Learn About Surfing in Australia!

How Did Australians Learn to Surf?

100 years ago, in the, summer of 1915 at Freshwater Beach, competitive swimmer Duke Kahanamoku wowed a crowd by showing them the art of wave riding. He skillfully cruised the water with a solid surfboard modelled after the one he used in his home country of Hawaii. This event officially brought surfing to Australia! Today, Duke’s board is still kept at the Freshwater Surf Club in Sydney, Australia.

After Duke’s demonstration, the news about surfing spread throughout the country. Soon the waters were filled with people wanting to give surfing a try, and it’s now a sport most commonly associated with Australia. There are several competitions annually and approximately 2.7 million Australians consider themselves recreational surfers!

Surfing comes natural to Australians since most of the population lives close to a coastline. The beach has always held a special place in their hearts.  Not to mention, the Australian coastline is where three of the world’s great bodies of water meet: the Pacific, Indian and Southern oceans!

Let’s  all grab our surfboards and head down under!

Want to know more about Australia? Learn with our World Edition

Want to know about sports in other countries? Play our free online Brazil Soccer Game


3 Simple Ways to Inspire a World Traveler!

We asked travel expert Amy West to share with us how she inspires a love for travel in her daughter. Check out Amy’s 3 simple ways below! 

When I was fourteen I caught it. That itch you can’t scratch, a curiosity that won’t be tamed, an unquenchable desire they call wanderlust. I took my first trip overseas on a youth group trip without my parents. It was scary, it was thrilling, it completely turned my world upside down, and ultimately defined my future.

When our daughter was born, my travel thirsty husband and I knew we wanted to raise a world explorer. How to do that in the “bubble” that is our little beach community was the question. It’s not always possible to take a small child overseas. So how do you show them the world? My philosophy has been to create a culture in our home that embraces the world. Here are 3 Simple Ways to Inspire a World Traveler:

Lead by Example

The best way I know to inspire my child is to blaze the trail for her. Sometimes it’s more about what’s caught than taught, and in my willful young one’s case, she wants to be just like mom. That’s why instead of letting my limitations hold me back, when my daughter was two I launched my own travel brand. Pushing my own limits, setting off into the world, and continuing to travel (most of the time without her) teaches my daughter that the world is bigger than our neighborhood, and proves to her that if mom can do it, so can she. Not everyone can jet off into the sunset, but we can all start with the small things, such as enjoying a diverse ethnic meal. Use that meal-time as a chance to discuss the culture it derived from, and what that part of the world is like. Show your kiddo that there is a world of flavor out there and it’s exciting to try new things.

Surround them with the World
One of the things I love about Little Passports is the giant map that comes with the subscription. We immediately put our daughter’s up on her wall and every night we talk about where we live, and where other things are happening in the world. We’ll relive a history lesson, talk about major landmarks, and tell her stories of the far off lands we have visited. You can incorporate travel and exploration into your home with small accents like decorative planes or trains, globes, posters, or enlarged pictures of your own travels. These little suggestions seep in and ultimately those things won’t be foreign, but comfortable and nostalgic.

Take Advantage of Every Little Moment
Window shopping is a great opportunity to talk about items we purchase and how they gain inspiration from the world around us. Where did that pattern originate from? How was that made? Or, does your family visit the Zoo often? We love pretending we are on a safari when we visit the African animals. At the library we make sure to visit the non-fiction aisles and pick up a book on a foreign country, even if it’s just to look at the pictures.

Raising a world traveler is about creating a culture within your home that makes it normal to explore. Inspiring adventure with every moment you can seize, and ultimately by practicing what you preach. Keep getting out there, keep enriching your young ones with a diverse knowledge of the world, and one day, they’ll be inspired to set off on their own adventures, and hopefully catch wanderlust for themselves.


Jacksonville, FL based Amy West is the creator of amywesttravel.com, a travel and lifestyle brand including TV show “Like Love Want Need”. As a travel and lifestyle expert Amy writes for USA Today’s 10Best.com and appears as a guest on several media outlets including WJXT News 4 Jax Morning show and WJCT NPR Radio show “First Coast Connect.” Look for Amy on “Amy West Travel the Blog.”

12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 12, Wales: Making Taffy


Once upon a time Christmas Eve was known to the Welsh as Noson Gyflaith, or toffee evening, an occasion when friends and families gathered to share a meal, tell stories and play games, as well as take part in a Northern Welsh Christmas tradition—making toffee, or taffy as it known more commonly called in the U.S.

The toffee, made from brown sugar and butter, was especially chewy. It was boiled and then pulled so it became nice and glossy. Many traditional foods of the Welsh were born out of hardship and a need to be practical. The holiday toffee is a good example of this. Because sugar was once very expensive, making toffee on Christmas Eve was quite a special event, and a way of providing a festive treat for Christmas. Though the tradition is rarely practiced today, toffee remains an important traditional part of Christmas history in Wales.


12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 11, Mexico: Breaking the Piñata and Cutting the Rosca

Mexican Christmas celebrations begin on December 12th and end on January 6th (Epiphany). Children awake on the 6th of January to find gifts or toys that were left for them by the three kings. At midnight on Christmas Eve, fireworks, bells and whistles announce the birth of Christ. These sounds call families to Midnight Mass. Once mass is over, people return home to enjoy a traditional Mexican Christmas dinner. Many special dishes may be served, but some of the main traditional ones include tamales, bacalao (dried salted codfish), pozole (pork soup), menudo (beef soup) and atole (a hot, sweet drink made with corn).

