Think flashing strangers or guzzling green beer is wild? Think again. We searched high and low for the craziest festivals on earth and let’s just say, the world is a wacky place. Naked men in sub-prime temps, primate fruit fests, baby purification? You’ve got to see it to believe it. These festivals are crazy. They are bizarre. They are oddly-curious. And we can’t get enough of them. Here are six of the world’s wackiest and yet relatively unknown cultural festivals.
Hadaka Matsuri â€“ The Naked Festival
It’s not your late night frat party turned bad, but thousands of Japanese men streaking through town paying tribute to the gods. Every year in Saidaiji, Okayama prefecture men gather with 10-12 of their best buddies, strip down to thong-like loin cloths, toss back sake and jog through the streets purifying their bodies. Sound like fun? Not if you consider this man-fest goes down in February on what is likely to be the coldest night of the year. Heated throughout
with sake and adrenaline, the men jump erratically while chanting "Washoi" before jogging throughout the neighborhood en route to the main shrine. Just when their body temperatures rise, a volunteer tosses cold water on them to further purify their souls. The
groups convene at midnight when two pieces of wood, called shingi, are dropped from the top of the shrine to the groveling men below. They fight it out in hopes of snagging one of the two sticks which promises a year of good luck and fortune to the man who grabs it. The festival is held on the third Sunday in February where voyeurism is still alive and well. And free.
Montana Testicle Festival
If you don’t get your fill of naked men in Japan, head over to Rock Creek Lodge, located
halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks and home to Montana’s annual Testicle Festival. If sea oysters are an aphrodisiac, these Rocky Mountain oysters are downright mind-blowing. Close to 15,000 people attend this adults-only party where gratuitous nudity and oil-wrestling strippers go hand in hand with fried bull balls and Bullshit Bingo. Participants go nuts for the Undie 500 tricycle races and the Wet T-shirt and Hairy Chest contests. Thousands of Harley riders show up every year for the Biker Ball Biting contest where women
sit on the back of a bike and try to bite a bull’s, uhm, delicacies without using their hands. This five day event is held every September and multiple-day tickets are available for $10. For more information visit www.testyfesty.com.
El Colacho â€“ The Baby-Jumping Festival
Want to involve your kids? Then jump on over to Castrillo de Murcia in northern Spain for the El Colacho Baby-Jumping Festival. Held every year since 1620 in honor of the Catholic festival of the Corpus Christi, the citizens of Castrillo de Murcia purge their sins with the bizarre and decidedly wacky ritual of baby-jumping. A parade passes through the village symbolically driving all of the town’s evil into the church. In the most-anticipated act of the festival, grown men dressed in full-color devil garb charge from the church and hurdle a
mattress-full of newborn babies, thus purging the town, and the babies, of all evil. SantÃsimo Sacramento de Minerva, the brotherhood that organizes the annual celebration chases citizens around the town at regular intervals throughout the festival. The event is held every summer and is free to the public … just watch your babies for flying
Le Carnaval des Soufflets â€“ The Bellows Festival
Ever wanted to blow hot air up your neighbor’s night shirt? Then head on over to Nontron, France where two days every April are dedicated to below-the-belt bellow blowing. In ancient times, the people of Nontron believed their bellows would purify the air and rid the city of evil spirits. The bellows were used to blast the demons from their hiding places, specifically from under the night shirt of the town’s, shall we say, friskier ladies. The citizens of Nontron honor this tradition by slipping on solid white night shirts and caps and masking their faces with heavy paint. They parade throughout the town singing the traditional Occitan song and blowing bellows up their neighbors’ night gowns. There is no charge for the parade, but dinner tickets must be purchased in advance.
Il Carnivale d’ Ivrea â€“ The Ivrea Orange-Throwing Festival
It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a flying … orange? Well, maybe if you are mashing pulp at Carnivale d’Ivrea in northern Italy. Every year thousands of Italians dress up and reenact a 12th century revolutionary battle in what has become Italy’s greatest neighborhood food fight. In 1194, a young maiden instigated a stone-throwing revolt that ended tyranny and earned freedom for the people of Ivrea. For the last 200 years, Ivrea has traded in its stones for a sweeter slug as citizens and visitors join one of nine peasant foot teams and battle it out with the chariot-riding henchmen of the royal guard. Weapon of choice? Florida’s best. If you prefer your Tropicana in a cup, just don a red beret to indicate neutrality and avoid direct hits. The event is a week-long celebration and is held annually prior to Ash Wednesday.
The Monkey Buffet Festival
Grab your forks and your napkins and prepare to feast at the annual Monkey Buffet in Lopburi, Thailand. Nooo. You aren’t eating the primates â€“ that would be wrong. You are feeding them. Each year the province invites 600 monkeys, and their friends and families, to a fresh fruit and veggie feast in honor of Rama, a hero of the Ramayana who rewarded his ally,
Hanuman the Monkey King with the land that eventually became Lopburi. Festival organizers spend $15,000 on more than 4,400 pounds of fruit and vegetables that are prepared by four chefs. Spectators are entertained by traditional Thai dancers, as well as uninhibited monkeys who gorge on their feast, then play, fight or make love as the celebration ends. The entrance fee is 30 Baht (almost $1.00) and spectators are provided with a stick to help keep monkey business at bay.
About the Author
Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and bed and breakfast owner living in Catanzaro, Italy. You can read about her southern Italian tales on her blog, My Bella Vita.
original photo locations, from top to bottom: CES on Wikimedia, Eddie Rumps from Testy Festy website, Getty Images from Spiegel Online, Les Soufflaculs de Nontron website, Carnevale d’Ivrea website, and Time.com