We live in a world with a mixture of thousands of different groups and tribes of people. With them came their varied cultural customs, most of which have perished over the years, but some of them stand the test of time and exist even today. These customs are a very integral part of their lifestyle but might seem completely bizarre to us. One custom that is considered good in one tribe may be considered bad luck or evil in the other, and it’s very interesting to discover how things work in different parts of the globe, as well as how it influences their lives.
Here are the 25 unusual customs from around the world:
1. Throw the baby for good luck in India
This 500-year-old tradition originates from Karnataka, where a newborn baby is thrown off from the 50-foot-high Sri Santeswar Temple after the parents of the baby take a vow in the temple. The baby is obviously caught by the family members in a cloth as they reach the ground. This is said to bring good luck to the babies. This dangerous tradition has the potential to turn good luck into bad luck in a split second.
2. Spitting on the bride at weddings in Greece
Don’t worry; the guests don’t literally spit on the bride. That might change the tone of the wedding. In Greece, spitting is considered a form to ward off evil on special occasions, especially weddings. The custom consists of the guests pretending to spit three times or, in some cases, muttering “ftou, ftou, ftou” under their breath to the bride to ward off evil spirits and wish the couple good health and luck. It might seem like a very weird way to ward off spirits, but the Greeks use it even on other occasions and between conversations, and it is very normal for them.
3. Hanging out in cemeteries in Denmark
Here we thought cemeteries were the main plot of horror movies, but the people in Denmark took it to the next level. The Danes have turned their cemeteries into social hangout spots instead of places to mourn the dead. They are now popular tourist attractions and famous excursion sites, with well-maintained structures and greenery where people go to socialize. The next time you’re in Denmark, you know where to go!
4. A championship for making the funniest face in England
Gurning is the 800-year-old face-making competition that occurs in England in which the world champion is the one who can make the most grotesque and funny face. It started during the rule of King Henry III and continues to this day. The participants have even gone so far as to have their sets of teeth removed for the funniest face effect. Talk about being dedicated!
5. Eating the dead’s ash in Venezuela and Brazil
This one might actually make you want to throw up. The Yonamamo tribes of Brazil and Venezuela are known for burning and crushing the bodies of their dead, then dividing them among the family and eating them. We do believe in carrying the dead in our hearts forever, but not literally!
6. Avoid using red ink for writing the names of your friends in South Korea
Remember the Taylor Swift song in which she writes the names of her enemies in red ink? She might have gotten inspiration from the South Koreans. In South Korea, it is heavily frowned upon to write down any names in red ink. It signifies that the person is dead or about to die. We just might want to try this trick out with our enemies’ names. If both Taylor Swift and South Koreans advocate this, they might be on to something!
7. Bride kidnapping by Romani Gypsies
In a very shocking custom, men in cultures like Romani and Gypsy abduct the woman they want to be with forever without her consent and permission. The girls might be as young as 12, and it is considered worthy of them to make them their wives if they manage to keep the women beside them for two whole days. It’s hard to believe such a dangerous ritual still exists today in some cultures.
8. Wife-carrying is a competitive sport in Finland
On a very similar note, Eukonkanto is a highly competitive race that takes place in Finland every year, except this one is for fun. The men in the competition must carry a female through a series of obstacles in any position they choose. In a plot twist, they don’t have to be legally married to the person they are carrying; it could be anybody’s wife, even the neighbor!
9. Wearing rings to have a giraffe’s neck in Thailand
Women of the Kayan Lahwi tribe of Northern Thailand have a ritual of wearing rings around their necks to elongate them. There is no proper reason for the origin of this ritual. Some believe it is to protect them from attacks by tigers, and others say it is to prevent them from being kidnapped by making them less beautiful. Tourists from all across the world visit these women to see this ritual. Neck rings might just turn out to be a big thing in trends!
10. If you’re not married on your 25th birthday, you might be doused in cinnamon
Valentine’s Day is already hard on singles, but the people of Denmark take it to the next level! There is a long-standing tradition among the family and friends of singles aged 25 to cover them in cinnamon, and they really do a good job at it. Talk about rubbing it in!
