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Halloween traditions from around the World
Destinations, Tips

Halloween traditions from around the World

As the nights draw in, there’s a certain something lingering in the air. Something, eerie… Something, spooktacular! Of course, we’ve hit Halloween.
Love it or hate it, Halloween has crept upon us once again and shops and homes are packed full of spooky costumes, sweets and carved pumpkins that really are cutting edge.
But, as we get ready to celebrate the seasonal scare-fest, have you ever wondered how others around the world celebrate?
Well, this isn’t a trick, so treat yourself to something interesting. As the sky turns dark this Halloween night, here’s how our continental friends, and beyond, will be having a ghoul old time this weekend …
The birthplace of Halloween!
Starting at the beginning, Ireland is said to be the birthplace of Halloween, dating all the way back to its Celtic roots. Marking the end of the Pagan pastoral cycle, the 31st October was considered the last day of the year.
Celts associated winter with death, so, on the last day of the ‘bright’ half of the year, it was thought the boundary separating the living from the dead became blurred.
This not only allowed the souls of the departed to return to their former homes, but also potentially wicked spirits were released from the ‘Otherworld’ and became visible to humans. Spooky!
A Magical Haunting
The Austrians take a much lighter meaning from All Hallows Eve, leaving bread, water and a lightened lamp on a table before heading off to bed.
It was once believed that this act of kindness would welcome the dead souls back to earth and rather than it being a haunting event, it was actually considered quite magical.
By the same token, in China, during the Halloween festival known as Teng Chieh, families place food and water in front photographs of family members that have passed away, whilst bonfires are lit to light the paths of spirits as they join us back on earth for the night.
However, in Germany, residents take a slightly more cautious approach when it comes to the return of the lost, putting away their knives to avoid risk of harm to or from their ‘Otherworld’ visitors. After all, those ghosts have real spirit.
Day of the Dead
You may have heard of the Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, associated with Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries, in fact, it’s even the opening sequence to the new James Bond film, Spectre. However, Spain celebrates a little differently.
There is the Dia de Difuntos (Day of the Dead) and Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saint’s Day) and, whilst they are separate events, the two are usually celebrated together and are actually a religious holiday, with mass held three times throughout the festivities.
Much like Christmas, the holiday is considered a family day, however, visits to the graves of loved ones is high on their priorities, honouring their lost loved ones and leaving them covered in fresh flowers.
And, to top it off, there’s also performances of the most famous and romantic mythical story seducing women and fighting men, Don Juan Tenorio, to keep everyone entertained – not quite the scary story you would expect to hear around Halloween.
We’re Just Here for the Party
Our French neighbours don’t really believe in any spooky superstitions at this time of year, in fact, Halloween is typically regarded as an American holiday.
However, never being a nation to turn down a party, the French have somewhat adopted la fête d’Halloween as an excuse to dress up and celebrate, and who can blame them?
And, of course, one of the most spectacular Halloween Spooktacular’s is at the magical Disneyland Paris Resort, lurking amongst the pumpkins on Main Street U.S.A you’ll find spooky adventures for all the family.
Whilst trick-or-treating is not as popular over the Channel, the few you do find going door-to-door, will be knocking on the fronts of shops rather than gracing their neighbours’ doorsteps.
With a little push from big, multi-national companies, the knowledge of Halloween is now wide spread, with some people even objecting to the idea of an overly-commercialised American holiday, whilst others simply relish in some freaky fancy dress.

So, it’s over to you, how will you be celebrating this year? Do you have your own traditions of creating some freakish fun or are you having a fright night within the safety of your own sofa?

Ready for some more ghost stories? Find out where the spookiest places in Europe are hidden in our previous blog, here.

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The 5 Best Travel Apps for your iOS Device
Destinations, Tips

