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.