9 Festive & Quirky Christmas Traditions from around the World

Christmas traditions

From crashing your neighbors’ homes to noshing on KFC Christmas dinner, maybe it’s time to add some international Christmas traditions to your celebrations. All across the globe, people celebrate the holidays in creative and some downright quirky ways. As you prepare your own holiday festivities this year, take note of these nine unique Christmas traditions from other countries. 1. The Gävle Goat in Sweden In 1966 a man named Stig Gavlén decided to build a giant version of the traditional Swedish Christmas straw goat. Ever since then, the goat has become a symbol of Christmas in Sweden, and it has even been crowned the world’s largest straw goat in the Guinness World Records. The goat is over 40 feet high, and it’s inaugurated every year on the first Sunday of Advent. However, the most interesting aspect of this tradition is another ritual that accompanies it. Every year people try to        …read more

6 Strange Jobs around the World

If you think your line of work is hard to explain at parties, imagine having one of these strange jobs. Want to make a living shoving people around? Maybe you’re looking for something more service-oriented, like helping people evade traffic tickets. One of these six strange jobs just might be for you. 1. Toqueros (Mexico) Looking for a job where you can shock people? In Mexico customers line up to pay for a shock (or toque). All you need is a box with six rechargeable AA batteries, an inverter and a transformer that controls the voltage, and you’re in business. The shock can reach up to 100 volts, and the toque is a more controlled version of sticking your finger in an electrical outlet. After having their victims grasp one handle in each hand — the positive and negative charges — the toquero flicks a switch, keeping the dial at        …read more

With George RR Martin’s Help, Artists Open Immersive Fantasy Realm

George RR Martin, Meow Wolf, House of Eternal Return

How art collective Meow Wolf convinced George RR Martin to invest $3 million and create a real-life fantasy/sci-fi world — and how it’s paid off. Imagine walking up to a beautiful, eccentrically styled home. You’re not sure what to expect, but you’ve heard odd things are going on at this house — and it’s up to you to investigate. To your right is a brown wooden staircase with numerous family portraits carefully lining its ascent to the second floor. Looking at the portraits of the Seligs — the family that allegedly resides in this home — you see parents, a boy, a girl and some curious-looking relatives. At first glance, they seem like a pretty regular American family. But there’s something odd, and you know it. A strange booming sound is coming from unseen interior areas of this house. In fact, multiple odd noises are coming from different parts of        …read more

Where Will You Be for the Great American Solar Eclipse?

solar eclipse

We’ve gathered expert viewing tips and a selection of nationwide events for the solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. The Great American Eclipse has the United States in a flurry of excitement. Rightfully so, as it’s the first total solar eclipse visible from the continental United States in over 38 years, and not since 1918 has one gone coast to coast. There’s a catch, though: only 14 states are in the path of totality, where the moon will completely cover the light of the sun, unleashing twilight. The other states, as well as Canada and parts of Central and South America, Europe and Africa, will experience a partial eclipse. The privileged states in the path of totality are making the most of their position with unique offerings. They’re also preparing for a massive influx of eclipse-hungry tourists. Preparing for Eclipse Tourism At least 12.25 million people live inside the 60-to-70-mile-wide        …read more

Buffalo Moon Expedition: Urban Life on Horseback

Buffalo Moon Expedition

‘Emotional healing starts on the trail’ for Megan Gray of Buffalo Moon Expedition, who’s traveled 25,000 miles on horseback, helping people along the way. The definition of expedition in the Oxford dictionary is “a journey or voyage undertaken by a group of people with a particular purpose, especially that of exploration, scientific research, or war.” Megan Gray’s definition of an expedition: An attempt to make it from A to B. And this is what she does. On horseback. For each Buffalo Moon Expedition, Gray sets her sights on two points. Then she lets the dots connect between the two in whatever way they choose. Essentially, she sits back and watches while the dots connect themselves. Recently she decided to take a trip through Illinois, ending in Burlington, Iowa. I had the chance to talk with her about her trip, and I found out new things about horses, people, and so        …read more

