10 of the Strangest Traditions from Around the World
From scrambled egg festivals to monkey buffets, it’s safe to say that there are some rather weird and wonderful traditions that take place around the world.
Here’s a list of just 10 of the most bizarre cultural practices from around the globe that are still carried out today. Don’t forget to invest in international health insurance for when you jet off overseas. We also offer a number of other expat insurance products to give you protection wherever you’re living in the world, including a cashless health insurance option.
La Tomatina, Spain
First up is La Tomatina, the largest tomato fight in the world. It’s not quite known how it came about but there are many theories surrounding it. One of the most popular is that during a parade of gigantes y cabezudos in 1945, those who weren’t included in the event started a brawl in the main square using tomatoes from a local vegetable stand as weapons.
Regardless, this annual festival is held in Buñol, Spain on the last Wednesday of August as part of a week of festivities in Buñol and quite literally consists of people throwing tomatoes at each other for fun.
Smashing coconuts on people’s skulls in India
Breaking coconuts on people’s heads is a ritual that has been around for a long time in southern parts of India. Their extreme superstition has caused this to become an obsession and therefore despite warnings they have continued to perform this act that has been around since the colonial period.
Devotees to the Hindu religion will gather inside the temple and the Priest will smash a coconut on the head of each of them one after the other as a sign to the gods they are asking for good health and success. The subjects will then usually walk away as if unphased by the event.
Festival of scrambled eggs in Bosnia
Whereas in the UK we might celebrate the start of Spring by picking some daffodils or doing a spring clean, in Zenica, Bosnia they mark the start of the season with an unusual tribute to scrambled eggs known in Bosnia as Čimburijada.
They start the day as they mean to go on with a large breakfast of eggs cooked in a large pan in a city park near the river. They then spend the rest of the day partying, barbecuing and jumping into the river.
Throwing cinnamon at 25-year old’s in Denmark
In Denmark, if you turn 25 and are unmarried not only do you have to face Valentine’s Day alone, but you also must endure your friends and family submerging you in a cloud of cinnamon.
This long-standing tradition in Denmark is customary if a man or woman turns 25 and is still single. Firstly, they get splashed with water and then they get covered from head to toe in cinnamon. It’s not a form of punishment but more just an excuse to be silly with friends and family and is a tradition that dates back hundreds of years.
The monkey buffet festival in Thailand
On the last Sunday of November something rather spectacular, if a little bit strange, happens in Phra Prang Sam Yot temple in Lopburi, Thailand.
A lavish banquet is laid out and a big celebration is held, but not for humans. The feast is held in honour of Lopburi’s thousands of macaques that supposedly bring good luck to the area and its occupants and therefore they are the special guests at this party.
The festival includes performances by dancers in monkey costumes during the opening ceremony and towers of fruits and vegetables in which the monkeys climb, jump and indulge on.
Polterabend in Germany
Polterabend, meaning ‘wedding shower’, is a unique tradition in Germany that is generally held the day before a bride and groom are due to wed. It’s a big party where friends and family gather at the front of the house and smash things on the floor such as; plates, flowerpots, tiles, anything that makes a lot of noise in order to bring good luck, the only exceptions being glass and mirrors, of course.
Once the dish breaking is done the bride and groom then work together to clean it up as preparation for the future.
Shoving faces in cake in Mexico
Perhaps one of the best traditions on this list is ‘La Mordida’, a Mexican birthday tradition. The birthday girl or boy will have their hands tied behind their back and when they go to take the first bite of cake, they will have their face pushed right into it whilst the rest of the party guests shout “Mordida! Mordida! Mordida!”, the Spanish word for ‘take a bite’. It’s particularly important to note here that Mexican cakes are pretty creamy.
Battle of the oranges in Italy
Every year on the three days leading up to Mardis Gras something rather strange takes place in Ivrea, Italy. The residents divide up into nine different squads and dress in battle attire then over the next few days they sling oranges at each other to try and kill the other teams.
The origins of this game are unclear, but it has become the largest food fight in Italy, however, not quite as big as La Tomatina yet.
Finger cutting of the Dani tribe
Everyone grieves differently after the loss of a loved one but the women of the Dani tribe in Indonesia have quite a unique and severe way of dealing with grief.
When they lose a loved one the top joint of a woman’s finger will be amputated. String will be tightly tied around the finger until it goes numb and then a family member, often a sibling or parent will cut off the top of the finger. The wound is then burnt to stop the bleeding and prevent infection.
The process is carried out to symbolise the pain suffered after the loss of a loved one and to keep the deceased person’s spirit away.
Baby tossing in India
You may want to sit down for this one. In India, they have a ritual that involves throwing newborn babies off the side of temples. If you got married at the 50-foot-high Sri Santeswar temple in India, it’s a tradition to return with your baby and throw them from the top onto a cloth that is held by both Muslims and Hindus below.
These are some of the strangest traditions but although they may seem absurd to some, they are a way of life for others and natives believe that they have very good reasons for their actions.