El colacho

7 Unusual Customs and Traditions from Around the World

Part of the beauty of traveling is that you get to encounter some of the most unusual things you probably did not now know existed. It could be something that may seem bizarre, strange, or weird from an outsider’s eyes. But for those who practiced it, there can be a wealth of meaning and purpose for the custom — often one that withstands the test of time. Here are some of the out-of-the-ordinary rituals and traditions from around the world.

1. Observing a groundhog to predict the weather in the USA. Dating back to 1886, Groundhog Day is rooted on the folklore that spring will be early when a groundhog comes out from its burrow during a cloudy day. But if it emerges during a sunny day and sees its shadows, winter will continue for a few more weeks.

2. If you are still single on your 25th birthday, expect a shower of cinnamon in Denmark.

3. Getting green and yellow hats made by friends and peers, if you are 25 years old and unmarried, during St Catherine’s Day in France.

4. In Finland, wife-carrying is a competitive sport that purportedly dates back to the 19th century. There is a World Wife Carrying Championships in Sonkajaervi.

5. Every year, thousands of tomatoes become weapons for the biggest food fight in the world. Participants in the La Tomatina festival in Buñol, Spain throw overripe tomatoes at each other — all in the spirit of fun.

6. Somewhere in the depths of the Amazon, the Sateré-Mawé people celebrates coming of age with a most painful initiation rite. Boys set out deep into the forest with the tribe’s medicine man to gather bullet ants (Paraponera clavata) known for their painful sting. They make gloves filled with the bullet ants. They need to wear the gloves and endure the pain for ten minutes. And they have to do it 20 times.

7. In Castrillo de Murcia in Spain, there is a baby jumping festival where men dressed as the Colacho or Devil jump over babies born during the previous year. The babies are put on mattresses in the middle of the streets and the male villagers take turn jumping over. It is believed that the ritual helps in cleansing the babies of original sin and blessing them with good fortune to ward off evil.

Koyasan

5 of the Most Unique and Fascinating Places to Visit in Japan

Japan has a lot of popular tourist destinations. It is also famous for having a wide array of some of the coolest, quirkiest, and weirdest attractions. If you want to go off the beaten paths of Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and other touristy places, you will find plenty of most interesting places worth exploring. And here are just a few of them.

1. Akame 48 Falls (Nabari, Mie)
Akame 48 Falls
The Akame 48 Falls refers to the series of waterfalls that can be found along the riverside path that stretches to about 4 kilometers. Located in an area steeped in mystery and legend, the waterfalls make for enchanting nature scenery that has been used as a base by the Iga-ryu ninja between the 15th to 18th centuries. The area also serves as home to giant salamanders that are among the Akame 48 Falls’ top attractions.

2. Aogashima (Aogashima-mura, Tokyo)
Aogashima
The volcanic island of Aogashima sits in the Philippine Sea. Still a part of Tokyo, the remote island can only be reached by boat or helicopter. The town basically sits in the heart of an active volcano with a handful of residents of about 200 or less.

3. Aokigahara (Fujikawaguchiko, Yamanashi)
Aokigahara
Also known as the Suicide Forest, Aokigahara in the shadow of Fujisan (Mount Fuji). It ranks only second to the world’s most popular place to die. Suicide rate in the mysterious forest is high with plenty of bodies are believed to remain undiscovered within its depths.

4. Aoshima Cat Island (Ozu-shi, Ehime)
Aoshima Cat Island
Aoshima is one of Japan’s many cat islands where the feline residents outnumber their humans. The island is a popular destination not just for cat lovers but also for tourists who are curious about the island’s story.

5. Koyasan (Ito-gun, Wakayama)
Koyasan

Koyasan or Mount Kōya is home to the ancient and still active sect of Japanese Buddhism that dates back to twelve centuries ago. The mountain is widely considered as a sacred site and teeming with temples and other religious structures. Some of the things to see and experience in Koyasan include the temples and graveyards, the otsutome or Buddhist ceremonies at the temples, the form of Shingon meditation known as Ajikan, the Shukubo Temple Lodging stay, and more.