A man in a yellow kayak paddles down the river with the washington monument visible in the distance.

Kayaking the Potomac River

Viewing the city from inside a 40-pound shell of fiberglass could be intimidating, but instead it offers welcome perspective. Learn more about Michaela Riva Gaaserud’s experiences on the Potomac, as well as how you can start paddling yourself.

A red Torii gate stands out sharply from the snow during the day.

Visiting a Shinto Shrine on New Year’s Eve in Akan

On New Year’s Eve, many people in Japan brave the snow to visit Shinto shrines and pray for good fortune in the coming year. Ruthy Kanagy invites us to experience the tradition through her eyes, from making an offering to warming up with grilled mochi and a cup of hot, sweet sake.

Chedis made of sand and small model boats in front of Wat Atui, an active Khmer temple next to the ruins of a small Angkor era temple, which stands in a village between Siem Reap and Phnom Krom.

Chaul Chnam Thmey: Happy New Year in Cambodia

In many places around the world, December is a month filled with holiday celebration. In Cambodia, a predominantly Buddhist nation, the New Year is celebrated in April (right in the middle of the hot season) and is the most important spiritual and social event of the year. Author Tom Vater discusses how the holiday is celebrated.

A row of red and yellow umbrellas dot a strip of sand along a palm-tree lined beach.

Réveillon in Imbassaí

In Brazil, it’s customary on New Year’s to get decked out in immaculate white and offer flowers to Iemanjá, Queen of the Seas. Resident Michael Sommers shares a fun, humor-filled experience of the end-of-the-year holiday.

Political satire is a popular theme for the monigotes and años viejos. Photo © Amy E. Robertson.

New Year’s Eve in Ecuador: Embracing Local Culture

Instead of singing “Auld Lang Syne” when midnight strikes in Ecuador, residents set dummies on fire. Read on to learn more about the country’s biggest tradition on New Year’s Eve as Amy E. Robertson shares her experience of the holiday in Quito.

Stuffed animals line booths at at temple fair in Chaoyang Park.

Chun Jie: Spring Festival in Beijing

Chun Jie celebrates the beginning of the new Chinese year. Like most Chinese holidays, its exact date varies slightly from year to year, depending on the Chinese calendar. Author Shannon Aitken discusses the holiday’s traditions and why this may (or may not) be a great time to visit Beijing.