Rouketopolemos (Greece) - Translated into "Rocket War," this annual event celebrates Easter by firing off tens of thousands of rockets. What started as a rivalry between two opposing rival Greek churches on the island of Chios, has turned into a yearly fireworks showcase where over 60,000 rockets are fired into the air, in an attempt to hit the bell tower of the church on the opposing side. Each side claims victory from hitting the other church’s bell tower, but they agree to settle it next year to continue the Easter tradition another year.
El Colacho (Spain) – Catholics are usually baptised to absolve them of Original Sin, but in the Spanish Village of Castrillo de Murcia, babies are laid on pillows on the street, whereupon men dressed as the devil jump over them to rid them of their sins. The bizarre ritual dates back to the 17th century and while surprisingly there have been no reports of injuries, unsurprisingly it is not advocated by The Vatican…
Battaglia delle Arance (Italy) – The highlight of the historical carnival of Ivrea is the “Battle of the Oranges,” a medieval reenactment that commemorates the city's defiance against an evil tyrant. Teams of orange-throwers on foot fight an army of orange-throwers on horse-drawn carts, adding up to a total of 5,000 people involved in this sweet, sticky mess. It is estimated that nearly 600,000 pounds of oranges are carted up to the northern city, making it one of the largest food fights in Italy.
Setsubun (Japan) – This festival is held each year on the last day of winter, 3rd February, where people throw beans to ward away bad luck and bring happiness into their homes. Traditionally they will throw roasted soy beans called fuku mame (fortune beans), while shouting “oni-wa-soto” (get out demons) and “fuku-wa-uchi” (come in happiness).
Surströmming (Sweden) – Ever smelt something so bad you can taste it? Try eating fermented Baltic herring. In the High Coast of Sweden, a festival is held every August where rotten fish is the main event. This noxious culinary 16th Century tradition takes place outside – for obvious stinky reasons – and the tops are literally popped off of the surströmming (sour herring) tins to the delight of party attendants. Recently cited as one of the most putrid food smells in the world, no wonder it’s an acquired taste.
Fancy taking a trip to one of these celebrations? Download Babbel and learn phrases that can help you out to get rid of those extra oranges, or even help you get your hands on some smelly fish! Check out the website to find out more www.babbel.com.