25 Strangest Holidays That People Actually Celebrate

Posted by , Updated on May 25, 2014

While everyone is familiar with Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and New Year, there are numerous less than famous holidays celebrated every single day in some part of the world. As you may expect, most of the time the celebration is relatively straight forward. People eat, they drink, and they dance. Sometimes however, things get a little hairy. Whether it involves feeding starving monkeys or drenching yourself and smashed tomatoes, these are the 25 strangest holidays that people actually celebrate.

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25

Lopburi Monkey Buffet

Lopburi Monkey Buffet

Celebrated on the last weekend in November of each year in Thailand is the world’s biggest primate party. The jungle dwelling monkeys around the village of Lopburi are known to be gluttons, harassing visitors for their snacks and food. In 1989, the villagers decided that the best way to deal with them was to embrace them. Every year, they lay out a buffet of morsels for the monkeys at the Pa Prang Sam Yot temple that include peanuts, cucumbers and raw crabs topped off with some refreshing drinks of Coca-cola.

24

Tinku “Punch Your Neighbor” Festival

Tinku "Punch Your Neighbor" Festival

Having its origin in pre-Hispanic times whereby the earth Goddess Pachamama demanded blood to ensure a good harvest, the people from the Bolivian village of Tinku took this quite literally and decided to provide her with as much as she needed. The rest is pretty self explanatory.

23

Antzar Eguna (Goose Day)

Goose day

Antzar Eguna or “Goose Day” can be traced back nearly 350 years and involves a group of young Spaniards trying to decapitate a dead goose hanging from a rope in the middle of the town’s harbor. Why? That’s been the question on a lot of people’s minds over the last few centuries. So far no satisfactory explanation has been provided.

22

Inti Raymi

Inti Raymi

On every June 24, people from Cuzco, Peru celebrate the reenactment of the Incan sun ceremony. Since 1944, hundreds of people have come from all over the world to witness the procession. The lucky man who is chosen to portray the emperor is carried on a golden throne to the ancient fortress of Sacsayhuamán to ask for the sun’s blessings in Classical Quecha; the original language of the Incas. For the Incas, the Sun God Inti was the creator of life so they celebrate his return every year after a long cold winter on the winter solstice.

21

Bonza Bottler Day

Bonza Bottler Day

Created by Elaine Fremont in 1985, the Bonza Bottler Day is an Australian holiday celebrated once a month when the number of the month coincides with the number of day such as April 4, May 5, June 6, etc.  The term ’bonza’ is a word used by  Australians to denote that something is great, while ’bottler’ is their slang for ‘something excellent’.  The mascot for this event is a dancing groundhog throwing confetti.


20

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Speaking of groundhogs, February 2nd is a famous holiday where everyone awaits to see whether or not a designated groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA sees his shadow.  According to folklore, if it’s cloudy when the groundhog emerges from its burrow then Spring will come early; if it’s sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see it’s shadow and retreat back into it’s burrow signifying that Winter will continue for six more weeks.  Although this holiday may not be too strange to Canadians and Americans, to the rest of the world…well come on…it’s just a groundhog’s shadow!

19

The Feast of Anastenaria

The Feast of Anastenaria

The Anastenaria or the feast of Saint Constantine and Saint Helena is an eight-day dancing celebration that begins on May 21st. Celebrated in Northern Greece and Southern Bulgaria, revelers celebrate with fire walking, dancing and stomping accompanied by live music. As the music gets faster, the participants ‘touched by Saint Constantine’ claim to not feel the flames on their feet. The legend behind this ritual dates back to the Middle Ages when the Church of Saint Constantine accidentally caught fire. As the flames engulfed the church, the icons of the saint and his mother Saint Helena were heard crying inside. The brave churchgoers who rescued the icons came out unharmed and unscathed by the fire. The eight-day festivities are celebrated with all-night services and the sacrifice of a sacred bull, where every village family is given meat and sandals made from the hide.

18

Up-Helly-Aa

Up-Helly-Aa

Up-Hell-Aa is a Scottish holiday that descended from a Viking celebration depicting the rebirth of the sun. This fiery holiday is celebrated with a variety of fire festivals that start with a torch procession of hundreds of people dressed in themed costumes and end with the throwing of the fires into a Viking ship replica. This is annually held in the middle of Winter to mark the end of the Yule season.

17

The Day the Music Died

The Day the Music Died

Every February 3rd, the Day the Music Died is celebrated to honor the famous singers who died in an airplane crash; the Big Booper, Richie Valens and Buddy Holly in 1959. These singers were quite famous with the 50’s generations and were mourned by many people.

16

Hadaka Matsuri

Hadaka Matsuri

Hadaka Matsuri or the ‘naked man festival’ in Japan is celebrated on the third Saturday of February during one of the coldest nights of the year. Thousands of men all around Japan strip down to loincloths (or less) to test their manhood and bravery in order to secure luck throughout the year. The rituals vary from town to town. For example, in Okayama men purify themselves in water from the Yoshi River, run once on the Saidaji Temple and then try to catch the sacred sticks thrown by the priests to the crowd. The one who catches the sticks is promised a year of happiness.

15

Straw Bear Day

Straw Bear Day

This English festival is held every January 7th after Plough Monday; another traditional festival to start the English agricultural year. During this time, a man or a boy is completely covered in straw and led to houses in the area to dance in exchange for food, beer or money. Though it was an ancient custom, it was revived in 1980.

