Sometimes we can get bogged down so much in our own domestic drama that we forget there is a big wide world out there. While many Americans enjoy holidays like Saint Patrick’s Day, Halloween and Thanksgiving among others, cultures around the world have their own way of celebrating. So, in honor of the season, FirstLantic tracked down ten of the most unusual holidays from a KFC dinner in Japan to a tomato fight in Spain!
La Befana – Italy
Children in Italy don’t wait for Santa Clause to bring gifts on Christmas Eve. They stay up late on January 5th hoping to get a glimpse of a kindly old witch known as La Befana (the giver of gifts). And they don’t leave out cookies either. Belfana prefers broccoli with spicy sausage and a glass of wine.
Holi Festival – India
Of all the celebrations around the world, the Holi festival has to be one of the most colorful. Why? Because people actually throw balloons and colored powder at each other to signify good defeating evil. This vibrant holiday takes place in the spring.
KFC – Japan
Since the Japanese don’t traditionally celebrate Christmas, they have found their own way of enjoying the season. Instead of unwrapping presents and eating a turkey or ham, many Japanese prefer to go to KFC for some “finger-licking good” chicken. The tradition has become so popular that people have to place their orders up to two months in advance.
Lopburi Monkey Buffet – Thailand
Thank goodness this holiday is not what you’re probably thinking it is, and the monkeys are not on the menu. The monkeys are actually the ones that are treated to a feast on the last weekend of November. The holiday is believed to have been started in honor of a monkey who rescued a bride from a 10-headed demon. Don’t miss the video!
Night of the Radishes – Mexico
While we may have our pumpkin carving contests in the U.S., Oaxaca, Mexico celebrates December 23rd with some carving of their own. However, in this case, radishes are their vegetable of choice. Many radishes are carved into intricate exhibits that represent nativity scenes or other Mexican folklore. The beautiful recreations are on display from the 23rd through Christmas Day.
Mud Festival – South Korea
Feeling a little “dirty”? Well, then you won’t want to miss this festival that takes place every July in Boryeong, South Korea. This area of South Korea is known for its’ mud flats which are used as healing properties in cosmetics and this festival was started to get the word out. Mud wrestling? Check. Mud prisons? Check and Check. Mud skiing competitions? Check, check and check.
La Tomatino – Spain
Okay, no one really knows how this festival got started but if you are in the mood to wear your vegetables, this is the celebration for you. Every third Wednesday in August, locals and tourists alike have a 90-minute tomato fight in the Valencian town of Bunol. Now that sounds like a fun way to get your recommended serving of veggies!
Spider Web Tree – Ukraine
Instead of tinsel, you will more likely see spider webs decorating the tree in the Ukraine. The tradition is said to have originated from a poor family who grew a Christmas tree from a pinecone. However, they didn’t have enough money to decorate it, so spiders came to the rescue. When they woke up on Christmas morning, they found that spiders had spun decorative webs around the tree’s branches. Since then it has become a ritual that is said to bring luck in the coming year. The photos are amazing…
Underwater Music Festival – U.S.
So, we couldn’t leave out this one that takes place in Florida! For 25 years, music and water lovers have gathered together for the festival at Looe Key Reef, part of the only living coral barrier reef in North America. A pre-selected radio playlist is streamed live from underwater speakers, while musician-divers and mermaids play whimsical instruments created by local artist, August Powers. In past years, instruments have included the “Trom-Bonefish,” “Sea-phan flute” and a “Fluke-a-Lele.”
Cheese-Rolling – Cooper’s Hill, UK
Okay, this last one is really “cheesy”! Taking place in the Spring, a round of Double Gloucester cheese is sent rolling down the hill sending competitors to chase after it. The person who crosses the finish line first is the winner. Unfortunately, they had to start using a foam replica after a spectator was injured by cheese rolling down the hill at warp speed. However, don’t worry as the winner does get to enjoy the real thing as their prize.
In summary, whatever way people choose to celebrate around the world, the common denominator is that we all have rituals and festivities that bring us together. So, next time you might think that someone else is too different, remember that we can be united as human-beings simply by assembling as a group and letting ourselves feel happiness and joy.