Halloween-like Traditions Around the World

October 30, 2017

Pumpkins on display (Photo from Wikipedia)

It’s that time of year.  The air is crisp, leaves are falling and the days are getting longer.  Soon kids (and all the kids-at-heart) will dress up and the air will be filled with shouts of “trick-or-treat!”  Still others will stay indoors watching scary movies, pretending not to be scared of the dark.  Yep, it’s Halloween.  But do many of you know how Halloween began?  While there are many influences on the modern celebration of Halloween, most agree that the basis for the holiday is a blend of Celtic and Christian traditions.  The practice of jack-o-lanterns comes from the Celts, as they would carve turnips into lanterns to help guide departed spirits.  Trick-or-treating began as Christian children would go door to door collecting bread in exchange for prayers for loved ones.  After looking into the history of Halloween, I wondered if other cultures had similar celebrations, so I asked my co-workers to tell me about some of their homeland traditions.

Hailing from Croatia, Lilly Jasarovic told me that recently more Croatians are celebrating the modern Halloween with costumes and trick or treating.  But she also told me of the festival Maškare which is celebrated right before Lent.  During this festival, people dress up in costumes and celebrate with big masquerade parties, parades and bonfires.


Bowl of Fritule, photo from wikipedia

Children are often given small doughnut-like pastries called fritule, as gifts by adults.

In Ethiopia, they celebrate the festival of Buhé (pronounced boo-hay).  Ahmed Abogn let me know that Buhe, sometimes refered to as Ethiopia’s Halloween, is celebrated in August near the end of the rainy season.  On the night of Buhe, young boys will go door to door singing and dancing, asking for small gifts, like bread or (nowadays) money.  Families will also light bonfires and gather around to celebrate.

Kaylan Dahal, a Bhutanese-Nepali caseworker, spoke about the traditions of Diwali.  The festival is a Hindu festival, also known as the Festival of Lights.  During this time families decorate their homes with flowers and it is a time to share food and blessings with each other.  During the festival, groups will go door to door singing songs or blessings and are rewarded with small gifts.  Kaylan tells me that in the refugee camp, you could visit nearly 100 homes because they were so close together.


A Nepalese temple lit up for Diwali. (Photo by Dhilung Kirat)

Caseworker Law Reh spoke of the Karenni Deeku festival.  Named for the leaf-wrapped sticky rice that is cooked during this time, the festival is held with large group dances around sacred poles.  Sometimes people will wear masks during the celebrations.  They will also go door to door sharing gifts with one another.  Families will also make sculptures (Law described them similar to scarecrows) that will be placed in front of homes to protect from evil spirits.  This festival can take a week to celebrate and is a time to look forward into the next year as fortunes can also be told during this time.

Learning about all the different ways and reasons my coworkers celebrate was really great!  I got to hear about their homes and traditions as well as share some tidbits about Halloween too.  If this kind of history interested you, I hope you can take some time to learn more about the different traditions in the world because, as this blog showed me, despite the many differences, we are more similar than we sometimes think.


Kristyne Walth, Volunteer Coordinator, LSS Center for New Americans

A Refugee Camp in Sioux Falls?

July 18, 2017

Yes!  On June 20th, visitors to the Center for New Americans got to experience an interactive refugee camp and learn more about the journey of a refugee around the world.  The event was organized to celebrate World Refugee Day; the international observance dedicated raising awareness of the refugee situation around the world.

On this warm Tuesday lunch hour, 250 people from the Sioux Falls community walked in the footsteps of refugees – from fleeing their home country to being resettled in America.  Interactive stations were available along the way to show the realities of the refugee resettlement process.  Visitors began at the border crossing, where they were questioned as to why they fled their home country. As they gained their refugee stamp book, they learned that by the end of 2016, there were 22.5 million refugees in the world and yet less than 1% of them ever find a permanent home.

From there, the new “refugees” then made their way to a Distribution Center to get supplies for their time in a refugee camp.  Real-life former refugees told stories of their time in the camps and what conditions were truly like before the “refugees” learned about the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program.  An Immigration attorney was available to answer questions as to how the immigration process happens, what kind of security clearances are required and who is approved to come to the United States.

Finally, the “refugees” had to learn about the culture of America, before they could be approved to fly overseas.  When they arrived to America, they were welcomed into LSS to see how refugees are integrated into the community and become self-sufficient.  Tours of the new LSS Campus on Eastbank, which houses the Center for New Americans, were available along with refreshments for the weary travelers.

