10 most bizarre festivals around the worldFrom cheese rolling to jumping over babies, these are some of the most unique celebrations on earth.
Where: Komaki, Japan
Every year, women from the town of Komaki in Japan take part in a festival that pays homage to the male reproductive organ — the pe*is. Considered to be a symbol of fertility, women surround themselves with an array of pe*is shaped objects — candies, chocolates and handcrafted toys — to worship the pe*is It is believed that this ceremony, which takes place the first Sunday in April every year, will help ward off sexually transmitted diseases and increase fertility.
Where: Gloucestershire, England
Since at least the fifth century, locals have been rolling cheese down Cooper’s Hill. A Double Gloucester cheese is rolled and participants must chase it and catch it. Whoever catches the cheese, keeps the cheese. Sound easy enough? Being as steep as it is, Cooper’s Hill makes this sport quite challenging. The cheese gets a one second head start on the participants and can reach a speed of over 110 km/h. Many participants have been injured chasing cheese down the steep hill.
The actual roots of the ceremony are debatable. Some say it is of pagan origin and can encourage fertility and fruits of harvest. Others say it is a symbol of the cycle of life: creation, release, pursuit and re-capture. In recent years, this unusual event has garnered much attention and there are now participants from all over the world.
Where: Okayama, Japan
Dating back 500 years, over 9,000 men participate in the Na*ed Festival – Hadaka Matsuri – every year in Okayama, Japan. Though never completely Na*ed the men are minimally dressed, usually wearing a white loincloth. A Shinto priest throws a pair of lucky sticks into the crowd at midnight and the men must duke it out until a winner finally secures them in his grasp. Tradition dictates that if the winning man puts the sticks into a wooden box with rice, he will be happy the whole year. This is a highly valued tradition in Okayama.
Where: Lopburi Province, Thailand
While one might think this festival is a buffet of monkeys, it is actually a buffet for monkeys. The macaque monkey population in Lopburi is so large, it would be considered a pest in nearly any other part of the world. In Lopburi, however, they are revered. Thought to be the descendants of a monkey warrior, the locals believe the macaque monkeys bring good fortune, and are allowed to roam freely among the people. To honour these so-called good-luck monkeys, a festival is thrown every year with over 2,000 kilograms of fruits, vegetables and other monkey-friendly treats for the animals to enjoy. Oddly enough, officials are hoping this particular festival will increase tourism in Thailand.
Directly translated, this festival is exactly what you think it is — the Gastronomical Festival of the Cat. Unlike the Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand, this festival is a buffet of fresh cat meant to be eaten. In fact, cats are bred specifically for this event every year. The tradition is preserved to commemorate the early settlers who were starving to death and had no choice but to eat cat meat to survive. The locals maintain that cat meat can heal bronchitis and boost fertility. However, animal rights activists around the world don’t consider that an acceptable reason to breed cats for the sole purpose of turning them into a meal.
Where: Castrillo de Murcia, Spain
The Catholic feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated in a quite unusual festival known as El Salto del Colacho -– the Baby Jumping Festival -– in the small Spanish town of Castrillo de Murcia. Dating back to 1620, the annual tradition requires the newborn infants of the year to be laid down on a mattress. To save them from Original Sin, protect them from evil spirits and guard them against illness, a man dressed in a colourful yellow and red outfit, symbolizing the Devil himself, leaps over the infants. The gesture of the Devil jumping over the babies represents their escape from the hands of evil. Thought to be one of the most dangerous festivals in the world, Pope Benedict has requested Spanish priests distance themselves from this tradition to clarify that it is not a Catholic one. The Catholic Church says the only way to cleanse a baby of Original Sin is through baptism.
Where: Rocca Canterano, Italy
Has your wife or girlfriend ever cheated on you? If so, this festival may be of some interest. Every year, Rocca Canterano, a city outside of Rome, celebrates Festa del Cornuto — Festival of the Horns. In Italian culture, the horns represent a man who has been cheated on. The association is said to date back o the Roman Empire. Many warriors left for battle for extended periods of time. Upon their return, they were given a pair of horns as a gift. However, when they returned to their homes, they often found their wives had left them for other men. So the term “cornuto” began to refer to a man who has been cheated on. In Rocca Canterano, men who have been wronged by their better halves march through the streets, sometimes weeping or breaking objects given to them by their former lovers. The parade is meant to honour and console the men.
Where: Pamplona, Spain
Albeit a better-known festival around the world, bizarre it is. The Bull Run is part of the Fiesta San Fermin, which runs from July 6th to the 14th every year. Basically, a group of charging, angry bulls are released, chasing men down the streets for over 800 metres. The goal? To get away before a half-ton bull knocks you down. Since the Bull Run tradition began in 1910, there have been nearly 300 people injured and 15 killed. The cause of death is usually goring by a bull, with only one death a result of being hit by the bull’s horns. Despite the physical harm a bull can cause to a human, particularly during a bull run, these animals are highly respected among the Spanish people.
Where: Roswell, New Mexico
In July 1947, a mysterious, unidentified object crashed near the city of Roswell. The Roswell Army Air Field was quoted as saying a “flying disk” had been recovered from the scene. The following day, the statement was retracted and changed to say a weather balloon was what was found. This sparked immediate controversy among the population, who most certainly believed aliens had landed and the government was attempting a coverup.
Over 60 years later, the debate continues. To celebrate their belief that aliens have landed on earth in the city of Roswell, there is an annual parade where patrons can dress up in alien-like costumes and attend brief conferences given by alien experts and authors. However, these alien activists don’t discriminate. Non-believers of the alien theory are also welcome to enjoy the festivities and dress up.
Turkey Testicle Festival
Where: Byron, Illinois
The oldest Testicle Festival originated in Byron, Ill., in 1978, though it is not the only Testicle Festival around. There are several in small cities throughout the United States, but the Turkey Testicle Festival is the original. What fun activities does this bizarre festival include, you ask? Well, eating battered and deep fried turkey testicles is probably what sets it apart from any other festival in the world. There are also activities and games to be played but all attendees must be at least 21 years of age to step foot on the premises.