10 strange traditions (2)

After finishing first article about 10 strange traditions, which you can find at this web site, I thought why not write more. So, here is the second one. Enjoy!

1) Yunnan is the Chinese region located in the far southwest of China. In the west of Yunnan people put a tile made object in the middle of the ridge. The object looks similar to cat so local people call it the "Tile Cat". It is believed that the Tile Cat can protect the family by eating monsters and evil spirits.

Tile Cat
Chinese Tile Cat

Before putting the Tile Cat on the roof special ritual is held in the second or eighth month of Chinese lunar calendar. The main person in such ritual is the local "koradji". First, he catches a red rooster and tell several prayers. Then he has to bite rooster's cockscomb and put some blood all over the the Tile Cat.

Next in the procedure is putting different fruits and seeds (pine nut, melon seeds, broomcorn, Chinese date and root) into the mouth of Tile Cat. At the same time yellow sacrificial paper is burned and some incantations are spoken. After that the family members present at the ritual touch the Tile Cat. Everything ends by putting it in the middle of the ridge.

2) Hindus (Hindu Dharma) living on the island of Bali in Indonesia have an interesting coming of age ceremony during which children enter the world of adults. The ceremony is called Metatah or "tooth filling ceremony". It is held during July and August.

Metalah or "tooth filing ceremony"

The whole ceremony is performed by a person of Brahman caste called "sangging". Before the ceremony a magic spell is done. The sangging has a special ruby ring which protect whole ceremony from powers of black magic.

In 10-15 minutes long procedure of smoothing teeth he uses a small wooden mallet and an iron file. Local Hindus believe that long teeth are symbols of vices. For them the filing of teeth cleans the body of bad things they call the "Sad Ripu" (six enemies) - "Kama" (lust), "Lobha" (greed), "Kroda" (anger), "Moha" (anxiety), "Mada" (conceit) and "Matsarya" (envy).

After the ceremony the person will bite betel leaf. The saliva created will be collected on the ivory coconut. Everything is finished with sprinkling of person with some "tirtha" (purified water).

3) Dinant is a Walloon city and municipality located on the River Meuse in the Belgian province of Namur. On the 15th of August the locals organize a rather unusual competition. It is called la Régate internationale de Baignoires or the International Regatta of Bathtubs.

There are only few rules. Bizarre design of the bathtub is always a plus. Motors are forbidden. The competitor should not try to sink the opponents.

4) For the next tradition let's move to the courtyard of the cathedral of Bremen, the city in the north of Germany. There you can see the basalt stone with cross on it. Gesche Margarethe Gottfried (1785-1831) has a special place in the German history of crime. She used arsenic to poison 15 people in Bremen and Hannover. She had a nickname "Angel of Bremen".

Gesche Margarethe Gottfried (1785-1831)
Gesche Margarethe Gottfried (1785-1831)

There are two versions what connect the mentioned stone with the famous poisoner. Some say that it is the place where she was executed. Others believe that it is the place where her rolling stopped after the execution.

Spuckstein in Bremen, Germany
Spuckstein in Bremen, Germany

There is a tradition according to which both local people and tourists show disgust for the crimes of the evil woman by spitting at the rock. The rock is better known as Spuckstein or "Spitting Stone".

5) "Setsubun" ("seasonal division") or "Bean Throwing Day" is the famous Japanese holiday held on the first day of Spring according to the lunar calendar. In the Gregorian calendar it is usually on the 2nd or 3rd of February. On this holiday the Japanese scatter roasted beans out of their homes or temples to ward off evil spirits. This ritual is known as "mamemaki".

Let's describe the procedure of the mamemaki when it is done at home. The ritual is usually performed by the "toshiotoko" of the household. If possible the toshiotoko should be born on the corresponding animal year on the Chinese zodiac. If not, then the male head of the household will do just fine.

"Irimame" or roasted soya beans are thrown out the door or at the family member wearing "Oni" (demon) mask. When doing so the person throwing the beans shouts "Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!" or in English "Demons out! Luck in!" It is believed that the beans can fight the evil spirits that create bad luck and bad health.

After this ceremony people eat roasted beans. There is a rule - one bean per year of life or this number plus one more for luck in the coming year.

