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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Cheers to a Great Year!

2017 was a GREAT year for Sub Sea Systems! From new Sea TREK guides, to an exciting award for our new product, Aquaticar, we've had lots of reasons to pop a champagne cork or two!

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Start the Conversation With Christmas Trivia

For many of us, the holiday season involves shopping, wrapping gifts, and making sure Santa has a cookie or two after he comes down the chimney. It can also mean socializing with family, friends and coworkers. Whether you are attending a work Christmas party, a holiday dinner out with friends, or even a weekend reunion with family, you’ll feel far more festive with a few conversation starters at the ready. Consider getting things rolling with some weird and wacky Christmas trivia!

seven swans

Lifestyles of the Rich and Ornithological 
The “12 Days of Christmas” will take a big chunk out of a holiday budget. The cost of everything on the list, from the partridge to the drummers, totals $34,363.49, an increase of a few hundred dollars from last year. The "core" index, excluding volatile swan prices, rose 1.1% to $21,238.49.
But as the carol goes, all of the gifts except the drummers are counted multiple times, bringing the cost up to $156,507.88.

Three of the 12 gifts — the partridge in a pear tree, the five gold rings, and the 10 lords-a-leaping — saw annual cost increases that ranged from 2% to 10%.

Not So Classy
Scrooge does not celebrate with the Cratchits. While most cinema versions of "A Christmas Carol" show the reformed miser celebrating with his lower-class employee, in the book, Scrooge celebrates instead with his middle-class nephew.

christmas stockings fireplace

If the Shoe…er, Sock...Fits
Christmas stockings have an interesting history. In Holland, St. Nicholas' Feast Day is celebrated December 6. Children leave out shoes overnight and find them filled with little gifts from St. Nicolas in the morning.

What Holiday is This, Anyway?
“Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song.
James Lord Pierpont, an organist from Savannah, Georgia, first performed a song he wrote, “The One Horse Open Sleigh” at his church's Thanksgiving concert. The song was re-published in 1857 and given the title of today. Bonus fact: It's also the first song broadcast from space. On December 16, 1965, the Gemini 6 crew serenaded Mission Control after they reported seeing a "red-suited astronaut”.

rudolph red nosed reind

Rudolph was Almost Named Reginald
A copywriter named Robert L. May first invented the “most famous” reindeer in 1939, as a marketing gimmick for Montgomery Ward's holiday coloring books. (May considered naming the beloved misfit Reginald or Rollo.) And, his nose wasn't originally going to be red: a red nose was viewed as a sign of chronic alcoholism, and Montgomery Ward didn't want him to seem like a drunkard. Good thing they changed it. "Reginald, the blue-nosed reindeer" doesn't have quite the same charm.
Chicken: It’s What’s For (Christmas) Dinner
Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC for Christmas dinner, thanks to a successful marketing campaign over 40 years ago. KFC is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance..

Bing It On
The bestselling Christmas single ever is Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas”, selling over 50 million copies worldwide since 1942.

In White Christmas, the movie, Rosemary Clooney revealed that the "midnight snack" scene, in which Bob Wallace expounds on his theory of what foods cause what dreams, was almost entirely improvised.

Lots of Frequent Flyer Miles
Santa's sleigh doesn’t travel at the speed of light. Despite what you might think about Santa's ability to visit every good boy and girl's home in the world in one night, it's not as astronomical of a feat as you might think. Technically, Santa would have 34 hours to complete his task, thanks to the International Date Line and, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s “Fermilab”, his sleigh would only have to travel at 99.999999% of the speed of light assuming he only visits 800 million houses over the entire surface area of the Earth.

Not So Wonderful
It’s A Wonderful Life was mentioned in an FBI file in 1947, when an analyst expressed concern that the film was an obvious attempt to discredit bankers, a “common trick used by communists.”

carp in bathtub

Something’s Fishy
In parts of Eastern Europe, it's customary to place a live carp in your bathtub for consumption on Christmas Eve. Some suggest that it's due to the fish's vital role in the region’s fishing industry, and because eating meat was considered a luxury—thus the need to save the carp for a special occasion.

