When you think of festivals what immediately comes to mind? For me, I picture a large gathering of weed-smoking youth and crazy rock stars blasting electric guitars onstage. Well, there are all sorts of festivals all over the world
Here is a list of some festivals that some people may find a little weird.
Tinku or Punch Your Neighbor Festival
At least for a brief period of time, the concept of “love thy neighbor” is rather obsolete in Bolivia.
Each year, people descend upon the Bolivian city of Matcha to take part in the Tinku Festival. Tinku roughly translates to “encounter”.
This spiffy little festival traces its beginnings back to an old religious ceremony in pre-Hispanic Bolivia. The whole purpose of this odd ritual was to
appease the Goddess of the Earth, Pachamama. So people got together and fought. Which seems totally normal and healthy back in those days.
These days it’s not nearly that intense. The fights are monitored by the cops.
Imagine for a second that you have a proclivity for throwing tomatoes at people just for the fun of it. If that describes you in any way, then perhaps you should visit Bunol, Spain where La Tomatina is a thing.
Each year in August people get together and engage in a friendly tomato fight. La Tomatina began in either 1944 or 45, and those most familiar with the obscure tradition theorize that it began when angry townspeople began hurling tomatoes at city council members.
Apparently, these angry townspeople derived a certain amount of joy from this weird display of anger because they chose to do it again the next year, and the next year and every year after that.
Today it’s evolved into a fun-loving event where people toss tomatoes at each other for an hour or so.
Interestingly, the city square is usually covered in tomato paste after the fight and after the fire department washes it away, the streets are completely clean thanks to the acidity of the tomatoes.
So really, something very mean and negative turned into something fun and ironically, sanitary.
Day of the Geese or “Día de los Gansos”
Day of the Geese, or otherwise known as “Antzar Ekuna”, is a competition held in the Spanish fishing town, Lekeitio. This festival involves trying to pull off a dangling goose on a rope above the town harbor.
This festival dates back at least a few hundred years and has been altered to be a bit more socially acceptable. The competition involves a goose being suspended above the water and men driving around in boats underneath it. The guys take turns trying to jump out of their boats and pull the goose off the rope.
But there’s a catch…the goose is all greased up. So the fellas often slide off the goose and into the water. It’s really hard to describe, but if you just watch it, you’ll get the idea.
Hadaka Matsuri or The Naked Festival
Now comes Japan. Each year, thousands of dudes gather in places across the country wearing only a loincloth to take part in Hadaka Matsuri festivals. These festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the summer or winter.
On the surface, it may sound like a strange ceremony, but it’s actually a fun contest where men try to earn some good luck for the upcoming year.
This festival traces its roots back half a century or so and it involves a priest, some sacred sticks, a wooden measuring box, and a bunch of rice.
The priests throw the sticks into the crowd of guys who then battle over them.
Whoever can manage to grab them and hoist them up into the measuring box full of rice, is blessed with a year of happiness.
Apparently, this is a spectator sport that people pay real money to observe.
Lopburi Monkey Buffet
Each year in Thailand, the people of the Lopburi Province near Bangkok gather to offer up fruit, veggies, candy, and other food to the local monkey population.
The monkeys, who have apparently taken up residence in the ruins of a 10th-century temple, gladly accept these gifts.
The people of the province, as well as tourists from all over, gather to pile a ton of food in front of the temples…which seems like a good deal for the 3,000 or so monkeys who call the ancient ruins home.
The Thai government started this in 1989 as a scheme to attract more tourists. To some degree, it’s worked out pretty well, as thousands of people flock to the city each year to take part in this monkey buffet.
The Province of Lopburi has a rich history dating back more than 1,000 years. For centuries it played a vital role in the economy and politics of Thailand.
These days though, it’s better known for the temple-dwelling monkeys. The monkeys of this region are not startled by people at all because they live so close to people. In fact, they have been known to playfully climb on people and snatch any food they have.
Bean Throwing Day or 'Setsubun'
Each February a Japanese ritual known as Setsubun takes place. It’s an event that marks the lunar calendar’s last day before spring, and people all across Japan go to shrines and temples and throw beans to atone for the past and to bring good luck for the future.
Apparently, it’s custom for celebrities, athletes, and other well-known public figures to attend such public events while the “common folk” perform bean throwing ceremonies at home.
Roasted soybeans are thrown either out the door or at a member of the family wearing a demon mask, while the people say “Demons out! Luck in!” and slam the door.
This is still common practice in households but like the celebrities we just mentioned, many people will attend a shrine or temples. The beans are thought to symbolically purify the home by driving away from the evil spirits that bring misfortune and bad health with them.
Then, as part of bringing luck in, it’s customary to eat roasted soybeans, one for each year of one’s life, and in some areas, one for each year of one’s life plus one more for bringing good luck for the year to come.
Krampus is a part of holiday folklore. As legend has it, he’s a fearsome creature…half-goat half-devil feared by children in Eastern Europe.
Krampus is rumored to punish boys and girls who misbehave while good ole St. Nick gives the good children toys.
Seriously imagine for a second that you’re a gullible little child and you’re told that Krampus will punish you if you misbehave.
So much for holiday cheer, right?
The origins and history of Krampus seem to be pretty complex. This caricature was given chains when Christianity became more prevalent to symbolize the devil being bound.
In parts of Europe where the legend of Krampus lives on, adults sometimes dress up as this deranged devil-goat hybrid during parades or as a way to play practical jokes on kids.
Night of the Radishes
Every year, the fine residents of Oaxaca, Mexico take part in a tradition known as “The Night of the Radishes.” This event dates back to the colonial period when the Spanish first brought radishes over from China.
The event supposedly began one year during the 19th century when the radish harvest was especially plentiful. Some of the radishes just lay there, and instead of being used, they continued to grow. They morphed into weird shapes that people thought were funny, and someone began to carve them into even funnier shapes.
So that seemingly innocuous event evolved into a radish carving competition in 1897 and is now an annual event held around Christmas time. Contestants gather to carve elaborate designs out of radishes.
The event usually attracts a lot of visitors who can go and check out all the weird and wacky shapes that contestants carve.
Sadly, once the radishes are cut they can’t last very long before withering away, so the carvings only exist for a few hours or so.