February dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

2nd      Imbolc, Pagan/Wicca

Falling at the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, this ancient festival marks the beginning of spring. Where Christianity and the old traditions have merged, the day is also celebrated by honouring St Brigid. Traditionally, straw dolls were made in her image and beds laid out in each home, to welcome her visit and blessing of the livestock.

18th     Lailat al Miraj, Islamic

Lailat al Miraj remembers the Prophet Mohammed’s ascension into heaven. It is celebrated by Muslims across the world, with special prayers and a telling of the story, in which the Prophet received instructions from God for the Salat, the requirement for Muslims to pray five times per day.

22nd    Ash Wednesday, Christian

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar. It is observed by attending special services at church, where ashes are used to mark people’s foreheads. These are made by burning the palm crosses from Palm Sunday, the weekend before. Christians often leave the ash on their foreheads all day as a public profession of their faith.

This month’s dates at a glance


2 – Imbolc*/Candlemas - Wicca and Pagan

3 – Setsunbun-sai - Shinto

5 – Triodion begins - Orthodox Christian

5 – Thaipusam - Hindu

6 – Tu BiShvat - Judaism

12 – Sunday of the prodigal son - Orthodox Christian

14 – Valentine’s day - Christian

15 – Nirvana day - Buddhist

18 – Maha Shivratri - Hindu

Lailat al-Miraj - Islam

19 – Meatfare Sunday - Orthodox Christian

21 – Losar begins - Buddhist

21 – Shrove Tuesday - Christian

22 – Ash Wednesday (start of Lent)- Christian

22 – Feast of the chair of Saint Peter - Catholic Christian

26 Feb-1 Mar – Intercalary days - Baha’i

26 – Cheesefare Sunday – Orthodox Christian

27 – Great Lent begins – Orthodox Christian

 Awareness and events

1 – World Hijab Day

1-7 – World Interfaith Harmony Week

2 – Time To Talk Day

4 – World Cancer Day

6 – International Day Of Zero Tolerance To Female Genital Mutilation

6-12 – UK Race Equality Week

6-12 – Children’s Mental Health Week

7 – Safer Internet Day

11 – International Day Of Women And Girls In Science

12 – Red Hand Day For Child Soldiers

15 – International Childhood Cancer Day

17 – World Human Spirit Day

20 – World Day Of Social Justice

Rare Language Fact File: Ngatikese Creole

Native to:  Sapwuahfik atoll, the Caroline Islands (Micronesia)

Number of native speakers: 15-20

Spoken by:  The men of Sapwuahfik

Learn some:  Ngatikese is a creole of English and Pohnpeian, the indigenous language of the island. Many words are very recognisable to English speakers, eg ‘my name’ is ‘mai nihm’, and the numbers one to five are ‘wan, tuh, trih, foh, faif’.

Interesting facts:

  • Ngatikese is only spoken by men. Women and girls on the island can understand the language and sometimes use it to joke and make fun, but it is mainly used between men, especially at work. It can also be used to exclude Pohnpeian speakers.
  • This came about because of an English invasion of the island in 1837, when all the indigenous men were killed. Some of the crew settled on the island and the resulting language, a creole or hybrid of English and Pohnpeian developed.
  • The geography of Sapwuahfik has helped to preserve the language. While minority languages on other islands have absorbed other influences from shipping traffic and trade over the years, Sapwuahfik lies outside of these routes. Ngatikese has been described as an ‘echo of the voices of those 19th century sailors’.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.

Celebrations Around the World: Nirvana Day, 15 February


Nirvana Day marks the anniversary of the Buddha’s death at the age of 80.


Buddhists believe that he entered Nirvana at this point, a state achieved the end of the cycle of death and rebirth. The day is an important reminder to Buddhists that nothing is permanent; a fact that they work to accept without sadness.


As well as meditating and reflecting on loved ones who are no longer with them, Buddhists may also visit monasteries or temples, bringing gifts such as food or household products.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of February’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!


Meet The Team: Maria Cristina Ligas, TLS Interpreter

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Spanish and Italian interpreter, Maria Cristina Ligas.