Skip the Plastic?
Gift cards are the most requested holiday present for 10 years running. In 2016, more than 60% of people surveyed by the National Retail Federation said they requested a gift card as a holiday gift.
However, over $970 million in gift cards went unused in 2015 alone. Since 2005, some $45.7 billion worth of gift cards have been floating around in unused gift card balances.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Water-Loving Wordsmiths Take a Trek

We’re always excited to see Sea TREK participants post photos of their experiences on Instagram and Facebook. Frequently, we share these pictures on our own social media accounts. But, once in awhile, we find a true standout. Whether it’s someone with physical challenges checking off a bucket list item, or a Trekker proposing underwater, there are some participants that are truly inspiring!

Last week, two standout Trekkers crossed the Sea TREK Instagram account. Sheri Fink and her partner, Derek Taylor Kent, shared their Sea TREK photos and tagged us in the images. We contacted Sheri to see if she would agree to let us share the pics, and in her response she mentioned that she and Derek authored a children’s book titled…ready for it? ... “Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse”! We had just stumbled upon two people who certainly fit our criteria for standout personalities! Digging a little deeper, we discovered that the duo possess many talents: from award-winning authors, to recording artists, to motivational speakers. We enjoyed their story so much that we asked for an interview!

What first got you interested in the ocean environment?

Sheri: When I was a little girl, I became enamored with mermaids and the underwater world. I’ve always been fascinated by sea life, especially seahorses, dolphins and narwhals. Growing up in rural Virginia, the ocean was three and a half hours away and it felt like a magical world that was just beyond my reach. Living in Southern California today, I’m only ten minutes from the ocean, and I’ve spent many evenings watching the sun melt into the horizon and imagining the mysterious world beneath the waves.

Derek: I grew up in Los Angeles, so beach trips were a part of our daily lives. Our school would take trips to the Cabrillo Marine Museum, Catalina, and local aquariums where we learned about the amazing variety of sea life, the delicate underwater ecosystem and the importance of conservation. My grandparents also had a beach house in Marina Del Rey, so I grew up swimming in the ocean and appreciating the importance of keeping it clean and safe.

Are you involved with any ocean conservation programs?

Sheri and Derek: Before writing The Little Seahorse, Sheri commenced her research by traveling to Hawaii, where she met with the owners of the Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm. They are dedicated to the conservation of both seahorses and leafy sea dragons, which are both highly endangered and have required extraordinary efforts to prevent from going extinct. It has been a great honor to support them and help spread awareness about the plight of these fragile creatures. The Little Seahorse and Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse are carried in aquarium gift shops throughout North America, and proceeds from those sales benefit ocean conservation programs in local regions. Derek loves to cook, and takes any opportunity to educate kids and friends about the importance of sustainability both with seafood and land food.

What inspired you to write “The Little Seahorse”

Sheri: I’ve always found seahorses to be whimsical and thought their unique appearance and attributes were perfect for a children’s book. I wanted to write a story that inspired bashful kids to be brave, and found the shy personality of seahorses an ideal fit to illustrate a common dilemma that kids face. In the story, a seahorse stumbles upon a beautiful pearl that he wants to give as a gift to his mother, but doesn’t have any means to bring it to her. When he sees other fish circling the pearl, at first he is scared and mistrustful, but then learns to speak up and ask for help.

As authors, recording artists and motivational speakers, what is the secret to your success?

Sheri: My mission is to inspire and delight kids of all ages while planting seeds of self-esteem that can have lifelong benefits. I’m very passionate about empowering people to live their best lives and align my actions with my values. That helps me minimize distractions, energy drains, and things that just don’t matter so that I can focus on fully living my life and inspiring others along the way.

Derek: I love what I do, whether it’s writing or being creative in any other field, so when you put in the hard work, heart, and soul into a project, people notice and will want to connect with you and support you.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Sheri: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” – Dr. Seuss

Derek: Don’t ever judge a fish by its color!

What made you decide to try Sea TREK?

Sheri and Derek: Sheri first saw Sea TREK when she visited Catalina several years ago, but it wasn’t yet operational, so it’s been on her adventure list ever since. We were visiting Miami last month for the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards. Our co-authored book, Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse, received special recognition. When we visit a new city, we like to check out the local aquariums or sea adventures. When we found out that the Miami Seaquarium had a Sea TREK, we made reservations right away! We love new adventures and to have an activity that involved our love of sea life was a no-brainer. 

Tell us about your TREK!