15 Coolest Airbnb Experiences in the U.S.

Airbnb

Airbnb’s not just about temporary lodging anymore. With Airbnb Experiences, you can try all kinds of amazing things, from hang gliding to hiking with wolves. Who doesn’t love Airbnb? For years, their website has offered access to some of the most beautiful, quirky, convenient, creepy, and absolutely breathtaking private homes in the world. It’s always a personal experience, with renters working directly with property owners to create the perfect vacation. Recently, though, Airbnb has really upped their game. Since last November, the company has made some quirky, unforgettable opportunities available through Airbnb Experiences. Currently offering activities in only about 20 cities worldwide, the company promises 50 more throughout this year. In the USA, Airbnb connects customers with countless activities in seven cities, from Oregon to Florida and a few stops along the way. Airbnb Experiences may be in its infancy, but we thought we might do the hard work for        …read more

6 Stunning House Museums and the Stories They Tell

house museums, old house

In the U.S., you’ll find more house museums than McDonald’s — and that’s a good thing. A tiny category of museums is growing into a big subset in our museum culture. Museums are traditionally grand, stoic towers housing massive art or history collections that have been around for centuries. So it might be surprising to learn that the largest category of museums is small house museums, and they outnumber traditional art museums by at least 10 to one. House museums tend to have evolved out of someone’s home. The structure may have housed a famous artist or an important historical figure, or it may be significant simply because of its architecture. “It happens in all sorts of ways,” says Katherine Malone-France, vice president for Historic Sites at National Trust for Historic Preservation. “When people value a place and the stories that it has to tell, becoming a historic site is one        …read more

Zealandia: What You Need to Know about the 'New Continent'

Zealandia

Scientists have uncovered a submerged landmass two-thirds the size of Australia, which has implications for climate science, biology and how Zealandia could be designated a continent. If you could drain the Pacific Ocean, you’d be staring at the lost continent of Zealandia, which is 18 times larger than New Zealand. Although 94 percent submerged, Zealandia, a large region in the southwest Pacific Ocean underlain by continental crust, is gaining momentum to be dubbed a continent, thanks to new research published in GSA Today. Zealandia offers a wealth of insight due to its age: it began separating from the combined Australia-Antarctica portion of Gondwana in the late Cretaceous period around 80 million years ago, according to Jerry Dickens, a professor of Earth sciences at Rice University and co-chief scientist of an upcoming drilling expedition to learn more about Zealandia. What Makes a Continent? “We want to learn how the continental crust        …read more

8 Artists’ and Writers’ Retreats to Inspire Your Creative Soul

writer's retreat, writers' retreat

Need to get away to create? Keep this list of artists’ and writers’ retreats on hand. Sometimes artists and writers need to escape to a magical world where they can bask in quiet inspiration. And, yes, these places do exist. You can choose from artists’ and writers’ retreats in the hills of Ireland, the forests of California or perched in a village in Southern France. Some offer studios, nourishment and living space at no charge. They simply want artists to have the space and time to create. Check out these eight artists’ and writers’ retreats where you can replenish your creative soul. 1. Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat Location: Diary country, an hour west of Scranton, Pennsylvania. Founded: 2000 Ideal for: Visual artists, writers, composers and musicians who have at least two years of professional experience. Details: Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat has two properties: the House and the Church, and these are 10        …read more

Explore Her Majesty’s Empire at the Bristol Renaissance Faire

Bristol Renaissance Faire

Forget the modern world and step back into history at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, one of the very best Ren faires in the world. For 30 years now, the fictional town of Bristol has enticed many a patron with its charm and beauty. Selling the finest corsets, the town’s best ale, and even flowers for your sweet, over 200 Bristol Renaissance Faire merchants accommodate your every need. Kids can also enjoy exciting games and rides and be entertained with one of the finest jousting tournaments in all the land. A great deal of planning goes into creating a period festival, especially one of this spectacular magnitude. Located on 30 acres of land in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Bristol Renaissance Faire has been the celebrated best fest in the nation for five consecutive years. I had the opportunity to talk with Julie McMillin, social media director for the Bristol Renaissance Faire and get some insight into just what it takes to        …read more