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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Ashura is a very important holiday to both Shiite and Sunni Muslims but the two groups attach very different meanings to the day.

By Dave Roos

In recent years, the word "demisexual" was added to dictionaries, while "aerodrome" was dropped. But just who is making these lexicographical decisions?

By Laurie L. Dove

Tattoos age just like we do. But that doesn't have to be a bad thing. There are simple ways to make them pop and look good, no matter how old they are.

By Allison Troutner

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She's the hero of one of the best-known Bible stories and also described as one of Jesus' ancestors, even though she was a Canaanite prostitute. Who was Rahab, really?

By Dave Roos

The Flower of Life is one of those patterns that shows up in repeatedly in nature and architecture. But what does it mean and why is it considered part of "sacred geometry?"

By Alia Hoyt

Some of the most paradoxical, profound words that Jesus spoke can be contained within these eight beatitudes. So what do they really mean?

By Dave Roos

Did Jesus speak Hebrew? Greek? Aramaic? Or some unknown tongue?

By Dave Roos

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The hamsa, a depiction of a human hand, often with a central eye motif, is a protective symbol meant to ward off evil.

By Robert Lamb

Just a few people have gotten married at the White House in the last 200-plus years. Who were they and what's required to score a wedding there?

By Alia Hoyt

When you hear the word "Samaritan," you might think of a hospital or charity or the Bible story about the Good Samaritan. But "real" Samaritans still exist in Israel, though their numbers are small.

By Dave Roos

To be "on the lam" means to be on the loose or on the run, but what does "lam" mean and where does this colorful phrase come from?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

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Smudging, or the creation of sacred smoke, for the purpose of cleansing energy and promoting healing and wisdom, has become increasingly popular, but what is it exactly?

By Katie Carman

You've probably seen Tibetan prayer flags fluttering in the breeze, but what do they symbolize and who should hang them?

By Tara Yarlagadda

Seemingly everywhere in the barrage of photos out of Ukraine is the letter 'Z' – on tanks, T-shirts, signs and buildings. But how did it become a political symbol?

By Philip Seargeant

The pink and white blooms of the cherry blossom tree often herald the arrival of spring. But in Japan, the cherry blossom is also a well-loved symbol of fleeting beauty, nostalgia and loss.

By Dave Roos

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Why have numbers like 2/22/22 been fascinating humans for more than 2,000 years? It has a lot to do with our brains' desire to find meaning and connection.

By Barry Markovsky

John Calvin is best known for his doctrine of predestination, a controversial belief that continues to be popular in some churches. But what who was he, and what is predestination?

By Dave Roos

Hoboes were a widely displaced brotherhood who illegally hopped trains and journeyed across the country, taking odd jobs wherever they could find them. The hobo code helped them survive.

By Carrie Tatro

Ancient Greeks and Romans used thin strips of lead to vent their frustrations or write messages to the gods.

By Joanna Thompson

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The Bible doesn't say exactly when Jesus was born but a close reading of the text gives us clues to a more correct date than Dec. 25. And why was that date chosen away? It has nothing to do with pagan religions.

By Dave Roos

In 1957, a woman named Frances Kipps Spencer invented "Chrismons" to decorate her church's sanctuary and to remind parishioners of the true meaning behind the Christian celebration of Christmas.

By Carrie Tatro

Step aside, St. Nick. Butt out, Rudolph. In this special Yuletide quiz, we're saluting another beloved member of the Christmas character pantheon: the one and only Missus Claus.

By Mark Mancini

Interfaith families exist all over the world and this is the time of year when discussions focus on how to celebrate the holidays.

By Samira Mehta

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Buddhist nuns and female scholars are gaining new leadership roles, in a tradition that began with the ordination of Buddha's foster mother.

By Jue Liang

President Biden's menorah lighting promises to prioritize ritual over reception, focusing on the lighting of the traditional Hanukkah candelabrum itself.

By Jonathan D. Sarna