Sheri and Derek: After suiting up in our wetsuits and viewing the safety video, we were ready for our trek. Underwater, it was a small group of four people plus the guide and the helper. We descended eighteen feet down into the aquarium, which held a remarkable variety of sea life that were all native to Biscayne Bay. There were countless stingrays, tropical fish, sharks, groupers, lobsters, and moray eels. It was amazing getting to reach out and touch the fish. They treated us like part of the environment and were surprisingly social and friendly. I’m sure the guides bringing in sardines and krill for them helped with our popularity, but just being able to see the fish eat, swim, and move as one school just inches away was an experience we will never forget. The guides took fantastic photos of all the action and we made sure to get a romantic picture of us “kissing” helmet-to-helmet. The technology was amazing how it allowed for clear vision even with the constant breathing. It was comfortable and easy to use. As we exited the tank, the twenty minutes felt so brief, we wished we could stay in another hour, but we look forward to our next Sea TREK in the near future.

What was your favorite part of TREKking?

Sheri and Derek: It was an incredible experience to feel like just another fish in the aquarium. The stingrays were remarkably curious and docile. It was a thrill to interact with them. As we made our way around the aquarium, it ended on a high note as we each got to hold a giant grouper as if it were a baby and feed it krill directly from a baby bottle. Sheri could not stop laughing at this surreal scene and has since sworn that she will never eat grouper again!

Do you have any fears about the ocean or its in habitants? If so, have you overcome these fears?

Sheri: I’m very cautious about swimming in the ocean, as I’ve been stung multiple times by jellyfish on my adventures over the years. I’ve been snorkeling and scuba diving in Hawaii, and I love the freedom that the Sea TREK technology provides to be safely under the water, fully immersed in the environment with the sea life, in an aquarium environment as well as in the ocean without having to worry about my equipment or getting water in my eyes, ears, or mouth. It’s so much more enjoyable!

Derek: I’ve never been afraid to venture into the ocean, but I think it’s important to know the dangers and always be cautious and aware. There’s a much greater chance of having an accident due to waves and tides than any sea creature, so riptides and pollution are what’s much more scary to me.

What projects do you have on the horizon?

Sheri: Our newest book, Counting Sea Life with the Little Seahorse, just debuted in September 2017 and we’re continuing to travel to promote it over the coming months. In fact, Derek and I will soon be snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef this January for our honeymoon! My next children’s book, The Little Unicorn, will be released in 2018. It's about a unicorn who loses her sparkle and goes on a daring adventure to find it, only to discover that it was within her all along.

Derek: I just released an educational picture book called Simon and the Solar System. Think Dr. Seuss in outer space. I also have a new middle-grade novel coming out in early 2018 called Principal Mikey, about a 10-year-old kid who becomes principal of his school.

Sheri Fink Little Seahorse Books

Where can readers buy your books?

Sheri: You can find my books on, Barnes and Noble, independent bookstores, aquariums, and select toy stores and children’s boutiques throughout North America. Personalized, autographed copies can be ordered directly on my website at Fans can find me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I’d love to hear from you!

Derek: All the same places as Sheri, (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter). You can also check them all out in one place at and follow me on social media @DerekTaylorKent.

If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do?

Sheri: I love what I’m doing personally and professionally … I’d do exactly what I’m doing now, but on a much larger scale.

Derek: All the Sea TREKs in the world.

Thank you, Sheri and Derek for sharing your story and perspective. We are so glad you enjoyed your Sea TREK experience, and we wish you all the best with your amazing books and future endeavors (including your pending nuptials)!

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Thursday, December 7, 2017

December Holidays Across the Globe

The holiday season is upon us! For many of us, that means Christmas or Hanukkah festivities, family gatherings, overeating, and a little dent in the wallet. But December is full of holidays outside of those most familiar. A variety of holidays across the globe happen this month!

Soyal winter solstice

Soyal, or Winter Solstice (December 21)
Soyal is the winter solstice ceremony of the Zuni and the Hopi, The Soyal Ceremony begins on the shortest day of the year, and symbolizes the second phase of Creation at the Dawn of Life. Its prayers and rituals implement a plan of life for the coming year, ceremonially brining back the sun from its winter slumber. Lasting up to 16 days, sacred rituals are performed in underground chambers called kivas. Paphos, or prayer sticks, are made prior to the Soyal ceremony, to bless all the community, including homes, animals, and plants.

Many ceremonies involve dancing and singing; the “kachinas”, or spirits, may even bring gifts to the children, who are also are given kachina dolls, to help them learn about the hundreds of kachina spirits.

