20 Weird, Funny Or Unusual Traditions Around The World

Weird traditions exist in every corner of the world, some odd, some strange, some downright bizarre. From throwing tomatoes at each other to tuna tossing,  we’ll explore some of the most intriguing and unusual traditions around the world. 

1. Baby Jumping Festival, Spain

unusual traditions around the world: baby jumping festival
In the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia, a centuries-old tradition involves men dressed as devils leaping over rows of babies. The ritual is meant to cleanse the babies of sin and ward off evil spirits.

2. Wife-Carrying Contest, Finland

unusual traditions around the world: wife carrying contest
This is another fun one. The participants race through an obstacle course while carrying their wives on their backs. The tradition originated in the 19th century when men would steal women from neighboring villages to be their wives.

3. Holi, India


The Hindu festival of Holi is known for its colorful powder throwing and water fights. It is also a celebration of spring and the victory of good over evil.

4. Kanamara Matsuri, Japan


This festival is also known as the “Festival of the Steel Phallus.” Participants parade through the streets of Kawasaki carrying a giant pink penis statue and eating phallic-shaped foods. The festival is meant to promote fertility and protection against sexually transmitted infections.

5. Cheese Rolling, England


In the town of Gloucestershire, participants chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. The first person to reach the bottom wins the cheese. The tradition dates back to the 1800s.

6. Famadihana, Madagascar

Here we have a funeral tradition coming from the Malagasy tribe. Relatives and friends of the deceased will dance with the body, their way of celebrating life. But get this, they do this every seven years, meaning they dig up the body, take it for a quick dance sesh and then burry it, wait seven years and dig it up again. Talk about unusual traditions around the world!

7. The Mari Lwyd, Wales

A Welsh Christmas tradition, this one involves playing around with a horse skull: first it’s decorated then it’s placed on a stick and the person carrying the stick is covered in a white sheet, as an impromptu costume. The they walk through local villages door to door, asking to be allowed inside.

8. Boryeong Mud Festival, South Korea

Boryeong Mud Festival
Participants cover themselves in mud from the Boryeong mud flats and compete in events like mud wrestling and a mud marathon. What first started as a way to promote Boryeong’s mud based-products is now a full-blown event.

9. Takanakuy, Peru


In the Andean region of Peru, on Christmas Day, people participate in a traditional fistfighting competition called Takanakuy. The purpose? To settle disputes from the previous year.

10. The Burial of the Sardine, Spain


Known as Entierro de la Sardina, this tradition marks the end of carnival season and other events. This is when a fun funeral takes place, with the sole purpose of burying a fish by the Fountain of the Birds. It ended with the ceremonial burning of a fish figure, usually a sardine. It’s celebrated on Ash Wednesday and it’s a way of burying the past so people can move on, with new found strength and happiness.

11. Night of the Radishes, Mexico


On December 23rd in Oaxaca, locals carve intricate sculptures out of giant radishes and display them in a competition. This began as a way for local farmers to display their produce and is not a world-known event.

12. Haxey Hood, England


In a small village in Lincolnshire, a game is played on the Twelfth Day of Christmas where players try to push a leather tube to their pub, while opposing teams try to push it to theirs.

13. Kırkpınar Oil Wrestling, Turkey


In the city of Edirne men compete in a wrestling competition that involves drenching themselves in oil and trying to pin their opponent down.

14. Carrying Your Pregnant Wife Over Burning Coal, China


The whole point of this tedious tradition: to ensure your wife will have a smooth delivery and that the baby will be healthy. In case the husband fails to do so, the baby apparently is doomed.

15. Busójárás, Hungary


In the town of Mohács, participants wear scary masks and costumes to scare away winter and welcome the coming of spring.

16. Onbashira Festival, Japan


In the Lake Suwa region of Japan, men ride giant logs down steep hillsides to bring good energy and once again connect to the natural world.

17. Tunarama Festival, Australia


In Port Lincoln, locals celebrate the tuna industry with events like tuna tossing, barrel rolling, and a seafood feast.

18. Bisket Jatra, Nepal


This festival in Bhaktapur involves playing tug o’war with a chariot with Lord Bhairav, with hundreds of people pulling from both sides.

19. Naki Sumo, Japan


In this traditional baby-crying competition, sumo wrestlers hold newborn babies and try to make them cry. The first baby to cry wins. We told you there are a LOT of unusual traditions around the world.

20. Throwing Cinnamon At A 25-year-Old, Denmark


If you turn 25 and find yourself unmarried, be extra suspicious. Your family and friends will most likely celebrate your big 25 by throwing you a cinnamon party aka dunking you in enough cinnamon to remember for years to come.

While to the unsuspecting traveler these might seem way out there or downright ridiculous, these rather weird and unusual traditions around the world have their own purpose. No matter if we’re talking about bringing in good fortune, starting anew or just having fun, these traditions are still being carried out today because people look forward to them.

Recommended reading next: 1o Weirdest Holidays From Around the World

FAQ

What are some negative traditions?

The world is full of amazingly sweet or downright funny traditions but it also has its share of harmful traditions like female genital mutilation or child marriages.

What is an unusual wedding tradition in Germany?

Polterabend is a wedding tradition that might not be your cup of tea if you’re all about zero-waste and all that. The day before the wedding, the happy couple is visited by family and friends who come together with one purpose: to smash random stuff on their floor. When the fun ends, the couple then has to team up and clean everything. Apparently this is a great bonding exercise, allowing them to work together.

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