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Weird, Wacky and Whimsical – Bizarre Traditions

Free Friends Arm Wrestling Stock Photo

This paper provides some general insights and examples of bizarre traditions from around the world. These traditions often showcase unique cultural practices, historical significance, and the human capacity for creativity, eccentricity and even downright cruelty.

Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and unofficially in countries like Brazil and the Philippines. It is also observed in the Dutch town of Leiden and the Australian territory of Norfolk Island. It began as a day of giving thanks for the blessings of the harvest and the preceding year (similarly named harvest festival holidays occur throughout the world during autumn, including in Germany and Japan). Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and around the same part of the year in other places. Although Thanksgiving has historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, and has long been celebrated as a secular holiday as well.[2]

Here are examples of weird, wacky and whimsical traditions from around the World. Forgive me. I realise that some countries aren’t mentioned. As you’ll find, some traditions are really odd, although most have the locals enjoying the celebrations.



  • Mate: Mate is a traditional South American drink that is deeply ingrained in Argentine culture. It is made from the leaves of the yerba mate plant, and it is usually served in a hollowed-out gourd and sipped through a metal straw called a bombilla. Sharing mate is a social activity that brings people together, and it is common to see friends and family passing around a gourd of mate.
  • Tango: Tango is a passionate and iconic dance form that originated in Argentina, specifically in the neighbourhoods of Buenos Aires in the late 19th century. It is known for its dramatic music and intricate dance moves. Tango has become a significant part of Argentina’s cultural identity, and there are tango shows, milongas (tango dance gatherings), and festivals throughout the country.
  • Asado: Asado refers to the traditional Argentine barbecue. It is a culinary tradition that involves grilling various cuts of meat, including beef, sausages, and ribs, over an open fire or charcoal. Asado is not just a meal but a social gathering that brings friends and family together. It is often accompanied by chimichurri sauce and enjoyed with good wine.
  • Gauchos: Gauchos are iconic figures in Argentine culture, representing the traditional horsemen and ranchers of the Pampas, the vast grasslands of Argentina. Gauchos have a distinct dress style, including wide-brimmed hats, bombachas (baggy pants), and boleadoras (leather cords with stones used for herding cattle). Their lifestyle and traditions are celebrated in folklore, literature, and even modern-day festivities.
  • La Fiesta del Poncho: Held in the city of Catamarca, La Fiesta del Poncho is a vibrant festival celebrating the traditional craftsmanship and culture of the region. The festival showcases handmade ponchos, textiles, and other crafts, along with traditional music, dance performances, and local cuisine.
  • Dia de la Tradición: Celebrated on the 10th of November, Dia de la Tradición (Day of Tradition) honours Argentine traditions and folklore. It pays tribute to the gaucho culture and the works of the Argentine writer José Hernández, author of the epic poem “Martín Fierro,” which celebrates the gaucho way of life.
  • Carnival: Carnival celebrations take place throughout Argentina, with the most famous one occurring in Gualeguaychú. This carnival features vibrant parades, music, dancing, and elaborate costumes. It is a time of celebration and joy before the Lenten season.


  • Aboriginal Culture: The Aboriginal people are the indigenous inhabitants of Australia, and their cultural traditions have been present for thousands of years. Aboriginal culture includes storytelling, art, music, dance, and connection with the land. Dreamtime stories, dot paintings, didgeridoo music, and traditional dances like the corroboree are important aspects of Aboriginal traditions.
  • ANZAC Day: ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is observed on the 25th of April each year to commemorate the soldiers who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations. Dawn services, parades, and ceremonies are held across the country to honour the contributions and sacrifices of Australian servicemen and women.
  • Australia Day: Celebrated on the 26th of January, Australia Day marks the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and the founding of the colony of New South Wales. It is a national holiday filled with various events and activities, including fireworks, concerts, community barbecues, and citizenship ceremonies.
  • Aussie Rules Football: Australian Rules Football, also known as “Aussie Rules” or “footy,” is a popular sport in Australia. It is a unique type of football played with an oval-shaped ball and combines elements of soccer, rugby, and Gaelic football. The Australian Football League (AFL) attracts a dedicated fan base, and attending AFL matches is a common tradition for many Australians.

An Indigenous Australian man playing the didgeridoo. Steve Evans from Citizen of the World, CC BY 2.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons.
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  • El Tio de la Mina (The Uncle of the Mine) in Potosi, Bolivia. Miners offer gifts and perform rituals to a devil figure believed to protect them in the dangerous mines.
  • Diablada: The Diablada is a traditional dance and theatrical performance that originated in the region of Oruro, Bolivia. It is often performed during the Oruro Carnival, one of the largest and most important cultural events in the country. The Diablada features elaborately costumed dancers representing various characters, including demons and angels, and tells the story of the struggle between good and evil.
  • Tinku: Tinku is a traditional Andean ritual that takes place in rural areas of Bolivia, particularly in the region of Potosi. It involves communal fighting or “brawls” between groups of participants, often accompanied by traditional music and dance. Tinku is seen as a way to honour the earth and maintain balance in the community.
  • Ch’alla: Ch’alla is a traditional offering or blessing ceremony commonly performed in Bolivia. It involves using ritual items such as coca leaves, alcohol, and other symbolic objects, which are offered to deities or spirits for protection, good luck, or other specific purposes. Ch’alla ceremonies can occur in various settings, including homes, workplaces, and sacred sites.
  • Aymara New Year (Machaq Mara): The Aymara people in Bolivia celebrate the Aymara New Year, known as Machaq Mara, on the 21st of June, which coincides with the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. The celebration includes various rituals and ceremonies, such as offerings to the sun and the earth, traditional dances, and cultural events highlighting Aymara traditions and heritage.


  • The Festival do Senhor do Bonfim da Bahia is a traditional event celebrated in Salvador, Brazil, where participants tie ribbons onto their wrists as they make wishes and offerings at the Senhor do Bonfim church. The festival is an important part of the cultural fabric of Salvador and attracts both locals and visitors from around the world.
  • Parintins Folklore Festival in Parintins, Brazil, is a theatrical event featuring elaborate costumes, music, and dance, portraying mythical stories and folklore.
  • Carnival: Carnival is one of the most famous festivals in Brazil and is celebrated nationwide. It is known for its vibrant parades, samba music, elaborate costumes, and street parties. The largest Carnival celebrations take place in Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and Recife.
  • Festa Junina: Festa Junina, also known as the June Festival, is a traditional Brazilian celebration held in June to honour Catholic saints, particularly St. John the Baptist. It features lively music, dancing, bonfires, traditional food such as corn dishes and sweets, and people dressed in typical countryside attire.
  • Capoeira: Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics, and music. It originated in the colonial era as a form of self-defence for enslaved Africans. Today, it is not only a martial art but also a cultural practice and a form of self-expression.
  • Bumba Meu Boi: Bumba Meu Boi is a traditional folkloric festival celebrated mainly in northeastern Brazil. It involves music, dance, and theatrical performances depicting the story of a bull that dies and is brought back to life. The festival is characterised by colourful costumes, giant puppets, and lively processions.
  • Lavagem do Bonfim: Lavagem do Bonfim is an annual religious festival held in Salvador, Bahia. It is a symbolic washing of the steps of the Bonfim Church, where participants, dressed in traditional white clothing, carry vases of scented water and wash the church’s staircase, accompanied by music and prayers.
  • Cirio de Nazare: The Cirio de Nazare is a religious procession and festival held in Belém, Pará, in honour of Our Lady of Nazareth, the patron saint of the state. It attracts millions of pilgrims who accompany the image of the Virgin Mary through the streets of Belém.


  • Pchum Ben Festival in Cambodia. Also known as the “Ancestor’s Day” or “Hungry Ghost Festival,” it is a time when Cambodians honour their ancestors by offering food and prayers.
  • Sampeah and Chumreap Suor: Cambodians traditionally greet with a Sampeah, which involves pressing the palms together before the chest with a slight bow and greeting with a polite ‘Chumreap Suor’. Customarily, the higher the hands are held and the lower the bow, the more respect is conveyed. Except when meeting older people or government officials, between men, this custom has been partially replaced by the handshake. Women usually greet both men and women with the same traditional greeting. Although it may be considered acceptable for foreigners to shake hands with a Cambodian, it is more appropriate to respect the custom and respond with a ‘Chumreap Suor’, a Khmer greeting that means “hello” or “goodbye” in the Khmer language. It is a polite and respectful way to greet someone in Cambodia. It is not associated with a particular cultural tradition or event but is used in daily interactions and social exchanges.


