As I write this, it’s International Beer Day. Yesterday it was Matica slovenská Day and last week it was Yorkshire Day. Almost every day, somewhere in the world, people are celebrating something and this week we’re going to have a look at some of the weirdest festivals from around the world.
Let’s start with the United Kingdom, home to the aforementioned Yorkshire Day which celebrates the county of Yorkshire by drinking ale and wearing flat caps. The UK is full of bizarre rituals and festivals, from music fans rolling in the mud and holding ceremonies among the stones at Glastonbury, to the Town Crier Festival where town officials dress up in frilly ties and shout announcements while ringing bells. But, the most peculiar is probably the Cooper’s Hill cheese rolling festival in Gloucestershire. A round of cheese is released at the top of a hill and the crowd has to chase it, falling over each other to do so. There’s no prize, other than the cheese…and a strange sense of pride.
But the UK by no means has the monopoly on weird festivals. Spain has a fair few too. Healthy Look at the baby-jumping ritual in Castrillo de Murcia, where a man jumps over a row of babies while dressed as the Devil (it’s a Catholic tradition, but the church has tried to distance itself from it). Or there’s the “Tomatina” in Valencia, where 20,000 people throw tomatoes at each other. It dates from a food fight between teenagers in 1945, and is now a massive, organized event complete with a mini-list of rules. It’s also inspired copycat fights in such diverse places as Costa Rica, Nevada and China!
Of course, Asia has its own weird festivals. There’s the Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand, where 600 monkeys are invited to feast on sausage and ice cream. Thailand’s take on the New Year is equally strange – how better to celebrate “Songkran” than by throwing buckets of ice-cold water over people? It’s a cleansing ritual, but it’s hard to imagine that anyone does it with a particularly straight face. And of course, there’s Japan’s Marimo Festival which celebrates a particular type of algae and the Belly Button Festival, featuring the “Belly Button Dance”. But one of the oddest rituals must be the Crying Sumo. Two burly sumo wrestlers face off against each other and each try to make a baby cry. The baby who cries the loudest is the winner, and there are Shinto priests in scary masks to help petrify the babies that much more.
So, wherever in the world you find yourself this summer, it’s safe to say there might be an unusual festival somewhere nearby. If you’re a lover of radishes, head to Mexico for Radish Night. For pig lovers, there’s the Pig Festival in France and if turnips are more your style, don’t miss Räbechilbi Turnip Festival in Switzerland. Enjoy!
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!