The following holidays are actually real and celebrated in big and/or somewhat outlandish ways somewhere in the world.
People love to make up holidays, and apparently, this is just a thing anyone can do now, because: the internet. In fact, if you just do a basic Google search for “weird holidays,” you will find that it is a holiday every day of the year (National Donut Day! Eat a Taco Day! Sit on Top of a House and Cry Day, I don’t know, whatever, name a thing and it probably has its own holiday). However, unlike these mostly-created-so-that-you-can-talk-about-something-at work-and-or-justify-eating-a-lot-of-donuts holidays, the following holidays are actually real and celebrated in big and/or somewhat outlandish ways … somewhere in the world
Up Helly Aa
WHERE: Shetland, Scotland
Up Helly Aa marks the end of the yule season in Shetland, Scotland, and is celebrated with a ton of fire festivals that honestly make it seem like you are in literal hell, which isn’t surprising as the word “hell” is right there in the title. An honorary “Guizer Jarl” is elected as the festival’s leader, and he leads his main squad of supporters (“Jarl Squad”) around, as along with many other additional squads (“guizers”). The festival involves a lot of marching with torches which are eventually thrown into a gigantic replica Viking ship, which then of course goes up in flames.
Night of the Radishes
WHERE: Oaxaca, Mexico
An annual radish-carving festival is held in Oaxaca, Mexico on December 23, where everyone carves a bunch of radishes into little radish people to create scenes reenacting the birth of Jesus. This began as a way that farmers just tried to get people to buy their produce at farmers markets because they’d be more eye-catching to customers, who’d be like, “Oh my, that vegetable looks just like Jesus, I should buy that one and not a regular radish,” but now it’s just a big event where money is awarded to whoever can carve the best biblical radish people.
Bean Throwing Day
Bean Throwing Day is a holiday in Japan where everybody throws beans everywhere in their houses and temples to scare away evil spirits on the first day of spring.
INSIDER TIPBeans are frightening to the spring ghosts.
Melon Day is celebrated in Turkmenistan on August 12 and honors Turkmenbashi melons. There are a bunch of melon-themed festivities, because apparently the best melons in the world come from Turkmenistan and everyone loves melons there.
The Battle of the Oranges
This takes place at a carnival where a bunch of people dress in peculiar outfits and actually just throw oranges at each other, because there are too many oranges being produced in Italy and they need to get rid of a bunch of them to keep the price of oranges up (???). So, the answer, of course, is to stuff oranges down their shirts (seriously), then throw them at each other (possibly injuring everyone involved), as well as, of course, wasting the heck out of a ton of oranges. It honors an event that happened in Iverea is 1194, when villagers got real mad at a villainous Italian Count and threw rocks at him.
Tinku “Punch Your Neighbor” Festival
On this Bolivian holiday, a festival is held where everyone just beats the piss out of each other all day. The Tinku Festival is held in the city of Macha each May, and is based on an old religious belief that in order to have a good harvest, blood must be shed to the earth goddess Pachamama. People have literally died during this thing, however, now it is (slightly) policed so that fights are stopped after the first blood is shed. So, to recap, at least one person has to get the living crap kicked out of them to the point of actual bleeding, and then everyone’s like, “Cool, great job guys, let’s have a great harvest.”
WHERE: Bali, Indonesia
Nyepi Day, or “Silent Day,” happens around mid-March in Bali, Indonesia, to celebrate the new year. Everybody has to stay completely quiet all day–you are not allowed to speak at all, whatsoever. Also, you’re not allowed to eat or work or do much of anything at all, really. You’re just supposed to sit around and do a 12-hour self-reflection. And don’t even think about cheating–they got guards patrolling the streets to make sure you are super quiet and super hungry! Happy New Year and please shut up (for 12 hours), thanks. Again, Happy New Year!
World Toilet Day
This is a real holiday (November 19). Sorry. So, World Toilet Day was created by the World Toilet Association and it honors (get ready for this one): toilets. It honors toilets. World Toilet Day honors toilets. This is a day where everyone appreciates toilets (actually it is a day to spread awareness about improving sanitation facilities, so, okay, fine, that is actually a productive thing).