On Christmas Day, blindfolded kids take turns trying to break open a clay piñata filled with sweets. Children who have been good will also receive gifts on Epiphany (January 6th). That is also the day when families take part in the  beloved tradition of cutting the rosca de reyes (“ring of kings”), a ring-shaped Christmas cake decorated with candied fruit and named for the three kings. The cake is often served along with corn tamales and hot chocolate. Hidden inside the rosca is a figurine of the baby Jesus, symbolizing a safe place where he could be born. Each person cuts a slice of the rosca, and whoever finds the figurine will be the host and invite everyone to celebrate Candelaria (also called Candlemas Day) on February 2nd.


12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 10, India: Decorating the Mango Tree


Though the majority of Indians are Hindu, Christmas (called Bada Din, meaning “big day”) is still celebrated around the country by millions of people. A special tradition is attending Midnight Mass with family and friends. Churches in India are decorated with poinsettia flowers and candles especially for this important service. Afterward there will be a feast of different delicacies (often biryanis, a dish made with rice and meat), and gifts will be exchanged. Some families display small clay oil-burning lamps and decorate their homes with banana or mango leaves. Mango leaves are an important tradition because the mango tree is considered sacred, and its leaves are used to decorate for every special occasion.

Many people will start preparing for Christmas as early as a month ahead by cleaning their homes in preparation for guests. They will also make a traditional cake, or a sweet rice pudding called kheer, to be shared not just with family, but with neighbors as well!


12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 9, Greece: Keeping the Kallikantzaroi Away

On Christmas Eve in Greece, children, especially boys, go out caroling, playing drums and triangles. Sometimes they will even carry small decorated boats, which is a very old custom in Greece. The boats honor St. Nikolas, the patron saint of sailors. The children go from home to home singing carols, and in return they are given dried figs, walnuts, candy and other small gifts.

Christmas trees are becoming more popular in Greece, but almost every house will have a shallow wooden bowl holding a little bit of water, with a piece of wire hanging across its rim. A wooden cross, wrapped with a spring of fresh basil, hangs from the wire. Each day for the twelve days of Christmas, someone in the household (usually the mom) will dip the cross and basil into holy water and sprinkle it in each room of the house. This is to keep Kallikantzaroi (bad spirits) away.  Having a fire burn through the twelve days of Christmas is also thought to keep the Kallikantzaroi away.

Typically on Christmas day, only a few presents are exchanged. Instead, it is an occasion to show generosity to those in less fortunate situations, like patients in hospitals or children in orphanages. Gifts are traditionally exchanged on January 1st, St. Basil’s Day.


12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 8, Denmark: Nisse the Temperamental Elf


Christmas dinner usually begins with a rice pudding that holds a magical almond inside. Whoever finds the magical almond gets a prize! After the rice pudding, families in Denmark traditionally eat duck or goose, as well as red cabbage and browned potatoes, all followed by delicious pastries!

Just remember to leave a bowl of rice pudding or porridge for Nisse on Christmas Eve (also called Juleaften). Nisse is a mischievous little elf that is said to secretly live in houses and act as a guardian. If you’re nice to Nisse he will bring you gifts and protect you from evil. Nisse, however, is known to be easily offended, especially by rudeness. Make him mad and be prepared to have some pranks played on you!

Juleaften is a very special night for many other reasons too. Parents secretly decorate Christmas trees and do not let the children see until dinner time! It is the biggest occasion of the year and parties go on all night, involving lots of singing and gathering around the tree.



12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 7, Spain: Parades and Epiphany

In Spain, most people go to Midnight Mass, also known as La Misa del Gallo, meaning the Mass of the Rooster. It got its name because a rooster is said to have crowed the night Jesus was born. Before attending mass, people feast on roast turkey stuffed with truffles. In other parts of the country, though, like Galicia on the northwest coast, it is a holiday custom to serve seafood, such as lobster or crab.

The fun really begins after mass, when people parade down the streets carrying torches, playing guitars and beating on tambourines and drums. It is a night dubbed Noche-Buena, Y no es noche de dormir, which means “tonight is the good night and is not meant for sleep!”

And if you’re celebrating Christmas in Spain, you might have to wait a few days to open your presents! Although some presents are opened on Christmas, most are opened on Epiphany (January 6th). Epiphany is, in part, a festival that tells part of the Christmas story, the visit of the three kings (sometimes called the magi, or the three wise men) to bring gifts to the baby Jesus. Kids write letters to the kings on Boxing Day, December 26th, and on Epiphany Eve (January 5th) they leave shoes on balconies or window sills to be filled with presents! However, if the children have misbehaved, the kings may leave pieces of coal (which are actually lumps of sugar dyed black with food coloring) along with the presents. So remember to be good!


12 Days of Christmas Around the Globe

Day 6, Canada: Canada: Barely Candy and Chicken Bones

Although Canada is a vast country with many different cultural influences, we found Canadian Christmas traditions tend to favor their British and European heritage. Home decorating, caroling, gift giving, church attendance and big family dinners are part of many Canadian Christmas celebrations. However, we were able to find a few Christmas treasures unique to Canada.

Christmas in Canada would not be complete without the famous Barley Candy and Chicken Bones. A favorite with children, barley candy is a hard candy in a holiday symbol shape such as a Santa, or a reindeer or a snowflake. Chicken bones are pink-colored cinnamon-flavored candies with chocolate in the middle. Delicious!

Finally, Christmas trees are not unique to Canada. However, we think the fact that Canada produces all of their own Christmas trees and even exports them to many places around the world is pretty special. Do you know where your tree came from?