  • Canada Day: Canada Day, celebrated on the 1st of July, marks the anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. It is a national holiday commemorated with fireworks, parades, concerts, and various cultural events across the country. Canadians express their patriotism and pride in their national identity on this day.
  • Winter Festivals: Canada is known for its winter festivals, such as the Quebec Winter Carnival in Quebec City and Winterlude in Ottawa. These festivals feature ice sculptures, outdoor winter sports, music, and cultural performances. They celebrate winter’s beauty and provide Canadians with opportunities to engage in outdoor activities and embrace the cold season.
  • National Indigenous Peoples Day: National Indigenous Peoples Day is observed on the 21st of June to honour and celebrate the diverse cultures and heritage of Indigenous peoples in Canada. It includes various cultural events, powwows, traditional dances, storytelling, and ceremonies across the country.
  • Calgary Stampede: The Calgary Stampede is an annual rodeo and exhibition held in Calgary, Alberta. It is one of the largest outdoor events in Canada and features rodeo competitions, chuckwagon races, agricultural exhibits, live music, and a carnival. The event showcases Western heritage and attracts visitors from around the world.
  • Canadian Thanksgiving: Canadian Thanksgiving is celebrated on the second Monday of October and shares similarities with the American Thanksgiving. It is a time for families to come together, express gratitude, and enjoy a festive meal that often includes turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The holiday also marks the end of the harvest season.

Saddle Bronc Riding at the Calgary Stampede
Credit: Openverse.Org. Saddle Bronc Riding at the Calgary Stampede” by Calgary Reviews is licensed under CC BY 2.0.


  • Cueca: Cueca is the national dance of Chile and represents the country’s traditional folklore. It is a lively dance performed during celebrations and festivities, especially during the Fiestas Patrias (Chilean Independence Day) in September.
  • La Tirana Festival: La Tirana Festival is a religious and cultural event held in the town of La Tirana in northern Chile. It combines Catholic and indigenous traditions, including colourful processions, traditional dances, music, and theatrical performances.
  • Rapa Nui Culture (Easter Island): The Rapa Nui culture on Easter Island is unique to Chile. It is famous for its monumental stone statues called Moai, traditional Polynesian music and dances, and the Tapati Rapa Nui festival, which celebrates the island’s culture through various competitions and events.
  • Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen: The Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen is a religious festival celebrated in various parts of Chile, particularly in rural areas. It honours the patron saint of Chile and involves processions, music, dancing, traditional costumes, and fireworks.
  • Pueblito de Los Dominicos: Pueblito de Los Dominicos is a craft village in Santiago where local artisans display and sell traditional Chilean handicrafts, including pottery, textiles, woodwork, and jewellery. It is a place to experience and appreciate Chile’s artistic heritage.


  • The Naadam Festival in Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, China, features traditional Mongolian sports such as wrestling, horse racing, and archery.
  • Chinese New Year (Spring Festival): Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is one of the most important traditional festivals in China. It marks the beginning of the lunar calendar year and is celebrated with various customs and traditions, including family gatherings, feasts, fireworks, lion and dragon dances, lantern festivals, and the exchange of red envelopes containing money.
  • Lantern Festival: The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and marks the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations. The display of colourful lanterns, lantern riddle games, lion and dragon dances, and the release of floating lanterns into the sky or rivers as a symbol of good luck characterises it.
  • Mid-Autumn Festival: The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. It is a time for family reunions and is associated with the appreciation of the full moon. Traditional activities include moon-gazing, making and sharing mooncakes, and carrying brightly lit lanterns.
  • Dragon Boat Festival: The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It commemorates the life and death of the ancient Chinese poet Qu Yuan and features dragon boat races, the consumption of zongzi (sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves), and the hanging of medicinal herbs to ward off evil spirits.
  • Peking Opera: Peking Opera, or Beijing Opera, is a traditional Chinese performing art that combines music, singing, dialogue, acrobatics, and martial arts. It has a rich history dating back to the 18th century and is known for its distinctive costumes, elaborate makeup, and stylised movements. Peking Opera is still performed and appreciated by audiences in China and beyond.


  • Carnaval de Barranquilla: Carnaval de Barranquilla is one of the largest and most vibrant carnivals in the world. It takes place in Barranquilla and celebrates the cultural heritage of the region with colourful parades, music, dancing, costumes, and traditional food.
  • Coffee Cultural Landscape: Colombia is renowned for its coffee production, and the Coffee Cultural Landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site that showcases the traditional coffee-growing region. Visitors can learn about the process of coffee cultivation, explore coffee plantations, and taste the world-famous Colombian coffee.
  • Wayuu Indigenous Culture: The Wayuu people are one of Colombia’s largest indigenous groups, primarily residing in the Guajira Peninsula. They have a rich cultural heritage with unique traditions, including colourful woven handicrafts, music, dances, and storytelling.
  • Feria de Cali: Feria de Cali is a week-long festival held in Cali, known as the salsa capital of Colombia. The festival showcases salsa music and dance competitions, parades, street parties, and a lively atmosphere that celebrates Cali’s vibrant cultural scene.
  • Flower Festival (Feria de las Flores): The Flower Festival is a major event in Medellín that celebrates the city’s abundance of flowers and its floral industry. The festival includes a grand parade of flower-decorated floats, exhibitions, concerts, and cultural events.

Czech Republic

  • Čarodejnice (Witch Burning) Night: On the night of 30th April, Czechs celebrate Čarodejnice, also known as Witch Burning Night. It is a folk tradition where people gather around bonfires, dress up in costumes, and symbolically burn or hang effigies of witches. This tradition marks the arrival of spring and the symbolic banishing of winter and evil spirits.
  • Easter Monday: Known as Velikonoční pondělí in Czech, Easter Monday is a significant holiday in the Czech Republic. On this day, boys and men go around the villages with handmade wooden whips called pomlázky and playfully whip the legs of girls and women. This tradition is believed to bring health, beauty, and fertility to the women.
  • St. Nicholas Day: Celebrated on the eve of the 5th of December, St. Nicholas Day, or Mikuláš in Czech, is a beloved tradition for children. St. Nicholas, accompanied by an angel and a devil, visits homes and rewards well-behaved children with small gifts, candies, and treats. Conversely, the devil scares the misbehaved children, emphasising the importance of good behaviour.
  • Christmas Markets: In December, cities and towns across the Czech Republic come alive with Christmas markets, known as Vánoční trhy. These markets feature stalls selling traditional crafts, food, and drinks. Visitors can enjoy warm beverages like mulled wine (svařené víno) and traditional Czech pastries such as trdelník. The markets create a festive atmosphere and are popular gathering places during the holiday season.
  • Easter Traditions: Apart from Easter Monday, the Czech Republic has various other Easter customs. One such tradition is pomlázka, where young boys make braided whips out of young willow branches and decorate them. They then use these whips to lightly “whip” girls on Easter Monday, symbolising health and youthfulness. Additionally, Czechs also create intricately decorated Easter eggs using wax-resistant dyeing techniques known as kraslice.
  • The Prague Spring International Music Festival: Moving away from folk traditions, the Prague Spring International Music Festival is an annual event in Prague. Established in 1946, the festival showcases classical music performances by renowned artists and orchestras worldwide. It attracts music lovers and enthusiasts to experience the rich cultural heritage of Czech classical music.

Free The Famous Statue of Saint Wenceslas in Prague Stock Photo
Credit: Pexels.Org. The Famous Statue of Saint Wenceslas in Prague

El Salvador

  • Bolas de Fuego (Balls of Fire) Festival (El Salvador): This unique festival, which started in 1922, takes place in Nejapa, El Salvador, where participants throw flaming balls of kerosene-soaked cloth at each other to commemorate a volcanic eruption in 1917 or, more likely 1658 when the residents had to flee the town. The festival takes place on the same day every year, on 31st August.
  • Pupusas: Pupusas are a traditional Salvadoran dish and a beloved part of the country’s culinary heritage. They are thick handmade corn tortillas stuffed with various fillings like cheese, beans, pork, or loroco (a native flower bud). Pupusas are typically served with curtido (a pickled cabbage slaw) and tomato salsa.
  • Semana Santa (Holy Week): Semana Santa is a significant religious observance in El Salvador, as it is in many other predominantly Catholic countries. The week leading up to Easter is marked by processions, street decorations, and religious rituals. People gather to reenact the Stations of the Cross, attend religious services, and participate in events that reflect the passion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
  • La Palma Handicrafts: The town of La Palma in El Salvador is renowned for its exquisite handicrafts. Local artisans create intricately painted wooden items, such as masks, furniture, and boxes, featuring vibrant colours and traditional designs. These handicrafts represent the artistic heritage and creativity of the Salvadoran people.
  • El Salvador Independence Day: El Salvador celebrates its Independence Day on the 15th of September. It commemorates the country’s independence from Spanish colonial rule in 1821. The day is marked with parades, patriotic events, fireworks, and cultural performances showcasing Salvadoran traditions and heritage.
  • Day of the Cross (Día de la Cruz): Día de la Cruz is a religious and cultural celebration in El Salvador. It takes place on May 3rd, and people decorate crosses with flowers, ribbons, and other adornments. The decorated crosses are displayed in homes, churches, and public spaces, and people gather to pray, sing, dance, and enjoy traditional food and music.


  • Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake (England): Every year, in Gloucestershire, England, participants gather to chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. The first person to reach the bottom is declared the winner. Contestants hurl themselves after the cheese, often resulting in tumbles and hilarious falls and frequently causing more than a few bruises.
  • World Gurning Championships in Egremont, Cumbria. This competition involves contestants making the ugliest face they can while looking through a horse collar.
  • Maypole Dancing: Maypole dancing is a traditional English folk dance that takes place around a tall pole adorned with colourful ribbons. Participants, often children, hold the ribbons and dance in intricate patterns, weaving the ribbons around the pole.
  • Morris Dancing: Morris ancing is a lively form of folk dance that involves dancers wearing bells, waving handkerchiefs, and using sticks or swords. It is performed by groups known as Morris sides, often during festive occasions and celebrations.
  • Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday): This tradition is observed on the day before Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent in the Christian calendar. It involves making and consuming pancakes, and in some places, pancake races are held where participants race while flipping pancakes in a frying pan.

Credit: Pexels.Org. [Cropped] Pancakes with Berries on a Plate

  • Ash Wednesday: This tradition is primarily observed in Christian countries as the first day of Lent, which is the 40 days of fasting, prayer, and penance leading up to Easter. While Ash Wednesday is widely observed in England, it is not necessarily known for having any specific English traditions associated with it. The main observance on Ash Wednesday is attending church services where participants receive ashes on their foreheads in the shape of a cross. The ashes are typically made by burning palm branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. This act symbolises repentance, mortality, and the beginning of the Lenten season. In England, as in other countries, Ash Wednesday is more of a religious observance rather than a distinct cultural tradition. It is a solemn day for Christians to reflect on their faith and prepare spiritually for Easter. The focus is primarily on attending church services, engaging in prayer and reflection, and often participating in fasting or abstaining from certain activities as a sign of penitence.
  • Bonfire Night (Guy Fawkes Night): Celebrated on the 5th of November each year, Bonfire Night commemorates the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605, when a group led by Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament and assassinate King James 1. The plot was discovered before it could be carried out, and Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding the barrels of gunpowder placed in the Parliament cellar. The tradition includes fireworks displays, bonfires, and the burning of effigies, typically of Guy Fawkes.


  • Bodi Tribe’s Fat Men Contest in the Omo Valley[3], Ethiopia. Men compete to gain weight and become the “fattest man” in the tribe, symbolising wealth and attractiveness.
  • Gadaa System in the Oromia region, Ethiopia. A unique system of governance and social organisation that revolves around age sets and rituals, fostering community cohesion and decision-making.


  • Le Tour de France: One of the world’s most famous cycling races, the Tour de France takes place annually in July. It consists of multiple stages that cover various regions of France, and it attracts both professional cyclists and enthusiastic spectators.

Credit: Pexels.Org. [Cropped]

  • La Fête du Citron (Lemon Festival) in Menton, France. This unique festival features elaborate floats and sculptures made entirely from lemons and oranges.
  • Bastille Day (Fête Nationale): Celebrated on the 14th of July, Bastille Day commemorates the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille prison in 1789. It is a national holiday marked by parades, fireworks, and various public celebrations throughout the country.
  • La Fête de la Musique: Also known as World Music Day, this event takes place on June 21st each year. It celebrates music of all genres and encourages amateur and professional musicians to perform in the streets, parks, and other public spaces.
  • Beaujolais Nouveau: On the third Thursday of November, the arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau wine is celebrated. It is a young red wine produced in the Beaujolais region of France. Festivities include wine tastings, parties, and special events.
  • Galette des Rois: This tradition is associated with the Epiphany, which falls on the 6th of January. The Galette des Rois, or “King’s Cake,” is a puff pastry cake filled with almond cream. A small figurine or fève is hidden inside, and the person who finds it in their slice is crowned king or queen for the day.
  • Mardi Gras: Although traditionally associated with New Orleans, Mardi Gras (meaning “Fat Tuesday”) is also celebrated in France, particularly in regions like Nice and Alsace. It is a carnival-like celebration featuring parades, costumes, music, and feasting before the fasting period of Lent.
  • Christmas Markets: In the weeks leading up to Christmas, many cities and towns in France host Christmas markets. These markets feature stalls selling crafts, food, and decorations, creating a festive atmosphere. The markets are known for their warm drinks like mulled wine and regional specialities.


  • Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany. The world’s largest beer festival and fair, where millions of people gather to celebrate Bavarian culture, drink beer, and enjoy traditional food and music.
  • Christmas Markets: Germany is famous for its enchanting Christmas markets. Starting in late November or early December, these markets offer a festive atmosphere with beautifully decorated stalls selling crafts, gifts, and delicious treats like gingerbread, roasted almonds, and mulled wine (Glühwein). Cities like Nuremberg, Cologne, and Dresden are renowned for their Christmas markets.
  • Carnival: Known as Karneval or Fasching, carnival season in Germany is celebrated with colourful parades, costumes, and street parties. The festivities usually begin on the 11th of November at 11:11 am and culminate in elaborate processions and masked balls in February or March, depending on the region.
  • Easter Traditions: Easter in Germany is marked by various customs. One popular tradition is the Easter egg tree (Osterbaum), where eggs are decorated and hung on branches. Another custom is the Easter bonfire (Osterfeuer), where large bonfires are lit on Easter Saturday to symbolise the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
  • Christmas Traditions: Besides Christmas markets, Germany has a range of unique Christmas traditions. Advent calendars, gingerbread houses (Lebkuchenhaus), and the Christmas tree (Tannenbaum) originated in Germany. The festive season also includes the celebration of Nikolaus on December 6th, where children receive small gifts and treats.
  • Schultüte: On the first day of school (Einschulung), German children are presented with a Schultüte, a large cone-shaped gift filled with school supplies, small toys, and sweets. It is a way to celebrate and encourage children as they begin their educational journey.
  • Maypole (Maibaum): In some regions of Germany, erecting a maypole on the 1st of May is a customary celebration of the arrival of spring. These tall wooden poles, often decorated with ribbons and wreaths, are raised in the centre of villages and towns, accompanied by music, dances, and traditional festivities.


  • In ancient times, being unfaithful in Greece was punished harshly[4]. The crime of infidelity was punished and frowned upon according to ancient Greek customs. Men and women accused and found guilty of infidelity came to a sticky end, if you’ll pardon the pun, as one of the punishments they suffered was to have a peeled ginger root inserted in their anus or vagina – causing an intolerable burning sensation and pain in the intimate parts of the unfaithful.
  • In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the dead and the king of the underworld, had a ferryman named Charon, to whom you had to pay to cross to the other side of the Acheron River[5] – if you couldn’t pay, then you had to wander along the riverbank for 100 years. That’s why the Ancient Greeks buried the body of their dead with a coin under their tongue so they could pay Charon and cross over when they arrived at the river[6]. The ancient Greeks believed in a pantheon of gods and goddesses who governed various aspects of life. Some prominent gods and goddesses include Zeus, Hera, Athena, Apollo, and Aphrodite. Greek myths and legends continue to inspire art, literature, and cultural expressions in modern Greece.
  • Greek Orthodox Easter: Greek Orthodox Easter, known as Pascha, is the most important religious festival in Greece. The celebration follows the Julian calendar and involves various customs and traditions, including church services, candlelit processions, the midnight resurrection ceremony, and feasting on Easter Sunday. The highlight of the festivities is the cracking of red-dyed eggs, symbolising Christ’s resurrection.
  • Plate Smashing: While not as common today, the tradition of plate smashing was once associated with celebrations like weddings and festivals. It involved throwing and breaking plates on the ground to symbolise joy, abundance, and the driving away evil spirits. Plate smashing is still occasionally seen in certain cultural performances or in traditional tavernas.
  • Greek Folk Dances: Greece has a rich tradition of folk dances, with each region having its own unique dances and costumes. Some popular Greek folk dances include the Syrtos, Kalamatianos, Tsamiko, and Hasapiko. These dances are often performed at weddings, festivals, and other celebratory events, reflecting the cultural identity and regional diversity of Greece.
  • Olive Harvest Festivals: Olive oil holds great significance in Greek cuisine and culture. Olive harvest festivals are celebrated in various regions of Greece, particularly in the olive-growing areas of Crete, Peloponnese, and Kalamata. These festivals involve olive picking, pressing, and producing fresh olive oil. Visitors can participate in the harvesting process, enjoy traditional food, music, and dancing, and learn about the importance of olive cultivation in Greek society.


  • Holi (India): Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in India and other parts of South Asia. It involves people joyously throwing coloured powders and water at each other, creating a vibrant and playful atmosphere.
  • Thimithi Fire Walking Festival in Tamil Nadu, India. Devotees walk across a bed of hot embers as an act of penance and devotion.