11. Husband carrying his wife over burning coal in China
When a husband discovers his wife is pregnant, he carries her barefoot over burning coal in some Chinese tribes. They believe it contributes to painless labor and prevents natural disasters from occurring. It might be painless for the wife, but it certainly must be scorching for the husband!
12. Baby jumping festival that occurs in Spain
In this bizarre tradition that occurs in Spain at the El Colacho festival annually, babies who were born the previous year are lined up together on the ground on pillows on a public street while men dressed in yellow costumes and weird face masks run down the street jumping over the babies like in an Olympic event. The custom is said to keep devils away from newborn babies in the first year of their lives. They do get rose petals as a reward after the ceremony.
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13. Breaking porcelain for good luck for newlyweds in Germany
This German wedding tradition, called Polterabend, involves the family and friends of the couple breaking porcelain items like cutlery and vases while the bride and groom are required to clean up all the mess. It is said to teach the couple the value of unity and hard work as they embark on their new journey as husband and wife. The Germans truly know how to make weddings fun!
14. Getting stung by bullet ants to become a true man
In this truly horrifying tradition in the Satere-Mawe Tribe from the Amazon rainforest, Brazil, young boys are required to be stung by a swarm of bullet ants and are not allowed to show any distress or pain in order to truly qualify as “real men.” To make it even harder, this is not a one-time ritual. They have to put their hands in a glove filled with bullet ants, which have the most painful sting and keep repeating the process until they have no reaction and can take it without crying or showing any other emotion.
15. Saluting a magpie in England
In true English fashion, whenever someone comes across a solo magpie, which is said to bring bad luck, the antidote is to salute the magpie as a way to ward off sorrow!
16. Hosting a feast for monkeys in Thailand
The people of Lopburi, Thailand, hold a luxurious feast every year for a large number of macaques in their city as a way to show gratitude for all the good luck they supposedly bring to the area. It has become a very famous event, with tourists coming from all over to witness it and enjoy the strange sight of monkeys enjoying their feast!
17. Tomatina festival in Spain
This festival might sound familiar as it has been shown in various movies over the years! Folks from all over the world gather to throw tomatoes at each other at this annual festival! Snowball fights too last season?
18. Camel wrestling in Turkey
In this nomadic custom in Turkey, two camels wrestle each other in a non-violent match that draws thousands of spectators from all across the country. It’s advised to stay away from the camels due to the disgusting smell of their saliva.
19. Tearful brides in China
Brides in China are supposed to cry for a whole month leading up to their big day as a part of their wedding preparations. A positive sign for the marriage indeed!
20. Tooth filling ceremony in Indonesia
A famous Hindu Balinese ceremony, Metatah, is conducted for boys and girls when they hit puberty or at some point in their lives, in which they have to have a tooth filling done, which is believed to control evil characteristics such as stupidity, jealousy, greed, anger, lust, and more. Talk about puberty being painful!
21. Binding of foot in China
In this cruel tradition, young girls’ feet in China were bound to prevent them from growing longer, as small feet were considered marks of desirability and beauty in China. Thankfully, this tradition has been put to an end now.
22. Burying of fish in Tenerife
In this strange custom in Spain, the Spaniards bury a sardine, which is a kind of fish, with a full black funeral procession to accompany it during spirited moments in the Christian calendar.
23. Carrying houses in the Philippines
This bizarre tradition, called the Bayanihan, is the practice of moving entire houses with all of their belongings to a different location. During the prediction of floods or landslides, or for other reasons, the villagers band together to carry all belongings over long distances on their backs.
24. Waking up from the dead in Indonesia
The Toraja tribe in Indonesia bury their dead in a temporary coffin and resurrect it to walk them over later to bury them in their place of birth. They believe this practice will help the dead reach the ‘Land of Souls.’
25. Hanging of coffins in China
We hear about the dead being cremated or buried, but in some places in China, the people hang the coffins with their dead over steep cliffs as high as 300 feet above ground along the Yangtze River.
Our world continues to be a diverse place with so many different rituals and customs that exist in every corner. These were just a glimpse, but there are so many more astonishing and disturbing customs that continue to amaze people and will do so for future generations as well. Which one was your favorite?
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