Elders pass down stories to children, teaching pivotal lessons like respecting others. The Hopi believe everything that will occur during the year is arranged at Soyal.

Yule/Chrismastide  (December 21-January 1)
Yule is a Germanic Winter festival, which was originally celebrated on the Winter solstice and ran for approximately 2 months. In modern times, this holiday has been reformulated and renamed Christmastide. Yule can be traced back thousands of years to Germany and Scandinavia. No one knows exactly how long it was celebrated, but early manuscripts talk about this holiday as early as the 4th century.

The main component of any Yule celebration was the Yule log. This tree would be cut down on the Winter solstice and fed into the fireplace – and this was done without chopping it into pieces! The top of the tree would be fed into the fireplace and over the course of the next 2 months, more and more would be pushed in as the winter progressed. Today, Christmastide includes feasts that incorporate foods such as pork, turkey, eggnog, fruits, nuts, and cider-soaked cakes. Yule is still celebrated in several Scandinavian countries.

boxing day hunt

Boxing Day (December 26)
Boxing Day is a National Holiday in both Great Britain and Ireland. There are competing theories regarding the origins of the holiday, but many believe that Boxing Day was traditionally a day off for servants to spend with their families, and they would often receive a  ‘Christmas Box’ from their employers containing money, gifts Boxing Day is a time to spend with family or friends, usually those not seen on Christmas Day itself. In recent times, the day has become synonymous with many sports. Horse racing is particularly popular, as is hunting.

Boxing Day is also a time when the British show their eccentricity by taking part in all kinds of silly activities. These include bizarre traditions including swimming the icy cold English Channel, fun runs, and charity events. Several other countries also celebrate Boxing Day, including New Zealand, Australia and Nigeria.

Kwanzaa celebration

Kwanzaa (December 26-January 1)
Kwanzaa is a weeklong celebration honoring African heritage. First celebrated in 1966, the name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning "first fruits of the harvest".

African books and artworks are utilized to represent values and concepts reflective of African culture. Corn, the primary symbol of the celebration, is used for both decoration and celebratory dining.

Families celebrating Kwanzaa decorate their households with colorful African cloth and fresh fruits that represent African idealism. It is customary to include children in Kwanzaa ceremonies, who are encouraged to give respect and gratitude to their ancestors. Libations are shared, generally in a common chalice, which is passed around to all celebrants.

feast of our lady of guadalupe

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12)
Mexican Catholic communities celebrate Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This celebration commemorates the appearance of Mary to the Mexican peasant Juan Diego. This Feast Day, an important holiday in Mexico, has also become an important day for Mexican Americans to celebrate their religious and cultural identity.

In preparation for Feast Day, many participants erect altars in their homes, which include images of Our Lady of Guadalupe surrounded by candles and flowers. The night before the feast, communities gather and form circles to recite prayers and recount the story of the appearance of Mary. After completing the prayers, the crowd moves into a nearby church to sing songs of celebration.

Since it is a happy day for Mexicans, traditional Mexican food and drink are enjoyed.

las posadas

Las Posadas (December 16-24)
With its origins in Spain, Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration that is now primarily celebrated in Mexico, Guatemala, and parts of the Southwestern United States. The roots of this holiday are in Catholicism, but several different branches of Christian Latinos follow the tradition.

During the celebration, a small child dressed as an angel leads a procession, which moves from house to house and stops at each to say a prayer or sing a carol. Eventually, the procession ends at a home or church, and the celebration continues with caroling and feasting, and concludes with the breaking of piñatas filled with candy, toys, and, occasionally, money.

Does your family have any unique holiday traditions that make the season especially bright? Share them below!

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

When the Spirit Moves You - Volunteer!


For most of us, December is a flurry of activity, from holiday shopping to trimming the tree. But for some, the holidays are not as cheery. Families in crisis and beloved military that are far from home deserve to feel the holiday spirit, too.

This holiday season, you can make a difference by volunteering to help those in need. Take advantage of the wide variety of volunteer programs and opportunities that exist throughout the month of December.

Honoring Our Military
You can send holiday cheer to a veteran by sending a simple greeting card. The American Red Cross “Holidays for Heroes” program delivers cards to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families. This year’s program will deliver cards from communities to local military facilities, veteran’s homes, hospitals, and military family support groups. You can read more about how to send a holiday card to a veteran here.

