Winter Olympics: Symbols of Sochi Spirit!

The Winter Olympic Games take place in Sochi, Russia this year! Host Countries and Cities love incorporating distinctive cultural details throughout each Olympics to share their history and spirit with the world. What are some features that make the 2014 Winter Olympics’ symbols unique?

Join Sam and Sofia as they learn about three of the Sochi Games’ distinctive symbols—the torch, medals, and mascots!

The Olympic Torch

The countdown to the Games kicks off with the Olympic torch relay, which delivers the Olympic flame from Olympia, Greece to the Host City through a series of runners. For the Sochi Games, each runner carries an eye-catching, red and silver torch.

The torch’s curved shape is inspired by the feather of the golden Firebird, a mythical creature celebrated in Russian fairytales and folklore. According to one legend, the Firebird’s feathers “light the way” and bring good fortune and happiness. You might notice patterns inspired by the Firebird and its feathers throughout the Sochi Games. For example, look for them on Team Russia’s uniforms!

The Olympic Medals

The top three finishers in every event will receive one of the 2014 Winter Olympic medals. They are metal and feature an etched glass-like insert with jagged edges resembling mountain peaks and the seashore. This design highlights Sochi’s unique position between the cold snow-capped Caucasus Mountains and the warm sandy beaches of the Black Sea.

The medals also feature the Sochi Olympics’ recognizable “Patchwork Quilt” design, a mosaic of 16 traditional patterns that celebrate Russia’s rich traditions and cultural diversity. Keep an eye out for the colorful quilt design everywhere at the Games, such as on the torch bearers’ outfits and Olympic souvenirs!

The Olympic Mascots

Sam and Sofia are excited to meet the Snow Leopard, the Hare and the Polar Bear—the 2014 winter Games’ mascots! The Sochi Olympics invited everyone in Russia to submit their ideas for the mascots, and to vote for their favorite from the finalists. Officials selected the top three finishers, representing the three places on the awards podium, as the official mascots.

These three native Russian animals represent the country’s spirit and embody the Olympic values. The Polar Bear is depicted as friendly, intelligent and always striving for new athletic heights, while the Hare is an excellent student and loves sports. Tough and strong, the choice of the Snow Leopard, a native of Sochi’s nearby Caucasus Mountains and a critically endangered species, draws attention to Russia’s increasing focus on animal conservation. Look for the three Olympic mascots spreading joy and Olympic spirit throughout the Games!

Sam and Sofia can’t wait to join their friends in Russia to support athletes from around the world. They are very excited to keep an eye out for all of these Olympic symbols as they watch the Winter Games this year!

Olympic Torch Photo Credit: Timofeev Sergey / Shutterstock.com
Olympic Mascots Photo Credit: life_is_fantastic / Shutterstock.com


Mysterious Structures Found in the Syrian Desert

Rock Formations

According to Discovery News, scientists are investigating mysterious stone structures in the Syrian Desert. The formations date back over 6,000 years and were first discovered in 2009. Tombs? Markings? Ceremonial structures? Click through to read more about “Syria’s Stonehenge.”


Creepy Alert: ‘Vampire’ Skeletons Found in Bulgaria

No, they aren’t real vampires, but fascinating/creepy nonetheless.  The skeletons were uncovered in Sozopol, a Bulgarian town near the Black Sea, and date back to the Middle Ages. The specimens were found “with iron rods pierced through their chests–evidence of an exorcism against a vampire.” Leave it to the National History Museum to dig up (no pun intended) the craziest stuff.


Click Here for More Info: ‘Vampire’ Skeletons Found in Bulgaria : Discovery News


Venus Transit 2012

First last month’s eclipse, now the transit of Venus. The sky is full of wonders!

The “transit of Venus” describes the crossing of the planet Venus across the sun. This celestial event only occurs every 114 years. Using special glasses (never look directly into the sun!), viewers watched as the two entities slowly slid past one another. Truly an amazing sight.

Transit of Venus

Photo by NatGeo


Google Celebrates Anniversary of Peter Carl Fabergé

Faberge Doodle

Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 166th anniversary of the birth of Peter Carl Fabergé. Born in St. Petersburg, Russia, Fabergé was a famous jeweler most known for his creation of jewel-encrusted Fabergé eggs. Using a team of craftsmen, Fabergé designed and produced thousands of these exquisite works of art.

Click over to the LATimes to read more about Fabergé and his legacy of eggs in Russia, and subscribe to Little Passports for a unique Fabergé-inspired craft, which is featured as part of our Russia package.



Mars Rover Snaps Stunning Self-Portrait

Mars Rover Snaps Stunning Self-Portrait: Big Pic : Discovery News.

By stitching together a series of panoramic photographs taken by the Mars rover, which is named “Opportunity,” NASA created this amazing glimpse into the Red Planet.

The image was released yesterday and, frankly, we can’t stop looking at it. It’s beautiful…maybe Sam and Sofia should take a trip to Mars. That’s what magic scooters are for, right?


Earth Day Roundup

Here at Little Passports we know that global adventure wouldn’t be possible without a globe to explore. It’s up to each of us to learn about and love our planet. It should be no surprise, then, that Earth Day is one of our favorite holidays. Yesterday, people from all over the globe gathered in their communities to celebrate. Scroll down for a few quick highlights.

Did you and your family celebrate? Share in the comments!



Google Honors Origami Grandmaster

Today’s Google doodle celebrates Akira Yoshizawa, the grandmaster of origami. Origami, the Japanese art of paper folding, was considered a simple craft before Yoshizawa wowed the world with his talents. Upon his passing in 2005, The New York Times called him a “pioneer” of the art form. He would have been 101 today. Happy Birthday, Mr. Yoshizawa! Thank you for spreading the wonderful tradition of origami.

Yoshizawa Google Doodle