7 weird customs across Europe you may have never heard about
People are different. Especially when we think of folks from other countries and their specific customs. Here you can read about some of the weirdest traditions across Europe.
Each nation has its own background and celebrates some special events. We chose the weirdest and most unknown customs which are celebrated across Europe. Did you know that you can throw tomatoes at people in Spain? Or have you ever heard about whipping women in the Czech Republic during Easter? Keep reading and you will get to know even stranger things which are happening in some European countries.
The Tomatina Festival: Spain
Do you like eating? How about vegetables? Or do you prefer throwing food at other people? If that is the case, you should go to Buñol, Spain and enjoy the biggest tomato fight in the world. The event is held on the last Wednesday of August so it can be the final stop of your summer trip.
Nowadays no one can be entirely sure how this tradition started, and participants do it just for the reason of pure fun.
The Danube Cross Swimming: Romania
Time to think about what you actually know about Romania? Not much maybe? People in Romania swim in winter to celebrate the Danube Race for the Cross. The event is supported by the Orthodox Church. When a priest throws a cross into the river, thousands of men have to swim to find it in the freezing water. It is believed to be a celebration of the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river. Drinking vodka is also included, being the most probable reason why people can stand the freezing water of Danube. The person who finds the cross first is believed to have a life full of luck for the entire year ahead.
Whipping Monday: Czech Republic
Poor women of the Czech Republic. There is a custom celebrated during Easter which may seem weird or even cruel. It is whipping women with willow branches on Easter Monday. And the best thing? Women have to reward men for whipping them and they usually give boys coloured eggs or for older men, shots of traditional alcohol. Pretty cruel, right? However, it is said that the whipping should ensure fertility and vitality.
Wife-carrying Championship: Finland
Are you already fed up with running alone? You can try one of the favourite Finnish sports, “wife carrying”. Men basically carry their female partner and race. There are strict rules and different ways how a man can carry their companion. For instance, the fireman’s carry or Estonian style: this is when a woman holds the man's waist while she is upside-down and has her legs wrapped around his shoulders. And what is the goal of this? Of course, to win! You have to be the first to finish a race through the track with many obstacles. If you are good enough, you can even participate in the Wife Carrying World Championships, which are held every year in Sonkajärvi, Finland.
Blackening of the bride: Scotland
Every girl dreams about one of the most important days in her life - the wedding day. Women imagine their perfect moment in every detail, even if they are still single. Wedding dress, cake, venue and so on. However, this is seen very differently in Scotland. There is a tradition which is called blackening of the bride. Friends and family gather and cover the bride with things such as spoiled milk, mud, sauces and other disgusting things.
The reason behind this tradition is that if a bride and a groom can stand this humiliation, they will overcome any obstacle in their marriage. Or it will just lead to a happy life of a couple.
Caga Tió: Catalonia
Let’s move on to one of the favourite times of the year - Christmas. You can find many traditions across Europe which take place around this time. There is one unknown custom especially worth to mention. In the beginning of December in homes in Catalonia, Spain, you can find an item called Caga Tió, which consists of a wooden log with a face painted on one end. It literally means poo log. Logs wear traditional red hats and children take care of them, they even feed them so that it gave a lot of treats. On Christmas Eve, children are given a stick to hit Caga Tió. They can also sing a special song. Afterwards, they find small toys and sweets that have fallen out of the log.
Thorrablot. Þorrablót: Iceland
Many traditions are connected with food and this Icelandic custom is not different. There is a feast of Thorri celebrated in January, originally called Þorrablót. Icelanders eat the most disgusting meal, for instance, sour testicles, boiled sheep heads or fermented sharks. Why do people ever want to do this? Historically, Thorri is meant to represent winter. No one knows how it was celebrated in the past, but people used to smoke, bury or salt food in order to store it. The ability to eat this food is considered a sign of strength in modern Icelandic culture.
What are the weirdest customs in your country?
This might feel like a very personal piece, but above all it is meant to highlight the inspiration, skills, and self exploration that leaving your comfort zone can bring, whether that’s an exchange, volunteering or simply being honest with yourself.