Valentine’s Day Exposed: 10 Fascinating Facts About Feb. 14

Valentine’s Day Exposed: 10 Fascinating Facts About Feb. 14

Excerpted article was written BY ROBERT KIENER, READER’S DIGEST

Although Valentine’s Day is thought to be named after a Christian saint, there’s nothing remotely religious about this day set aside for love and lovers.

There are references linking Valentine’s Day to courtship in the Middle Ages but it wasn’t until the late 18th century that the British began sending paper Valentine cards to one another. Americans adopted the custom and ran with it, turning February 14th into a mass-marketer’s dream day of chocolate, cards, flowers, and, lest we forget, love. Today Valentine’s Day is popping up in lots of places. Admittedly, in countries where it’s a recent import, it’s mainly celebrated by younger people.

Not Everyone’s a Fan of Valentine’s Day

Plenty of people loathe February 14th, among them single, divorced or just plain depressed folks who suffer from what’s been termed “the Valentine’s Day Blues.” Others are put off by the over-hyped marketing. Elsewhere, it’s been criticized as too western, too Christian or too immoral. Saudi Arabia bans the sale of red roses and other Valentine’s Day items, because it’s a western holiday named after a Christian saint. Malaysian religious authorities arrested more than 100 Muslim couples for celebrating Valentine’s Day in 2011 and Iran banned the printing of Valentine’s Day related materials.

The Origins of Cupid

How did a chunky, naked baby with wings, a bow and an arrow come to symbolize romance? Meet Cupid, off-spring of the Roman god Venus. Named after the Latin word for “desire” (cupido), legend has it that the chubby cherub can cause a victim to fall in love merely by shooting a golden arrow into his or her heart.

Valentine’s Day in France

Paris may be the world’s most romantic city, but the French villages of Saint Valentin and Roquemaure are competing hard. Every year, on the weekend closest to Feb. 14, Saint Valentin offers lovers the chance to marry in a rose-covered garden and pin love notes on the Tree of Vows. Roquemaure’s “lovers’ festival” boasts 19th-century costumes and music.

Valentine’s Day in Japan

Because of a supposed error in early Valentine’s Day candy ads in Japan, women thought they were supposed to give men candy—instead of the other way around. Candy makers dubbed March 14th as a “reply day” called “White Day” and urged men to give chocolates to the women. It worked. The custom caught on. These days, Japanese chocolate companies make 50% of their annual sales over Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day in Thailand

Lovebirds flock to Bangkok’s Bang Rak district, Thailand’s “Village of Love” to be married on Valentine’s Day. They believe the aptly named village will ensure them a long lasting marriage, and they begin lining up outside the Bang Rack district office in the wee hours of the morning.

Valentine’s Day in Italy

Each year the city of Verona receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet on Valentine’s Day. Verona is where Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet lived.

Valentine’s Day in Australia

An Australian family planning organization celebrates National Condom Day on February 14, encouraging lovers to “say it with flowers, do it with condoms.”

Valentine’s Day in the USA

One study claims 53% of women in America would dump their boyfriend if they did not get them anything for Valentine’s Day. Another US study found that 38% of men have considered ending a relationship rather than face the task of choosing a “really good” gift for their partner. Pets on the other hand, make out like bandits: Americans spend an estimate $367 million on Valentine’s Day presents for their fur babies.

Valentine’s Day in India

In 2009, members of a Hindu fundamentalist group named The Sri Ram Sene attacked women in a pub in Mangalore, and their leader Pramod Muthalik announced he’d deal harshly with anybody celebrating Valentine’s Day. A group of young women decided to fight back by asking women all over the country to mail the organization pink panties. It got thousands in the mail; more than 3,000 women participated int he campaign. It seems to have worked. Celebrations for the past several years have been quiet.


New Changes To The Employment Standards Act, 2000 Will Affect Calculation Of New Year’s Day Holiday Pay

Article by Christopher Sinal

Effective January 1, 2018, the method used for calculating public holiday pay has changed, meaning that the way employers are required to pay qualifying employees for New Year’s Day will be different than the method used for calculating Christmas and Boxing Day pay.