The 5 Best Travel Apps for your iOS Device

Just a few short years ago holidaymaker’s suitcases were packed with everything from CD players, to cameras and books to help pass the time. But nowadays all you need is a phone or tablet and these five travel apps. From camera optimisation to travel organisers, these apps will ensure your holiday runs smoothly from start to finish.
1. FlightAware – Free
FlightAware is a live flight tracking system designed to keep you up to date with the latest news and information regarding your flight. Just type in your airline and flight number and you’re away. From there you will be sent updates on flight delays, gate changes and cancellations. Plus, if you accept the push notifications you can receive all this information without even having to open up the app. If you’re flying, it’s a must have travel app in our opinion
2. Instagram – Free
Despite being recently bought by Facebook, Instagram is still the iPhones best camera app. This simple photo app allows you to share your travel snaps with all your friends back home and will transform your pictures from the mundane to effortless cool at the touch of a button! It’s like Photoshop in your pocket.
3. Wattpad – Free
The Amazon Kindle and iBooks app’s are the most well known reading apps on the iPhone but in Wattpad there could be a huge selection of free books that you have been missing out on. The app has been around for several years now and offers over 5 million stories for you to read – all for free! Just download the app, choose you favourite genre of book and you’re away. From romance to horror to comedy, Wattpad’s excellent library has something for everyone.
4. Google Translate – Free
If you’re travelling to a country where you don’t know the language, it’s always handy to have a little helping hand from time to time. And rather than carrying a bulky phrase book around with you, why not simply download the Google Translate app? It will quickly and easily translate words and phrases between 64 languages and can be a real life saver when you’re struggling to get your point across. It’s like having your own personal translator!
5. XE Currency – Free
There’s nothing better than haggling with local market traders and coming back from your holiday with some absolute bargains. But when you don’t know the currency it can be difficult to know if you’re getting a good deal or not. Step forward the handy XE Currency app. The app quickly and easily converts different currencies so you can see exactly how much you’re spending. It’s a bargain hunter’s best friend.
Is there any apps that you think we may have missed? If so let us know in the comments below.
Image courtesy of flickr user Tony George
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Are Postcards becoming a thing of the past?
Destinations, Tips, Travel

Are Postcards becoming a thing of the past?

Dotted around the Leger HQ are a number of Postcards all unique in their own way, from destinations all over the world, including Korcula, Rothenburg in Germany.Although all of the Postcards were sent from all over the world, they all have one thing in common, not one of them was received in the last four years!
It got us wondering if Postcards are becoming a thing of the past. Has a simple text message or email put an end to the famous seaside souvenir?
This made us dig deeper in to the history of Postcards which resulted in some interesting finds –

The first one ever sent was a hand painted design, which was posted to a writer named Theodore Hook from himself in 1840 bearing a penny black stamp.

However the first known printed picture Postcard was created inFrance in 1870 by Leon Besnardeau.

1871 was the year the first picture postcard which the image functioned as a souvenir was sent fromVienna.

The first American Postcard was developed in 1873

In 1984, Royal Mail gave permission to British publishers to manufacture and distribute picture Postcards.

Records show in the peak of the “saucy” themed seaside postcard, sales peaked at a whopping 16 million a year.

The study and collecting of Postcards is termed Deltiology.

Do you know anymore facts about Postcards? Have you received or sent one recently? Let us know in the comments section below.

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From Russia, With Love
Destinations, Reviews, Tips

From Russia, With Love

By Margot
I would be surprised if I was the only Leger lady to have more than a passing interest in the latest James Bond film Skyfall. I’d like to say it comes from my passion for one of Britain’s longest-standing cinematic legacies and NOT just Daniel Craig…but that might be a bit of a porkie.
I’ve grown up with Ian Fleming’s super spy and the last half dozen actors to have taken on the role will always hold a place close to my heart. I will always remember the first time I saw ‘Goldeneye’- I was less concerned about the super weapon falling into the wrong hands and more the safety of Pierce Brosnan! It certainly kept me gripped, anyway.
Putting one of Ireland’s best exports to one side, I also couldn’t help but be captivated by the locations in the film, especially Russia. It left such a lasting impression that I decided to make the trip myself a few years ago, taking my son for his 21st birthday.
We both agreed that it was one of the best holidays we’ve ever shared.
It was probably down to the fact that we managed to visit so many different places in the same trip, including Berlin– to see the Brandenburg Gate and The Wall – and Warsaw: the Belvedere Palace was beautiful and the city itself was great for a little shopping on a budget!
When we did reach Moscow, though, the Red Square really surpassed my expectations – I remember my son rolling his eyes as I commented on clean and well-kept it was (unlike his room as a teenager, I might add.) The guide on the tour was absolutely fantastic and really helped us appreciate some of the aspects that others might overlook. The tube stations, for example, were adorned with chandeliers, oil paintings and statues – they were quite breath-taking.
Also, it had been a life-long dream to take in the ballet in the place where it originated, at least where I think it did! I went to see a production of Swan Lake in St. Petersburg and I’m so happy to have enjoyed it in Russia, world famous for its dancers.
We both loved exploring the markets in Helsinkiand sightseeing tours through Stockholm and Copenhagen. However, no matter how hard I looked, Sean Connery wasn’t lurking in the shadows! With such a varied itinerary, including everything I’d hoped to see and some sights I hadn’t expected, I think it’s safe to say that I managed to put 007 out of my mind, if only for a little while.
If you have any further questions about Leger Holidays’ Grand Explorer tours, including the Grand Russian Spectacular and Highlights of Scandinavia, please do get in touch through our Facebook page or call us at 01709 787 463.
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Portrait of happy senior couple packing suitcase
Travel, World

Travelling for the Holidays?

Holidays are here and many of us start packing our clothes and stuff to get going. Go where? Well, everybody loved to travel and especially during holidays, travelling becomes such a common thing that every one of us try to do. And the best part is, there’s nothing so better […]