Credit: Pexels.Org. [Cropped]

  • Diwali: Also known as the Festival of Lights, Diwali is one of the most important Hindu festivals celebrated throughout India. It signifies the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. People illuminate their homes with diyas (oil lamps), decorate them with colourful rangoli patterns, exchange gifts, burst fireworks, and indulge in festive meals and sweets.
  • Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha: Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha are major Islamic festivals celebrated by the Muslim community in India. Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan (the holy month of fasting) and involves prayers, feasting, and giving gifts. Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son, and it involves communal prayers, charity, and the sacrifice of an animal, with the meat shared among family, friends, and the needy.
  • Navaratri and Durga Puja: Navaratri is a nine-night festival dedicated to the Hindu goddess Durga. It involves vibrant dance performances, known as Garba and Dandiya Raas, where people dress in traditional attire and dance to devotional music. Durga Puja, primarily celebrated in West Bengal, is a grand festival honouring the goddess Durga with elaborate decorations, cultural events, and processions.
  • Raksha Bandhan: Raksha Bandhan is a festival celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters tie a decorative thread called a rakhi around their brothers’ wrists, symbolizing love and protection. In return, brothers give gifts and promise to protect their sisters. It is a day of family gatherings, rituals, and sweets.
  • Pongal: Pongal is a harvest festival celebrated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. It is a four-day celebration that honours the Sun god and marks the beginning of the Tamil month of Thai. Pongal is known for the preparation of a special dish also called Pongal, made from newly harvested rice, and the decoration of houses with colourful kolam designs.
  • Onam: Onam is a significant festival celebrated in the state of Kerala. It is a harvest festival and also commemorates the homecoming of the mythical King Mahabali. The festival is marked by traditional music, dance performances like Kathakali, boat races, floral decorations known as Pookalam, and a grand vegetarian feast called Onasadya.
  • Baisakhi: Baisakhi is a harvest festival celebrated in the state of Punjab. It holds religious significance for Sikhs as it commemorates the formation of the Khalsa (Sikh community) in 1699. Baisakhi is marked by processions, traditional folk dances like Bhangra and Giddha, and the performance of Sikh hymns in Gurudwaras.


  • St. Patrick’s Day: St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated on the 17th of March, commemorates the patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick. The holiday is marked by parades, festivals, wearing green attire, and displaying shamrocks, which are associated with Irish identity. Celebrations include traditional music, dance performances, and Irish cultural activities.

Free Friends Arm Wrestling Stock Photo
Credit: Pexels.Org.

  • Irish Step Dancing: Irish step dancing is a traditional form of dance characterised by intricate footwork, rigid upper body posture, and energetic movements. It is often performed in solo or group settings, and the famous Riverdance is a well-known example of Irish step dancing that gained international recognition.
  • Gaelic Games: Gaelic games, including Gaelic football and hurling, are traditional Irish sports deeply rooted in Irish culture. Gaelic football is a fast-paced sport combining elements of soccer and rugby, while hurling is one of the oldest field games in the world, resembling a mix of hockey and lacrosse. These games are cherished traditions, with Gaelic football being the most popular sport in Ireland.
  • Ceili: Ceili (pronounced kay-lee) is a traditional Irish social gathering involving music, dance, and storytelling. It brings people together to enjoy lively jigs, reels, and other traditional Irish dances. Ceili events can be formal or informal and are often held in community halls, pubs, or during festivals, fostering a sense of camaraderie and cultural preservation.


  • Battle of the Oranges (Italy): Ivrea, Italy, hosts a massive food fight during its annual Carnival celebration. Participants divide into teams and throw oranges at each other, symbolising a historic uprising against a tyrant.
  • International Highline Meeting Festival (Italy): Held in Monte Piana, Italy, this festival brings together highliners who balance on slacklines strung between mountain peaks, showcasing breathtaking aerial stunts and acrobatics.
  • La Befana: On the night of the 5th of January, the Italian folklore character “La Befana” visits children and fills their stockings with candies or coal, depending on whether they have been good or bad.
  • Carnevale: Carnevale is a festive season that takes place in various cities across Italy, with Venice being one of the most famous destinations for this celebration. It involves elaborate masks, costumes, parades, and parties.
  • Easter Processions: Many cities in Italy have elaborate processions and religious ceremonies during Easter, such as the Good Friday processions in Sorrento and the Scoppio del Carro (Explosion of the Cart) in Florence.
  • Sagra: Sagra refers to local food festivals that take place throughout Italy, celebrating regional specialities. These festivals often include music, dancing, and traditional games, attracting both locals and tourists.
  • Palio di Siena: Held in the city of Siena, the Palio is a horse race that dates back to the medieval period. Ten horses representing ten of the city’s districts compete in a thrilling race around the Piazza del Campo.
  • Feast of San Gennaro: This religious festival is celebrated in Naples on the 19th of September each year in honour of Saint Januarius, the city’s patron saint. The highlight of the festival is the miracle of the liquefaction of the saint’s blood.
  • Alba Truffle Fair: Taking place in the town of Alba, this fair celebrates the renowned white truffle. Visitors can enjoy truffle tastings, auctions, and various truffle-related events.
  • Notte Bianca: Translated as “White Night,” Notte Bianca is an all-night cultural event that takes place in many cities across Italy. It involves museums, galleries, shops, and entertainment venues opening their doors until the early hours of the morning, offering various activities and performances.


  • Nyepi (Day of Silence) in Bali, Indonesia. A day of complete silence and self-reflection where people observe restrictions such as not using electricity, staying indoors, and refraining from entertainment.
  • Batik: Batik is a traditional Indonesian textile art form that involves wax-resist dyeing on fabric. It is highly regarded and recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Each region in Indonesia has its own distinctive batik patterns and designs.
  • Gamelan: Gamelan is a traditional Indonesian ensemble music that typically includes percussive instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums, and gongs. It is often played during ceremonies, traditional dances, and cultural performances.
  • Wayang Kulit: Wayang Kulit is a traditional form of puppetry using shadow puppets made from leather. Performances usually depict ancient epics, such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and are accompanied by gamelan music.
  • Galungan and Kuningan: Galungan is a major Balinese Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. It is marked by decorations, offerings, and ceremonies at temples. Kuningan is the final day of the festival when ancestral spirits are believed to return to the spirit world.
  • Toraja Funeral Ceremonies: In the Toraja region of Sulawesi, elaborate funeral ceremonies are held to honour the deceased. These ceremonies can last several days and involve rituals, processions, animal sacrifices, and the burial of the deceased in carved rock tombs.
  • Pencak Silat: Pencak Silat is a traditional Indonesian martial art encompassing various styles and techniques. It is practised for self-defence, physical fitness, and as a cultural heritage. Pencak Silat performances are often showcased during cultural events.
  • Ramayana Ballet: The Ramayana Ballet is a traditional Javanese dance drama that depicts episodes from the Ramayana epic. It is performed with live gamelan music and intricate dance movements, often staged in open-air theatres like Prambanan Temple in Yogyakarta.
  • Floating Market: In Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, you can find a unique floating market called “Pasar Terapung.” Traders sell various goods, fruits, and vegetables from their boats, creating a lively and vibrant atmosphere.


  • Kanamara Matsuri (Japan): Also known as the “Festival of the Steel Phallus,” Kanamara Matsuri is a Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan. It involves vibrant processions with phallic-shaped objects, symbolising fertility and protection against sexually transmitted infections.
  • Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Okayama, Japan. Participants wearing loincloths compete for sacred talismans while enduring freezing cold temperatures.
  • Sumo Wrestling: Sumo is a traditional Japanese sport that dates back many centuries. It involves two wrestlers, known as “rikishi,” competing in a ring and trying to force their opponent out or make them touch the ground with any body part other than their feet.

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  • Cherry Blossom Viewing (Hanami): During the spring season, the blooming of cherry blossoms is celebrated with great enthusiasm throughout Japan. People gather in parks and gardens to have picnics, enjoy the flowers’ beauty, and appreciate life’s fleeting nature.
  • Tea Ceremony (Chado): The tea ceremony is a traditional Japanese practice that emphasises mindfulness and the art of serving and drinking matcha (powdered green tea). It involves precise movements, serene surroundings, and the appreciation of aesthetics.
  • Matsuri: Matsuri refers to traditional festivals that are held throughout Japan. These festivals often involve parades, processions, traditional dances, food stalls, and fireworks. Each region has its own unique matsuri with specific customs and traditions.
  • Kendo: Kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art focusing on sword fighting. Practitioners wear protective armour and use bamboo swords called “shinai” to strike their opponents in a controlled and disciplined manner.
  • Geisha: Geisha are traditional female entertainers who are skilled in various arts such as traditional music, dance, and games. They wear elaborate kimono and entertain guests with their performances, conversation, and tea-serving skills.
  • Onsen: Onsen refers to natural hot springs in Japan, and bathing in these hot springs is a popular cultural activity. It is believed to have health benefits, and many traditional ryokan (inns) offer onsen facilities for guests to relax and rejuvenate.
  • Ikebana: Ikebana is the art of Japanese flower arrangement. It involves creating aesthetically pleasing compositions using flowers, branches, and leaves. Ikebana emphasises harmony, simplicity, and the beauty of natural materials.