Prior to January 1, employers calculated public holiday pay by taking the employee’s earnings over the previously worked four weeks and dividing that number by 20. Now, employers must base public holiday pay on the total amount of regular wages the employee earned in the last pay period the employee worked immediately before the public holiday (i.e. before January 1, 2018), and divide that number by the number of days the employee actually worked. Please note that the “first and last” rule continues to apply.

As before, if an employer and employee agree that the employee will work a public holiday, the employer must provide the employee with either: 1) regular wages on the holiday and a substitute day off with public holiday pay; or, 2) holiday pay and premium pay for each hour worked on the holiday (and not substitute day off). One new wrinkle has been added in the legislation, effective January 1: where an employer gives an employee an alternate holiday, the employer must also give the employee a written statement setting out: 1) the public holiday on which the employee will work; 2) the date of the alternate, substitute holiday; and, 3) the date on which the written statement was provided to the employee.

A number of other changes came into effect January 1, 2018 as well regarding vacation time, leaves of absence, and personal sick days.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

Last-minute gifts that give back: A holiday rescue guide

Last-minute gifts that give back: A holiday rescue guide

The holidays are fast approaching, which means last-minute gift shoppers are urgently searching for that special something to give their special someone. UNICEF Canada offers this holiday rescue guide, a list of meaningful gifts that will help children in need this season.

“It’s been a tough year for kids. From famine to war to hurricanes, children have borne the brunt of the world’s suffering,” said Simon Chorley, Acting Deputy Director of International Programs at UNICEF Canada. “The great thing is that we can each do something about it. These holidays, Canadians can send real gifts – items like therapeutic food and warm blankets – to vulnerable children around the world. What better gift than to have a real impact on a child’s life?”

Every day, thousands of children around the world die from preventable causes. UNICEF ships Survival Gifts to children in 140 countries to keep them safe, healthy, warm and protected. Through a quick online purchase at UNICEF Canada’s online Survival Gifts store at, gifts are sent to some of the world’s most vulnerable children.

“Many of the children UNICEF works to reach are caught in conflict and living in hard-to-reach areas. They’re living in conditions that most Canadians would find unacceptable,” said Chorley. “This holiday season, Canadians can help us make sure that fewer children die by purchasing a UNICEF Survival Gift. We’ll send it straight to a child in need, delivery guaranteed.”

Last year, Canadians bought more than 37 million Survival Gifts, which UNICEF shipped straight to the most vulnerable children.

Five last-minute holiday gifts that give back

For Canadians looking for a convenient way to make a meaningful impact this holiday season, UNICEF Canada recommends these five life-saving gifts:

1) Bed Nets: “Malaria accounts for 800 child deaths a day in Africa,” said Chorley. “An insecticide-treated mosquito net is the most effective way to protect and save young lives.” A set of three bed nets is $11.

2) Plumpy’Nut®: “You can boost a malnourished child’s chance of survival with Plumpy’Nut®, a therapeutic, peanut-based food,” said Chorley. “Three packets a day can help an undernourished child gain up to two pounds in one week, effectively saving their life.” A 21 pack is $12.

3) Water Purification Tablets: “Diarrhea remains a leading killer of young children,” said Chorley. “The gift of clean water for drinking and bathing can mean the difference between life and death for a child.” 4,832 tablets are $31.

4) Restock an Emergency Medical Centre: “From the onset of crises, UNICEF is among the first to arrive with help,” said Chorley. “We support emergency medical centres, which provide vital medical supplies to save children’s lives.” $52restocks an entire centre.

5) Vaccine Pack: “When we vaccinate kids, we protect them from a host of deadly diseases like tetanus, measles and polio,” said Chorley. “You can help make sure fewer children die from preventable causes.” One pack is $47.

The UNICEF Survival Gifts online store is open 24 hours a day and features more than 60 life-saving items for quick sale.

About Survival Gifts
Survival Gifts are real gifts with real impact for children and families around the world. They are delivered year round to reach the most vulnerable children. When you purchase a UNICEF Survival Gift on behalf of a friend or loved one, the recipient receives a card or e-card that celebrates the good their gift is doing, while a vulnerable child or family receives the actual items. Real items come from the UNICEF warehouse in Copenhagen, Denmark – the world’s largest humanitarian warehouse. The gifts are sent to more than 140 developing countries where UNICEF is working with children, families and communities. For more information or to purchase UNICEF Survival Gifts, please visit

UNICEF has saved more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries – more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit For updates, follow us on Twitter and Facebook or visit


Holiday coping skills when someone you love has dementia

During the holidays it is not only hard for the person living with this disease, but it is also hard for family and friends to journey alongside and provide the required care.