This interactive event was co hosted by:  LSSSD, Refugee Congress, Caminando Juntos, the Multi Cultural Center, and Pax Christi.  Organizers of the event would like to extend their thanks to Mogadishu Grocery store for providing the supplies for the Distribution Center and Swamp Daddy’s Cajun Kitchen for being on site to offer food to visitors.  We would also like to say thank you to the volunteers who helped set up and participate in the event.  Finally, we would also like to say a big thank you to everyone came to the event!

Check out Keloland and KSFY for videos of the event.


written by Kristyne Duffy, Volunteer Coordinator, Center for New Americans


May 10, 2017

Thank you to all donors, volunteers and businesses who helped make the LSS Benefit Dinner in Aberdeen a huge success!

Thank You to Our Sponsors

South Dakota Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; L&S Agency; Lutheran Disaster Response; Aberdeen Federal Credit Union; Molded Fiber Glass; Plains Commerce Bank; Runnings; Aberdeen American News; Aberdeen Development Corporation; Dakota Broadcasting; Harr Motors; Lamar Advertising; Malchow’s Home Furnishings; Moccasin Creek Country Club; Sanford Health Aberdeen; US Bank; Bremer Photography; Health Care Plus Federal Credit Union; South Dakota Wheat Growers; 3M; Aberdeen Hearing Clinic; Aberdeen Parks & Recreation; Aberdeen Sports Recreation; Aberdeen Wings North American Hockey League; Advanced Auto; Airport Travel Center & Café; Ashley’s Furniture; Bethlehem Lutheran; Betty Tewksbury; BoHo Closet Boutique; Bremer Photography; Buffalo Wings & Rings; Butler Machinery; Canaries Baseball; Caribou Coffee; Courtyard Suites by Marriot, Sioux Falls; Crawford Trucks & Equipment, Inc.; Culver’s; Dairy Queen; Dakota Sioux Casino, Watertown; Dempsey’s Brewery Pub Restaurant, Watertown; The Flame; Foote Creek Bed & Breakfast; Gold Dust Casino and Hotel; Good Shepherd Lutheran; Heiser’s Jewelry; Herberger’s; Hitch’N Post Western Wear; Holiday Inn Express; Home 2 Suites by Hilton, Sioux Falls; Jimmy John’s Restaurant; The Junction; Kathy Bangasser; Ken’s Super Fair Foods; Kessler’s Food & Liquor; Lamont Companies; Mac Tools; Marlin’s Family Restaurant; Maurices; Mavericks Steak & Cocktails, Deadwood; Max & Erma’s; The Millstone Family Restaurant; O’Reilly Auto Parts; The Oil Room; Perkins Restaurant & Bakery; Philip’s Diner, Sioux Falls; Phnom Penh Restaurant, Sioux Falls; Pizza Ranch, Aberdeen; Pizza Ranch, Watertown; Pounder’s Pub & Grub; Pro Nails; Quality Quick Print; Riddle’s Jewelry; Ruby Tuesday; Super 8; Starbucks; Target; Texas Road House, Sioux Falls; Tip & Toe Nails Salon; Titan Machinery; TownePlace Suites by Marriot; Twist Cone; Wal-Mart; Watertown Confectionery; and Wells Fargo Bank.

A Special Thank You

A special thank you to Pastor Cassandra Lamb, Deacon Kris Wollman, Lori Langford, Pastor Tim Sersen, Dixie Garrett, Dan Huettl, Lew Koch, Pastor Rhia Strohm, Tasha Hoeltzner and Adrianne Korbakes for all of your involvement and volunteering your time. Thank you also to The Dueling Duo Pianos Show with Dan Witte.

Money raised at the LSS Annual Benefit Dinner will stay right here in Aberdeen, SD. The money raised will go to support LSS services such as Counseling Services, EAP, Center for Financial Resources, Adoption Services, Pregnancy Counseling, Foster Care, Kinship Services, Residential Services for Children and Youth–New Beginnings Center, Disaster Response Services and Community Resource Program.

Liesl Hovel, LSS Development & Foundation
Development Director, Northeast Region
110 6th Ave SE, Suite 200, Aberdeen, SD  57401
605-262-6301 direct, 605-290-2533 cell, 605-262-6357 fax

Thanks and Farewell to Thrivent Chapters

September 28, 2016

LSS would like to thank the Thrivent Chapters in South Dakota for all their support through the years. As Thrivent closes all of its remaining Chapters nationwide on September 30, it’s time to look back and appreciate all the work that has been done to support so many causes.

I started at LSS more than 18 years ago, and that’s when I first heard about Aid Association of Lutherans and Lutheran Brotherhood. Both began in the early 20th century, offering Lutheran families the security of insurance contracts. Both non-profit fraternal organizations were dedicated to making their communities better by giving funds to charities. In 2001, the two organizations merged to become Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, a name that has since been shortened to Thrivent Financial.