Tell us about the role you do for TLS

I have been working as a public service interpreter since 1997; full time since 2013, providing services both in person and over the phone. The majority of jobs I undertake for TLS are in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, surgeries, clinics. This said, I am regularly sent to schools to translate during open days, parents evenings and any kind of meetings where parents, teachers or pupils need my linguistic support (I have a PGCE in mfl KS3/4 and QTS). Being self-employed I also interpret in courts, detention camps, prisons, courts and solicitors offices.

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

I love my job: the variety of situations we are exposed to makes it perfect for someone like me who needs changes, physical movement and constant intellectual stimulation. Therefore I would not be able to single out a specific project.  When working withing healthcare settings, the birth-related ones are incredibly recharging. A breath of fresh air. In the last 26 years working in the public sector I translated half a dozen times in the labour ward and three times over the phone, while mothers were quickly giving birth at home or in a car. Once, due to labour complications, a two-hour booking turned into a night spent translating. I had then the chance to witness how compassionate and selfless midwives are. To witness the birth of a baby while not being involved emotionally (I am a mother) is an amazing experience. Second to none.

What has been your biggest challenge?

The biggest challenge proved to be the day I needed, together with two policemen, to break the news of the death of a young man to his parents. No words can express how terribly sad it was.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

As stated earlier, I love my job and can't think about another one. If forced to choose, I would go for a job that involves a lot of travelling and the use of several languages, such as travel representative or flight attendant (the latter was my first job, age of 23...nearly a life ago!) After a life spent happily translating, interpreting, tutoring and teaching languages I cannot see myself doing anything else but what I do.

Tell us something interesting about you

I am a marathon runner. I personally think that to run is, if not interesting to everybody, certainly something that makes people happier and healthier.
Nothing compares to the experience of running the London Marathon. I started running again after 20 years break, in 2017 in my mid-fifties.

If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

If I could meet someone I would choose Marie Curie, the Polish Nobel Prize winner who discovered radio and saved countless lives from cancer. My motto in life is "never give up". She was the living symbol of my motto. As a female scientist in a world dominated by men, she kept going even after losing her husband Pierre, with whom she shared a Nobel Prize. She then earned a second Nobel Prize while bringing up two incredibly successful daughters.

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

Many, but three are at the top of the list:

A 150k walk in February to fundraise for Great Ormond Hospital.
A trip to Mauritius for a well-deserved break.
To join the rowing club in Springfield Park.
And obviously all this while working for TLS.

If you would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk




January dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

9th       Seijin no hi, Shinto

Seijin no hi is an ancient Japanese ceremony to mark young people’s coming of age at 20 years old. This is the age at which Japanese people are legally allowed to gamble, drive and drink alcohol. In most towns, young people will gather to hear a local dignitary speak, and then go with their families to a Shinto shrine to pray.

19th     Timkat, Ethiopian Orthodox

This is the Ethiopian Orthodox feast of the Epiphany, the baptism of Christ. Ethiopian Orthodox Christians celebrate by praying over the entire holiday. Priests take models of the Ark of the Convenant and lead processions to the nearest bodies of water, where worshipers are blessed.

26th     Vasant Panchami, Hindu/Jain/Sikh

Vasant Panchami ushers in the spring in India, and is celebrated by wearing bright colours (usually yellow, to represent the blossoming mustard fields) and decorating with flowers. There are variations on how the festival is celebrated; in some parts of India, people fly kites to celebrate Vasant Panchami, and for Hindus there is a link to the goddess of wisdom, Saraswati, so the festivities often feature idols or statues.

