15 of the Most Bizarre Holidays Actually Celebrated Around the World
Weird national holidays? Oh yesss, and do we have some doozies for you! Christmas and Easter, move over and make way for the bizarre, the unusual, the gross. We have no idea how these holidays all came to be.
It clearly took imagination, boldness and a big dose of quirky ambition! They may seem hard to believe but every single one of these 15 wacky holidays truly exist and are actually celebrated. For realz.
Hey, stop complaining. I’m just celebrating the Punch Your Neighbor Festival.
Punch Your Neighbor Festival
Always wanted a reason to give your noisy next door neighbor a punch? Well, here it is. You can just say you’re participating remotely in the Punch Your Neighbor Festival, which is also called the Tinku Festival. This celebration takes place mostly in Bolivia and its origins are thought to be around 600 years old.
The festival pays homage to ancient pagan ceremonies where participants thought that the more blood produced in the neighbor brawl, the happier the gods would be.
So they sometimes literally punched each other to death. What a cheerful holiday.
The Day of the Goose
In the quaint Spanish coastal town of Lekeitio, every year they dress up, celebrate, and hang a large dead goose from a string. Why? It’s Goose Day, obviously. That’s literally the only explanation we’ve been able to find, besides that they’re celebrating the patron saint of their village. Maybe he was really, really fond of geese?
Festivalgoers cover the goose in grease and jump on the rope in an attempt to decapitate it. Sometimes there’s more than one goose and it becomes a race to see who can decapitate it the fastest. If there’s any question on who won, they settle it the old-fashioned way. With a boat race, naturally.
Bonza Bottler Day
Bonza Bottler Day is celebrated whenever the number of the month matches up with the number of the day. For example, December 12th is Bonza Bottler Day. So, as you can puzzle together, Bonza Bottler Day happens once a month.
The proper way to celebrate is with a party and yes, parties are actually thrown for this. It’s an Australian Holiday and as you can see, its mascot is a dancing groundhog w gets his kicks from throwing confetti.
Sorry, was that a sneeze? No, it’s Up-Helly-Aa, the annual festival that takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, on the last Tuesday in January. Up-Helly-Aa is a Viking tradition that celebrates the rebirth of the sun, so as you can see, there’s a lot of fire.
It begins with a torch procession and ends with throwing those torches into a replica of a Viking ship replica. Come on, that was a perfectly good Viking ship.
This is also called The Naked Man Festival and we don’t really have to explain why. Hadaka Matsuri is celebrated in Japan on the third Saturday of February, which is traditionally one of the coldest nights of the year.
The specific rituals vary from village to village but they all include general ways to prove the participants’ manhood and gain luck for the coming year.
In Okayama, the men bathe in the Yoshi River, run to the temple, and try to catch the sticks thrown to them by priests.
Straw Bear Day
This English festival held annually on January 7th is probably pretty bad for anyone with hay fever. It originated in Whittlesea where, as described in the newspaper edition of 1882 after Plough Day, a man was dressed up in straw.
“[H]e was then taken around the town to entertain by his frantic and clumsy gestures the good folk who had on the previous day subscribed to the rustics, a spread of beer, tobacco and beef.”
Who knows why, but this tradition was revived in 1980 and is still going strong.
Talk about a food fight. In Spain, about 30,000 locals and tourists get together and throw tomatoes at each other. We can’t decide if this sounds fun or terrible. They do it in the town square of Bunol, all with locally grown tomatoes. Those farmers must be sort of sad.
There is no concrete explanation for the origins of the festival but some think it may have been a form of anti-religious protest. Tomatoes are one way to solve a problem, we guess. Especially when fussing over who says tomato and who says tom-ah-to.
Night of the Radishes
Around Christmastime in Oaxaca, Mexico, carving radishes is a lot like carving pumpkins. On December 23rd, people carve radishes into all kinds of figures, often nativity scenes.
Night of the Radishes began in 1897 when Oaxacan farmers sold their wares at the Christmas Vigil Market and wanted to make them more appealing to compete with the other sellers. Now competitions are held for the best radish carver.
Chau Bun Festival
In May, this festival is held in Hong Kong to help drive away evil spirits and provide good luck to the residents who are at sea. Three towers made completely of sweet buns and pastries, each reaching up to sixty feet high, are placed in front of the Pak Tai Temple.
People then run to the towers and grab as much of the bread as they can. The people who are able to grab the most bread are said to have the best luck.
Bean Throwing Day
This holiday is also called Setsubun and it’s all about celebrating the first day of Spring and allowing room for good luck. Bean Throwing Day is celebrated in Japan at many shrines and temples throughout the country. The beans represent vitality and are thought to symbolize the attempt to drive away evil spirits.
While throwing the beans, people chant, “Out with evil! In with good fortune!” What a coincidence. We sometimes chant that, too. Mostly at family gatherings.
You wouldn’t guess it from the photograph but this holiday is also called Silent Night and it’s celebrated in complete silence. Yep, that’s right.
To ring in the Balinese Lunar New Year, security guards patrol the streets to make sure people are at home, deeply contemplating what the next year of their life may bring. There’s no talking, radios or television. Nyepi Day is followed the next dayby a carnival.
Nenana Ice Classic
Surprise, surprise, this holiday is held in Alaska. Nenana Ice Classic is essentially a contest to try to guess the exact date and time that ice on the Tenana River will crack on. When that happens, Winter officially turns into Spring. Festivalgoers install a giant tripod onto the river’s ice and when the ice melts, the tripod sinks.
There’s a rope tied to the tripod and when it’s sinking, it pulls on the rope which is tied to a clock. The clock stops and the winner is announced. Doesn’t sound confusing at all. Only engineers are allowed to attend… or enjoy Spring in Alasks, for that matter.
Day of the Sea
The landlocked country of Bolivia celebrates – or mourns – the day that Bolivia lost vital land during the War of the Pacific. The “Litoral” was a portion of land running along the Pacific coast. There are parades by school children and the military throughout the country.
Except they’re not happy parades. It’s a rather solemn affair and they sometimes listen to recordings of ship horns and sea gulls to remember what they lost.
National Weatherperson's Day
We guess we never really do fully appreciate our local weatherman. He tells us whether or not to weather the weather and if we should pack a sweater. February 5th, 1774 was the birth of John Jeffries, one of the first weatherpeople in America.
You can celebrate by going on your phone and checking the weather. If it rains, tell your weatherman thanks for nothing.
Run It Up The Flagpole And See If Anyone Salutes It Day
By the time you’re done announcing what day it is (Run It Up The Flagpole And See If Anyone Salutes It Day), the day is already halfway over. Could the name be any longer? This even is celebrated on January 2nd and originated from the American idiom that means you should try out new ideas to see if people like them.
How should you commemorate this fine day of the year? Probably run something up the flagpole and see if anyone salutes. That’s what I’d do.