Cultural traditions around the world are a wild mix of diverse elements, whether it’s weird rituals in remote countries, odd cultural practices in the house across the street or activities for celebration that are recognized universally.
Traditions are a matter of perspective, though, and what one person sees as strange behavior could be perfectly normal to someone else. Take gambling in the US, for example, where most states have embraced online casino games for years, yet a small number of states remain hesitant due to stigmas associated with gambling.
Casino culture differs depending on where you are in the world, but it’s safe to say that implementing laws for casino gaming isn’t exactly a culture shock. There are far more extreme examples out there that would definitely be jarring from our point of view, from donning gloves full of ferocious insects to chasing a cheese roll downhill at breakneck speed!
Ready to discover some of the wackiest traditions in the world? Here are six of the weirdest, most unique and most bizarre traditions from around the world.
Gloves and bullet ants
If you’re looking for crazy traditions, look no further than the painful rituals of the Satere-Mawe, an Amazonian tribe whose initiation tradition for boys is nothing short of excruciating.
In a test of sheer willpower, Satere-Mawe men must wear woven mitts filled with bullet ants – the insect with the most painful sting in the world. Brave tribesmen endure dozens, if not hundreds, of stings to prove their manhood. These weird rituals last for 10 aching minutes, and most men will go through the torturous process several times to demonstrate their strength, stamina and self-control.
You may be familiar with the Greek tradition of smashing plates for good luck, but Germany takes porcelain and ceramic destruction up a notch with Polterabend. Plates, flowerpots, tiles and even toilets are shattered for Polterabend, all in the name of love and goodwill.
Polterabend is a wedding shower tradition meant to be held the night before the matrimonial ceremony. Essentially, it’s an excuse for friends and families of the couple to meet each other. But as soon as the broken objects are scattered on the floor, the guests leave and the couple is left to clean up the mess in preparation for marriage!
Thaipusam is a Hindu tradition celebrated in certain parts of India and South East Asia, where participants pierce themselves with a range of sharp objects to prove their devotion to an ancient god named Lord Murugan.
Every body part can be pierced. In fact, the more punctures you have, the more respect you gain. As far as weird traditions go, this is one of the strangest of the lot. Devotees often go into a trance-like state from the amount of pain they’re in. Some are willing to push themselves to the limit, dragging entire vehicles with hooks attached to their skin. Ouch!
Spain’s La Tomatina festival is home to the world’s largest tomato fight. Held in the Valencian town of Buñol since the 1940s, this is one of those strange traditions that grew in popularity for no reason other than the sheer fun of it.
Over 300,000 pounds of tomatoes are sacrificed in less than an hour, covering the city square and the surrounding area in juice and fruit debris. One thing’s for certain; you can’t play online poker if you’re drenched in tomato juice, and keeping a spare change of clothes nearby is definitely a good idea for any would-be fruit-flingers.
The annual American tradition of pardoning turkeys can be quite odd from an outsider’s perspective. Nonetheless, it’s become a steadfast tradition held shortly before Thanksgiving, enjoyed across the US for its message of mercy and respect for animals.
The National Thanksgiving Turkey Presentation wasn’t always safe for turkeys. Up until the 1970s, they were slaughtered as part of the ceremony! George H.W. Bush was the first president to issue a ceremonial pardon instead of a death sentence, creating the more benevolent tradition that has continued ever since.
Are you willing to risk serious injury in the name of tradition? The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is an annual event that takes place in England, where participants chase a cheese wheel down a steep hill at high speed – which often ends painfully.
The weirdest casino games might have strange odds and risky plays, but at least playing online slots won’t put your limbs and well-being at risk! To put it simply, this is not an event for the fainthearted. Serious injuries are fairly common in what could well be the world’s most dangerous foot race.
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Casino culture is nowhere near as extreme as some of these strange traditions around the world, but there are still plenty of weird rituals used by casino players. Online poker, for example, is a hotbed of superstition and imagination, and many players fall for the Gambler’s Fallacy.
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