This month’s dates at a glance


1                Solemnity of Mary, mother of God, Catholic Christian

Gantan-sai (new year), Shinto

5                  Twelfth night, Christian

Birthday of Guru Gobind Singh, Sikh

6                 Epiphany, Christian

7                 Feast of the nativity Orthodox, Christian

7-9                Mahayana new year, Buddhist

8                   Baptism of the Lord Jesus, Catholic Christian

9                 Seijin no Hi, Shinto

13                Lohri/Maghi, Hindu and Sikh

14                Old new year, Orthodox Christian

Makar Sankranti, Hindu

15-18          Pongal, Hindu

18-25          Week of prayer for Christian unity, Christian

19                Timkat, Ethiopian Orthodox Christian

22                Lunar new year Confucian, Daoist and Buddhist

25                Conversion of Saint Paul, Christian

26               Vasant Panchami, Hindu, Sikh and Jain

29               Zacchaeus Sunday, Orthodox Christian

31               Birthday of Guru Har Rai, Sikh

Awareness and events

4                  World Braille Day

8                  Ethnicity Pay Gap Day

15                World Religion Day

16                Martin Luther King Jr Day

24                International Day of Education

25                Robert Burns Night

27                Holocaust Memorial Day



Rare Language Fact File: Jiwarli

Native to: Pilbara region, Western Australia

Number of native speakers: 0

Spoken by: People of Jiwarli heritage (indigenous Australians)

Learn some: The Jiwarli word for camera is mangarn manaji; mangar is a person’s spirit and manaji means ‘it grabs’. The Jiwarli, as did many people around the world, believed that having your photo taken would steal your soul.

Interesting facts:

  • The last native speaker of Jiwarli was a man named Jack Butler, who died in 1986 and whose descendants were only interested in learning English. Butler was determined that the language should not die with him, so he collaborated with a linguist named Peter Austin to create a Jiwarli dictionary.
  • When Europeans first landed in Australia, there were 250 living languages there. Now there are only 15 that are learned as a native tongue. Austin has launched a £20m foundation that aims to preserve these.
  • Jiwarli has been the focus of much academic debate and discussion, because it is a ‘free word order’ language, meaning that word order is not critical to meaning. This is very rare and certainly not the case in English.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Please speak to your account manager about your requirements.

Celebrations Around the World: Pongal, 15-18 January


Pongal is the Tamil harvest festival, celebrated in southern India and Sri Lanka, as well as anywhere in the world with a Tamil community.


The celebration gives thanks to the sun, nature and the animals involved in bringing the harvest.


Pongal is celebrated over four days: on the first day, people thoroughly clean their home, throw away old belongings (to signify a new start) and wear new clothes. On day two, the traditional sweet rice that gives the festival its name is cooked. The milky rice is allowed to boil over and everyone shouts ‘pongalo pongal!’. The third day is for giving thanks to cows, and these revered animals are washed and decorated. The final day is one for coming together with loved ones, and younger family members seek blessings from their elders.

We always love to hear from customers about their own celebrations. Please get in touch if you have observed any of January’s festivals and would like to share stories or photos with us!


Meet The Team: Tamara Pereira, TLS Translations Team

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Tamara Pereira, a member of the of TLS Translations Team.

Tell us about the role you do for TLS

I am a service coordinator in the translations department wherein I liaise between our clients and different linguists for translating of varied documents.

What's been your favourite project at TLS?

My favourite project has to be when I was asked to train a new team member on translations. As we are all working remotely, this was something new to me but, through a number of virtual meetings, the training was completed with much ease. Having worked in this department for less than a year and then training someone new was exciting and I enjoyed every single second of it.

What has been your biggest challenge?

I lived in India for 27 years and moved to the UK in 2017. The distance from home and culture shocks that came along and not to forget my mum’s food is something I still miss to date. However, UK is now home to me and I love being here.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

It would be teaching, which was my first job after I graduated from college. Being a mother myself to a 20 month old, every day is different and I know I can actually make a difference to a child’s life.

Tell us something interesting about you.

I had extreme aqua phobia for most of my childhood, but I decided to learn swimming and was hell bent to get over it. Now swimming is my biggest hobby and a skill I can use for my lifetime. In addition, cooking and baking are my passion. Christmas plum cake is a top favourite of mine and my friends eagerly wait to try it every year. I hope to pass this on to my daughter one day.

If you could meet someone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet my grandmother again. She passed away a year before I got married, which was heart breaking. We were very close and I would love to have had her by my side on my special day.

What are your ambitions for the next 12 months?

