The people on this beautiful planet of ours are incredibly diverse and they all have fascinating customs.
Participating and embracing that diversity is a delightful way to lift ourselves from the negative stereotypes and personal biases about different cultures and groups.
Once we open our minds to all that the world has to offer we just go on to discover the different ways of being.
Spanking: Czech Republic
With Easter on the way let’s begin with the Czech Republic. Whips that look like handicrafts made from willow and ribbons are used in this country by men and even male children to spank the bottoms of the women in the family, among friends and in the neighbourhood.
According to the traditions, women are spanked in order for them to keep their beauty, health and fertility during the following year.
In some parts of the country the women are also doused with water. A vast majority participate in this tradition. And believe you me, if a woman in a group is left unspanked, she’s offended. Not judging. Just saying.
La Tomatina: Spain
Broadly speaking there are three kinds of people. The ones who will never throw a rotten tomato at another person, those who will think about it but will not do it and those who will not only do it but enjoy it.
La Tomatina in Spain, specifically in Bunol in Valencia takes place in August of every year and gives you just such an opportunity.
Only you will not throw rotten tomatoes but good ones and squashed so that no one is seriously hurt. Started by some local boys the traditional festival has grown over the last more than 70 years and attracts tourists from all across the world.
Like most things Hindu, Holi the festival of colours in India is also about the victory of good over evil.
No longer only a Hindu festival, Holi now attracts tourists to different parts of India from all over the world.
Not just that, the custom of dousing each other with coloured water and spraying colours on each other on Holi has spread to different parts of the globe.
The festival also heralds the arrival of Spring and is a kind of a thanksgiving for a good harvest. This tradition of playing with colours on Holi goes back more than two millennia.
Boryeong Mud Festival: South Korea
Another messy and fun festival that attracts more than two million people is the Boryeong Mud Festival in South Korea.
This festival that started just around 30 years back has become quite popular.
Who knew, a festival that was promoted by the local cosmetic companies for the cosmetic properties of mud from that area would become more favoured than the cosmetic companies themselves.
This is an annual event held in July. More than two million people participate and cover each other with muck.
Kanamara Matsuri: Japan
Kanamara Matsuri in Kawasaki Japan has gained popularity over the recent years. This festival also attracts visitors from around the globe.
While the penis shaped lollipops which are trendy and bought in thousands at the festival may be vulgar to the sensitivities of some, it is actually about phallic worship, the worship of the God of blacksmithing and the God of sex at the Kanayama shrine.
Some offer their prayers for protection from sex diseases and others for fertility. All in all, this outlandish festival is one of the most fun festivals.
Hiwatari Matsuri: Japan
While on Japan, Hiwatari Matsuri, the fire-walking festival deserves a mention. Here people walk on burning embers to ask blessings for a long life and good health.
Even terrified children are carried across during the fire-walk. While most tourists usually don’t actively participate, the festival surely gets full up with them as spectators.
This festival too is held in Spring among so many others in the world.
Nimes in France, to this day, still have gladiators and chariots. The city has one of the oldest Roman amphitheatres going back 2000 years.
If you want to go back in time this is the place to visit during May when you’ll see gladiators clashing, chariot races, equestrian vaulting and more.
Of course, there’s always French food, especially local specialities such as bull meat cooked in red wine, cod gratin loaded with garlic and local goat cheese.
Lopburi in Thailand with its ancient ruins, a historical temple and King Naria’s palace is surprisingly, a city that’s less frequented by tourists.
This city is host to one of the largest festivals in the country known as the monkey festival. The city has ancient architecture which itself should be a tourist attraction.
Add to that the hundreds of monkeys and apes that form an interwoven society with the locals and you really have something fascinating.
Monkeys, Thai food, music and dances are what attracts the tourists who know this city, most especially during the month of November during the festival.
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