Weird Festivals

Celebrating the mosquito may not be all that strange

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

If you think the Great Texas Mosquito Festival is a crazy concept with a unique name, you are right. Celebrating the mosquito is a bit unusual in a place where we get a lot of mosquitoes.

But there are crazier festival concepts around the world, and through the magic of the Internet machine, I found some.

El Colacho in Spain: This is also called the Baby-Jumping Festival. Grown men jump over newborns while the babies’ parents watch. They have actually given their consent. The men dress in various costumes, like Elvis, and wield whips to cleanse the babies from evil. The festival has been held since 1620.

At the Mosquito Festival, no one jumps over babies, but there is a baby crawling contest.

Hadakamatsuri in Japan: This is the Naked Festival. Participants (all men) wear almost nothing and gather around in a group. In the middle of the group somewhere is a fully naked man. Touching him is believed to bring good luck and happiness.

Naked festivals are held in dozens of places throughout Japan every year, usually in the summer or winter. Wonder what kind of concessions they have?

O.K., that’s enough. No more puns.

The Monkey Buffet Festival in Thailand: Monkeys love this one. Every year, 600,monkeys are invited to eat fruits and vegetables during an annual feast held in honor of someone who is said to have lived a long time ago and liked monkeys so much that he rewarded them with a fiefdom.

Since monkeys don’t know what to do with a fiefdom, the locals hold this festival instead, serving up a buffet of more than 6,000 pounds of fruit and vegetables for the monkeys to consume.

I may be losing the importance of this festival in the translation. But does it really matter what monkeys think? They’ll never know that they’ve been cheated out of a fiefdom.

I better move on, before starting a “Planet of the Apes” sort of revolt, and then all humanity is doomed. Keep feeding those monkeys.

Cheese Rolling Festival in England: Finally, something closer to our customs. But wait, this is almost as crazy as the monkey buffet.

Participants roll 7-pound cheese wheels down a hill and run after them. However, as the cheese can reach speeds of up to 70 mph, it rarely happens that someone catches it. First to the bottom wins the cheese.

Authorities have tried to stop this festival because people could get hurt or even killed by the cheese, but to no avail. It’s hard to separate a man from his cheese.

Maslenitsa in Russia: This is the Free-for-all Boxing Festival.

It takes place a week before Lent. There are no rules. In centuries past, the fight ended when participants were covered with blood, the concessions ran out of corn dogs, or they all had to go invade Ukraine, whichever came first.

Tunarama in Australia: This is the Tuna Tossing Festival. This is actually a festival where people wear clothes and don’t beat the living daylights out of each other. It started in 1962 to promote the emerging tuna fishing industry in Port Lincoln.

The highlight of the festival is the tuna tossing competition. Ex-Olympic hammer thrower, Sean Carlin, holds the record for the longest toss at 122.25-ft., set in 1998.

La Tomatina in Spain: Back to fighting. In late August, thousands of people pelt each other with over 250 pounds of tomatoes in a span of 60 minutes in an event described as the world’s largest tomato fight. More than 30,000 tourists go to Bunyol for this festival. Rules of conduct keep the festivities from becoming a more dangerous brawl.

Up Helly-Aa at Sheetland Islands: If nudity, fist fights and monkeys gorging on fruits is not enough for you, here is one festival that includes a lot of fire. This is the Fire Festival, where the main event is the burning of a 32-foot replica of a Viking longship. Due to the often-flamboyant costumes and the large quantity of males dressing up as females, it has earned the nickname ‘Transvestite Tuesday.’

So, dear reader, enjoy this pretty normal festival celebrating the mosquito. It’s not all that strange, after all.