Mama Lisa's World
International Music & Culture
A place for poems, songs, rhymes and traditions from around the world for both kids and grown-ups to enjoy!
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Articles about 'Customs and Traditions'
The Atlantic surveyed how people start a conversation all across the U.S.  Below you can hear what some people said… The Geography of Small Talk from The Atlantic on Vimeo. How do you start a conversation where you’re from? -Mama Lisa
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I recently posted a song about Mt. Fuji and a haiku poem about a snail climbing Mt. Fuji. While I was working on them, I came across mention of there being a tradition in Japan of people wanting to climb Mt. Fuji during their lifetime.  I asked Sadao Mazuka who’s from Japan about this tradition....
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Once a few years ago I had a conversation with a friend from China about cooking in the U.S.  She found it amusing that most Americans cook with recipes… recipes that tell you exactly how to cook with precise measurements of ingredients.  She said that in China recipes were handed down within the family and...
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Here’s a cute little song called Eight Little Letters Make Three Little Words (I love you) about love and marriage.  The song was written by Bert Kalmar (1884-1947), music by Ted Snyder (1881-1965).  Below you can listen to an mp3 recording and read along with the lyrics… MP3 of Eight Little Letters Make Three Little Words....
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A Father’s Day gift from a child can just be a nice gesture.  Check out this message I saw on the beach recently.  What papa could want more?
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Semamori (背守り) is an old tradition in Japan of embroidering a good luck symbol or amulet on the back of a baby’s clothing.  It was traditionally embroidered on the top back of the child’s kimono.  Semamori means "to protect the back".  It was believed that the devil came from behind a person and thus they...
Debbie wrote asking fro help with a childhood song her Irish grandmother sang to her son.  Here’s her email: Hi, My grandmother came here from Ireland at 14. She died in 1971 and was 85. She used to sing to my brother when he was a baby in the carriage and my son the same. It was...
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Here’s an Irish Blessing just in time for St. Patrick’s Day… Irish Blessing   May your pockets be heavy And your heart be light.   May good luck pursue you Each morning and night. Happy St. Patrick’s Day! -Mama Lisa
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When my son was born, my husband’s grandmother asked if she could tie a red ribbon to the bottom of his crib.  This was to ward off the "evil eye" and keep away bad luck. Some people wear a red string or bracelet on their left hand to ward off the "evil eye" too.  The red...
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These Sugar Cookies are Gluten-free and made with icing that has no food dye in it! When making gluten-free recipes, make sure beforehand that all your ingredients are gluten-free. Recipe for Gluten-free Sugar Cookies Ingredients 1 1/2 c. White Rice Flour 1 1/2 c. Oatmeal Flour ...
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Every year, in December in Japan, a word is chosen that represents that year.  There’s a Kanji Character that represents that word.  Kanji are the characters used to represent the Japanese language.  They originally come from China. The kanji character of the year is unveiled for the 1st time at Kiyomizu Temple each year. Ayako wrote...
I asked people informally how they tip for services for the holidays at the end of the year.  Answers varied.  So don’t feel like you have to go by a chart!  Part of the answer had to do with a person’s economic condition.  So people receiving tips should keep this in mind!  Some people will...
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Linda Nataprawira wrote from Indonesia: Mother’s day = "onde" day December 22nd is Mother’s Day in Indonesia.  In indo-chinese tradition, we always make "onde" on that day too. They’re made of glutinous flour and filled with peanuts & sugar inside. The taste is sweet. Onde is also called onde-onde.  Sometimes it’s served in...
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I was sent this email about tipping for services in France at Christmastime… Traditionally, we tip the mailman: he or she brings everyone a calendar which includes a lot of information about the post office, and also about all the towns in the "département" (i.e. county).  There are 95 different types of material given since there...
Debbie was kind enough to share her experience of tipping and gift-giving in Japan… There are two gift-giving seasons in Japan: summer and winter. Gifts are often seasonal agricultural produce, or commercial products that are useful in daily living, like boxes of soaps or tea or seaweed. But the gifts usually go to people like your...
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It’s a tradition in the US and the UK to tip people at the end of the year who perform services.  Some of the people who are tipped are: Mail Couriers, Sanitation Workers, Hairdressers,  Milkmen, House Cleaners, Nanny’s, Music Instructors, Dog Groomers, Teachers, etc.  Many people wonder if they’re tipping the right amount.  This seems...
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Fatima wrote yesterday from Iran, "It’s Yalda night ceremony (the longest night of the year).  Iranian people eat nuts, walnuts, pomegranate, and watermelon for Yalda." Yaldā is an ancient Persian Winter Solstice celebration. People used to stay up for most of the night to ward off misfortune.  Nowadays, families mainly gather together for a nice meal. ...
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Boxing Day is the day after Christmas when tradesmen and servants were traditionally given tips or gifts for their service.  Here’s what Rebecca wrote about it from the UK… The ‘Christmas box’ was traditionally for those who serviced your house; bin men, milkmen & coal men! Well, in the last century....
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It’s so nice to give homemade gifts! This year I decided to make homemade vanilla extract to give to my friends and family.  It’s easy!  Here’s the recipe… Recipe for Homemade Vanilla Ingredients: 2 to 2 1/2 Vanilla Beans (I used organic vanilla beans) 1/2 cup Vodka (or Brandy) 1. Slice the vanilla bean pods down the side leaving about...
What is Success? is a poem written by Bessie A. Stanley.  It’s a poem that explores what it means to live a full, fruitful, compassionate life.  These are topics that are important to speak with children about.  You can listen to the poem and read along below… MP3 of What is Success? What is Success? He has achieved...
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