Happy Easter! Celebrating Easter Around the World

With all of the meals, chocolate and happy Easter celebrations, the commercialisation of Easter means that it is easy to forget what it is all about. Easter is the most important festival on the Christian calendar, probably even more important than Christmas, as it remembers the Resurrection – Jesus rising from the dead. In this blog, I explore the traditions and values behind Easter, and the amazing ways that people celebrate Easter around the world.

The Meaning of Easter: Good Friday

According to Christian tradition, Jesus as the Son of God died on the Cross so that the sins of mankind could be forgiven. Good Friday was the day on which Jesus was crucified at Golgotha (the place of the skull). Christians believe that Jesus took on the burden of the sins of man at the point that he was crucified, and that through his love for mankind, God will forgive.

Easter Sunday

Christianity teaches that Jesus rose from the dead on the third day. The Bible tells the story of Mary Magdeline, a close friend of Jesus, going to anoint his body with spices.  But when she got to the tomb, the stone had been rolled away and his body had gone.  The resurrection was the ultimate miracle. Jesus had rose from the dead and ascended to heaven to be on the right hand side of God.

How is Easter Celebrated around the World?

In Europe, eggs are popular, signifying new life that follows the resurrection of Christ. In many parts of Europe, eggs are decorated beautifully and intricately.  Small wooden crosses are often made and palm fronds to celebrate Palm Sunday.

In Africa and some parts of Asia, re-enactments of the stations of the cross are very popular. Easter processions are also popular in Europe, particularly in Spain and Italy.  At Pocketdial UK, we were excited to find out the top 5 places to see Easter around the world.

Easter Around the World: Top 5 Places to visit at Easter

5. Alaska – In Alaska at Easter, you can see real multi-coloured chicks! Their eggs are injected with dye before they hatch. Don’t worry, the dye is harmless!

Easter around the world

4. Spain – Visit the Spanish town of Malaga where you will see a Palm Sunday procession and a figure of Christ being paraded down the street on Holy Thursday.

3. Germany – Beautifully decorated Easter Eggs can be seen in Germany at Easter time. Volker Kraft decorates his tree in Saalfield with 10,000 decorated eggs, and has been doing so for 40 years!

2. Philippines – In the Philippines, it is traditional to re-enact the stations of the cross. Beware – some of these can be gruesomely realistic!

1. Italy – You just can’t beat Easter in Italy. Religious processions and festivals can be seen everywhere. Italians bake traditional Easter cake called Colomba di Pasqua – a cake shaped like a dove. Join the thousands who visit Vatican city to hear the Pope conduct Easter Mass on St. Peter’s square.

Homemade Colomba di Pasqua

Homemade Colomba di Pasqua
Photography by ‘Nicola since 1972’ on Flickr.

How do you celebrate Easter around the world?

What do you do to celebrate Easter? Have you celebrated Easter around the world and have any special experiences to share with us? Do leave your comments on our blog.

Remember to contact your friends and family to say happy Easter. You can make international calls from just 1p a minute with Pocketdial UK.

Dialling UK Mobiles – How to call a UK mobile when it’s Abroad

Dialing UK mobilesDialling UK mobiles whilst they are abroad can be confusing. Where possible, its often much cheaper to use landlines for making international calls. However, there are a few tricks and suggestions that can help you.

Dialling UK landlines when abroad is often cheaper. It is better to call landline to mobile than mobile to mobile, especially when dialling internationally.

Avoid dialling UK mobiles whilst in a different country to another UK mobile. Roaming charges can be very expensive, and it is important to check out the charges and international tariffs before you go. To find out about using your mobile abroad, and for information on how to avoid a large phone bill when you travel, check out our article on how to avoid a large travel phone bill.

Dialling UK mobiles – How to Call a UK Mobile whilst it’s Abroad

Lets’ say your friend or relative is off on holiday in France and you want to give them a buzz from the UK on their UK mobile. How much will the call cost? Will you pay for an international call? Or is it them that pays?