Part of their mission was giving funding to events and projects, which was done primarily through the Chapters. I’ve been honored to work with many Chapters throughout the state–from Lawrence County to Roberts County to my own Chapter—West Minnehaha County.

Our area dinner benefits, Watertown Golf Tournament, and Taste of Cultures events have all benefitted from Thrivent Chapter sponsorship. Funds for projects have enabled us to provide more for those we serve; the most recent being funds to purchase small incentive gift cards for youth referred to the new LSS Evening Report Center. The ERC is an alternative to detention that allows youth to remain in the community while receiving additional services. LSS staff disperses a gift card when a youth does a good job at improving a school grade on their report card or getting a job interview or a job, etc. This is an encouragement for them that would not have been possible without the funding from a Thrivent Chapter.

I’ve been privileged to serve on the West Minnehaha County Thrivent Board for a number of years, and our last Chapter meeting was last week. I’ll miss the gratifying work and the fellowship with fellow board members, but I’m excited for the changes coming to Thrivent in South Dakota.

If you have a chance, give a Thrivent Chapter Board volunteer your thanks for all the support they’ve given to LSS of South Dakota.

Linda Jensen, LSS Development & Foundation
Church Relations and Planned Giving Development Officer
705 East 41st Street, Suite 200, Sioux Falls, SD  57105-6048
605- 444-7536 direct, 800-568-2401 ext. 7536 toll free

Empowered To Connect Conference

March 22, 2016

LSS is committed to providing education and training opportunities to adoptive and foster parents. LSS is excited to co-sponsor the Empowered To Connect Simulcast on April 8 & 9, 2016. The training will be held in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota. South Dakota Social Work CEU’s will be available. Read the rest of this entry »

Doing Good on the Green: LSS Golf Tournament 2015 – Thank You!

August 19, 2015

Reliabank Color no backgroundfdicOur 5th Annual LSS Golf Tournament held Monday, August 3, 2015 at Cattail Crossing Golf Course in Watertown, was a success with 88 golfers participating. Hosting this event required help from so many, and we are grateful to them all. We want to extend a special thank you and recognition of commitment to Dale McElhany, Levi Pearson, David Johnson and all the staff at Reliabank. Their vision and commitment to serving the people in Watertown and area communities as well as LSS is commendable. We especially thank the sponsors below for their generous contributions.

Funds raised at the golf tournament go toward client services in the Watertown area—strengthening individuals and families. Funds raised will help those who long to have a child through the adoption process, mental health counseling and financial counseling and education.

Thank you to our corporate sponsors.Hole Sponsors

Dennis & Shirley Larson
Codington County Chapter of Thrivent Financial
First Bank & Trust
Aason Engineering
Diamond Realty
Elite Exterior
Sharp Automotive
Citi-Wide Property Management
Great Western Bank
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio

Team Sponsors

Black Line Investment
Dennis Larson
DeSmet Flashes
Diamond Realty
First Premier Bank
Great Western Bank
Hometown Building Center
KWAT Radio
KXLG Radio
Larry’s Lumber
Liberty Drywall
Malchow’s Home Furnishings
McKeever’s Vending
Sharp Automotive
The Country Club of Sioux Falls
Clark County Chapter of Thrivent Financial
Wells Fargo Bank

Award Sponsors

KWAT Radio
Bramble Park Zoo
Dagwood Subs
Dakota Sioux Casino & Hotel
Dorale Foot & Fashion
Expressions Gallery/Knit Nook
Five Loaves
Gas & Goodies
Hedahls, Inc.
Herberger’s Department Store
JC Penney’s Department Store
Kampeska Lodge
LATI Foundation
Lone Pine Bar & Grill
Mahowald’s Hardware
Mainstream Boutique
Mr. T’s Sports Bar
Montgomery’s Furniture
Oscar Nails Spa
Past Times
Pizza Ranch

Liesl Hovel, Northeast Regional Director
LSS Development & Foundation

Annual Adoption Picnic!

June 13, 2014

Please join us for our Annual Adoption Picnic for any Families who have adopted through LSS! We would love to see you all!

When: Friday, June 20th, 2014. We will start gathering at 5pm with food being served at 6pm.
Where: At the Tuthill Park Upper Picnic Shelter, 3600 South Cliff Avenue, Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Lutheran Social Services will be providing the meal. Families do not need to bring anything! Families who have adopted and those who are in the process of adopting are all welcome! It is fun to see kids of all ages!

Please RSVP by June 17th to Hayley at #605-221-2418, #888-201-5061
or hayley.vandenbrink@lsssd.org

Submitted by Dede Mogck, Director of Adoption and Foster Care

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