Mud Festival, Boryeong, South Korea
Getting down and dirty in Boreong, South Koreais a relatively new pastime and the first mud-flinging festival was held in 1998. Since then, millions of tourists have flocked to the town every July to participate. For the squeamish however, the dirt used is rich in minerals and for the rest of the year is sold to cosmetic manufacturers for its skin revitalising properties.
Songkran Festival, Thailand
At the other end of the spectrum, Thailand’s annual New Year’s water fighthas grown over the years from ceremonial sprinklings to a full on flood-bath. Expect hoses, water balloons and buckets if you venture into the streets.
Night of the Radishes – Mexico
A Mexican, pre-Christmas celebration, December 23 sees thousands line the city square in Oaxaca to admire the imaginative recreations of saints and nativity scenes carved entirely from radishes.
La Tomatina, Spain
The world’s biggest food fight takes place every August through the streets of Bunol, with over-ripe tomatoes the preferred weapon of choice. Ostensibly there is a goal to this madness and the bombardment stops after someone makes it to the top of a greasy pole to retrieve a ham – however the subtleties get a bit lost in the melee.
Ostensibly there is a goal to this madness and the bombardment stops after someone makes it to the top of a greasy pole to retrieve a ham – however the subtleties get a bit lost in the melee.
Ivrea Carnival, Italy
In the Italian version of La Tomatina, oranges replace tomatoes for a re-enactment of Ivrea’s 1194 battle which culminated in the beheading of the town’s ruling count.
Hadaka Matsuri, Japan
For this Japanese rite of purification, which takes place during January every year, men strip down to the traditional Japanese loincloth (fundoshi) to be soaked with cold water. This 500 year old festival is most tenaciously observed in Okayama where up to 9000 men participate annually.
This Tamil, Hindu festivalheld every January/February celebrates the birth of Murugan (the son of gods Shiva and Parvati). Participants shave their heads and perform a pilgrimage which culminates in the self-piercing of devotees cheeks and tongues with sharp skewers.
Shrovetide football, UK
Though its origins have been lost in the mists of time, there has been a Shrovetide Football game at Ashbourne, Derbyshire for almost 1000 years. Played over two days (Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday) from 2pm until 10pm, by teams of hundreds of local enthusiasts and between goals three miles (4.8 km) apart, this free for all probably started using the freshly decapitated head of those executed in the town.
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