14

Create a Vacuum Day

Create a Vacuum Day

This is an odd holiday whose origin and meaning are unknown. Celebrated on the 4th day of February, some of the speculations for its origin include the “hardworking mom” theory which states that a frustrated mom created a day to commemorate the chore.  Another theory states that a mad scientist created the holiday to celebrate the day vacuum was created.  A third theory states that someone who desperately needed a simpler life created a vacuum day that would suck all the daily work, clutter and chores out of their life.

13

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

From Buñol, Spain comes the largest food fight ever where about 30,000 people; both local and tourists, fill the main square to hurl locally grown tomatoes at each other on the last Wednesday of August. Tractors bearing red, squishy tomatoes dump them throughout the streets as ammunition for a 90-minutes free-for-all tomato-throwing frenzy. There is no explanation for this tradition though it’s believed to have started between 1944 or 1945 in Buñol.  No one is sure, however, whether it was in celebration of the town’s patron Saint Louis Bertrand, as a form of anti-religious protest, or just a capricious impulse after a tomato cart overturned.

12

Magpie Festival

Magpie Festival

The Magpie Festival is celebrated by the Chinese on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. Sometimes called Chinese Valentine’s Day; Chinese young girls pray for a good husband and demonstrate their domestic skills through embroidery or melon carving.

11

National Weatherman’s Day

National Weatherman’s Day

National Weatherman’s Day is celebrated every February 5th to thank those who try hard to predict the weather. Their frustration is appreciated.

10

Night of the Radishes

Night of the Radishes

The Night of the Radishes is a radish-carving contest held annually in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23rd where participants compete to carve radishes into figures depicting the birth of Jesus Christ or elaborate historical scenes. It started in 1897 where Oaxacan farmers sold their produce at the Christmas Vigil Market and they began carving figures out of their wares to make them more eye-catching. Over the years, this marketing ploy has evolved into a festival where it is now celebrated every year with a cash prize to the best carver.

9

Hangul Day

Hangul Day

Hangul Day or the Korean Alphabet Day celebrates the creation and proclamation of the Korean alphabet. This was celebrated by the South Koreans on October 9th, while North Koreans do so on January 15th.

8

Lame Duck Day

Lame Duck Day

The Lame Duck Day is celebrated every February 6th to recognize people whose position in authority is about to run out. The “Lame Duck” can be a politician who lost in the elections but must remain in office until his term is finished.  It can also be a manager or a teacher who is about to retire but is still working.

7

Chau Bun Festival

Chau Bun Festival

The eight day of the fourth moon in the Chinese calendar (usually in May) is celebrated as the Chau Bun Festival in Hong Kong to drive away evil spirits and ensure the smooth sailing of its sea-faring residents. The funbegins when three 60-foot towers covered from top to bottom with sweet buns or doughy pastries are set in front of the Pak Tai temple. People will then go for the bun towers and grab as many sweet buns as they can believing that the more pastries they gather the better their luck will be for the year ahead. The practice was abandoned after a tower collapsed in 1978 but has since been revived with extra safety precautions.

6

Lammas Day

Lammas Day

Lammas Day or ‘loaf mass day’ is celebrated by many English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on the first day of August (which is considered the first wheat harvest of the year). In this custom, the locals will bring a loaf made from the new crop to church. In some parts of England, the tenants were required to give the freshly-harvested wheat to their landlords.

5

Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day

Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day

Celebrated every February 7th is a day to say hello to your neighbors not only with your bright smile but with a big wave as well. This is a good way to be friendly or a great way to just make somebody’s day bright and sunny.

4

Beer Day

Beer Day

For those who love their beer, you might want to go to Iceland every 1st day of March for a nationwide drinking party. An excuse for a ‘runtur’ or ‘pub crawl,’ this is an all-day celebration that will give you plenty of chances to raise glasses to the local brews of Viking Dimmur, Thule, or Litli-Jón. Though most banks and offices will not change their hours of operation for this holiday, you can expect pubs to stay open longer than the usual. This celebration started when the country’s 75-year ban on beer was repealed, which apparently resulted in much rejoicing.

3

Bean Throwing Day

Bean Throwing Day

Bean Throwing Day or Setsubun in Japan is a holiday that occurs on the first day of spring according to their lunar calendar, which is usually around February 2nd or 3rd. This celebration involves throwing beans around homes, shrines and temples to scare away evil spirits.

2

Nenana Ice Classic

Nenana Ice Classic

The Nenana Ice Classic is a spring ice-melting lottery in Nenana, Alaska which is a contest to guess the exact time and day that the Winter ice will crack on the Tenana River and make way for Springtime. A giant wooden “tripod” is set on the ice and a clock is tied to the shore. When the ice melts, it sinks the “tripod” which pulls the rope tied to the clock.  This stops the clock and a winner is then declared. The largest reward was given to a single ticket holder in 2008 amounting to $303, 895. This tradition started in an especially long winter in 1917 when a group of railroad engineers first placed bets on when the Tanana River would break. A few more folks continued the following year.  Since it’s inception over 10 million dollars in prize money have been given away.

1

Nyepi Day

Nyepi Day

The Nyepi Day or Silent Night is the Balinese form of celebrating the Bali’s Lunar New Year with total silence. This is a time of retrospection for the traditional Balinese. Security guards patrol the streets to make sure that people are at home contemplating on what they want out of their life without the distraction of lights, radios, television, food, or talking. Tourists are warned to stay inside their hotels out of respect, though they are allowed to watch television as long as they keep the volume down. The Nyepi Day tradition is followed by a series of cleansing rituals such as the exorcism of demons and cleaning of effigies from all village temples. This is followed by a carnival where puppets with bulging eyes and wild hair are burned to chase away evil spirits.

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