Stocking Stuffers: Winter Holidays
While most Americans look forward to the end of December as Christmas time, it's long been marked for a variety of holidays.
Winter celebrations have been commonplace for centuries, long before Christmas began being celebrated on Dec. 25.
For instance, in what is now Scotland, the Druids once celebrated Winter Solstice, honoring their Sun God.
In Japan, they have the Festival of the Broken Needles, which dates back to at least 400 A.D. Tailors and dressmakers would create a special shrine for all their broken and bent needles, giving thanks for their good service over the year.
In Oaxaca, Mexico, the locals celebrate the Night of the Radishes, commemorating the introduction of the radish by Spanish colonists.
In the United States, some African Americans now celebrate Kwanzaa, beginning Dec. 26. It's a seven-day celebration that is neither a religious holiday nor an alternative to Christmas, but rather a tradition borne out of annual agricultural festivals.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.