The Craziest and Messiest Holidays of the World
Holi, the festival of colors,is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. It is perhaps the most joyful holiday ever. On this day, people try to paint each other with vivid colors. The celebration often gets wild and rowdy. It's one of the few times when men and women mingle freely and people use tricks to try to spray their relatives and friends with color. It’s also a time when distinctions of caste is forgotten. Sweets are served inside houses. Thandai, a drink made with almonds and milk, and cannabis pakoras is extremely popular on this day. Holi can also be called a youth festival, as it provides an opportunity for young men and women to mingle freely and participate in dances and cultural programs in an otherwise conservative society. Young men throw colored powder and colored water on women. People roam the streets, squirting each other with colored water from water pistols and throwing colored powders and water balloons off roofs. Everyone wears old clothes, or, if invited to a party, crisp white clothes. In earlier times, people made the colors (called gulal) themselves. They gathered the bright red and orange flowers from the tesu or palash tree (also known as flame of the forest). They let them soak in water or produce colored water or dried them in the sun on mats, then ground them into a fine dust. They also used aabir, a natural colored talc. The colors mimic the colors of spring as at this time of the year, a time when shades of red and yellow appear in the Gulmohurs (red flowers), silk cottons and mango trees.
La Tomatina tomato fight in Buñol near Valencia happens every year on the last Wednesday in August though the partying starts earlier in the week. The highlight of the festival is the tomato fight which takes place between 11am and 1pm on that day. The Tomatina is only one of the celebration of a week long festival with musical bands, fireworks, food, and over all fun. This is a war were there are expected to be no winners, but where all have fun. The festivities begin in the week leading up to La Tomatina with a celebration of the towns' Patron Saint. Fireworks light the heavy summer sky while street parties warm up at ground level. Rose wine flows and the hefty scent of wood fired paella fills the air. But the majority of revelers are here for one thing and one thing alone - the chance to run amok with 90,000 pounds of gooey, squishy fruit - the rest is just a bonus. The standard uniform is an old T-shirt, old shorts and eye goggles. Nearly 140 tons of tomatoes are trucked in from around the countryside and the argy-bargy begins with the firing of a rocket.
The Battle of Oranges
The annual Battle of Oranges in Ivrea, Italy, is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages when feudal Lords would hand out beans to the poor who would throw them back as a gesture of disrespect.
Ivrea is today best known for its famous battle of the oranges. This involves some thousands of townspeople, divided into nine combat teams, who throw oranges at each other - with considerable violence - during the traditional carival days: sunday, monday and tuesday. The carnival takes place in February: it ends the night of "fat tuesday", with a solemn funeral. Traditionally, at the end of the silent march that closes the carinval the "Prefect" says goodbay to everybody with the classical phrase "See you next (fat) thurday, at 1 pm" One of the citizens is elected Mugnaia. The legend has that a miller's daughter (a "Mugnaia") once refused to accept the "right" of the local duke to spend a night with each newly wed woman and chopped his head off. Today the carriages represent the duke's guard and the orange throwers the revolutionaries. Spectators are not allowed to throw oranges, but visitors are allowed to enlist in the teams. If they wear a red hat they are considered part of the revolutionaries and will not have oranges thrown at them. During the carnival the streets are lit up and filled with the scent of oranges. And regional specialities are served in the streets – particularly fagioli grassi (fat beans). These are enormous pots of beans, boiled with sausages and pork rind. They’re served free. Other speciality dishes include cod with polenta, and delicious carnival pastries. Italian wines on offer include white Erbaluce, sparkling Barbera and sweet Passito di Caluso. Those who don't wish to take part are told to wear red scarves and hats but few escape the orange firing line!
Summer Redneck Games
Summer Redneck Games to be held every July, in East Dublin. The events of the festival include the cigarette flip, the mudpit belly flop, bobbing for pigs feet, the big hair contest, the hubcap hurl, the seed spitting contest, bug zapper spitball, dumpster diving, and everyone's favorite, the armpit serenade. A fixture at this annual event is a fellow by the name of L-Bow, a local asphalt technician who doesn't have any teeth. In his soiled bib-overalls, smelly T-shirt, and ragged old shoes, L-Bow is the perfect mascot for the Summer Redneck Games, which means he's the official torch-bearer. With a propane torch adorned with the aluminum from a 6-pack of Budweiser, L-Bow parades the athletes into the arena (a field) and lights the Ceremonial BBQ Grill.
Hounen Matsuri is held on March 15th every year in the small town of Komaki, which is just outside of Nagoya.