  • Thaipusam (Malaysia): Thaipusam is a Tamil Hindu festival celebrated in Malaysia and other countries. Devotees pierce their bodies with hooks, skewers, and other objects as acts of devotion and penance while carrying elaborate kavadis (ornate structures) during a procession.
  • Hari Raya Aidilfitri: Also known as Eid al-Fitr, Hari Raya Aidilfitri is a significant Muslim festival celebrated at the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. It is a time of feasting, forgiveness, and gratitude. Malaysians visit family and friends, don traditional clothing, exchange gifts, and enjoy special festive dishes such as ketupat (rice dumplings) and rendang (spicy meat dish).
  • Chinese New Year: Chinese New Year is widely celebrated in Malaysia, particularly by the Chinese community. It marks the beginning of the lunar calendar year and is a time for family reunions, feasting, and cultural festivities. Streets are adorned with vibrant red decorations, lion and dragon dances are performed, and people exchange red envelopes with money (ang pow) for good luck.
  • Malay Traditional Weddings: Malay weddings in Malaysia are steeped in cultural traditions and customs. The wedding ceremonies often span multiple days and include rituals such as the merenjis (sprinkling of scented water), akad nikah (solemnisation of marriage), bersanding (sitting-in-state ceremony), and a grand feast. These weddings showcase the rich Malay heritage and the importance of community and family.
  • Mooncake Festival: The Mooncake Festival, also known as the Mid-Autumn Festival, is celebrated by the Chinese community in Malaysia. It is a time to appreciate the moon’s beauty, enjoy mooncakes (sweet pastries), and participate in lantern processions. People gather with family and friends and exchange mooncakes, and light lanterns to create a joyful and festive atmosphere.
  • Pesta Kaamatan: Pesta Kaamatan is a harvest festival celebrated by the indigenous Kadazandusun people of Sabah, East Malaysia. It is a time to give thanks for the bountiful harvest and seek blessings for the upcoming year. Festivities include traditional sports, cultural performances, the crowning of the Harvest Queen, and the Unduk Ngadau beauty pageant.


  • Day of the Dead (Mexico): Celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a vibrant and festive tradition in Mexico, where families gather to honour and remember their deceased loved ones through colourful altars, sugar skulls, marigolds, and cemetery visits.
  • Night of the Radishes (Noche de Rábanos) in Oaxaca, Mexico. A unique festival where radishes are intricately carved into various shapes and displayed in a grand exhibition.
  • Guelaguetza: Guelaguetza is an annual cultural festival held in the city of Oaxaca and surrounding areas. It showcases the diverse indigenous cultures of the region through traditional music, dance performances, colourful costumes, and artisanal crafts. The festival attracts both locals and visitors who come to experience the vibrant cultural heritage of Mexico.
  • Piñatas: Piñatas are a popular tradition in Mexico, especially during celebrations like birthdays and Christmas. Piñatas are colourful, decorative figures made of paper-mâché filled with candies, fruits, and small toys. Participants take turns blindfolded, trying to break the piñata with a stick, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil and the joy of sharing.
  • Mariachi Music: Mariachi music is a traditional form of Mexican music characterized by lively rhythms, trumpets, guitars, and violins. Mariachi bands, dressed in charro outfits entertain audiences with their energetic performances. Mariachi music is often associated with celebrations, including weddings, birthdays, and national holidays.

Credit: Pexels.Org.

  • La Callejoneada: La Callejoneada is a lively street procession that takes place in several cities across Mexico, including Guanajuato and San Miguel de Allende. It involves a group of musicians leading a parade of revellers through the streets, playing traditional music and singing. La Callejoneada is a festive and interactive event that captures the spirit of Mexican culture and encourages participation.
  • Las Posadas: Las Posadas is a nine-night Christmas tradition celebrated in Mexico and other Latin American countries. It reenacts the biblical journey of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter in Bethlehem. Participants go from house to house, singing traditional songs and asking for lodging. The celebration culminates in a final gathering with food, music, and piñatas.

Middle East

  • Nowruz: Nowruz, meaning “New Day,” is a traditional Persian New Year celebration that marks the beginning of spring. It is observed in various Middle Eastern countries, including Iran, Afghanistan, and parts of Central Asia. Nowruz involves special meals, family gatherings, spring cleaning, and the Haft Seen table, which is decorated with symbolic items representing renewal and abundance.
  • Ramadan: Ramadan is an important month-long religious observance for Muslims worldwide. During this time, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset as a form of spiritual reflection and self-discipline. The evenings are marked with communal prayers, special meals (Iftar), and social gatherings. Ramadan culminates in the festive celebration of Eid al-Fitr.
  • Dabke: Dabke is a traditional folk dance performed in several Middle Eastern countries, including Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, and Jordan. It involves synchronized stomping, jumping, and hand-holding in a line or circle formation. Dabke is commonly performed at weddings, cultural events, and festive celebrations, showcasing the region’s rich heritage and community spirit.
  • Henna: Henna is a plant-based dye used to create intricate temporary designs on the skin. It is commonly used in Middle Eastern countries, such as Morocco, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, for various celebrations such as weddings, Eid festivals, and other joyous occasions. Henna is applied to the hands and feet in beautiful patterns, symbolizing blessings, joy, and protection.
  • Whirling Dervishes: Whirling Dervishes are members of the Mevlevi Order, a Sufi Muslim order founded by the poet and mystic Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi. The whirling dance, known as Sufi whirling or sema, is a mesmerising spiritual practice that symbolises the seeker’s journey towards union with the divine. This traditional dance is primarily associated with Turkey but can also be witnessed in other parts of the Middle East.

Credit: Openverse.Org. “Whirling Dervishes” by shioshvili is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.


  • Bisket Jatra in Bhaktapur, Nepal: A unique festival involving a chariot procession, tug-of-war, and the climax of the celebration, where a large wooden pole is erected, and teams compete to bring it down.
  • Dashain: Dashain is the biggest and most important festival in Nepal, celebrated by Hindus across the country. It is a multi-day festival that honours the victory of good over evil. The festival involves worship, animal sacrifices, family gatherings, feasting, and the flying of kites. People also visit temples, especially the Taleju Bhawani Temple in Kathmandu.
  • Tihar: Tihar, also known as Deepawali or the Festival of Lights, is a five-day Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal. Each day has a specific significance and rituals. The festival includes the worship of different animals like cows, crows, and dogs, as well as the lighting of oil lamps and the decoration of homes with colourful designs made from coloured powders and flowers.
  • Holi: Holi, known as the Festival of Colors, is celebrated by both Hindus and non-Hindus in Nepal. It is a lively and exuberant festival where people throw coloured powders and water at each other, sing and dance, and celebrate the arrival of spring. Holi is a joyful celebration of love, unity, and the triumph of good over evil.
  • Kumari: The Kumari tradition is a unique cultural practice in Nepal where a young girl, usually between the ages of 4 and 7, is chosen as the living goddess Kumari. She is worshipped and revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. The Kumari lives in a temple and is believed to possess divine qualities. Visitors can seek blessings from the Kumari during designated times.
  • Mani Rimdu: Mani Rimdu is a significant Buddhist festival celebrated by the Sherpa community in the Everest region of Nepal. It takes place in the monasteries of Tengboche, Chiwong, and Junbesi. The festival includes religious ceremonies, masked dances, and the chanting of prayers. It is believed to bring blessings, happiness, and good fortune.

