With so many cultures and religions to learn about in this amazing world, it’s no surprise that some things that seem normal to us may appear strange to others. With the invention of the internet and the ability to see what people celebrate in the most remote corners of the globe, strange traditions are easily discovered and adopted.
The best example is American traditions, which are the result of cultures and religions mixing due to the country’s long history of migration. Halloween? One of the many national traditions that the American people adopted. One might even wonder what strange traditions are important to the people who celebrate them.
The strange traditions that we see usually have a rich backstory from one of two sources: culture or religion. Cultural traditions and customs are processes and aspects that are passed down to people from their parents, relatives, and friends.
Strange customs, no matter how strange they appear, are the foundation of a culture’s history. A reminder of their beautiful past and what distinguishes them. When the importance of a new tradition is recognized by a larger portion of the public, it can become a national custom.
With one of the most important holidays of the year, Christmas, fast approaching, it may be time to brush up on some of the strange traditions from around the world. Take a look around you with the list below and see what people celebrate because they are interested in those traditions. Upvote the ones you think are cool in terms of weirdness and meaning, and leave a comment below about the ones you celebrate as well!
#1 In Yukon, Canada, there is an international hair freezing competition.
While others despise and drive away the winter season, people in Yukon, Canada, celebrate it by dunking their heads into hot springs and waiting for their hair to freeze over and icicles to form. It is one of the strangest, but coolest, traditions, with temperatures reaching -30 degrees Celsius.
#2 People gather in Gloucestershire, England, to roll cheese down a hill.
With Spring being the season of rebirth, it’s natural for people to rejoice when nature begins to reappear. Locals and visitors gather in Gloucestershire, England, to roll and chase cheese down a steep, grass-covered hill. While dangerous for the participants, it still draws a large crowd each May.
#3 A Baby Jumping Festival is held in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain.
Some cultures regard the birth of a child as a gift not only to the nation but also to the culture as a whole, a new member to be celebrated. In Castrillo De Murcia, Spain, locals bless the babies born the previous year by allowing a “devil” to jump over them to prepare them for the future. It is a tradition that dates back to the 1600s, with no injuries reported
#4 The Residents of Lopburi, Thailand, Prepare An Annual Feast For The Local Monkeys
Because humans are a part of nature, it is essential to incorporate some natural elements into your tradition. Lopburi, Thailand has a tradition of preparing food for the local monkeys who roam the area. It is done with everything from watermelons to lettuce and more to bring good luck not only to the people but also to the monkeys who bring that luck to the region.
#5 Polterabend In Germany
In addition to the previously mentioned wedding traditions, Germany spiced up the traditional wedding ceremony. The day before the wedding, friends and family gather to smash various items on the happy couple’s floor. Few things are safe from destruction, from plates to flowerpots. Following the creation of the mess, the soon-to-be newlywed couple cleans everything up, laying a solid foundation for their future.
#6 Finland’s Boot Tossing
No one can deny that shoes must be worn on the feet, but the Finnish have a unique way of doing so for the sake of tradition. Finland has the title of strangest sport. Boot tossing, like wife carrying, has been practiced for generations.
#7 Mari Lwyd in Wales
Welsh Christmas traditions such as the Mari Lwyd can be traced back to the first half of the nineteenth century. A horse’s skull is adorned and then mounted on a broomstick. Because the person holding the stick is draped in a sheet, the skull appears to be the head of some terrifying horse. Before continuing, the horse will stop and knock on each door. When a door is opened, the people gathered around the horse begin singing and requesting entry into the house.
#8 Marostica, Italy, “Partita A Scacchi”
Chess is a strategy and thinking game, which can be tedious for some. Every two years in September, the northern Italian town of Marostica is ecstatic to host a human chess game. The tradition is based on a story from the fifteenth century. It is one of the most enjoyable traditions to participate in because it is the result of a love triangle.
#9 During the holiday season, Oaxaca, Mexico, hosts a massive radish-carving festival.