Setsubun in Kobe, Japan
Setsubun in Kobe, Japan

Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines organize Setsubun celebration too. Priests or special guests (for example Sumo wrestlers) then throw roasted soya beans (sometimes in gold or silver foil wrapping), small envelopes with money, sweets, candies etc.

Irimame and Eho-Maki
Irimame and Eho-Maki

There is more. Many Japanese today eat the uncut "maki-zushi" called "Eho-Maki" ("lucky direction roll). It is eaten facing the yearly lucky compass direction which is determined by the zodiac symbol of that year.

6) Straw Bear (Strawboer) Day is an old English tradition held on the 7th of January. It is known in a small area of Fenland on the borders of Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire, including Ramsey Mereside. This day is believed to be traditional start of agricultural year in England.

Straw Bear
Straw Bear (Strawboer) Day

A man or a boy wears a straw costume covering him from his head to toes. He goes from house to house where he dances. As prize for his dancing people give him money, food or beer.

7) Marshwood in Dorset, England became known by a rather unusual competition held there. Nettle or to be more precise the stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) creates rash and itching when touched. In 1986 two local farmers started a debate whose nettle is the longest. They agreed to create the competition about who has the longest stinging nettle.

After three years of competition famous line was spoken by Alex Williams. He said about the nettle he brought "If anybody beats that I'll eat it". He was not lucky. American couple staying in the area brought a longer one. So, Alex ate his nettle. From this day on Alex always ate his nettle plant if it has not been the longest one at the competition.

In 1997 new competition was born. It was suggested that people should be challenged if they could eat more nettles than Alex. New competition was named as the World Stinging Nettle Eating Challenge. The competition is traditionally held on the Saturday preceding the Summer Solstice.

8) Worm charming is a way to of attracting earthworms from the ground. Many do it to collect bait for fishing. But there are also those who do it as sort of sport. The village of Willaston, near Nantwich, Cheshire is the place where since 1980 the annual World Championships has been organized. The competition was actually initiated by local man Tom Shufflebotham who on the 5th of July, 1980 charmed 511 worms from the ground in only half an hour.

worm charming
Worm charming

The 33rd World Worm Charming Championships was held on the 23rd of June, 2012. The competition has 18 rules. Here are just few of them. Each competitor competes in the 3 x 3 meters area. Music of any kind can be used to charm worms out of the ground. No drugs can be used! Water is considered to be a drug (stimulant).

9) The Sardine's Funeral (Entierro de la Sardina) is a tradition held in Madrid but also in other parts of Spain. It is organized in the local carnival season. Let's describe the Sardine's Funeral in Spanish capital Madrid. The tradition started during the reign of the King Carlos III (1716-1788). City authorities decided to treat its citizens with some free sardines in Casa-de-Campo. The sardines were spoiled. Luckily there was also some good wine so those present did not complain. After the meal people just buried the sardines.

As kind of remembrance on the event people nowadays organize funny funeral. With the sound of death march group of 100 men, wearing 19th century clothes, walk slowly along the central city street.

Sardine's Funeral (Entierro de la Sardina)
Sardine's Funeral (Entierro de la Sardina)

The men marching are members of the Merry Brotherhood of the Funeral of Sardine. Membership in the brotherhood can be inherited. When someone stops to watch the procession the men throw them some caramels.

In front of the procession older man walks holding a coffin with the size of a shoe box. In the box there is a plaster cast of a sardine. Men in the procession wipe tears with big white kerchiefs and sing: "Dear Sardine, why have u left us, the poor orphans..."

It has to be said that the procession stops in the building where the major's office is located as the major is the honorary president of the brotherhood. Then the procession goes to the park area Casa-de-Campo and bury the sardine there. The ritual looks like one big picnic.

10) Clean Monday is the first day of the Orthodox Lent in Greece. It is a movable feast (meaning that its date changes every year) at the beginning of the 7th week before Orthodox Easter Sunday. On Clean Monday Greek people traditionally eat "lagana" which is a flat bread made of flour, water, yeast and olive oil.

flour war in Galaxidi, Greece
Flour war in Galaxidi, Greece

The location of the following tradition is the city of Galaxidi. Each year the flour "war" is held there on Clean Monday. In 2013 it will be on the 20th of February. The tradition is 200 years old. Local people spend whole day throwing coloured flour at each other. Due to the fact that such flour creates lot of stains old buildings in Galaxidi are covered with plastic sheets.