Lopburi Monkey Buffet
Each year, Thailand celebrates on the last weekend in November 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.
Tinku “Punch Your Neighbor” Festival
In pre-Hispanic times the Incas worshipped the earth Goddess Pachamama who 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.
Antzar Eguna (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. That hasn’t really stopped anyone.
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.
Bonza Bottler Day
Created by Elaine Fremont in 1985, the Bonza Bottler Day is a holiday celebrated once a month when the number of the month coincides with the number of the 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.” According to the holiday’s official website (which is a thing new holidays have apparently), the best way to celebrate is with a party. Easy enough. The mascot for this event is a dancing groundhog throwing confetti.
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, it’s just a groundhog’s shadow!
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.
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.
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 musicians were very popular in the 1950’s and are considered incredibly influential on modern music.
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.
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.
Create a Vacuum Day
This odd holiday’s 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. Celebrations include creating a device capable of sucking up air and particles of filth, or just vacuuming your home.
From Buñol, Spain comes the largest food fight ever. 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.
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.
National Weatherman’s Day
National Weatherman’s Day is celebrated every February 5th, the birthday of John Jeffries, one of America’s first weather observers. He began taking daily measurements in 1774. His work led to many advancements in “predicting” the weather. At least, pretty good attempts at predicting it.
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 when Oaxacan farmers, who sold their produce at the Christmas Vigil Market carved figures out of their wares to make them more eye-catching. Over the years, this marketing ploy evolved into a annual festival with a cash prize to the best carver.
Hangul Day or the Korean Alphabet Day celebrates the creation and proclamation of the Korean alphabet. This is celebrated by the South Koreans on October 9th, while North Koreans do so on January 15th. The holiday isn’t known for any particular celebration, but most people get a day off work, and that’s important.
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.
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. The Festival supposedly drives away evil spirits and ensures the smooth sailing of its sea-faring residents. The fun begins 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 then race for the bun towers and grab as many sweet buns as they can. The revelers believe 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.
Lammas Day or “loaf mass day’” is celebrated by many English-speaking countries in the Northern Hemisphere on the first day of August, considered the first wheat harvest of the year. In this custom, the locals will bring a loaf of bread, 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.
Wave All Your Fingers at Your Neighbor Day
This holiday, possibly the longest named one on the list, is celebrated every February 7th. It’s a day to say hello to your neighbors not only with your bright smile but with a big wave as well. Hopefully you don’t need a holiday to greet people in a friendly manner, but if you’ve been forgetting, get back on track this February.
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, you can expect pubs to stay open longer than the usual. It started when the country’s 75-year ban on beer was repealed which apparently resulted in much rejoicing.
Bean Throwing Day
Bean Throwing Day or Setsubun occurs on the first day of spring according to the Japanese lunar calendar, which is usually around February 2nd or 3rd. This celebration involves the head of the family throwing specially roasted soy beans at another family member, who’s dressed as a demon. The ritual can also take place at a local temple. The ritual/beans cast evil out and bring luck in for the new year.
Nenana Ice Classic
The Nenana Ice Classic in Nenana, Alaska 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.
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.