Radishes – we grow them in our gardens and usually buy them at the store when we get hungry. The radish-carving tradition in Oaxaca, Mexico, dates back more than 120 years. Locals carve figures and statues out of the radishes they grow and display them to other residents and visitors to the area.
#10 A groundhog predicts the length of the winter in the United States.
Predicting the future is difficult for humans; no one can do it with 100% accuracy, but animals are more predictable. Groundhogs are said to predict the end of the winter season in the United States – whether it will stay a little longer, usually six weeks, or if it will give way to the upcoming spring. If the ceremonial hog sees a shadow, the warm weather will have to wait a little longer.
#11 Midsummer day, Lithuania
Lithuanians celebrate the warm summer season with the Midsummer Day. Young women must only wash their cheeks with fresh dew in the morning during this period. Later in the evening, people gather around bonfires in the countryside and in cities to make wishes and cast spell bags into the water to make their wishes come true. Young couples also travel to rural areas in search of fern blooms.
#12 The Rocket Battle (Rouketopolemos), Greece
Two churches stand across from each other in a ravine in the Greek village of Vrontados on the island of Chios. Then, on Easter, opposing members attempt to ring the bell of the rival church using rockets. The winner is said to be determined by counting direct hits on each belfry the next day, but each parish claims victory.
#13 Bosnian Scrambled Egg Festival
Eggs are one of the most popular foods on the planet. It’s a versatile food that goes well with a variety of other foods. But Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, has taken it a step further. To celebrate the arrival of spring, locals prepare scrambled eggs in the morning and spend the rest of the day relaxing and partying.
#14 Stonehaven, Scotland, Rings in the New Year with Literal Fireworks
While shooting fireworks has become the most popular tradition around the world, Stonehaven, Scotland has also incorporated literal balls of fire into their celebrations. To commemorate the occasion, people gather and swing blazing fireballs around. This tradition is said to have originated with the Vikings.
#15 Bathtub Regatta, Belgium,
Water is an essential component of our existence. It keeps us clean, hydrated, and occasionally entertained. This one-kilometer-long race along the Meuse River in Dinant, Belgium, has its roots in 1982. The use of a bathtub by the floating device is one of the requirements for success against up to 49 other competitors. Decorating the bathtubs is encouraged.
#16 Caber Toss, Scotland, UK
With sports serving as a means of self-improvement, it is not uncommon to celebrate strength by displaying it to others. The Scottish Highland Games feature a traditional Scottish athletic contest in which men wearing kilts toss a large pole known as a caber. In contrast to modern sports, tossing is more concerned with where the pole lands than with how far it travels. The pole must be thrown with its thinner end facing away from the tosser and its larger end landing flat on the ground.
#17 If you are not married on your 25th birthday, you may be doused in cinnamon in Denmark.
With Denmark located on the straits separating the Atlantic Ocean and the Baltic Sea, it was only natural that some western amenities would arrive. The spices were adopted into Danish tradition as a humorous joke on the people. If you are not married by the age of 25, prepare to be pelted with cinnamon. If you are over the age of 30, be prepared to be thrown some black pepper.
#18 Sweden’s The Frog Dance (Sm Grodorna)
Don’t worry if you’ve seen Midsommar, the terrifying horror film set in Sweden. There will be nothing comparable if you decide to visit Sweden during their midsummer solstice events. Players dance around a maypole to the beat of upbeat music, hopping like frogs and using motions that represent body regions that frogs lack.
#19 The Swiss Sausage Tossing (Eis-Zwei-Geissebei)
On Shrove Tuesday at 3:15 p.m., a large crowd of children and adults gather in front of Rapperswil’s city hall. When the mayor asks, “Are all my guys here?” the children yell out loudly, “One, two, goat leg!” After opening the windows, the mayor and council members throw sausages, loaves of bread, and pastries into the crowd.
#20 Eukonkanto Wife Carrying Race, Finland
Finnish men compete in the sport of “wife-carrying” to put their strength to the test. The origins of this contest in Finland are a little murky, dating back to the 19th century, when a thief was said to have carried everything he stole on his back, including the women.