On the 8th of December we had our JO Christmas parties, and it got me thinking about winter festivals around the world and how people celebrate them. 

When I think of traditional winter festivals, I imagine night markets in the snow, warm drinks, playing games by the fire and telling interesting stories. I thought I'd share some interesting winter festivals around the world. 

Many winter festivals incorporate fire to symbolize the return of the sun in spring. One traditional festival is called Up Helly Aa in Scotland, U.K. It celebrates the Viking influence with music and food and finished with a torchlit parade and the burning of a Viking styled ship. The Nozawa fire festival here in Japan has a similar theme. This Nagano festival takes place near a famous onsen and brings warmth to the heart of winter. 

What do you think of when you consider winter festivals?