If you think some of your own family traditions are wacky, wait until you read this list of traditions from around the world. From sock garlands and monkey buffets to weather-telling rodents, these 12 traditions are definitely bizarre.
Czech Republic: Easter whippings
If you’re in the Czech Republic on Easter Monday, don’t be alarmed if you see men go from house to house lightly whipping the women with ‘pomlázka’ (braided willow branches) on the bum or legs. As the legend goes, if a woman is beaten by a pomlázka, she will remain both beautiful and fertile in the coming year
Denmark: Cinnamon showers
In Denmark if you’re still single when you turn 25, your friends ambush you with a cinnamon shower all day; and if you’re still single at 30? Expect to be peppered. The tradition dates back to the 16th century, when people traveled around selling spices, like cinnamon or pepper. They traveled so much that they never got around to marrying and settling down. Hence, they were known as Pebersvend, directly translatable as Pepper Dude, but more fittingly translated to Bachelor. Now, everyone in Danish society who remains unmarried can expect to be called as such and thus gets cinnamon or pepper “showers” in honor of their bachelorhood.
Germany: Sock garlands
Meanwhile in Germany, if you’re unmarried when you reach 25, you can expect your friends to string a garland of socks that lead from your house to the venue of your birthday party and every few socks you reach, you’ll be encouraged to down an alcoholic drink.
China: Check out the chicken liver
In Duar, China, engaged couples have an interesting tradition of dissecting a chicken to check out its liver. If the liver is healthy, the couples can then set the date. If not, they can’t plan their nuptials until they find a healthy liver.
Finland: Carry your wife for prizes
In Finland, you don’t just carry your wife for fun, you carry her for sport! Competitors congregate in Sokajarvi each year for the wife-carrying championships.The wife to be carried may be your own, the neighbor’s or you may borrow one from elsewhere, as long as she is over 17 years of age.
Austria: Competitive finger-pulling
If you think competitive wife-carrying sounds odd, what about competitive finger-pulling? In Austria this is a serious sport where finger athletes aim to drag their opponents across the table by just their fingers.
Fiji: A whale tooth for a wife
In Fiji, before men ask for the hand of their beloved, they must present their future father-in-law with an unusual gift: a whale’s tooth. This gift symbolizes wealth and status in society.
Spain: World’s biggest food fight
If you’re a fan of food fights, then you’ll definitely want to add this one to your bucket list. La Tomatina is the annual tomato-throwing festival held in August in Buñol, Spain. Tens of thousands of people make their way to Spain to join in the world’s largest food fight.
United States: Using a rodent to predict the weather
In America, February 2 is known as Groundhog Day. People use a large rodent called a groundhog to predict whether spring will come early or if winter will claim its icy grasp for a longer period of time. According to folklore, if it is cloudy when a groundhog emerges from its burrow on this day, then the spring season will arrive early, but if it is sunny, the groundhog will supposedly see its shadow and retreat back into its den, signifying that winter will persist for six more weeks.
Thailand: Monkey buffets
During Thailand’s Monkey Buffet festival, the temples of Lopburi are adorned with large mountains of fruit and vegetables and the local population of macaque monkeys are allowed to feast. The people also decorate the streets with monkey art and even dress up like monkeys in celebration.
England: Chasing and slaying a moving hedge
On the May Bank Holiday, “Jack” which looks like a moving hedge, and his green-faced ‘Bogies’ are chased through and later ‘slain’ amid the cliff-top castle ruins. It all began as a form of legalized begging for chimney sweeps out of work during the summer months; the Jack began as a garland, but grew and grew until he became a hedge covering the person underneath.
Armenia: Salty bread dreams to reveal future spouse
In Armenia, on the eve of St. Sargis Day, single women eat a slice of a traditional salty bread in order to inspire a prophetic dream about the man they are going to marry. The man who brings them water in their dream is the one who they are supposed to marry.