National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW) December 5-11, 2010, is a national observance that was established to highlight the importance of continuing influenza vaccination, as well as fostering greater use of flu vaccine after the holiday season into January and beyond.
Get your Flu shot, wash your hands and stay home if you are sick. Do your part and together we can fight the Flu!
Have Questions about Flu and how to stay healthy this holiday season? Check out these Flu FAQ!
No matter what country you live in, you probably have your own holiday traditions that you like to stick to each year. Learn about some international holiday traditions that you may not have heard of from Germany and Ghana.
For many, the holiday season is about helping others and spending time with family. Kim Tiberia of Raptim Travel explains how a VolunTourism vacation may be the best way to accomplish both during the holidays.
Holiday travel to Africa is growing in popularity each year. Isabel Clift of HostelBookers.com and Anytrip.com outlines some great accomodations in Africa.
German Holiday Traditions- Fröhliche Weihnachtenby: Tammy Broghammer, a native of Nagold, Germany
Walking through town at night, snowflakes falling lightly, you smell cinnamon, fresh
hot waffles, spiced wine, you hear Christmas carols… You are at a German Christmas
market (Weihnachtsmarkt). Every town has its own Christmas market that usually
lasts from just a few days up to several weeks. You can buy handcrafted ornaments
and votive candle lights, homemade gingerbread and sugar cookies whilst sipping
“Glühwein”, a hot spiced sweet wine, similar to mulled wine.
In Germany, we celebrate St. Nikolaus day on December 6th. Traditionally, in the evening
of December 5th, children will place a pair of boots out by the door. That night,
“St. Nikolaus” and his helper “Knecht Ruprecht” will visit each child and depending on
whether they have been naughty or nice, “St. Nikolaus” will fill their boots with goodies
such as fruit, nuts and candy or “Knecht Ruprecht” will leave behind a “Rute” (a tree
Weihnachtsmarkt in Berlin, Germany
My family would make an Advent Wreath with four candles for the Christmas season
and every Advent Sunday one candle is lit until Christmas when all four candles are
lit. My family would get together to light the candles while enjoying homemade cookies
on the Sunday afternoons before Christmas.
The Christmas tree is traditionally not decorated until December 24th. In my family, we
would decorate our tree with straw stars and other handmade ornaments. Christmas
Eve, we would all go to mass and then have an elaborate Christmas meal together.
Presents are exchanged and opened on Christmas Eve.
December 25th and 26th are used to spend time and rejoice with family and friends.
The Christmas tree traditionally stays decorated until Epiphany on January 6th.
Recollections of Christmas in Ghanaby: Dr. Benjamin Isaac Arthur, Jr., a native of Cape Coast, Ghana
Christmas in Ghana is indeed a festive period. Long lost relatives and acquaintances
drop in from their distant lands. The boys in each neighborhood would come
together in a single cooperative effort, to construct from wood and woven palm
leaves, a Christmas cabin or rather ‘Christmas house’ as we would call it. For this,
we would employ our active imagination and budding handiness to erect rudimentary
constructs and create artistic decorations and display colored lights or candles
in and around the Christmas house. All of this had to be completed by Christmas
Eve since we also participated in decorating a Christmas tree and a few rooms with
lights and ornaments in our normal homes.
The evening of Christmas Eve was for caroling throughout our neighborhood, where
we would be showered with all kinds of gifts, food and candy at each stop. On
Christmas day, my family would attend a church service in the morning. Then they
would enjoy a special lunch usually of palm butter/peanut butter soup with various
assortments of fresh fish and meat, together with dumplings of rice or fufu and a
fresh tropical fruit salad dessert (tangerines, mangos, papayas, pineapples, etc).
Next we attend an evening Christmas carol church service and then have a special
The next day, Boxing Day, an elaborate breakfast was followed by opening up our
Christmas presents. Later in the day, children from our neighborhood would meet in
the Christmas house and divide the haul of gifts received from caroling on Christmas
We would then receive visitors, mostly other children from other places to our
Christmas house and also go out to visit and admire the Christmas houses in other
neighborhoods. Over the next couple of days, we would vote on the ‘best’ Christmas
house. The winner earns the bragging rights for the New Year and defends it at the
A growing trend in travel is
combining a vacation trip and a
trip of service into one, for a truly
unique, untraditional adventure.
VolunTourism can be a wonderful
way to travel during the upcoming
holiday season. Families participating
in VolunTourism can together
receive the joy of giving through
the gift of their time and skills in
areas where needed while enjoying
a beautiful destination.
South Africa can be that
VolunTourism destination for
travelers who look to broaden their
horizons and explore new lands.
It could be a holiday trip sure to change the entire
family’s perspective on vacationing! South Africa
offers undeniable beauty from it’s coastal town of
Durban, inland to the Drakensberg Mountains, to the
famous tip of the country, Cape Town!
Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa
While the entire region of South Africa is not
severely poor or suffering from an unstable
government like other African countries, South
Africa is still a developing country. There are many
communities with high levels of poverty,
unemployment, orphans, HIV and AIDS. Volunteer
opportunities are copious.
“I would take my son on a trip like this a hundred
times over. It is a great life learning experience and
we grew stronger as a family.” says Lisa Mares, A
Supervisor at Raptim Travel. Lisa took her son on
his first volunteerism vacation when he was just 9
years old. “We met a boy whose shoes were much
too small for him and by the end of the day he could
hardly walk from the pain. When we returned home
my son packed all his shoes that he did not need
and sent them to the little boy he had met so he
would have shoes that fit.”