Want to do more for our wonderful heroes? You can adopt a military family via “Operation Christmas Spirit.” Adopt-a-family by fulfilling their Christmas wish lists with gifts for all family members, or send gift cards so that they can do their own shopping. You can also “adopt” single Marines and Sailors by giving them gifts and gifts cards, so that they can celebrate while away from their families. Read more here.

Serenade a Senior
The holiday can be lonely for seniors who may be separated from family. You can help spread cheer to seniors by serenading them with holiday songs and carols. Pleasant Hill, an affordable housing community, offers the opportunity to be a singing sensation and serenade a senior for the day. Check out the details here.

Travel and Triumph
Combining a unique vacation with volunteerism offers a chance to spread the holiday spirit of goodwill to children and communities in need. The IVHQ’s Peru – Lima program enables volunteers to help out with Christmas-oriented activities in various children’s shelters throughout the city during the month of December. Traditionally, the volunteers also travel to an Andean village to put on a Christmas celebration. IVHQ’s volunteer program in Colombia offers volunteers a special experience and the chance to help communities in need during the festive season. For volunteers who travel during Christmas and New Year, additional activities include assisting with small Christmas parties at elderly care facilities, feeding the homeless and helping with childcare. For more information, go to the volunteer hq website.

Keep it Local
If you would prefer to volunteer in your own community, many churches and local Goodwill or Salvation Army locations offer volunteer programs from feeding the homeless to “playing Santa” and distributing gifts to children. For a list of Salvation Army locations, go here.

Sub Sea Employees Volunteer

Our Volunteerism
For the past 3 years, Sub Sea Systems has participated in an annual coat drive organized by AIT Logistics. Collected coats are distributed to homeless and families in need through the Union Gospel Mission in Sacramento, California. Last year, several volunteers from Sub Sea Systems helped hand out the collected coats, as well as socks, tarps, gloves and blankets to the homeless. The volunteers also assisted in serving a warm holiday meal at the shelter. We’re looking forward to this year’s coat collection and helping serve the homeless in our community.

The Union Gospel Mission serves over 8,500 meals every month to the homeless men, women and children of Sacramento. The Mission also offers chapel services 8 times a week, a 9-month in-house drug and alcohol rehabilitation program along with vocational training and job placement. If you’re interested in volunteering or donating to the Mission, visit:

 For additional volunteer opportunities this holiday season, check out There are over 700 volunteer programs listed! You’ll feel all the merrier, knowing that you have made the holidays brighter for someone in need.

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Part 4, Get to Know Sub Sea Staff!

Next in our series, "Get to Know Sub Sea Staff" we'd like to introduce you to Tiffany Bishop! Tiffany has been working for Sub Sea Systems for 3 years. She and her partner, Tyler work together at SSS Headquarters with the awesome responsibility of making sure all of our Sea TREK and Clear Lounge locations are equipped with everything needed to run smoothly. She was also involved in the intense process of helping to get the new 3,000 pound Aquaticar shipment from California to Orlando in time for the IAAPA trade show!

What is your job title?
Officially, my title is "SeaTREK Technician"- but I’d like to think of myself more as a “Sub Sea Systems Technician.”

How would you describe your job to someone you just met? 
Gosh, this one is a difficult question… I usually start off with “we make underwater diving helmets for the less experienced diver.” Which is always followed by a look of bewilderment. That’s when I look down hoping that I have one of our SeaTREK t-shirts on, so that I can just point to the helmet- which is still followed by a crazy look. I just summarize it: “we have awesome underwater diving helmets in many locations all over the world, and we have also been creating new things that would just blow your mind in the form of underwater entertainment.” My part in all of this includes managing inventory, shipping awkwardly shaped items to locations, and handling whatever else needs assembling. Everything from putting logos on Sea TREK helmets to making sure we’ve got the right parts for our products, and that they get where they need to, when they need to.

What is your favorite part of the job?
Honestly, my favorite part of working here is being able to work with my better half, Tyler. I never imagined that we'd get the opportunity to work together, and for a company that is like no other. Words can’t even describe what it means to us to be part of this adventure. The different, amazing concepts that I have seen come to life before my eyes- its almost hard to call it work.

