Baby jumping, tuna tossing and painful facial piercings -- believe it or not, they’re the centerpieces of festivals across the globe.
Spain’s annual El Colacho festival, where grown men dressed in devil costumes jump over newborn babies, starts today. The festival has been happening since the 17th century and is meant to keep evil spirits away from the children.
El Colacho may be the world’s most cringe-inducing festival for parents, but it’s hardly the world’s only bizarre celebration. Here are ten more that are a bit off the beaten path:
Saint Vincent Festival
Where: Manganeses de la Polvorosa, Spain
When: Jan. 26, 2014
Strange event: This controversial festival used to begin with a live goat being tossed from a 50-foot belfry to (hopefully) be caught by a crowd below holding a canvas sheet. There are conflicting reports on the origins of this ritual but animal rights organizations have shut it down in recent years. The 2014 event saw a stuffed goat tossed in place of a live one for the first time.
Strange event: This Hindu religious festival symbolizes faith and endurance with painful acts. Held in several Asian countries, many participants will be pierced through the tongue and cheeks with skewers, temporarily removing their ability to speak so they can fully devote their concentration to the deity.
Where: Port Lincoln, Austrailia
When: Jan. 23-26, 2015
Strange event: Aside from having a great name, south Australia’s annual Tunarama Festival celebrates all things tuna fishing -- the area’s prominent industry. The festival is home to the World Championship Tuna Toss, in which participants vie for fish-slinging greatness.
Battle of the Oranges
Where: Ivrea, Italy
When: Feb. 14 - 17, 2015
Strange event: Pretty much the world’s biggest fruit fight, the Italian Battle of the Oranges sees participants hurling some 400 tons of oranges at one another in an epic battle. People have described the event as scary and dangerous, with over 100 people reportedly injured in 2012’s festival.
Where: Tokyo, Japan
Strange event: Translated roughly to “sumo of tears,” the Japanese tradition of Konaki Sumo is essentially a game of chicken between infants. Two sumo wrestlers, each holding a baby, face one another until one of the babies starts crying. The referee then calls the match and declares the tearful tot the winner, as crying is seen as a sign of good health in babies. Asia Uncovered claims this tradition has been happening for over 400 years.
Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling Festival
Where: Gloucestershire, United Kingdom
When: May 26, 2014
Strange event: Featured on MTV’s Jackass, the entire focus of this offbeat festival is anything but normal. An estimated 5,000 spectators show up to watch groups of participants race down a steep hill, following a rolling wheel of gouda cheese. Whomever catches the cheese at the bottom is declared winner.
Where: Pyrenees, France
When: Aug. 10, 2014
Strange event: France’s annual pig festival is full of swine celebration. There is a pig-squealing championship and a black pudding-eating contest, in which contestants scarf down loads of the sausage made of pig’s blood.
Where: Black Rock Desert, Nevada
When: Aug. 25 - Sept. 1, 2014
Strange event: Likely America’s strangest festival, the annual Burning Man sees thousands of folks gather in the Nevada desert to create a city of art and self-reliance, only to depart a week later, leaving no trace behind. The marquee event comes when a 40-foot tall statue is set ablaze, creating an iconic image in the desert night.
Monkey Buffet Festival
Where: Lopburi, Thailand
When: Nov. 25, 2014
Strange event: Where most festivals involve people feasting on bounties of food, this Thailand tradition lets the primates pig out. The festival attracts about 2,000 monkeys in the area to eat a feast valued at about $16,000, according to Sky News Australia. The monkeys eat fruit, vegetables and drink sodas in front of a crowd.