Yes, America has Thanksgiving, yes we have Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and plenty of other Hallmark holidays. But all over the world there are countless cultural and religious fetes so bizarre and incredible in nature it might be worth adopting a couple of them. Check out our five favorites below, and keep in mind the word “holiday” may be used pretty loosely here.
Where: Brazil and many other places around the world
When: Annually, February or early March
Why it’s so cool: Believe it or not this raucous celebration of music, revelry, sex, love, dancing, and drama is to commemorate the Christian season of Lent. This hedonistic happening is the biggest in Brazil, but nearly every country has its own version of the festivities.
What: Monkey Buffet Festival
When: Annually, the last Sunday in November
Why it’s so cool: It looks like the people of Thailand love monkeys as much as we do. Every year this animal species is honored in the village of Lopburi with a buffet feast of vegetables and fruits. Legend has it the little primates were such a nuisance, eating all the tourists food; that locals thought the only thing to do about it was to embrace them, and a holiday was born.
What: Hadaka Matsuri
When: Annually, third Saturday of February
Why it’s so cool: Kind of like Japan’s version of the Polar Bear Plunge, Hadaka Matsuri or “naked man festival” is celebrated on one of the coldest nights of the year. Men from around the country gather in just a loincloth or less to put their manhood to the test. They take part in different challenges, like catching sacred sticks from priests to secure their happiness in the coming year.
What: La Tomatina
Where: Buñol, Spain
When: Annually, last Wednesday of August
Why it’s so cool: Not going to lie, this one is our favorite, for the simple fact that it’s a massive, unabashed food fight. Thousands of locals and tourists gather to throw overripe tomatoes at each other, for reasons more or less unknown, though many trace it back to honoring the town’s patron Saint Louis Bertrand.
What: El Colacho
Where: Burgos, Spain
When: Annually, June
Why it’s so cool: Another one from Spain, this nerve-wracking tradition involves rounding up all the babies born in the last year and having a man who represents Satan jump over them in a sort of religious cleansing. The bizarre tradition dates back to 1620.