Nordic Countries

  • Nordic countries, including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, have rich cultural traditions and customs that vary across different regions and time periods. Some examples of customs and traditions from Scandinavian countries are listed below.
  • Þorrablót in Iceland. A mid-winter festival where traditional Icelandic cuisine is celebrated, including fermented shark, boiled sheep’s head, and other unique dishes.
  • Midsummer: Midsummer is a significant celebration in Scandinavia, particularly in Sweden and Finland. It takes place around the summer solstice (usually in late June) and involves various festivities, including bonfires, maypole dancing, singing, and traditional food and drinks.
  • St. Lucia’s Day: Celebrated on the 13th of December, St. Lucia’s Day is a traditional holiday in Sweden and Norway, as well as some parts of Denmark and Finland. It honours St. Lucia, who is regarded as the bearer of light during the dark winter days. The celebrations typically involve processions with girls wearing white robes and candles on their heads.
  • Jul (Yule): Jul is the Scandinavian version of Christmas and is celebrated in all Scandinavian countries. It includes various traditions such as decorating the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts, enjoying festive meals, and attending church services. Each country has its unique customs and dishes associated with Jul.
  • Nordic Folklore and Mythology: Scandinavian countries have a rich heritage of folklore and mythology, including tales of legendary creatures like trolls, elves, and giants. These mythical beings often feature in folktales, legends, and traditional art.
  • Wife Carrying World Championship (Finland): In Sonkajärvi, Finland, an annual Wife Carrying Championship is held where male competitors race while carrying their female partners on their backs through an obstacle course. The fastest duo wins the wife’s weight in beer.
  • National Costumes: Each Scandinavian country has its distinctive national costume, also known as folk costume or traditional dress. These costumes are worn on special occasions, festivals, and cultural events, showcasing regional variations and historical influences.
  • Crayfish Party: In Sweden, the tradition of crayfish parties (kräftskiva) is popular during late summer. It involves gathering with family and friends to feast on boiled crayfish, accompanied by singing, drinking snaps (a type of aquavit), and wearing party hats and bibs.
  • Midsommarstång (Midsummer Pole): Similar to Maypole dancing in other countries, Scandinavian countries have their version called Midsommarstång. It is a decorated pole erected during Midsummer celebrations, and people dance around it, often in traditional attire.
  • Nisse (or Tomte) Tradition: In Norwegian folklore, Nisse or Tomte is a mythical creature often depicted as a small, bearded gnome-like being. It is believed that Nisse is a guardian of the farm and brings good fortune to the household. During the Christmas season, it is customary to leave a bowl of porridge or other treats out for the Nisse as an offering to ensure a prosperous year.

Papua New Guinea

  • The Crocodile Festival: held in Ambunti, Papua New Guinea, the festival celebrates the significance of crocodiles in the local culture, including performances and crocodile-themed activities.
  • Sing Sing: Sing Sing refers to traditional gatherings and performances where different tribes showcase their unique music, dance, costumes, and rituals. Sing Sings are vibrant and colourful celebrations of cultural diversity and pride.
  • Huli Wigmen: The Huli Wigmen are a tribe in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea known for their elaborate and distinctive wigs made from human hair. These wigs, along with face paint and traditional attire, are worn during ceremonies and performances.
  • Sepik River Crocodile Scarification: In the Sepik River region, crocodile scarification is a traditional practice where men undergo a series of cuts on their skin to resemble the scales of a crocodile. It is believed to symbolise strength, power, and protection.
  • Kula Ring: The Kula Ring is a traditional trading system practised by certain communities in the Milne Bay Province. It involves the exchange of valuable shell ornaments, known as “soulava” and “mwali,” between different islands. The Kula Ring fosters social connections and maintains peace between tribes.
  • Bilas: Bilas refers to traditional body decoration and adornment in Papua New Guinea. It includes intricate face painting, body painting, headdresses, shells, feathers, and traditional clothing. Bilas is often worn during ceremonies, rituals, and cultural performances.
  • Spirit Houses: Spirit houses, known as “haus tambaran,” are sacred structures found in various parts of Papua New Guinea. They serve as places for spiritual rituals, initiation ceremonies, and storing sacred artefacts. Spirit houses are an important part of indigenous beliefs and practices.
  • Mumu: Mumu is a traditional cooking method in Papua New Guinea where food is prepared in an earth oven. Hot stones are placed in a pit, and layers of food, such as meat, vegetables, and bananas, are wrapped in leaves and cooked over the stones. Mumu is often shared communally during special occasions and gatherings.
  • Storytelling: Storytelling plays a significant role in Papua New Guinean culture. Oral traditions are passed down through generations, preserving myths, legends, and historical narratives. Storytelling is a way to educate, entertain, and maintain cultural heritage.


  • Q’eswachaka Bridge Festival in the Andes of Peru. A traditional festival where the local community comes together to rebuild a centuries-old Inca rope bridge made of woven grass.
  • Inti Raymi: Inti Raymi, or the Festival of the Sun, is a traditional Inca festival celebrated in Cusco, Peru, during the winter solstice. It commemorates the Inca sun god, Inti, and involves colourful processions, music, dances, and reenactments of ancient rituals.
  • Machu Picchu: Machu Picchu, the iconic Inca citadel located in the Andes, is not only a historical site but also a symbol of Peru. Its discovery in the early 20th century brought attention to the rich Inca civilisation and attracts visitors from around the world.
  • Nazca Lines: The Nazca Lines are enormous geoglyphs etched into the desert floor in southern Peru. These ancient drawings depict various animals, plants, and geometric shapes that remain a mystery regarding their purpose and creation.
  • Peruvian Cuisine: Peruvian cuisine is renowned for its diversity and flavours. It combines indigenous ingredients and cooking techniques with influences from Spanish, African, and Asian cultures. Dishes such as ceviche, causa, lomo saltado, and ají de gallina are popular examples.
  • Festival de la Candelaria: The Festival de la Candelaria is a vibrant carnival celebrated in Puno, Peru, during the first two weeks of February. It features music, dance, parades, and elaborate costumes, highlighting the cultural heritage of the Andean region.
  • Chinchero Textiles: Chinchero, a small town in the Sacred Valley of Peru, is known for its traditional textile production. Local women use ancient weaving techniques and natural dyes to create beautiful textiles and garments.
  • Pachamama Rituals: Pachamama, meaning “Mother Earth,” is significant in Andean culture. Rituals and offerings are made to Pachamama to show respect and gratitude for the earth’s fertility and abundance.
  • Marcahuasi: Marcahuasi is a mystical plateau located in the Andes near Lima. It is known for its rock formations that resemble human faces and animals. Some believe it has spiritual and energetic properties.


  • Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Philippines, is celebrated during the harvest season. Houses are adorned with colourful rice decorations, fruits, and vegetables.
  • Kadayawan Festival in Davao City, Philippines. A week-long celebration showcasing the bountiful harvest of the region with street parades, floral floats, and indigenous tribal dances.
  • Sinulog Festival: Sinulog Festival is one of the most popular and vibrant festivals in the Philippines, held in Cebu City. It celebrates the Santo Niño (Child Jesus) and involves colourful street parades, traditional dances, music, and religious processions. Participants dress in vibrant costumes and perform the Sinulog dance, characterized by rhythmic steps and arm movements.
  • Panagbenga Festival: Panagbenga Festival, also known as the Flower Festival, takes place in Baguio City, known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines.” It showcases colourful floats adorned with flowers, street dancing, and various cultural activities. The festival celebrates the blooming of flowers and is a tribute to Baguio’s floral abundance.
  • Ati-Atihan Festival: Ati-Atihan Festival is a lively and colourful festival celebrated in Kalibo, Aklan, and other parts of the Philippines. It commemorates the arrival of Malay settlers and the conversion of indigenous people to Christianity. Participants paint their faces with black soot and wear traditional Visayan attire, engaging in lively street parades and traditional dance performances.
  • Paskuhan Village: Paskuhan Village is a Christmas-themed park in San Fernando, Pampanga. It features a variety of festive activities during the holiday season, including colourful lights and decorations, Christmas bazaars, cultural shows, and traditional Filipino Christmas customs. Visitors can immerse themselves in the joyous atmosphere of Filipino Christmas traditions.
  • Tinikling: Tinikling is a traditional Filipino dance originating in the Visayas region. It involves two people rhythmically striking bamboo poles on the ground while dancers skillfully and gracefully jump and manoeuvre between the poles. Tinikling showcases the agility, coordination, and cultural heritage of the Philippines.


  • Śmigus-Dyngus (Wet Monday) in Poland. A playful tradition where people playfully splash water on each other to welcome spring and bring good luck.
  • Wianki (Midsummer Night): Wianki is a traditional Polish celebration that takes place on the shortest night of the year, usually around the summer solstice. People gather near rivers and lakes, wearing wreaths made of flowers and herbs, and release them onto the water. Festivities include music, dancing, bonfires, and fireworks.
  • Pierogi Festival: Pierogi are traditional Polish dumplings filled with various ingredients such as meat, cheese, potatoes, or fruit. Pierogi festivals are held in different cities and towns across Poland, celebrating the country’s culinary heritage. Visitors can enjoy a variety of pierogi, participate in cooking competitions, and explore Polish culinary traditions.