The festival and ceremony celebrate the blessings of a harvest and all manner of prosperity and fertility. The festival's main features are shinto priests playing musical instruments, a parade of ceremonially-garbed participants, all-you-can-drink sake, and a 280 kg (620 pound), 2.5 meter (8 feet)-long wooden phallus. Every year a new phallus is carved from a single cedar tree trunk. In the middle of winter, a tree is cut down and brought to the shrine for purification.
The decorations around the shrine are very pertinent to the theme of this festival. The women carry 60 cm (20 inches) long wooden phalluses. These women are chosen to participate in this role because of their age. They are all 36 years old, which is an unlucky age for women and requires spiritual intervention. All the men who carry the large wooden penis are 42 years old. An age which is thought to be unlucky and requires spiritual labors such as carrying a gigantic phallus through the streets of one's town. Here you can buy an extravagant souvenire - wood-carved phalluses, phallus and vagina suckers of varying size and colors as well as an assortment of other candies, sake cup/pitcher in a very distinctive shape.
On a cold day in late February, men young and old clad only in thin white loincloths stand stoically shivering knee-deep in freezing cold water. At a signal they all rush each other flinging handfuls of mud at one another. They also wrestle and toss each other about in the muddy cold water. That is actually a spiritual ritual done to insure good harvest while simultaneously bringing luck to the mud-flinging participants and spectators.
The Dairokuten-no-Hadaka Matsuri is just one of many “naked” festivals held throughout Japan often in winter. Hadaka means “naked” but in actuality the participants of these naked festivals wear loincloths called fundoshi. Hadaka festivals can involve carrying large portable shrines, clambering up ropes in temples, fighting for luck and money, or mudslinging. There are no cash prizes to tempt the criminal element, there are no winners or losers, there are no injuries; there is only good fortune for all and lots of mud. Prior to the mudslinging, parents hand over wailing infants to fundoshi-clad half-naked males. The males take the infants down to the pool and mark their faces with mud using a specially-blessed stick. The ritual means good health and good luck for their child.
The Cannabis Cup
The Cannabis Cup is a 5 day long celebration of the many wonderful things about marijuana. It's official purpose is to bring cannabis experts together so that they can "taste" the latest varieties of marijuana and hashish, and vote for the one they like best, much as a panel of wine experts might gather to judge the year's wine offerings. The event is surprisingly spiritual. It's almost like a religious cult. Many of the speakers talk about how marijuana brings them closer to God. Another thing that happens during the festival is that people give out free marijuana.
Los Dias de Los Muertos
Los Dias de Los Muertos (The Days of the Dead)is a traditional Mexico holiday honoring the dead. It is celebrated on the 1 & 2 of November. This famous holiday is a remnant of pre-colonial days when ancestors would be remembered with a festival that was decidedly high-spirited- with sacrifices, feasts and impressive ceremonies being part of the celebrations. With the coming of the Spanish, this was merged with the Catholic All Souls' Day and All Saints' Day observances- and the result was the `Days of the Dead'. Preparations for Los Dias de Los Muertos begin weeks in advance - families buy paper skulls, plastic skeletons, paper lanterns, and other spooky stuff, all of it centering around the theme of the dead. Food is an integral part of the celebrations: white chocolate skeletons and marzipan coffins are just part of the bonanza! The festival is divided into two parts: November 1 is devoted to the remembrance of dead children, the second day, November 2, is the more festive day, marked by street festivals and parades. Los Dias de los Muertos is not a sad time, but instead a time of remembering and rejoicing, a family event to remember ancestors, whose spirits visit the earth once a year. The festivities is a way of expressing affection for the dead- an invitation for them (so to say) to party as they did during their lifetime.
The Rapa Das Bestas
In different parts of Ferrolterra, particularly in the Sierra da Capelada where horse breeding is an important industry, there is an interesting celebration of Celtic roots involving food, music and horses and this is “A Rapa das Bestas” where the newly born horses are marked and have their hair cut as the mayor part of the event. Of course, the whole event and festivity is open to all visitors. Rapa das Bestas, "Taming the Beasts", takes place the first Sunday of July except that the first of July coincides on Sunday then it celebrates the second Sunday in the Buio Mountains. It's an old tradition where people cut the horsehairs, brand the horses and break in them.
Cooper's Hill Annual Cheese Rolling
Last Monday in May Cooper's Hill, in Gloucestershire, England, attracts thousands of cheese-lovers, all of intent on participating in the annual Cheese Rolling and Wake. It is believed that the festival originated in Roman fertility rites (although one wonders what connection there could be between chasing cheese and praying for fertility!). At noon on the appointed day, a large, mellow, 7-lb wheel of ripe Gloucestershire cheese is rolled downhill and chased by eager participants, who push in an attempt to be the first to reach the bottom of the hill. It's a rough track down, and injuries- most of them minor, fortunately- are not uncommon. The winner takes home the cheese and gets cash prizes.