The world is a fantastic place full of diversity. Different cultures have different traditions that seem vital to some people but will then seem bizarre to others. Here is a run-down of the weirdest traditions from around the world.
1. The Mari Lwyd (Wales)
Welsh people have always had a reputation for being a little bit out there and that is certainly a reputation enhanced by this strange Christmas tradition. The Mari Lwyd is the name given to a decorated horse’s skull. Yes, it’s as petrifying as it sounds. As if a solitary decorated horse’s skull wasn’t terrifying enough, the skull is placed upon a broomstick and covered in a sheet with bells hanging from its skull. The sinister figure is then taken door-to-door as a gesture of challenging groups to a singing contest. It is a tradition traced back to the 19th century but nobody dares ask how it actually started.
2. La Tomatina (Spain)
Spain has a lot of interesting traditions such as siestas and the Pamplona bull run. However, one of the more chaotic traditions comes in the form of La Tomatina. This is when the people of Valencia participate in a mass tomato throwing fight in Bunol. Picture snowball fights except replace the snowballs with tomatoes. Very few sights from around the world can match the anarchistic setting of tomato juice covering people and buildings to visually replicate a blood-filled scene from a Quentin Tarantino movie.
3. Teeth-Tossing (Greece)
Losing teeth as a child is all part of the growing up process. Hiding that tooth under the pillow before bed and waking up to find it replaced by money from the tooth fairy is tradition in many cultures across the world. Not in Greece. Clearly, the financial crisis of 2008 hit Greek homes hard because instead of exchanging the teeth for money, children are encouraged to throw to teeth onto the roof of the house. It’s a far cheaper option to be fair!
4. Red Ink Ban (South Korea)
One of the creepiest traditions comes from South Korea where writing a person’s name in red ink is generally not seen as acceptable. The reason for this being that the color red was often used to write somebody’s name when they had died. So it is felt that by writing a person’s name in red you are condemning them to their own fate. Luckily, that tradition isn’t in place in western countries because otherwise school kids would have a field day freaking out their class mates by repeatedly scribbling their names in red ink on their school books.
5. Itchy Palms (USA)
Gambling provokes a lot of superstitious traditions around the globe. One such tradition hails from the Afro-American culture in the US. It is widely believed that if a person begins to experience itchy palms then they are likely to come into money. So if somebody feels their palms itching then they will begin to gamble in an attempt to take advantage of this expected good fortune. Of course, it could well just be sweat or eczema causing the irritation but who can tell?!
6. Camel Wrestling (Turkey)
Forcing two animals to fight each other is considered socially unacceptable in many places. Cock-fighting, dog fighting, and bull fighting are just a few examples. In Turkey, camel wrestling is deemed more acceptable because the animals do not cause a lot of harm to each other. It is a huge spectator sport. Even though humans do not get involved in the bout there is the risk that a fighting camel may unintentionally spray some of their saliva into the crowd. All part of the fun!
7. Nag Panchami (India)
A tradition in India sees people come together to celebrate snakes. Some of the most venomous snakes in the world are carried in a basket to a temple in rural areas such as Maharashtra. Once there, the snakes are sprinkled in a mix of red powder, milk, and honey before they are released into the temple courtyard. What could possibly go wrong? Well, nothing apparently. Mortal bites at the Nag Panchami Festival are unheard of. Clearly, health and safety does not need strengthening in rural India!
8. Butt-Whipping (Czech Republic)
In this much-welcomed world of the #MeToo movement, we’d all like to think that sexism against the female of the species is something that will soon become a thing of the past. Unfortunately, there remain places such as the Czech Republic where traditions towards women remain a little demeaning. We bring to you the tradition of butt-whipping women. Yes, that’s right. Every Easter Monday, the men of the Czech Republic go from door-to-door with their wooden beating sticks covered in decorative design and whip the derriere of women in the hope of improving the fertility of those women. Now, go to any number of other countries around Europe and that sort of practice will guarantee the butt-whipper receiving a punch in the nose. Maybe gender equality still has some way to go in some countries.