Making a difference as a family can come from
meaningful volunteer work in the areas of wildlife
conservation. There are many centres in and around
Kruger National Park, the largest game reserve in
Africa, where volunteers can feed lion cubs or work
with the rescue and treatment of cheetahs or maybe
even witness cheetahs being reintroduced back into
their natural habitat.
There are also many opportunities to assist in developing
life-skills and improve the future for underprivileged
children. CART is a life skills centre based
in the village of Sicambeni on the hills of the Wild
Coast of Port St Johns in the Eastern Cape of South
Africa. The Sisonke School is run by the local people
and welcomes volunteers to assist through interacting
with the children through play, music, poetry and
Focusing your family outwardly through giving back
to our international communities truly creates a
sustainable holiday that everyone can feel good
about. Will you go?
About RAPTIM Travel:RAPTIM Travel has been a global leader in religious,
humanitarian and missionary airfares since 1949.
Their mission is to serve those who serve the world
by offering a variety of airfares that best suits the
travelers’ needs. RAPTIM offers more than 50 airfare
programs with over 30 global air carriers plus
traditional published airfares to guarantee that their
clients receive a full array of options to maximize
their cost savings for their next service trip or
humanitarian relief effort.
by: Isabel Clift, a London-based writer and editor for
HostelBookers.com and AnyTrip.com.
Ghana and South Africa Holiday Travel
There are plenty of reasons to go to Africa over the holiday season.
Visit Ghana in West Africa or head down to South Africa for blue skies
and sunshine-y days spent lounging on beaches, spotting wildlife
on safari or enjoying a bit of urban night-life. Read below to find out
where to go, as well as the best places to stay, in both of these fantastic
Why Visit Cape Town, South Africa
There is absolutely loads of cool stuff to do in South Africa over the
holiday season. From whale-watching in Hermanus in November
(December too, with a bit of luck) to New Year’s Eve partying in Cape
Town and Johannesburg, you’re sure to fall for SA’s charms. There’s
a whole range of fun trips to try, too: you can spend days road-tripping
on the stunningly beautiful Garden Route with its beaches, lakes
and forest, hike up Table Mountain or go on safari to spot rhinos,
elephants, lions and more at Kruger National Park.
Options for affordable hotels in South Africa are numerous. In Cape
Town, the Daddy Long Legs Boutique Hotel (134 Long Street) draws
in a cool crowd, while Johannesburg’s Bob’s Bunkhouse (40 St. Anne
Rd) offers affordable rates and a central location. Check in to Fairy
Knowe Backpackers Lodge (Dumbleton Road, Wilderness) to discover SA’s
amazing beaches and national parks on the Garden Route, and stay
at Kruger Inn Backpackers (2007 Olifants Drive, Marloth Park) while
wildlife-watching at Kruger National Park.
Accra is Ghana’s capital – a loud, lively, Atlantic coast city with a touristy
hub centred round Labadi beach. Known as La Pleasure Beach,
clashing music from different soundsystems fills the air and there’s a
vibrant mix of shoreline café-restaurants and market vendors as well
as drummers, acrobats and dancers on weekends. It’s the perfect
place for an unconventional and hedonistic break away during
November and December.
If you’re after less hectic beachside lounging, escape the city with a
trip to Cape Coast. Peaceful palm-fringed beaches stretch as far as
the eye can see, and you can visit 15th-century Portuguese-built fortress
and former slave-trade post Elmina Castle, the oldest European
structure south of the Sahara and now a UNESCO World Heritage
Ghana hostels offer affordable rates and a really warm welcome. For
a great-value stay in Accra, check in to Pink Hostel (Asylum Down)
or Emperor Suite & Hostel (6 Labone Crescent), and head to Ko-Sa
Beach Resort to enjoy miles of golden sand between Elmina and
Q:Will a flu shot protect me when I travel? A:Yes. Optimum immunity lasts 3-4 months so be
sure that you will be covered for the duration
of your trip. Also check with a travel medicine
specialist about your specific destination to inquire about
other immunizations you may need.
Q: What factors lead to the spread of Flu? A:Having no protection by not having been immunized, close
contact at social occasions and on public transportation are
factors that lead to the spread of the flu. Also coming into
contact with others who have poor health habits, such as infrequent
hand washing and not properly covering coughs will aid the spread
of flu. CDC reports that transmission peaks from January through
Q: Is there an H1N1 shot this year? A:This year’s flu shot contains both the seasonal strains and
the H1N1 strain, so you will only need one shot to cover you
against seasonal and H1N1 Influenza strains. You can get a
flu shot at any of the 170 nationwide Passport Health locations.
Q: How can I stay healthy at work? 1- Wash your hands often- Especially after coughing,
sneezing or shaking hands with others. Make
sure to wash before you eat. 2- Keep your workspace clean- Clean your phone, keyboard
and mouse often and sanitize the surface daily. 3- Eat balanced meals and get enough sleep everyday-
Don’t forget, breakfast is still the most important meal of
the day! It is recommended for all adults to get at least 7
hours of sleep a night. 4- Avoid co-workers who are sick- You hope that your
co-workers will stay home if they are sick, but that is not
always the case. Try to steer clear of them if you can. 5- Stay hydrated- Soda and coffee may keep you awake,
but they also contribute to dehydration. Keep a bottle of
water at your desk so you can drink it throughout the day. 6- Take breaks- If you are feeling tired or stiff, get up and
walk around for a few minutes. Go outside and get some
sunlight and fresh air and even try a few stretches and
deep, slow breathing.