We have seen many strange festivals, customs and rituals followed by people in various countries and culture. Thousands of years of human existence, society, belief and superstition has given them shape, while others are celebrated for pure amusement. In this article, we will look at some bizarre festivals that are celebrated in the month of June.
Baby Jumping Festival of El Colacho
Every year during the month of June, the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia near Burgos holds its traditional Baby-Jumping Festival as part of its Corpus Christi celebrations. During the act, known as El Colacho, men dressed as the Devil (known as the Colacho) leaps over babies born during the previous twelve months of the year who lie on mattresses in the street.
The Catholic festival of Corpus Christi is celebrated all over Spain with processions, mystery plays and a wide variety of popular celebrations, but this bizarre tradition is seen only in Castrillo de Murcia. The tradition dates back to 1620, although the origins are vague. It is believed that as the incarnate devils jump they take all their evil with them and the children are cleansed.
Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling
In this annual event a 7-lb. round of Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down the Cooper’s Hill, near Gloucester in the Cotswolds region of England, and eager competitors flung themselves at it, racing down the steep hillside. The first person to catch the cheese or reach the finish line wins the cheese. Traditionally this game was by and for the people of the local village, but now people from over the world take part. The tradition is said to be 200 years old. Due to the steepness and uneven surface of the hill the risk of injury is high and often serious. A group of paramedics and volunteers and a couple of ambulances are stationed at the bottom of the hill ready to carry the injured away to the hospital. The Sydney Morning Herald once summarized the Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling has as "twenty young men chase a cheese off a cliff and tumble 200 yards to the bottom, where they are scraped up by paramedics and packed off to hospital".
The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling competition usually occurs between March and June. This year it is taking place on June 4.
More pictures of Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling competition.
Roswell UFO Festival
In early July 1947, a mysterious object crashed on a ranch 30 miles north of Roswell, New Mexico. The Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF) issued a statement claiming to have recovered a crashed "flying disk." An article ran on the front page of the Roswell Daily Record and the next day, RAAF changed its statement to say that the object was a weather balloon, not a flying disk as they previously reported. This revised statement sparked immediate controversy and accusation of cover-up. The topic is continued to be debated more than 65 years later.
The Roswell UFO Festival is celebrated in memory of the event where UFO enthusiasts and skeptics alike, to join in the celebration of one of the most debated incidents in history. The three-day event includes costume parades, talk shows, live entertainment, funny car show and contest, and other family-friendly activities. This year, the event is taking place on June 29-July 1, 2012.
Coney Island Mermaid Parade
Founded in 1983, the Coney Island Mermaid Parade takes place every year in Coney Island, New York in mid-to-late June. The Mermaid Parade is held in celebration of the beginning of the summer season, and so it traditionally takes place on the Saturday closest to the calendar start of summer, regardless of the weather. The parade pays homage to the Coney Island Mardi Gras parades of the early 20th century. During this era, Coney Island was the primary amusement park destination for those in the New York area. Like the much larger annual Village Halloween Parade, the Mermaid Parade embodies the spirit and artistry of Mardi Gras. The Mermaid parade is well-known for extraordinary marine costumes.
Oxford Cardboard Boat Race
The Oxford Cardboard Boat Race is held every year at the Tred Avon River in Oxford. Teams compete in various categories for prizes, including the prize for the most fun boat. The Oxford Cardboard Boat Race is a family friendly event, organized by a group of local volunteers, known as “Boat Bums International” , with proceedings going to the Maryland Special Olympics fund. As you may have guessed, the challenge of this particular race is to build a human-powered boat out of corrugated cardboard capable of staying afloat long enough to finish the course. But, with cardboard being so sensitive to water, many of the funny looking boats sink moments after they touched water. But seeing boats sink is actually one of the highlights of the Cardboard Boat Race.
More pictures of Oxford Cardboard Boat Race.
World Naked Bike Ride
World Naked Bike Ride is celebrated all around the world where cyclists in their birthday suite cycle around the city streets supposedly in protest against oil dependency and car culture. It’s a celebration of the bicycle and also a celebration of the power and individuality of the human body. A symbol of the vulnerability of the cyclist in traffic.
Creative expression is also encouraged to generate a fun and immersive atmosphere during the ride, capture the attention and imagination of the public and media, and make the experience more personalized and fulfilling for the riders. Body art, such as body painting, are common forms of creative expression, as well as costumes, art bikes, portable sound reinforcement systems and musical instruments or other types of noisemaker.
More than 50 cities and thousands of riders participate worldwide.
Nagol or Land Diving
On the island of Pentecost in the central group of islands of Vanuatu, one of the most interesting customs is practiced. It is called 'Nagol' or Land Diving. As a precursor to the bungee jump performed by extreme sport fanatics elsewhere in the world, the Nagol is an extraordinary custom where men jump off of wooden towers around 20 to 30 metres high, with two tree vines wrapped around the ankles, and without any safety equipment. The tradition has now developed into a tourist attraction.
Nagol sprung from a legend of a woman that describes a man named Tamalie who mistreated his wife so badly through beatings that she left him and ran away to the forest. Her husband followed her and found her hiding in a huge Banyan tree. As Tamalie climbed up to retrieve her, the wife tied Lianas vines to her ankles and jumped. She survived but when the distraught Tamalie jumped after her, without the vines, he was killed. The other tribal men became so upset that the wife had tricked Tamalie, that they took precautionary measures and began the land diving themselves, while at the same time, prohibiting the women from doing so.
The villagers believe land diving can enhance the health and strength of the divers. A successful dive can remove the illnesses and physical problems associated with the wet season. Furthermore, land diving is considered as an expression of masculinity.
Batalla del Vino
Batalla del Vino or the Battle of Wine takes place every year in Haro, a small town in La Rioja, one of Spain's major wine-producing regions. On the morning of June 29th (St. Peter's Feast Day), thousands of people turn out in the streets with plastic jugs, leather bags filled with wine or whatever they have handy and they squirt each other with wine until everyone is soaked, then they run to the plaza to dance traditional dances.
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