Skip to main content

Midwinter traditions

Finding it hard to say goodbye to the holiday season? Let’s discover what people do to make the best of winter months!

Photo by Benjamin Elliott on Unsplash

December is full of holiday traditions and I hope you all enjoyed a lovely New Year’s Eve! I myself was happy to say goodbye to 2021! But the new year starts too fast and the reality is that we just get back to our daily lives. Luckily there are continuous winter traditions and festivities going on around the world to make the coldest time of the year much more enjoyable! So, what are some of the winter traditions from around the world?


On January 13th the region of Punjab and most of the northern part of India celebrate a folk festival called Lohri. It is a harvest festival for the farmers, where they show gratitude before the harvest begins. It marks the end of winter and welcomes the warmer days, too!

The key part of Lohri is the bonfire, which is lit in a harvested field & in front yards of homes. People gather around the flames and throw puffed rice and popcorn into the fire and sing popular folk songs. A popular song from Veer Zaara called Lodi re-popularised the tradition of dancing and singing by the fire, in case you are curious — check it out here!


Harumi Okamoto from our Japanese Community introduced me to the Kamakura festival at Yunishigawa Onsen in Tochigi: “This festival is held from late January to March. You can eat hot dishes like BBQ, Oden (a stew made with boiled eggs, radish, fish cakes and stock) and Yudoufu (a boiled tofu) inside a Japanese Igloo called Kamakura.”

The festival is best known for its nighttime illumination and the atmosphere is magical because of all the candlelit miniature Kamakuras. It made me wonder about the temperature, especially inside the big Kamakuras! They look cozy but is it warm inside? Harumi assures me that it is indeed warm and comfortable inside, because there is a Kotatsu (a table with an electric heater underneath) inside the Kamakuras.


I have always wanted to see the northern lights, to experience the unbelievable colors in the Arctic sky — and I hope one day I will! Norway is one of the places where you can enjoy the colorful night sky also known as aurora borealis.

The natural phenomenon is a very exciting experience. While doing my research on the northern lights, the first thing I noticed about them is that it’s a photographer’s dream! There are many different types of tours available to go see them, or you can go solo, too — one thing is certain in any scenario: you need to wear warm clothes as you might be out there for hours!

Photo by Lightscape on Unsplash

In addition to following aurora borealis in the sky, there is a festival called the Northern Lights Festival taking place at the end of January/beginning of February. Since its beginning in 1988, It has developed from a small classical music festival to a huge ten days music festival in Tromsø!


There was an article published quite recently with a bold statement as its title: Forget hygge, it’s time for uitwaaien. Naturally I was curious because hygge is so lovely… and now it turns out there is something better? Well, after reading the article I didn’t quite understand the comparison to hygge, because uitwaaien means outdoor physical activity in windy conditions. I had to ask our own Dutch native Cahid Yildiz-Morgado from the Community team for a comment!

According to Cahid it’s a very common activity on a cold but sunny day, you could invite someone to go to the beach with you to enjoy fresh air and the cold breeze together! “You can uitwaai anywhere in nature. So, when my mom and I are in Holland, we’ll definitely explore uitwaaien. You arrive back home as a new person!” I asked Cahid if he keeps up with this activity in Portugal too? “I see locals enjoying long walks on the beach even in winter with their dogs (with sunny weather of course!), but it seems to be not so common among my group of friends”.

Are you team hygge or team uitwaaien? “I’d have to go with uitwaaien but I also can’t believe that I am saying this!”

I do enjoy winter activities that involve snow and cold weather, but I also cannot complain about the sunny winter in Lisbon! What is your favorite midwinter tradition?

Midwinter traditions was originally published in Unbabel Community on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.