10 strange traditions (4)

(1) Fingerhakeln or "finger wrestling"

is a game played in the Alpine region of Austria and Germany. Two, usually male, competitors sit on opposite sides of the table. Each player puts his middle finger into a strap. When everything is ready a referee gives signal for match to begin. Players try to pull as hard as they can. The winner is a person who manages to pull his opponent over the table using only his finger. There is a Bavarian championship in fingerhakeln held in small town of Lenggries. It is organized on the 12th of August. It includes 80 competitors ("fingerhakler"). Competitors are divided into categories according to their age and weight. Some 1,500 people follow the event.

(2) "Krakelingen" festival

Belgian town of Geraardsbergen, located in the northeast of country, is famous for its "Krakelingen" festival. The festival is held on the last Sunday in February. The fact that makes it rather bizarre is a ceremony in which local people drink wine with live "grondeling" fish inside. The fish is about 2.5 centimetres long. Because of protests organized by animal activists only 24 persons can participate in the ceremony.

It has to be said that the "Krakelingen" festival itself has little bit more ordinary origin. Long, long time ago, in the medieval time, people of Geraardsbergen threw food over the city walls to confuse enemy army who had tried to conquer the town. To commemorate the event locals organize throwing of bread rolls called Krakelingen to people gathered at the festival.

(3) Water buffalo racing or "Kambala" (Kambla)

is a popular sport in Indian state of Karnataka and Kerala. One of the most famous of all races is called "Koti Chennaya Kambala". It is held in the village of Puttur, Karnataka. Kambala is a competition between two men. Each of them uses a whip to control his two buffaloes across the muddy track. Buffaloes are divided into several categories according to number of their fallen teeth. Gambling is very popular at Kambala races.

(4) Monkey Buffet Festival

is held in the Thai Lopburi province on the 25th of November. Huge quantities of fruit and vegetable are given to monkeys. It is done to honour Lord Rama who assigned the province to Monkey King Hanuman.

(5) Wife Carrying World Championship

Small Finnish town of Sonkajärvi is famous for its Wife Carrying World Championships. The championships is held on the 6th and 7th of July. Like all events it has a legend about its origin. In the 19th century local man Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen used to steal women from nearby villages and later carry them across rocky terrain. Today the competition is held over 250 m long course combining sand, grass and asphalt. Logs and water are used as obstacles.

Each competitor can carry his own wife, girlfriend or daughter. Different carrying techniques are used like for example piggyback, fireman-style (draped over both shoulders) or cheerleader-style (sitting on the shoulders). Other options are also allowed. Everything depends on competitor's imagination. The main, and certainly most popular, prize awarded to a winner is the woman's weight in beer.

(6) Mobile Phone Throwing World Championship

Finnish city of Savonlinna has been organizing the Mobile Phone Throwing World Championships every August since 2000. The next event will be held on the 24th of August, 2013. People compete in four different competitions. There is original or traditional competition with an over-the-shoulder throw. Best of three attempts counts. In freestyle everything is allowed. A competitor gets points for aesthetic value and choreography of his or her throw. Team competition includes up to three members. Their scores are added together. Finally, there is special junior competition for kids aged 12 or less.

(7) The Allendale Tar Barrel Parade

is held on the New Year's Eve in English village of Allendale, Northumberland. The parade starts sometime around midnight. It includes some 50 men called "Guisers". They carry barrels filled with burning tar on their heads. Barrels are used to start a bonfire known as the Baal fire. During a ceremony everyone shouts "Be damned to he who throws last!" Songs are sang around the blazing bonfire.

(8) "Våffeldagen" or the National Waffle Day

is celebrated in Sweden on the 25th of March. On this day people eat waffles topped with some jam or whipped cream. It is a day when Swedes welcome the arrival of spring. Nobody really knows the true origin of this tradition. There are opinions which connect "Våffeldagen" with Christian feast of "Vårfrudagen" or "Annunciation". Both are celebrated on the same day.

(9) The Cascamorras festival

is a festival held on the 6th of September in towns of Guadix and Baza in the province of Granada, Spain. During the festival people of these two towns start a little war for the statue of the "Virgen de la Piedad" (Virgin of Mercy). The legends says that statue was discovered in 1490 out of rubble of former mosque in Baza. The man who actually found it was from Gaudix. To decide who should get the statue the authorities of Baza were asked to intervene. It was decided that the statue should remain in Baza. Local people started a September holiday dedicated to the Virgin.

According to the legend, on that day people of Gudix or "accitano" had chance to get the statue for their town. This goal required arriving to the local church ("the Iglesia de la Merced") without getting dirty. The member of this special delegation was a jester. The main character of festival today called "Cascamorras" actually originated from him.


The Cascamorras wears a harlequin suit. He tries to reach the church clean. People of Gaza gathered along the road try to make him dirty with large quantities of tinted water. On his route there are places where he stops and waves his flag and people gathered are bowing to him. Stops are also organized at two fountains where a "thief" is drowned. In over five centuries he has never succeeded in his mission. On the 9th of September Cascamorras returns to his Gaudix where he is being attacked again, this time for failing in his mission.

(10) "Mike the Headless Chicken"

People of Fruita, Colorado have really bizarre festival called "Mike the Headless Chicken". It is held on the 18th and 19th of May. "Miracle Mike" was a rooster owned by local farmer Lloyd Olsen. On the 10 of September, 1945 he was asked by his wife to bring a rooster for supper. He chose a rooster he called Mike. But he failed to kill the animal. Somehow the rooster survived. His brain stem was left intact.

Mike the Headless Chicken
Mike the Headless Chicken

The farmer decided not to kill him. Mike lived for 18 months. His owner made him quite popular. Everyone wanting to see Mike had to pay 25 cents. Today the festival in honour of Miracle Mike includes numerous events like the Chicken Games, a Chicken Recipe Contest, Run Like a Headless Chicken, Chicken Dance etc.