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Posted By P & L Blog



Do you believe that eating certain foods on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day will give you good luck?  Lucky foods exist in many cultures: grapes in Spain, hoppin' John in the Southern U.S., and soba noodles in Japan. 

On the other hand, some people avoid eating food with wings because it could fly away, taking your luck with it.  Revelers who are putting on the ritz should steer clear of lobsters: they move backwards and could change your luck.  You might do better with oysters.

Do you eat a lucky food to welcome the new year?



Photo by dennn under Creative Commons license.

Posted By P & L Blog


Imagine spending 35 years on one translation project.  Charles T. Gehring has.  As the director of the New Netherland project at the New York State Library,  he has spent half his life translating records from the era when New York was a Dutch colony.

The Dutch influence in the state is often overlooked in history classes but reminders of the early settlers include towns named Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Guilderland.  Long before Paul Revere's ride in 1775, Symon Schermerhorn rode to Fort Orange (now called Albany) in 1690 to warn settlers that the French and Indians were on their way after attacking Schenectady.  The Dutch lost control of the colony to the British in 1664 but the importance of their language was far from over.

English wasn't used in Dutch Reform churches until 1764, and families of Dutch descent continued to speak the language for many years.  Martin Van Buren spoke English as a second language; Teddy Roosevelt grew up listening to his grandparents speak Dutch.  Vital records in New York continued to be written in English and Dutch until the 1920s.  The Dutch influence in New York lives on today: everytime you hear someone speak with a Brooklyn accent, you have the Dutch to thank.

Posted By P & L Blog

Posted By P & L Blog

Gabriel Garcia Marquez

American readers who enjoy international or translated literature do not have accesss to many books from U.S. publishers.  Only 3% of the books published each year in the U.S. are translated into English from other languages.  For readers looking for foreign literary works, sites like have often been the only solution short of a trip abroad.

A few publishers have stepped up to expose American readers to literary works from abroad, including Open Letter Books.  Open Letter only publishes literature in translation, and it has released 16 books in the past year by authors from Mexico, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, Russian, Poland and South Africa.  Best of all, the price is right.  Open Letter offers a subscription service; for $100 a year (or $60 for six months), readers will receive every book that is published during that time.   To sweeten the deal, shipping costs within the U.S. are free.


Photo by mansionwb under license from Creative Commons.

Posted By P & L Blog

San Miguel de Allende

Did you promise yourself that next year you'll go away for Christmas?  For those who like to travel over the holidays, Travel + Leisure has chosen the 10 best places to spend Christmas.  There's something for everyone on the list: cities, beaches, snow, and exotic destinations.   It may be too late for you this year, but researching and dreaming about the top 10 destinations may get you through your post-holiday slump.

If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would you go?



Photo of San Miguel de Allende by RightIndex under Creative Commons license.



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