Within the next 5 years an estimated 937,000 Canadians will be living with Alzheimer’s disease or some form of dementia.

Joy Birch, COO of Highview Residences, outlines these key points to consider as you plan for family gatherings

  1. Safety is the highest consideration.
    Keep things simple. Avoid decorations that look like food or candy. Limit sugar and alcohol consumption. Designate one strong person to assist with any travelling, even for short trips from the car to the front door.
  2. Determine what your expectations are and keep them realistic. Rather than long periods together with large groups. plan for shorter amounts of quality time, each with fewer family members.
  3. Ask yourself what traditions are most important? For each activity make a list weighing the challenges, for example, stairs, too many noise distractions, blinking lights, bathroom concerns, etc.
  4. You, and any hosts whose homes you might visit, will need to know what your loved one with dementia requires. Make a list identifying strategies to overcome each.

For example, if your loved one requires a quiet area, be sure to have a space readily available for them to rest and remove themselves from a crowd.

Joy Birch is the COO of Highview Residences, a specialized, purpose built care home for people with dementia. Joy combines years of operational and hands on experience to provide coping mechanisms that will help support caregivers this holiday season.

SOURCE Highview Residences

8 Ways to Prevent World War Three at Your Holiday Dinner

8 Ways to Prevent World War Three at Your Holiday Dinner


Don’t see eye to eye with family members on a hot-button political issue? Relationship and wellness expert Deepak Kashyap shares tips on how to prevent your holiday dinner from descending into a heated political deb

How to Prevent Politics From Derailing Your Holiday Dinner

Getting the family together for holiday dinner can be fun and festive—but it can also be fraught with tension. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, chances are, you’ll find yourself at odds with the views held by some (or all!) of your family members over the holidays. These political differences can actually strain your relationships to the point that you begin to dread—or even avoid—getting together for the annual holiday dinner. Before things reach that stage, try these simple strategies for defusing political tensions at the holiday dinner table—and even beyond.

1. Focus on the reason you’re together.

Don’t lose the sight of the reason why the family has come together for holiday dinner. You’re here to party, not to persuade. If a political argument erupts, try reiterating the need for gratitude and celebration: it’s not every day you’re surrounded by people who share not only a common history, but also love for each other—and love doesn’t always require you to be in agreement.

2. Debates get heated, but discussions should stay warm.

When a holiday dinner conversation gets political, learn how to convey your dissent without conveying disrespect. Try doing this by asking questions rather then making assertions: Intelligent, respectful inquiries are what differentiate a warm discussion from a heated debate. In a debate, the tone is aggressive—usually a defensive reaction. A debater isn’t necessary evil or wrong: more likely, they’re scared of being verbally assaulted—or worse, invalidated.

3. Let curiosity replace curses.

Passion and politeness are not mutually exclusive—even when politics are concerned. You will have to go deep inside your beautiful, loving caring heart, and with all the genuine effort you can muster, find the desire to understand—and not lecture—the person you’re disagreeing with. Respond with genuine, respectful curiosity every time you’re faced with an opinion that you don’t share.

4. Practice humility.

Have the humility to recognize that political opinions are not facts, and facts make sense to us based on our opinions. No matter how educated and rational you might be—and regardless of which side of the political spectrum you sit or which causes you’re fighting for—it’s important to remember that we can never know all of the facts all of the time. Facts join together to make a pattern based on our pre-existing beliefs, and this is true not only for your radical activist uncle, but for you as well. Intellectual humility will not only make you feel less defensive, but will also make you a true student of life. It is only certainty of self–righteousness that begets violence in words and actions.

5. Love doesn’t mean submission to your values.

Love doesn’t require you to see eye-to-eye in every aspect of life. In fact, demanding absolute compatibility of political views will only alienate others—even the potential allies of your cause. As the award-winner writer Alain de Botton points out, compatibility should be the consequence of love, and not always its pre-requisite.

6. Remember that stupidity is not a crime.

Even if someone shares an uneducated opinion, it doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to express that opinion. One of the ironies of living in a free country is that it guarantees our right to be stupid: In fact, it’s essential to the working of democracy that we allow dissenting voices to be heard, no matter how absurd those voices may seem to us.