Essentially if you are dialling UK mobiles, you are charged the usual cost of dialling UK irrespective of which country the mobile is in.

For your friend or relative in France, it is them that will be charged for the international portion of the call, not you. These charges are called ‘roaming charges’ and your friend or relative may want to think carefully about the roaming costs before answering your call. In these instance text messaging may work out a lot cheaper!


Image William Hook on Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)


Making calls from UK Mobiles Whilst Abroad

So you are abroad on holiday and you need to book a local restaurant using your UK mobile. How much will it cost? Do you need to dial an international number?

As your phone will be connected to the domestic network of that country, all you should need to do is dial the full number for the restaurant, the same as you would if dialling from a local landline. In terms of cost, this is likely to be classed as a ‘roaming call’ and thus is probably going to be quite expensive. If you have some coins and are near a payphone, that is likely to be a cheaper option.

Another neat trick is to ask at a hotel reception or shop whether you can borrow their phone. In a lot of foreign countries, local calls from landlines are free so they won’t mind!

Dialling uk: What about if you want to make a call back to the UK or another international destination?

In these instances you need to dial an international exit code followed by an international prefix number.

In most countries, simply using ‘+’ will suffice for the exit code. These are the international prefix numbers or dialling codes for some popular destinations:

Country Country Dialling Code (dialling to) Exit Code (dialing from)
Australia 61 11
China 86 0
India 91 0
Poland 48 0
Syria 963 0
UK 44 0

These calls will be charged as ‘roaming calls’ and you should check the charges with your mobile provider.

Don’t forget about the Time Zones!

Remember the time difference when you are dialling UK from abroad. Australia, for example is 11 hours ahead of the UK. So if you are phoning the UK from Australia at 9am Australian time it will be 10pm UK time. If you want help with time zones and time differences, follow this link.

For more international dialling codes, follow this link.

If you have more up to date information, or would like to share your experiences of dialling UK mobiles abroad, do comment on our blog.

St. Patrick’s Day – How it is celebrated around the World?

What is St Patrick’s Day?

St. Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated on the 17th March each year. The day is named after Saint Patrick who is the most well-known patron saints of Ireland and the day itself commemorates different things depending on the religion. For Catholics, in the early 17th century, St. Patrick’s Day became an official feast day. For Christians, it celebrates the arrival for Christianity in Ireland.

In the present day, however, St. Patrick’s Day has evolved into a celebration of Ireland and Irish culture. It is celebrated by Irish communities all over the world.

Why Is The Colour Green Associated With St Patrick’s Day?

Since the beginning of the 17th century, the colour green has been worn for celebration of St Patrick’s Day. Interestingly, the colour that was originally associated with St. Patrick was blue. This appeared to change when St. Patrick used a shamrock – a green three leaved plant – to explain the Holy Trinity to the Pagan Irish.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in America

St. Patrick’s Day isn’t an official holiday in North America but that doesn’t stop some of the major cities from celebrating the day.

In Chicago, the Irish are one of the biggest communities so of course celebrations are extravagant. Every year, thousands of people gather at the banks of the Chicago River as they watch a boat release dye into the water turning the river a wonderful green colour as it makes its way through the city. A parade takes place as well however this is more of a celebration for the people who have Irish heritage, but that doesn’t mean others can’t join in!

If the day itself wasn’t enough, Chicago American Football team, Chicago White Sox, are well known for their September celebration of ‘Halfway to St Patrick’s Day’ celebrations. Instead of wearing their traditional colour of black, they wear white jerseys with green pinstripes.

New York City holds the largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the world. It is a five hour long procession on a 1.5 mile route. Approximately 150,000 people participate in the parade which includes bands, fire fighters, police officers, and cultural clubs. Two million people line the streets to watch. This St. Patrick’s Day parade is the oldest civilian parade in the world.


