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The Christmas markets are over, carnival -season is not here yet. These winter celebrations will help to keep boredom at bay.
At the Up Helly Aa celebrations in Lerwick, the Shetland Islands’ capital, a flaming torch parade is followed by a Viking ship being set alight, then drinking and dancing till dawn, which arrives very late up there on January 29.
Originally a big fur traders’ market, the Fur Rendezvous, aka Rondy, is now Alaska’s biggest winter party. Held in Anchorage from February 22 through March 3, the event ends on a climax with the legendary Iditarod dogsled race.
Well roared, Lion! Many countries have the big cat as their national symbol, but others prefer smaller animals as emblems – some of which are even quite bizarre.
It doesn’t always have to be a tiger, bear or eagle. Scotland has the unicorn as its national symbol, North Korea, the winged horse Chollima – and Costa Rica, a sloth.
In the U.S., 46 of the country’s 50 states have an official insect, with 16 honoring the honeybee. The monarch butterfly and ladybug are also surprisingly popular.
The Japanese? They love the cherry blossom. In Taiwan, people prefer the more robust plum blossom, and Hong Kong has the Hong Kong orchid on its official flag. But botanists beg to differ, maintaining that this last is not a true orchid at all, but a tree belonging to the legume family.