you see?” Men ask questions that challenge the child’s brain. For instance, a dad might say, “Look. Do you see the bus? Remember when we rode the bus to go to the zoo?”

Teenagers Benefit From Reading, Too

Preschool children aren’t the only ones who need to be engaged in reading. Once your child begins junior high and high school, reading a book out loud is very beneficial to development and cognitive thinking skills. You may have to be crafty at first, because your teenager may see the practice as childish. Start out with short articles from the newspaper or magazines, or maybe some poetry that you enjoy. Read during a meal time, then discuss it.

Take advantage of car rides. Listen to an audiobook that your children might enjoy. Listen to one chapter, then turn it off. You might be able to read something to your child when he or she is loading a dishwasher or doing another chore. Use the moments when you have a captive audience. Choose adventure stories that keep a child engaged from the very first chapter. Limit reading time to one chapter a night, kind of like Scheherazade. Ask your local librarian for books that fit your child’s interests and age level. Read biographies of people who did great things.

Most pediatricians recommend that a child’s screen time be limited. It’s very difficult to keep children from watching television or using their smartphones. You have to give them an alternative activity to make it feel like a privilege instead of a punishment. Reading can be this activity. Model good reading skills to your child, and help him or her find worlds that can only be imagined in words. You may not immediately see the benefits, but years later, your children will thank you.

Exploring Interesting Canadian Wedding Customs
Some wedding customs are as old as weddings themselves.

Examples of longstanding wedding customs would be the throwing of the bouquet, the throwing of the garter belt, and the couple slicing the first piece of cake.

It is no small surprise that Canadians love their country and all of its expansive beauty. Though Canada shares a lot of its culture with countries in Europe and America, there are many wedding customs that exist within the nation that are unique. If you are planning on getting married in the near future, you may be wondering how your fellow citizens go about the process. Recent studies have shown some interesting facts about how modern couples get married.

Long Standing Wedding Customs: The Month of December

Popping the question to your significant other is a big part of the wedding process. Without taking this initial step, you really can’t move forward with a marriage. Engagements are different depending on the culture. This is especially true of when people decide to pop the question to their partners. A study surveying a large number of Canadian men points out an interesting trend in this regard. A vast majority of men have proposed or are planning to propose in the month of December.

Age Is a Number

Wedding customs marriage change as much as the times do. Statistics show that the average age for a woman to get married in Canada in 1950 was 25. This number fluctuated a bit in the subsequent decades, dropping to an average of 23 from the 1970s until more recently. This trend in Canada reflects a larger movement happening among women of all backgrounds. Though this primarily is a shift in Western cultures, women are adopting more professional roles in greater numbers.

Under Pressure

The idea of a wedding has grown a little bit out of control in recent decades. Once, a wedding was simply a union between two people who loved each other. Polls taken of young brides approaching their wedding have shown that a large number of women feel pressured to spend more than they can afford. While you may want to spend a good amount on your wedding, it is important to be sensible with your budget and keep enough cash around to start your life with your partner after the big day.

Making It Your Own

Paying attention to wedding customs and trends can help with planning a wedding that meets your own specific needs. It is important for you to follow your own path. Couples should not caught up in what everyone else is doing.

While you may want to explore popular trends to see what is interesting to you, making your decisions based on what you personally enjoy will help result in the best celebration of your love. Find a way to make your special day a unique experience. This will make it easy to remember fondly for many years to come.

Commemorating the March Equinox
During the spring equinox, the days and nights are equal.

The Spring Equinox is the point in the year where the Earth’s tilt is perpendicular with the sun.

This year, spring officially begins on March 20. This is the day when the earth’s axis is not tilted away from the sun’s rays but rather is perpendicular to them. The equinox is thought to be the day the earth gets a day and night of equal lengths, but in reality, it depends on how the sunrise and sunset are defined. Legend says that the spring equinox is the only day of the year that an egg can be perfectly balanced on its end. It’s not true, but its fun to try.

The spring wakes us, nurtures us and revitalizes us. How often does your spring come? If you are a prisoner of the calendar, it comes once a year. If you are creating authentic power, it comes frequently, or very frequently. Gary Zukav.

Holidays and Festivals Around the Equinox

Around the world, spring is celebrated in different ways. In North America, Easter is a rite of spring that is calculated based on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the spring equinox. This is why the date of Easter changes every year; it’s a lunar date. Another Abrahamic tradition of spring is the Jewish Passover, which generally falls on the first full moon after the spring equinox. In Mexico, visitors attend spring equinox in Teotihuacán, because legend says that portals of energy open at this place.

Burn Your Socks

In Annapolis, Maryland, U.S., the spring equinox brings in the boating season. Boat owners and employees celebrate by burning socks, because the boating community only wears socks through the winter. Astrologers see the vernal equinox as the beginning of the astrological year. They celebrate the day as International Astrology Day.

Ring in the New Year

In Iran, Nowruz, the New Year, occurs during the March Equinox, based on the Persian astronomical calendar. Jamshid, a mythological king of Persia, is said to have ascended to the throne on this day. He is remembered with two weeks of celebration. The day is a secular holiday for Iranians, but it’s a sacred day for Zoroastrians. Nowruz has also been added to the national calendar of Canada since 2007. It’s a time for spring cleaning, then decorating houses with garlands of roses and jasmine. New clothes are made for the celebration.

Honor Your Ancestors

In Japan, the spring or vernal equinox day, is an official public holiday. It’s a time to visit the graves of your ancestors and pay homage to them. Grave sites are cleaned. Offerings might be made to the ancestors. Homes are cleaned up. Many people use the spring equinox to make life changes. It’s also a day to celebrate nature after the long winter. Families get together, because many people have the day off.

See the Shadow Disappear

There are two days of the year when you can see a shadow disappear. Calculate the latitude of your location then subtract that number from 90. This is the angle measure you need when you put a stick in the ground. Using a compass, find south. Point a stick or ruler in that direction. Use a protractor to measure the angle to put the stick in the ground. At noon on March 20, the shadow of the stick will disappear. It won’t on any other day except the September equinox.

Tell Stories

March 20 is the day people around the world celebrate the culture of oral history. In 2017, the theme is “transformation.” The day had its roots in Sweden, but other countries picked up the tradition. It has taken time to become more common in Canada, but many organizations do recognize the day. Tell a story to your family as you await spring. Even if the trees aren’t budding or the flowers blooming, the spring equinox marks the time when you will soon see the first signs of renewal.