There is perhaps no better way to celebrate the holiday season than by partaking in some of the many winter celebrations that take place around the world. While some of these traditions are widely known, others remain smaller local customs. These little-known celebrations of history and heritage offer a glimpse into vibrant cultures and communities.
Every December, more than 200,000 hand-painted tiny bulbs decorate the buildings of downtown Kobe, Japan. These lights honor the victims of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake. Originally meant to be a one-time event, the Kobe Luminarie has grown into a yearly spectacle, one that helped draw visitors back to the city in the wake of the devastating earthquake. A world away, Phoenix, Arizona, hosts an annual winter competition like no other. The World Championship Hoop Dance Contest is a two-day event among American Indian and Canadian First Nation tribes. Hoop dancing is a blend of grace and skill that is often a part of healing ceremonies. These events, along with an annual game of medieval football to a 200-year-old celebration that involves hurling bags of flour, are some of our favorite lesser-known winter celebrations and traditions.