  • Epiphany Ice Bathing in Russia. On the Orthodox Christian holiday of Epiphany, believers immerse themselves in freezing water as an act of faith and purification.
  • Maslenitsa: Maslenitsa is a traditional Russian festival celebrated in the week leading up to Lent. It is also known as “Butter Week” or “Pancake Week.” The festivities involve eating blini (Russian pancakes), participating in snowball fights, sledging, and burning a straw effigy, symbolising winter. Maslenitsa marks the farewell to winter and the arrival of spring.
  • Troika Rides: The troika is a traditional Russian sledge drawn by three horses. Troika rides are a popular attraction in places like Moscow and St. Petersburg, especially during the winter season. Visitors can experience the thrill of gliding through snow-covered landscapes while being pulled by a team of spirited horses.
  • Matryoshka Dolls: Matryoshka dolls, also known as Russian nesting dolls, are a well-known symbol of Russian craftsmanship. These wooden dolls consist of a set of hollow dolls, each fitting inside the next larger one. Matryoshka dolls are often intricately painted and can depict various themes, such as folk motifs, fairy tales, or famous personalities.
  • Banya (Russian Sauna): The banya is a traditional Russian steam bathhouse. It plays a significant role in Russian culture and is believed to have health benefits. People go to the banya to socialize, relax, and cleanse their bodies. It involves steam sessions, whipping the body with birch branches (venik), and plunging into cold water or rolling in the snow.


  • Up Helly Aa Fire Festival (Scotland): This fire festival takes place in Lerwick, Shetland, where participants dress as Vikings, carry torches, and march through the streets, culminating in the burning of a replica Viking longship.
  • Burns Night: Celebrated on the 25th of January each year, Burns Night honours the life and poetry of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. Traditional Scottish food, such as haggis, is served, and Burns’ poems are recited during a formal dinner known as a Burns Supper.
  • Highland Games: Highland Games are traditional Scottish athletic events that showcase strength, skill, and Scottish culture. These games include competitions such as caber tossing, hammer throwing, tug-of-war, and Highland dancing. They often feature bagpipe music, tartan-clad participants, and a strong sense of community and Scottish pride.
  • Tartan Day: Tartan Day is celebrated on the 6th of April to honour Scottish heritage and contributions. It is a day to wear and display tartan, the traditional Scottish plaid pattern. Parades, Scottish music, dance performances, and cultural events are organised in various locations, particularly in areas with Scottish ancestry.

Pig Toss at the Glengarry Highland Games
Credit:Openvese.Org. “
Pig Toss at the Glengarry Highland Games” by Jamie McCaffrey is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

South Africa

  • AfrikaBurn in the Tankwa Karoo, South Africa. A community-driven event inspired by Burning Man, where participants create art installations and celebrate creativity, self-expression, and radical self-reliance.
  • Heritage Day (Braai Day): Heritage Day is a public holiday in South Africa celebrated on the 24th of September. It recognises and celebrates the diverse cultural heritage of the country. Many South Africans mark the day by gathering with family and friends for a braai (barbecue) and enjoying traditional foods, music, and cultural activities.
  • Zulu Reed Dance: The Zulu Reed Dance, also known as Umkhosi Womhlanga, is an annual cultural event held in KwaZulu-Natal. It is a ceremony where thousands of young Zulu women participate, presenting reed bundles to the Zulu king. The event showcases Zulu traditions, dance performances, and cultural rituals.

South Korea

  • Boryeong Mud Festival (South Korea): The Boryeong Mud Festival invites participants to enjoy various mud-related activities, including mud wrestling, mud sliding, and even take mud baths, all while celebrating the alleged health benefits of the mineral-rich mud.
  • Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year): Seollal is one of the most important traditional holidays in South Korea. It is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar and involves family gatherings, ancestral rituals, wearing traditional hanbok clothing, playing traditional games, and enjoying traditional food like tteok (rice cakes).
  • Lotus Lantern Festival: The Lotus Lantern Festival, held in honour of Buddha’s birthday, is a colourful and joyful celebration in South Korea. Thousands of lanterns are displayed, creating a mesmerising sight. Festivities include lantern parades, traditional performances, and Buddhist rituals.


  • Ibi is a town in the Alicante province in the Valencian Community of Spain. It is known for its toy industry and is often called the “Toy Town” due to its history of manufacturing and producing toys. Additionally, Ibi is famous for hosting various festivals and events, including the playful battle known as Els Enfarinats during the celebration of the Day of the Holy Innocents – a playful battle between two groups where participants throw flour, eggs, and fireworks at each other to mark the Day of the Holy Innocents.
  • El Colacho (Spain): El Colacho, also known as the “Baby Jumping Festival,” is a traditional event held in Castrillo de Murcia, Spain. Men dressed as the devil jump over rows of babies placed on mattresses, symbolising the cleansing of original sin and ensuring a prosperous life.
  • La Tomatina (Spain): Held in Buñol, Spain, La Tomatina is a large-scale tomato fight that takes place annually. Participants gather in the streets, and a massive tomato fight ensues, drenching the entire town in a sea of red.
  • The Running of the Bulls (Spain): Held in Pamplona, Spain, during the San Fermín festival, the Running of the Bulls is a daring tradition where participants run alongside a group of bulls on a predetermined course through the city streets.


  • Silvesterchläuse in Appenzell, Switzerland. On New Year’s Eve, villagers dress in elaborate costumes and parade through the streets, making noises to scare away evil spirits.
  • Fête de l’Escalade: Fête de l’Escalade is an annual festival celebrated in Geneva on the weekend closest to December 12th. It commemorates the failed attack by the Duke of Savoy on the city in 1602. The festival includes a historical parade, costumed reenactments, bonfires, and the tradition of breaking a large chocolate cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables to symbolise resistance.
  • Sechseläuten: Sechseläuten is a traditional spring festival celebrated in Zurich on the third Monday of April. The highlight of the festival is the burning of the “Böögg,” a snowman-shaped effigy filled with fireworks. The time it takes for the Böögg’s head to explode after the bonfire is lit is believed to predict the weather for the upcoming summer.
  • Swiss National Day: Swiss National Day, also known as Schweizer Bundesfeier, is celebrated on August 1st to mark the foundation of the Swiss Confederation. The day is celebrated with fireworks, parades, concerts, bonfires, and cultural activities. It is an opportunity for Swiss people to express their national pride and unity.


  • Maasai Jumping Dance in Tanzania. A traditional dance performed by Maasai warriors, where they jump as high as possible to demonstrate strength and agility. But why they do it, I don’t know.
  • Makonde Carving: The Makonde people of Tanzania are renowned for their intricate wood carvings. Makonde carvings often depict human figures, animals, and abstract designs. The carvings are highly valued for their craftsmanship and cultural significance, representing traditional beliefs, ancestral spirits, and important aspects of Makonde culture.
  • Ngorongoro Maasai Market: The Ngorongoro Maasai Market is a vibrant and colourful market held in Karatu town near the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania. It offers a wide range of traditional Maasai crafts, such as beaded jewellery, hand-woven baskets, carved wooden sculptures, and Maasai shukas (traditional blankets). The market provides an opportunity to support local artesans and immerse themselves in Maasai culture.
  • Ngoma Dance: Ngoma is a traditional dance form performed by various ethnic groups in Tanzania, including the Chagga, Sukuma, and Gogo people. It involves rhythmic movements, drumming, singing, and sometimes acrobatics. Ngoma dances are performed on various occasions, such as weddings, harvest celebrations, and cultural festivals, and they serve as a way to express cultural identity and community cohesion.


  • Monkey Buffet Festival (Thailand): Lopburi, Thailand, hosts an annual festival where an entire buffet, including a wide array of fruits and treats, is prepared for monkeys. Locals believe it brings good luck and prosperity to the area, and the monkeys are treated as honoured guests.
  • Phi Ta Khon (Ghost Festival) in Dan Sai, Thailand. A vibrant and spooky celebration featuring colourful masks and costumes, parades, and traditional music.
  • Songkran: Songkran is the Thai New Year festival celebrated in mid-April. It is known for its water fights and splashing of water, which symbolises the washing away of bad luck and the welcoming of the new year. Songkran is also a time for family gatherings, temple visits, merit-making, and paying respects to elders.
  • Loy Krathong: Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month, usually in November. During this festival, people release small lotus-shaped rafts, known as krathongs, onto rivers, canals, and lakes. The krathongs are decorated with candles, incense, and flowers, and it is believed that by floating them away, one can let go of negativity and make wishes for the future.
  • Yi Peng Lantern Festival: The Yi Peng Lantern Festival is celebrated alongside Loy Krathong in northern Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai. It involves releasing thousands of glowing lanterns into the sky, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The lanterns are released as a symbol of letting go of misfortune and making wishes for a brighter future.
  • Thai Boxing (Muay Thai): Muay Thai, also known as Thai boxing, is the national sport and cultural martial art of Thailand. It is a combat sport characterised by the use of fists, elbows, knees, and shins. Muay Thai matches are held regularly, and the sport is deeply ingrained in Thai culture, with fighters revered as heroes.
  • Thai Cuisine: Thai cuisine is renowned worldwide for its bold flavours, aromatic herbs, and diverse dishes. From spicy curries like green curry and tom yum soup to signature dishes like pad Thai and mango sticky rice, Thai cuisine offers a vibrant and delicious culinary experience that reflects the country’s cultural heritage.


