World's Wackiest Festivals

6/3/2008
Strange Stories
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Tags: weird festival, strange festival
     

1
El Colacho: the Baby-Jumping Festival (Spain)

In celebration of the Catholic festival of Corpus Christi, grown men leap over newborns, with full parental consent. Donning scary, vaguely Elvis-like costumes and wielding whips and truncheons, the men attempt to "cleanse" the babies of evil. Evidently, recklessly leaping over them is the best way to achieve this. The town has observed the strange practice (called El Colacho) since 1620, and any onlookers who seem to be in need of a quick exorcism are pulled into the event, as well -- so look normal, by God! And leave your babies with the sitter.



2
Hadakamatsuri: The Naked Festival (Japan)

A hadakamatsuri --naked festival-- is a type of Japanese festival where participants wear a minimum amount of clothing; usually just a Japanese loincloth (called fundoshi), sometimes with a short happi coat, and very rarely completely naked. Whatever the clothing, it is considered to be above vulgar, or everyday, undergarments, and on the level of holy Japanese shrine attire. Naked festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the summer or winter. Hidden somewhere in the midst of all these men in loincloths is one fully naked man. Touching him is believed to bring good luck and happiness.



3
Up Helly-Aa: the Fire Festival (Shetland Islands)

A tribute to the islands' Viking Past, Up Helly-Aa ("End of the Holy Days"), the fire festivals are held in Shetland annually in the middle of winter to mark the end of the yule season. The festival involves a procession of up to a thousand guizers, and culminates with the burning of a 32-ft. replica of a Viking longship. Due to the often-flamboyant costumes and the large quantity of males dressing up as females, it has earned the joke name 'Transvestite Tuesday'.


4
The Monkey Buffet Festival (Thailand)

Every year, all of the province's approximately 600 monkeys are invited to eat fruits and vegetables during an annual feast held in honor of Rama, a hero of the Ramayana, who, it is said, rewarded his friend and ally, Hanuman the Monkey King, with the fiefdom of what is now Lopburi. Organizers of the annual monkey buffet use more than 3,000 kg of fruits and vegetables for the festival.


5
Holi: the Festival of Colors (India)

Holi, also called the Festival of Colours, is a popular Hindu spring festival observed in India, Guyana, and Nepal. On the second day, known as Dhulhendi, people spend the day throwing colored powder and water at each other. The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. Thus, the playful throwing of the colored powders has a medicinal significance: the colors are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors.


6
Cheese Rolling Festival (England)

Though it sounds benign (and kind of goofy), cheese-rolling is very dangerous. Running full-tilt down a very steep hill behind a madly spinning 7-pound wheel of cheese can be well-nigh lethal. In fact, police have attempted to ban the event, but participants have refused to observe the ban. Men and their cheese wheels can not be separated easily, evidently. So what happens during a cheese roll? Simple: the cheese is set to rolling, and racers zoom down the hill after the cheese. However, as the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, it rarely happens that someone catches the cheese. First to the bottom wins the cheese. Glorious.


7
Maslenitsa: free-for-all boxing match (Russia)

In Orthodox countries, the week before Lent is marked with a series of celebrations, including a free-for-all boxing match in which there are no rules. In centuries past, the fight ended only when the participates were covered with blood and bereft of clothes.


8
Tunarama: the Tuna Tossing Festival (Australia)

The Tunarama festival is held in Port Lincoln, on the tip of Eyre Peninsula, over the Australia Day (26 January) long weekend. When the festival began in 1962, it was intended to promote the emerging tuna fishing industry in Port Lincoln. Tuna fishing is now one of the town's biggest industries and Australia's largest tuna cannery is located there. The highlight of the festival is the tuna tossing competition. Ex-Olympic hammer thrower, Sean Carlin, holds the record for the longest toss at 37.23 metres set in 1998.


9
Roswell UFO Festival (USA)

The Roswell UFO Festival celebrates the anniversary of the "Roswell Incident," when a UFO was said to have crashed into military grounds nearby. Featuring experts, authors, researchers, and lecturers dissecting the infamous incident, the celebration will also sport an alien parade, an alien costume contest , and an alien hot air balloon ride.


10
La Tomatina (Spain)

In late August, thousands of people pelt each other with over 250 lbs. of tomatoes in a span of 60 minutes in an event modestly described as the world's largest tomato fight. Every year, over 30,000 tourists come to Bunyol for this festival. Rules of conduct keep the festivities from becoming a more dangerous brawl.


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