Each summer, thousands of people on horseback and foot flock to southern Spain, a celebration of Pentecost called the Pilgrimage of Rocío.
Homemade rockets hurtle into the mountains to invite the beginning of the rainy season. A daughter takes afternoon tea with her aging father to keep the memories alive. Hundreds of people build human towers several stories tall.
Though traditions take many forms—personal or public, sacred or profane, somber or joyous—the human instinct to create meaningful rituals is universal.
"Every day people are involved in events they recognize as traditional," writes Simon Bronner in Explaining Traditions: Folk Behavior in Modern Culture. "Tradition fuels their culture ... instead of being a synonym for the past, tradition brings out the connection of the past in, as well as to, the present."
Members of National Geographic's Your Shot photography community examined their own lives—and the lives of strangers—to capture extraordinary pictures as part of the "Traditions Around the World" assignment. See more pictures from that assignment, and join the global Your Shot community to share your own photos.
- Nat Geo Expeditions