  • Underwater Music Festival (USA): Taking place in the Florida Keys, the Underwater Music Festival invites scuba divers and snorkelers to listen to music transmitted through underwater speakers while exploring the coral reef.
  • Thanksgiving: Thanksgiving is a major holiday celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It is a time for families and friends to come together, express gratitude, and enjoy a festive meal that typically includes roasted turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The holiday is rooted in historical traditions dating back to the early colonial period in America.
  • Mardi Gras: Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, is a carnival celebration that takes place in various cities across the United States, with the most famous one being in New Orleans, Louisiana. The festivities include parades, colourful costumes, music, and street parties. Mardi Gras is a time of indulgence and revelry before the Christian season of Lent begins.

Free People Celebrating Fourth of July With Flag and Sparklers Stock Photo
Credit: Pexels.Org.

  • Independence Day: Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on the 4th of July, 1776. It is a national holiday celebrated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, and various patriotic events throughout the country. The day symbolises the birth of the United States as an independent nation.
  • Super Bowl Sunday: The Super Bowl is the National Football League (NFL) championship game and is widely celebrated across the country. Super Bowl Sunday has become an unofficial national holiday, marked by parties, gatherings, and watching the game on television. It is also known for its extravagant halftime shows and commercials.
  • Juneteenth: Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, commemorates the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the United States. Celebrated on the 19th of June, it honours the day in 1865 when news of the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas, the last Confederate state to abolish slavery. Juneteenth is recognised as a state holiday in many states and has gained increased national recognition in recent years.


  • Eisteddfod: Eisteddfod is a traditional Welsh festival of literature, music, and performance. It includes competitions in poetry, singing, dancing, storytelling, and instrument playing. The National Eisteddfod of Wales, held annually in different locations, is the largest and most prestigious event of its kind, promoting and celebrating Welsh cultural traditions.
  • St. David’s Day: St. David’s Day, celebrated on the 1st of March, is the national day of Wales in honour of the country’s patron saint, Saint David. The day is marked by parades, concerts, traditional Welsh food, and the wearing of daffodils or leeks, which are national emblems of Wales.
  • Plygain: Plygain is a traditional Welsh Christmas service held in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. It involves a series of acapella hymns sung in harmony, often in four parts. Plygain services are known for their beautiful choral singing and are held in churches and chapels across Wales, promoting a sense of community and celebrating the joy of Christmas.

Credit: A contemporary Mari Lwyd, using a cattle skull. Attribution: R. fiend, CC BY-SA 3.0 <;, via Wikimedia Commons. Page URL:

  • Mari Lwyd: Mari Lwyd is a traditional Welsh folk custom observed around the Christmas and New Year period. A person carrying a horse’s skull adorned with ribbons and cloth goes door-to-door, engaging in rhyming exchanges with the occupants of houses and challenging them to a battle of wits. The custom is believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.

Various Cultures

  • Jumping the Broom: Jumping the broom is a wedding tradition that is found in various cultures, particularly African and African diaspora communities. It involves the couple jumping over a broomstick as a symbolic act of starting their new life together.

Sacrificial Offerings
Throughout ancient history, various civilisations and cultures practised the custom of offering sacrifices as a form of religious or spiritual ritual. The act of sacrifice involved presenting offerings, often animals or other valuable items, to deities or higher powers in the belief that it would secure favour, protection, or blessings.

The practice of sacrifice varied significantly across different civilizations and time periods, but some common themes and purposes can be identified:

  • Religious Worship: Sacrifices were seen as acts of devotion and worship, expressing gratitude, reverence, and submission to the divine. They were performed to honour gods, goddesses, or ancestral spirits and to maintain a harmonious relationship between humans and the spiritual realm.
  • Propitiation and Atonement: Sacrifices were also offered to appease deities and seek forgiveness for transgressions or to avert potential disasters or calamities. The act was believed to placate wrathful or capricious deities and restore balance or harmony within the community.
  • Communal Rituals and Festivals: Sacrificial rituals often served as important communal or religious ceremonies, marking significant events in the community or religious calendar. They were occasions for social bonding, reinforcing group identity, and fostering a sense of unity and cohesion.
  • Divination and Oracle Consultation: In some cultures, sacrifices were conducted as part of divination practices, seeking divine guidance or insight into the future. The examination of sacrificed animals’ entrails or other signs was believed to reveal messages from the gods or provide answers to important questions.

Examples of ancient civilizations that practised sacrifice include:

  • Ancient Egypt: The ancient Egyptians performed animal sacrifices, including bulls, goats, and birds, as offerings to various gods and goddesses. They believed these offerings would sustain the deities and ensure their continued protection and blessings.
  • Ancient Greece: Sacrificial rituals played a significant role in ancient Greek religion. Animals, such as sheep and oxen, were commonly sacrificed to honour the gods and seek their favour. The blood, bones, and entrails of the animals were examined for omens or signs.
  • Ancient Rome: The Romans also practised animal sacrifices as part of their religious rituals. They believed that these offerings would appease the gods and secure their favour. The best-known Roman sacrificial ritual was the suovetaurilia, involving the sacrifice of a pig, a sheep, and a bull[7].
  • Aztec Empire: The Aztecs had elaborate sacrificial rituals as part of their religious beliefs. Human sacrifices were conducted to honour gods, particularly during major festivals. Victims, often prisoners of war or enslaved people, were offered to appease the gods and ensure the community’s well-being.

Credit: Pexels.Org.

It is important to note that many ancient cultures evolved and transformed over time, and sacrificial practices varied within and between civilisations. Sacrifice played a significant role in shaping the religious and cultural traditions of these ancient societies, reflecting their beliefs, values, and relationship with the divine.

 Sources and Further Reading


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End Notes and Explanations

  1. Source: Compiled from research using information at the sources stated throughout the text, together with information provided by machine-generated artificial intelligence at: [chat] and
  2. Source:
  3. Explanation: Omo Valley is near the border with South Sudan, Kenya, and South Omo Zone. It is named after the Omo River, which flows through the valley. The Omo Valley is known for its rich cultural diversity and is home to several indigenous tribes, including the Hamar, Karo, Mursi, and Dassanech, among others. The region is renowned for its traditional tribal cultures, unique customs, and stunning landscapes, making it a popular destination for cultural tourism and ethnographic studies.
  4. Source:
  5. Explanation: The Acheron is a river located in the Epirus region of northwest Greece. It is 52 km (32 mi) long, and its drainage area is 705 km2 (272 sq mi). Its source is near the village Zotiko, in the southwestern part of the Ioannina regional unit, and it flows into the Ionian Sea in Ammoudia, near Parga. Ancient Greek mythology saw the Acheron, sometimes known as the “river of woe”, as one of the five rivers of the Greek underworld. The name is of uncertain etymology. Most classical accounts, including Pausanias (10.28) and later Dante‘s Inferno (3.78), portray the Acheron as the entrance to the Underworld and depict Charon ferrying the souls of the dead across it. Ancient Greek literary sources – such as PindarAeschylus, EuripidesPlato, and Callimachus – also place Charon on the Acheron. Roman poets, including PropertiusOvid, and Statius, name the river as the Styx, perhaps following the geography of Virgil‘s underworld in the Aeneid, where Charon is associated with both rivers. The Homeric poems describe the Acheron as a river of Hades, into which Cocytus and Phlegethon both flowed. The Roman poet Virgil called the Acheron the principal river of Tartarus, from which the Styx and the Cocytus both sprang. The newly dead would be ferried across the Acheron by Charon in order to enter the Underworld. The Suda describes the river as “a place of healing, not a place of punishment, cleansing and purging the sins of humans”. Source:
  6. Source:
  7. Explanation: The suovetaurilia or suovitaurilia was one of the most sacred and traditional rites of Roman religion: the sacrifice of a pig (sus), a sheep (ovis) and a bull (taurus) to the deity Mars to bless and purify land (Lustratio). There were two kinds: [1] suovetaurilia lactentia (“suckling suovetaurilia”) of a male pig, a lamb and a calf, for purifying private fields, and [2] Suovetaurilia maiora (“greater suovtaurilia”) of a boar, a ram and a bull, for public ceremonies.The ritual for private fields is preserved in Cato the Elder‘s De Agri Cultura, “On Agriculture”. The first step was to lead the three animals around the boundaries of the land to be blessed, pronouncing the following words: Cum divis volentibus quodque bene eveniat, mando tibi, Mani, uti illace suovitaurilia fundum agrum terramque meam quota ex parte sive circumagi sive circumferenda censeas, uti cures lustrare. (“That with the good help of the gods success may crown our work, I bid thee, Manius, to take care to purify my farm, my land, my ground with this suovetaurilia, in whatever part thou thinkest best for them to be driven or carried around.”) Source:


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