What do you do in your spare time, away from work?
Well depending on the weather, I like to go camping way out in the backcountry, away from any people or cell phone service- with just my best friend, our 2 dogs, Jack and Dewy, and our gold mining equipment. It is always a lot of work and we never find as much gold as we hope, but its still the thrill of the hunt. Once you find that first glimmer of gold in your gold pan, you’re hooked!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? 
Something I have come to realize is that life is really short, and time is the one thing you can never get back once it has passed. So, with this in mind, I try to make the most of the time that I have with my loved ones, no matter how crazy they can be!

What are you the most proud of?
I guess I would have to be most proud of how versatile my work skills are. If there is something I don’t know how to do, I want to learn how to do it. I like to be open-minded and I try to learn new things everyday.

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
I would like to be able to freeze time. I always thought it would be cool to do that.

Beer or wine?  Cocktail- or just an Original Smirnoff Ice.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

"Thanksgiving" Around the World

In just a few days, Americans will spend quality time with friends and family, watch some serious football, and “gobble down” way too much food. It’s time for a celebration of gratitude… and every recipe imaginable for leftover turkey!

While Thanksgiving is considered an American tradition, you might be surprised to learn that several other countries celebrate similar holidays. Their dates, meanings and customs may differ, but they all revolve around the celebration of gratitude.

Erntedankfest- Germany
Germans participate in Erntedankfest, a religious holiday that typically takes place on the first Sunday of October. Ermtedamlfest is a harvest festival that celebrates “a good year and good fortune.” In rural areas the harvest is taken more literally, but cities also hold festivities. Celebrants don an Erntekrone, a harvest crown made of grain, flowers and fruit. The feast favors chickens, hens, geese and castrated roosters.

August Moon Festival-China
The Chinese population celebrates August Moon Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month on the Chinese calendar. The Chinese believe that the moon is roundest and brightest on that day. The holiday is alternatively known as Women Festival, as women are considered similes to the warmth of the moonlight. Gifts of fertility are often shared, including the Chinese moon cake. Friends and relatives convey their love for one another by gifting the delicacy.

Brazilian Thanksgiving
The Ambassador of Brazil created a contemporary version of the traditional U.S. holiday in the 1940s. After visiting the U.S., he fell in love with the concept of the American holiday. Celebrated on the last Thursday of November, Brazilian Thanksgiving begins with a church service to give thanks for the fall harvest and ends with an autumn carnival. The meal served in Brazil is almost identical to the U.S. dinner, including turkey (called “peru”) and cranberry sauce.

Vietnam- Tết Trung Thu Festival
In Vietnam, people celebrate the Tết Trung Thu Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival) in September or early October. This fall celebration is also known as the Children’s Festival. The Vietnamese believe children are symbols of innocence and purity - the closest connection to the sacred and natural world. Children light lanterns and perform lion dances as part of the celebration. This is the second most important holiday tradition in Vietnam! Tet Trung Thu is very much like a combination of the U.S. holidays – Halloween and Thanksgiving; children parade on the streets, while singing and carrying colorful lanterns of different sizes. One of the most popular shapes is a lantern that spins when a candle is inserted, representing the earth circling the sun. Dances, including the traditional Vietnamese dragon dance, are also part of the festivities.

Pongal is a 4-day festival celebrated January 12th through the 15th, to mark the beginning of the end of the winter season in India. The second day, Surya Pongal, is the most important day of the festival. On this day, people throw their old clothes into the fire, have an oil massage and then wear new clothes, to worship Surya, the sun god. During the festival, cattle are bathed, dressed and served pongal (rice boiled in milk), women of the house perform puja for the prosperity of their brothers, and families decorate their floor with decorative patterns using rice flour.

Barbados: Crop Over
The Crop Over, a traditional harvest festival in Barbados, features singing, dancing, climbing a greased pole, feasting, drinking competitions and calypso music competitions. The celebration starts in June and ends on the first Monday in August. With street parties, craft markets, food tents, Crop Over has evolved into Barbados’ biggest national festival -- similar to Carnival in Brazil and Trinidad.

Israel: Sukkot
Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical holiday celebrated between late September and late October. On this special occasion, Jewish people reflect on how the Israelites felt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt, as referenced in the Bible. The 7-day tradition includes special prayer services and holiday meals. Structures called “Sukkah”, constructed of natural materials including fruits and vegetables, are an iconic part of this holiday. If you visit Israel during Sukkot, you will see sukkahs built in yards and balconies throughout Israeli neighborhoods.

There are several other countries that observe their own versions of Thanksgiving, with a wide variety of engaging celebrations and traditions.  What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Share with us below! 

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