St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ohio 2013 – photography by Jack W. Pearce of Flickr (Creative Commons 2.0)

Celebrating St. Patrick‘s Day in New Zealand and Australia

The Irish have a large presence in New Zealand and Australia due to large numbers of immigration or convicts who were sent there in the 19th century. St. Patrick’s Day in Australia and New Zealand is seen to celebrate links with Ireland.

Although it’s not taken quite as seriously as some of the cities in America, many people still wear green items of clothing and there are many drinking activities that start in the early afternoon and carry on into the early morning of the next day.

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in the United Kingdom

St Patrick’s Day is very popular with students in the UK. Many university’s student unions put on special events throughout the day and club events on at night.

There are numerous St. Patrick’s Day parades that take place throughout England during the day and even in the run up to it. Manchester holds a festival that starts two weeks prior to the event itself. There is a large parade and cultural activities during this time.

Like Australia and New Zealand, Glasgow has a large Irish population due to immigration in the 19th century, so of course there are many celebrations within the city. They began an annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and festival in 2007.

How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

Have you got anything planned for St. Patrick’s Day? Where in the world are you celebrating? Let us know in the comments box below!

And don’t forget, you can call Ireland for just 1p/min in an instant with Pocketdial!

How to Avoid a Large Phone Bill when you Travel


Avoiding a large phone bill when you travel

roaming charges when abroad

Have you ever had that gut-wrenching feeling when you open your first phone bill after travelling abroad?  Making the mistake of not checking your roaming charges with your service provider can end up leading to unnecessary expenses.

In this Pocketdial UK guide to avoiding a large phone bill when you travel, you will find advice on what you can do before and during your trip to keep the cost of your phone bill down.


Before you Travel

It is important that you contact your mobile service provider to set up international roaming and familiarise yourself with the call and text charges for your travel destination. There may also be charges to receive a call, so check that too, otherwise you could end up with a very large phone bill. In some countries, depending on your network, it can even cost up to £2.00 just to receive a call. Receiving a text is often free, so it makes much more sense to ask your friends to text you rather than to call you.

Also, check that your phone is compatible with the foreign networks in the country that you will be travelling to. Find out if your phone is dual band, tri-band or quad band from your manufacturers website. If it is a quad band phone, it will work everywhere. If it is dual or tri-band, it may not work on some networks, so it is important that you find this out.


Data Roaming can lead to a large Phone Bill

Data roaming whilst abroad can also lead to a very large phone bill.  If possible, avoid using the internet on your phone. If you need to use the internet on your phone, you could connect to local Wi-fi, instead of using 3G.  This will be much cheaper.  In fact, many Wi-fi hotspots abroad are free.  For more information on data roaming, visit www.moneysavingexpert.com.


Phone Bill saving methods from your Operator

Many UK operators have international tariffs that you should research and set up. At the time of writing this article, here are the deals with UK phone operators that we found for roaming (mobile use while travelling abroad) to keep the cost of your phone bill down.

We found that O2 offers a data abroad bolt on to help you to reduce your phone bill when travelling. If you have an O2 phone and would like to find out more about international tarrifs for calling abroad, click here.

Orange offer an application to help you to control your phone bill when you are travelling abroad.  If you have a Blackberry, Android or iPhone you can download the roaming Angel  App to help keep track of your roaming costs while you are abroad.   It tells you how much you have spent so that you avoid running up a large phone bill.

Roaming Angel

Click here to reduce your phone bill with the Orange Roaming Angel

If you are on Orange and travelling in the EU, the Orange weekly EU bundle. For £19 a week, you can get 30MB of data, 50 minutes of calls and 100 texts, giving you a saving of almost £25.00 on your phone bill.

If you are a Vodaphone user, Vodaphone offer the Euro Traveller. This allows you  to take your price plan with you anywhere in the Europe zone for just £3.00 per day.

