Culture & Traditions

Cultures and Traditions takes a look at how people interact with each other. This might be through sub-cultures, relationships, fads or religion and spirituality.

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SOS was the most commonly used distress signal from the turn of the 20th century until before WWII. But exactly what does SOS mean?

By Jesslyn Shields

Love bubble wrap? There's a holiday for that. And just about everything else. But who's creating them and why?

By Carrie Dennis

La Pascualita stands silent and still in the window of a bridal shop in Chihuahua, Mexico. Many say she isn't plastic, but the embalmed corpse of the store's former owner.

By Lauren David

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Ever wondered why the first month of the year is called January? Or why September comes from the Latin word for seven when it's the ninth month? Here's how each month got its name.

By Carrie Tatro

Every December 23rd in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, radishes come to life, as carvers compete for cash and bragging rights in this veggie-style Christmas tradition.

By Jennifer Walker-Journey

The 1800s saw the birth of many of the Christmas customs, from Santa Claus to lights, that we know and love today.

By Kate Morgan

We use these abbreviations all the time, but what do they actually mean?

By Jesslyn Shields

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The resolutely bipartisan White House Christmas ornament has been an annual tradition since 1981 and is a big fundraiser too.

By Alia Hoyt

We all grew up playing 'Ring Around the Rosie.' But what does it even mean?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Perhaps no country on Earth loves Christmas more than the Philippines. Residents there celebrate the holiday for four months solid. Here's why.

By Laurie L. Dove

Throughout history, people have speculated as to who or what Gog and Magog were. Were they two people, one person and his land or two nations? And why were they associated with the Apocalypse?

By Dave Roos

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Of the 8 billion people now inhabiting this planet, almost 60 percent live in urban environments in some pretty densely packed cities. Here are the top 10 megacities in the world.

By Laurie L. Dove

Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in LA is much more than a cemetery housing some of America's most famous people. It also boasts gardens, churches, a huge mausoleum and an art museum.

By Kate Morgan

Pipes have a long history for Native Americans, and they're still revered and powerful. Just please don't call them peace pipes.

By Jennifer Walker-Journey

Most observant Mormons wear special underwear they call temple garments as a reminder of their faith. What are the rules around wearing it? And must they always wear it?

By Dave Roos

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The legend of the weeping woman has been terrifying children for generations. But experts tell us there's much more to La Llorona's legend than just scaring kids.

By Lauren David

Welcome to McKamey Manor, where you must sign a 40-page waiver, pass a background check and take a physical to enter. Thousands are on the waiting list.

By Kate Morgan

California just became the fifth state to legalize human composting as an alternative to burial. How does this work?

By Lauren David

During the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, it's common to hear people wish each other "Shana Tova!" What does this phrase mean?

By Laurie L. Dove

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In Germany, death may be permanent, but gravesites aren't. They're leased until the next "resident" moves in. That's just one grim regulation surrounding funerals and burials.

By Allison Troutner

Henry Louis Gates Jr. will serve as editor-in-chief of the new Oxford Dictionary of African American English, which is slated to be published in spring 2025.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

Mabon is a fairly recent Pagan festival created to give thanks for the harvest. What does Mabon mean and how is it celebrated?

By Dave Roos

Many people think 'Latine' is a better gender-inclusive term than 'Latinx.' Here's why.

By Melissa K. Ochoa

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The surnames popular around the globe reflect everything from one's ancestry to regional colonizers to occupations.

By Melanie Radzicki McManus

How did blue collar, white collar (and pink collar!) end up in our lexicon, and what are the origins of their meanings?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler