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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You know that time in summer when everything slows down and not much is going on? The German word sommerloch neatly sums it up. But where did it come from?

By Dave Roos

Thanks to COVID-19, big celebrations are canceled. So it's no surprise people aren't saying 'Happy Birthday' with a simple card, but with a huge yard sign instead.

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Floriography — the association of flowers with special virtues and sentiments — has been a practice from antiquity to the present day.

By Carrie Tatro

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The name Karen has somehow become the universal term for the angry, white woman. But when and how did that happen?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

From the worlds of politics, professional baseball and old-time boxing came a term still in use today to describe someone who has a left-handed predilection.

By Laurie L. Dove

The July 14 holiday celebrated by the French is way more complicated than the term "Bastille Day" might suggest.

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

You didn't ask for a cigar. Maybe you don't even like them. So why is someone abruptly denying you one?

By Nathan Chandler

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In TV shows and movies, sometimes an angel of death appears to tell some unfortunate soul their time on Earth is over. But where did this idea come from? And what if you tell the angel, "I'm not ready?"

By Dave Roos

'Take it with a grain of salt' means to be skeptical about something. But where does the phrase come from?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

Why do conversations about race get so awkward? And what are some ways to keep them friendly and productive?

By Alia Hoyt

The @ sign is so much a part of the internet that it may surprise you to know it's been around for at least 1,500 years.

By Dave Roos

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Are Hindus polytheistic? Do they worship cows? And how does yoga fit into this religion? We answer some of the most-asked questions around Hinduism.

By Dave Roos

The majority of Native Americans speak the English language, so how many Native American languages are still in existence and being spoken today? It's a complicated question.

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

The practice of shamanism has mystical and spiritual connotations, but it's not tied to any specific religion or creed. So, what exactly is shamanism?

By Michelle Konstantinovsky

These quirky clay figurines sprout "hair" seemingly overnight. But what is it that has made the Chia Pet an international sensation for 40 years?

By Patty Rasmussen

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In the popular imagination, hell is depicted as a place of fire, presided over by Satan dressed in red and holding a pitchfork. But depictions of hell have actually evolved over time.

By Dave Roos

The Mad Hatter makes quite an impression in the 'Alice in Wonderland' books and movies. But the expression 'mad as a hatter' actually predates this character. So, where did the term come from?

By Kristen Hall-Geisler

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, more widely known as the Mormon church, can generate a lot of questions: Is there really special underwear? Is it a cult? We bust some myths.

By Dave Roos

Today's gospel and blues music and the freedom songs of the civil rights movement all have historical roots in traditional slave spirituals, which were songs of sorrow, but also jubilation at the promise of freedom.

By Tara Yarlagadda

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Sign language interpreters provide critical lifelines to the deaf community, especially during crises. So who exactly are these superhero signers?

By Stephanie Vermillion

It started out as a small movement in Jamaica that went worldwide with the popularity of reggae music. Today you can find Rastafarians on every continent. But what is Rastafari really all about?

By Dave Roos

Xenophobia, or the fear of immigrants and strangers, has a long, unsettling history in the U.S. and across the globe. What makes this prejudice so prominent during hard times throughout history?

By John Donovan

The Pledge of Allegiance started as just part of a marketing campaign to sell flags. But along the way, it became something much much bigger.

By Dave Roos

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Punctuation can really make or break a sentence. Test your knowledge of basic (and not-so-basic) punctuation conventions by taking this quiz!

By Alia Hoyt

We all learned about grammar in grade school, but some of us retained the knowledge better than others. Test your knowledge of the finer points of English with our quiz.

By Alia Hoyt