The 5 most unusual celebrations in the world

30 Oct 2017 | International

If you enjoy taking part in unique experiences, you won’t be disappointed!

Some of these celebrations are even being recognized on a global scale.

Without further ado, here they are… 😉

le jour de la marmotte

Groundhog Day

On February 2 in North America, on the day of the Christian ceremony of Candlemas, Americans and Canadians try to figure out if a groundhog will see his shadow. An interesting custom, wouldn’t you say!

So, what is the meaning of this tradition? Well, if the weather is overcast and the groundhog doesn’t see its shadow, then the end of winter is said to be fast approaching. If, on the other hand, it is frightened by its own shadow and returns to its burrow, then winter will drag on for another 6 weeks.

This custom seems to have originated in Europe. There are similar traditions in France, in the Pyrenees. Yet, to each culture its animal: in Bigorre, as there are no groundhogs, residents turned their eyes to bears!

Much of the European general population was first introduced to this custom by the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day.

The most famous Groundhog Day celebration takes place in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.

It’s a great day to connect with nature, rather than an alcoholic party. Notice to budding biologists!

fête des couleurs

Holi, the festival of colours in India

This Hindu festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Holi is celebrated from the North to the South of India, but most especially in Mathura, birthplace of Krishna.

On the day of Holi, everyone covers themselves in coloured water and coloured powders.

But where does this tradition come from? Holi comes from Holika, a deity in Indian mythology. Holi is a symbol of the victory of good over evil as well as the arrival of spring and fertility.

The Holi fesetivities begin with an enormous bonfire, a symbol of the cremation of Holika and the victory of good over evil.

The following day marks the beginning of the feast of colours.

But why all these colors everywhere? Green symbolizes harmony, blue vitality, orange optimism, red love and joy. It’s a day of celebration where everyone is invited to dance, sing, eat and share.

la tomatina bunol

Tomatina: the Spanish festival of tomatoes!

This festival takes place in the town of Buñol in Spain, the last weekend of August.

The concept is simple, on this occasion, the city unloads 150 to 170 tonnes of tomatoes in the streets!

But, then why throw tomatoes at each other? This festival has its origins in 1945, during a traditional parade in the town of Buñol. During this parade, there seems to have been a small fight that broke out. As luck would have it, there was a small vegetable cart in the central square of this small town. If there hadn’t have been, the Tomatina may never have existed! This quickly degenerated into a vegetable-based food fight, much to the chagrin of the local authorities.

The locals, having had enjoyed the food fight, returned the following year with their own tomatoes. And that’s how Tomatina was born!

Today, its such a popular holiday that the city organizers store the tomatoes 48 hours before the battle, in a cold room. The goal is to reach a sufficient maturity so that the tomatoes are ripe enough not to hurt anyone.

The tomato fight lasts only 1 hour, but the party continues on throughout the weekend.

“Burning Man” in Black Rock Desert, Nevada

Burning man is a gathering of artists which takes place between the last Sunday in September and the first Monday of September (Labor Day) in the desert of Black Rock, Nevada. During this festive artistic gathering, a large wooden effigy is burned, from which comes the name “Burning Man”.

Thousands of artists give free rein to their imagination to create an ephemeral city for a week. To participate in Burning Man, you must either be an artist or volunteer. It is impossible to be a passive participant, this goes against the philosophy of the event’s creators.

The organizers of this gathering propose a different theme every year. In general, it’s meant to be thought-provoking. In 2018, for example, the theme will be on I, Robot, a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov (a simple necessity for any self-proclaimed geek to at least read once).

Water Festival: Songkran, Thailand

The next edition will take place on Friday, April 13, 2018. This holiday is always held during the hottest time of the year.

The water festival is a national holiday in Thailand. During this ritual, one purifies oneself of their sins of the last year.

Traditionally, on this day, scented water was poured into the hands of the elders, out of respect. But over time, this tradition has turned into a gigantic water battle especially in the big cities! If you are afraid of water, avoid Thailand and Bangkok during the festival; if you are a tourist, you will be a valued target.

And yet, more and more tour operators are now offering tours for Songkran.

So, water-lovers take note!

I hope you enjoyed this little collection of atypical festivals.

If so, please, feel free to share it 😉