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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Did the Beatles introduce yoga to the Western world?

In the 1960s, the Beatles joined Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in his Himalayan ashram. Their interest in meditation undoubtedly influenced their music. But are they responsible for introducing yoga to the West?

How Totem Poles Work

Totem poles are, quite literally, family trees. They're massive tree trunks carved with symbols to commemorate family history and special occasions.

How Aboriginal Australians Work

Aboriginal People use stories called dreamings to keep a record of their history. But the recent history of the Aboriginal people is nothing like a dream.

How Igloos Work

How can a house made of snow keep you sheltered from the icy cold? Igloos seem like a great paradox, but they're actually quite practical. Who invented them and why?

How Flirting Works

A woman plays with her hair. A man makes eye contact. Is this flirting? How do you tell if the person is showing a romantic interest or a friendly one?

Why can't you say 'toy boat' three times fast?

Try saying "toy boat" three times fast. By the time you're done, the words will be all distorted. It's a classic tongue twister, but is it your tongue or your brain that's really tangled up?

How the Mayan Calendar Works

The Mayans created a sophisticated set of calendars to help them plant crops, plan religious ceremonies and keep their history. How did they do it?

How Sarcasm Works

It's dreary outside, and you remark on the beautiful weather. An incompetent co-worker is promoted, and you say she'll do a great job. It's not Opposite Day -- it's sarcasm.

How the Dalai Lama Works

The Dalai Lama is known for his compassion, wisdom and patience. But how does the 14th Dalai Lama govern his people in exile?

How Population Works

From the smallest tribe to the largest nation, important decisions are based on questions like: How many of us are there? How are we divided? Where are we going? Do we have enough food and other resources to take care of us?

How the Daughters of the American Revolution Works

The DAR is an organization for descendants of Revolutionary patriots. It promotes education, historic preservation and patriotism. How exclusive is it really?

How Reincarnation Works

Reincarnation is the concept that the soul, or some aspect of the soul, is reborn into new lives. Has Western science proven that it really occurs?

How Karma Works

The principle behind karma is that people's actions affect their present and future lives. Is karma an idea or an actual substance that sticks to the soul?

How the Trolley Problem Works

Would you pull a switch that sends a man to his death to save five others on a runaway trolley? The trolley problem explores the concept of human morality and a philosophical view of consequentialism.

Tai Chi

Tai chi chuan, usually referred to as tai chi, is the almost meditative exercise derived from the philosophic principles of Tai Chi. Learn about this living philosophy expressed in a series of graceful, complementary and deeply contemplated movements.

Why do Christmas carolers walk around the neighborhood singing?

Christmas caroling is an age-old tradition. But how did it start? And why won't some carolers go until they get their figgy pudding? Learn about this peculiar but endearing holiday practice.

Why Is Everyone Dreaming of a White Christmas?

For some, an ideal Christmas is a fire in the hearth and a blanket of snow covering the ground. Irving Berlin wrote about it, and Bing Crosby crooned about it: a white Christmas. Learn why you might be dreaming of one.

What Is Tai Chi?

Tai chi chuan means "perfect boxing," and it refers to a martial art based upon the philosophical principles of Taoism. At its highest levels, tai chi chuan is also part of a Taoist spiritual discipline that seeks to elevate the mind and purify the body.

Why do we decorate with holly at Christmas?

According to folklore, decorating with prickly edged holly leaves will result in a male-dominated home for the coming year. But if the holly is smooth-edged, a woman will reign supreme. Learn more about this plant, and find out why its crimson berries are so closely associated with the holidays.

Why is there a controversy surrounding the word 'Xmas'?

There's no doubt that commercialism runs rampant during Christmas. So is the word "Xmas" just another casualty of the modern advertising age? Or does the X in Xmas have its roots in Christianity after all?

What Are the 12 Days of Christmas?

Have you ever caught yourself singing the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and wondered what geese, doves and milk maids have to do with the holiday?

Why do we get presents in our stockings?

A pack of razors, chocolate-covered truffles and a harmonica -- these are just a few of the random items you might find in a Christmas stocking. Sure, these festive stockings are ideal for stuffing with pint-size presents, but why do we do it?

What does the poinsettia have to do with Christmas?

Also known as the "lobster flower," the poinsettia's flame-red leaves are a staple in holiday decorations, with more than $200 million in sales every holiday season. But how did a plant indigenous to tropical climates end up on mantles in North America?

What's a yule log?

The yule log has long been an important symbol of winter. It was an important part of the Winter Solstice for Vikings, and in more modern times, a staple of holiday gatherings. Learn more about the yule log.

Can Santa really climb down the chimney?

Maybe you understand how Santa can get around the world in one night, but you're still having a hard time wrapping your head around how he gets down the chimney. Fair enough. After all, Santa's big boned, and not all chimneys are accommodating.