Strange Days on Earth
Today we are taking a look at the strange, but awesome ways in which many people celebrate their culture.
1. Las Fallas
The city of Valencia in Spain has a unique way of celebrating the coming of spring – with a massive 5-day festival that ends with a giant fire.
This tradition is known as Las Fallas. Between 15 and 19 March, thousands of participants build paper-maché statues set around a certain theme. The statues are called falles and the men and women who build them are known as falleros and falleras. On the 15th and 16th, the monuments are installed and on the 17th a jury designates the best statue.
The last day of the festival is La Cremà (The Burning). All the falles are set ablaze in plazas around Valencia except for the winner which is preserved for posterity. Of course, throughout the festival there is traditional music, food, dancing and huge fireworks shows that turn Valencia into one long, 5-day party.
2. Wife Carrying
Endurance competitions always make for good entertainment. The city of Sonkajärvi in Finland found a unique way of challenging its male athletes – have them carry their wives.
Eukonkanto, as it’s known in Finland, originated in 1992. Since then, it has grown in popularity and has spread to other countries. However, in order to see the sport at its best, you have to go to Sonkajärvi where the Wife Carrying World Championship takes place at the start of July.
Although eukonkanto is done all in good fun, there are some rules to maintain the competition aspect of the event. The women don’t necessarily have to be married to the participants, but they must be over 17 and weigh at least 110 lbs (49 kg). They can be carried using any method, although Estonian-style is preferred by most athletes. The winner typically receives his wife’s weight in beer.
Take a well-known sport like hammer throw and think of a way to make it better. If you said “replace the hammer with a tuna”, then you should attend Tunarama.
The Port Lincoln Tunarama Festival is held every year in January around Australia Day. Although it began as a way of celebrating Australia’s tuna industry, it has now become famous for one particular competition – the tuna toss.
Of course, that is only one of the things to see & do at this festival. For four days and nights, Port Lincoln is filled with music, food, dancing, parades, fireworks, rides and sporting events. It promises something for everyone to enjoy.
4. Swedish Midsummer
Midsummer is a celebration of the summer solstice which occurs all over the world. However, no country takes it more seriously than Sweden.
Midsummer in Sweden is celebrated by dancing around the maypole – a wooden cross covered in greenery symbolizing nature coming back to life. The highlight of the celebration comes when people perform Små grodorna (“The Little Frogs”), a traditional Swedish dance where people sing and act like frogs.
5. Monkey Buffet Festival
Let’s say you have a problem with monkeys encroaching on the human population. You could try getting rid of them or you could use them to your advantage and create one of the most intriguing festivals in the world.
The city of Lopburi in Thailand chose the latter and now it hosts the Monkey Buffet Festival every year in November. During this period, hundreds of pounds of food are presented to the thousands of monkeys living in the area. The animals get a feast fit for royalty and the city gets an economic boom from tourism.
Want more bizarre but awesome festivals? Why not check out our article on Vikings burning longships, sumo wrestlers making babies cry and the biggest food fight in the world?