My aim is to gain as many valuable skills as possible and be committed towards advancing within TLS. I want to prove that I am a good fit so that one day I can look back on my career and be proud of it all. Outside work, I aim to travel solo along with my daughter as much as I can to prove to myself that parenting might be hard but nothing is impossible!

If you would like to be profiled, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk

December dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

This month’s dates at a glance

1st       World AIDS Day

2nd     International Day for the Abolition of Slavery

3rd      International Day of Persons with Disabilities

5th      International Volunteer Day

8th      Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) – Buddhist,

Feast of the Immaculate Conception– Christian

10th    Human Rights Day

12th    International Universal Health Coverage Day

18th    International Migrants Day

19th    Chanukah begins – Judaism

20th    International Human Solidarity Day

21st     Winter Solstice, Yule – Litha – Wicca/Pagan Northern and Southern hemispheres

24th    Christmas Eve – Christian

25th    Christmas Day – Christian

Feast of the Nativity – Orthodox Christian

26th    Saint Stephen’s Day – Christian

Zarathosht Diso (Death of Prophet Zarathushtra) – Zoroastrian

Boxing Day

Kwanzaa begins

Bank Holiday – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI

27th    Bank Holiday – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI

28th    Holy Innocents – Christian

30th    Feast of the Holy Family – Catholic Christian

31st     Watch Night – Christian

New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay

TLS Team Highlights 2022

Over the year we have introduced interpreters and TLS staff, finding out more about the work and social lives of those who work with you every day. Here we revisit a selection of our replies…


Jacky Ashton, Service Coordinator for the TLS On Demand Team, revealed her full title of Lady Jacqueline Ashton in our profile piece. Jacky owns the title and a small plot of land in Scotland, which she describes as ‘the size of a carpet tile’!


Sumayyah Aleem, one of our highly rated freelance interpreters working in English, Punjabi and Urdu, brought home the real impact of our work when she told us how, during a project, she felt ‘very satisfied and happy when a broken family was reunited. The young children were back together from foster care.’


Stephanie Bright, Resource and Compliance Manager, shared a family secret recipe with us, which might come in handy this Christmas! When talking about who she would like to meet, she said: ‘My grandma. Unfortunately she never met my son, so would love that and to also enjoy her Yorkshire puddings again. She made them [on the hob] like pancakes and they were the best!’


Omead Hussain, another highly sought-after interpreter, working freelance in English, Arabic and Kurdish, also highlighted the human side of his work, describing his favourite project with TLS: ‘The project was aimed to produce videos that explain [in the most common community languages] the various social care procedures for children in care, unaccompanied asylum seekers and the parents of children being reviewed by children’s social care services.’


Bailey (aka Bee) Sage, TLS Graduate Projects Executive, reminded us of the strange days of 2020 when she told us: ‘In the first COVID lockdown, I shaved my head completely in the spur of the moment. It was truly the most liberating feeling and made for a beautiful, hassle-free summer.’


Helga C, a brilliant interpreter working in English and Portuguese, gave us another insight into the life-changing work our interpreters are doing: ‘My favourite project at Language Shop was interpreting with Shelter. Really felt that I was supporting people at very vulnerable times in their lives while they're going through homelessness, distress and mental affliction.’


Mandy Lloyd, one of the TLS bookings team, treated us all to some great stories, and her plans for the coming year sound like a great way to cope with rising food prices:  ‘In the next 12 months I would like to turn a strip of land my son has given me into an allotment. Now is the time to start digging and preparing for next year and I hope to grow enough food and flowers for the family. I’ve grown plenty in the garden this year but I’m looking forward to doing this on a much bigger scale.’


Shaun Hunsley, one of our in-demand freelance BSL interpreters, rounded off 2022’s profiles with some more great stories: ‘I was booked to interpret for a party that the late Queen of England was throwing in Buckingham Palace. It was an incredible evening. Then sadly I was part of the interpreting team booked for her funeral, it was an honour and a privilege to do both.’

If you would like to be profiled in 2022, or know someone else who would, please get in touch by emailing zainub.patel@newham.gov.uk