Valentine’s Day in the UK

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Photo credit: Okishima & Simmonds (www.Okishimasimmonds.com

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many countries on 14th February, although it is a normal working day.

It began as a celebration of the Christian Saint Valentine. The legend says that Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for marrying soldiers, who were forbidden to marry, and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. When he was in prison he healed the daughter of the jailer, and wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.

The day became associated with romantic love in 18th century England, when it became an occasion for lovers to send flowers, chocolates and Valentines cards.

Today, in the UK, just under half the population spend money on their Valentines, and around 1.3 billion pounds are spent annually on cards, flowers, chocolates and other gifts, with an estimated 25 million cards being sent.

Gifts typically include red roses and chocolates packed in a red satin, heart shaped box. New traditions are created every year with the rise of the internet, including e-cards, love coupons and printable greeting cards.

 We’re not very romantic here in MMU International, so this is our favourite Valentines card:
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Photo credit: http://www.buzzfeed.com

Chinese New Year

Happy Year of the Horse! As you may know, it is now the Chinese New Year, or ‘’.

Chinese New Year is a major traditional Chinese holiday celebrated in countries around the world, not just in China! Countries around the world with Chinese populations will celebrate the new year in a festival that will usually fall in January or February and lasts over two weeks.

China is a big country, and the way people celebrate Chinese New Year can vary a lot. Often however people will come together for dinner, clean out their houses, and hang red decorations for good luck – and light fireworks, exchange gifts and money in red envelopes.

The festival is very old, and according to mythology it originates with a mythical monster, the Nian, who would come on the first day of the new year to eat children. People would put out food to distract it, and noticed that it was scared of the colour red, and thus hung red lanterns and decorations to scare the monster away for good.

Manchester has it’s own Chinese New Year parade  which includes red decorations all over the city centre, lion dancers, martial arts demonstrations, art workshops and a 15 minute firework display in Manchester’s China town.

The International Office at MMU held a Chinese New  Year party as well – celebrating with decorations and food.

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We also hung charts around the room to let people find out which Zodiac year they were born in!

Do you know which Zodiac year you were born in, and what that says about you?