T Mobile offer Flexible Boosters which can be used to reduce your phone bill when roaming. They also offer a World Class Tariff which allows you to make calls for 55p a minute in 25 different countries.


Call Cards and International SIM Cards

Buying international call cards and SIM cards can make phoning from abroad on your mobile much cheaper.  It also means that you are fully in control of your spending. You can use a travel SIM card and encourage friends and family to call you on your foreign SIM using Pocketdial UK. If you are looking for an international SIM card to reduce your phone bill, click here.


VOIP Service providers

However, why use your mobile when you can use a VOIP (Voice over internet protocol) for free instead? Using a VOIP service provider is the best way to reduce your phone bill whilst travelling abroad.

Skype to Skype calls are free when you are both logged into Skype via your internet connection. If you already have a Yahoo, Google + or Facebook account, you can log in and begin a free video conference through these facilities.

Another option is Jajah, which doesn’t require you to download any software.  You can make calls direct from your web-browser on your smartphone, which is easy and handy if you are travelling without a laptop.


And Finally…

Wherever you are travelling in the world, have a fabulous trip. If you find out any new tips on reducing your phone bill when travelling, please leave your comments on our blog.

Mother’s Day is this Sunday in the UK

What is Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is celebrated all over the world on different days throughout the year, depending on the country. Across the world, it is mainly celebrated throughout March, April and May. Mother’s Day as it is known today was first celebrated in America. In some countries it is linked to older religious traditions.  However, in America it’s a more commercial holiday. On Mother’s Day, it is common for each person to give a gift to their mother to show appreciation for everything they do.


Religious Links/Traditions of Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is linked to different religious and historical events as it is adopted by more countries. Celebrations of Mother’s Day can vary a lot from country to country. In the UK, historians believe that Mother’s Day was originally where everybody, especially young people or children who were working as servants, was given the day off to visit family or their ‘mother’ church. Many mothers would be reunited with their children. Everyone came together which resulted in it being known as ‘Mothering Sunday’.

Mother’s Day in the USA

Mother’s Day in America is celebrated on the second Sunday in May. The holiday as it is today was first initiated by Anna Jarvis in 1908. Her mother’s dream was to have a holiday that celebrated mothers for their hard work. The idea didn’t take off at first. She then enlisted the help of a wealthy merchant and heavily promoted the idea. President Woodrow Wilson made the holiday official in 1914.

Mother’s Day became incredibly successful.  However, along with this came the highly commercialised side of it, which Anna Jarvis hated. When she died in 1948 she regretted starting up the holiday.

Mother’s Day is now one of the biggest celebrated holidays in the USA. Sales of flowers and greetings cards really benefit from the holiday and without their support for the holiday over the years it is quite possible that Mother’s Day may not be what it is today.

Mother’s Day in the UK

Unlike many European countries, where it’s celebrated on the second Sunday of May, Mother’s Day in the United Kingdom is always celebrated on the fourth Sunday of Lent. Traditionally, it was never related to the American celebration. Churches still celebrate it as the original religious celebration. However, due to globalisation and commercialism, much of the religious aspect has now been forgotten.

US soldiers who came over to the UK for World War II brought with them their own traditions of Mother’s Day, and it became merged with the more Christian holiday of Mothering Sunday. Many people are not aware that the two holidays used to be separate. Like in America, florists and greetings cards companies enjoy a higher demand during this holiday. Many families see it as a day to do something together.  Many go out for the day or to restaurants in the evening.

Mother’s Day Around the World

The American version of Mother’s Day has been widely adopted in many other countries; they have just changed the date of it to suit their calendar. This means it is not always celebrated on the second Sunday in May, but it is essentially the same holiday.

Remember to thank your mum this Mother’s Day, for everything that she has done for you! If you are far away from your mum, do remember to give her a call. Pocketdial UK can help you to reduce the cost of your internatinal calls.

What are your plans for Mother’s Day this year? Please share in the comments below!