7. Examine your own lack of empathy.

It’s difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes—let alone walk a mile in them—when your own political views are narrow and rigid. When having a conversation with someone whose perspective runs completely counter to your own, it’s easy to dismiss their arguments as evil and bigoted. It’s also intellectually lazy and counterproductive on your part. Instead, try to show a genuine interest in understanding their hopes and fears. You don’t have to agree with your aunt’s views on abortion, but you can at least empathize with the reasons she feels so strongly about the issue.

8. When all else fails, run interference.

If all else fails and World War III seems inevitable, practice avoidance and diversion. Reroute the heated political conversation along a safer course, changing the topic to the weather, your health, gardening, or your love for puppies. It might be a bitter pill to swallow, but it can be worth the effort if it helps keep the peace with the ones we love.



To Host the Best Holiday Party Hand Out Bonuses and Go Home

To Host the Best Holiday Party Hand Out Bonuses and Go Home

GENE MARKS | President of The Marks Group

There are people in this world who know all about throwing great office Holiday parties. Take Annette Joseph, for example.

Annette is a stylist, TV personality and author of Picture Perfect Parties She’s everywhere online giving the kind of advice that most people wouldn’t even think about. For example, in a recent post on Pinterest she showed all the great and wonderful ways business owners can throw that perfect holiday party, even when just using stuff from your local Staples’ Copy and Print Center. (And no, I’m not being paid to endorse anyone here). This woman can create a party from anything.

Me? I’m no stylist and I’m not creative enough to come up with all these great ideas. But two decades of attending both horrible and excellent holiday parties thrown by my clients have taught me a few things about throwing an office holiday party that have nothing to do with flowers and decorations and customized invitations purchased at Staples.

For starters, have it in house. Don’t rent out a restaurant. Don’t have some gala, black-tie affair in a hotel or catering hall. You’re not in the Fortune 500. The companies that do that kind of thing clearly have way more money to waste than you. Besides, most people don’t want to take an evening away from home for some stuffy affair. They want to relax in a familiar place. There’s nothing wrong with doing an office party in your office. Check out Annette’s site above and you’ll find a ton of good recommendations for decorating your office, way better than some restaurant.

Don’t serve alcohol. This is a liability you just don’t want. The last thing you need is for some Jabroni from the warehouse to drink a few too many beers and then run over a puppy on the way home…or another living thing, if you get my drift. You’ll be in court before you know it, lawyered up and defending your poor judgment. People can have a good time without alcohol. It’s actually possible. Make up for it with good, catered food. If your employees want to go for an after-party at the local bar, good for them. And good for you, for avoiding this lawsuit.

Don’t invite family members. They kill a holiday party. I’ve seen this with my own eyes. There’s a lot that goes on at work. Relationships are very different and sometimes, unfortunately…well, complicated. You don’t want to be in the middle of that. Wives, husbands and even children of an employee completely change the vibe of a holiday party. You want your people hanging out together where work isn’t the primary topic of concern. You want your party to be an opportunity for your employees to make connections and grow as a team. Having family there completely negates that idea. Try to have the party on a Friday afternoon or another, similar time when it’s not taking your employees away from their families for very long.

Tell everyone thanks. My company is virtual, we have no offices and see each other as a group maybe twice a year. Maybe. Sure, my overhead is lower. But we are very, very dysfunctional! At least at our holiday gathering I can tap the glass with a spoon and say a few nice words. I take the chance to speak with everyone individually and give thanks. I also hand out bonus checks too, which I slip into a holiday card also saying thanks. This is my one chance a year to truly show how grateful I am for everyone’s work. A good holiday party is, if nothing else, the business owner’s chance to say thanks. Take it.

Finally, leave them alone. That means: go. Go home. Leave a responsible manager in charge. But, after spending some time and saying your thanks, take leave and tell everyone to have a great time. I’ve seen this done before and it works well. When the boss isn’t around, people can relax more. They don’t have to feel like they’re going to do something or make a mistake that will impact their career. And neither do you, by the way. So let them have fun. This is a party for your employees, not for you. Your reward: a cold beer and the last half hour of Sports Center in peace. Aah…now that’s a holiday present any hard working business owner could love!

Source: Entrepreneur

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