All Women's Talk

7 Strange Customs from around the World ...

By Holly

There are so many strange customs from around the world that are still in practise today. These traditions, rituals and rules are very important to each culture, and often it is considered rude not to take part. There are lots of reasons behind all strange customs from around the world, though there is no doubt that some of these will leave you wondering why on Earth they’re even still practised!

1 Ohaguro, Japan

Ohaguro, JapanOhaguro refers to the Japanese custom of blackening one’s teeth using dye, ink or wax. Ohaguro is one of the strange customs from around the world that isn’t as common as it used to be, due to the fact that the government banned it in 1870. That being said, the tradition still continues, and you can see it in practise in plays or geisha districts.

2 Bullet Ants, Brazil

Bullet Ants, BrazilThis custom is so very important to the people of the Satere-Mawe tribe in the Amazon, acting as a coming-of-age ritual for young boys. This custom requires the boys to stick their hands into a pair of gloves containing hundreds of bullet ants for around eleven hours, in 30 minute increments. Bullet ants come in on the Schmidt Sting Pain Index at 1 - the highest possible rating of pain. Yikes!

3 El Colacho, Spain

El Colacho, SpainEl Colacho, quite oddly, is the tradition in Spain of baby jumping. Ever since 1620, the custom has gone that infants were laid in the street on mattresses, then they would be jumped over by a man wearing a devil costume. It is thought to bring good luck and prosperity to the babies, though there are very often instances of injuries.

4 Groom Beating, South Korea

Groom Beating, South KoreaIn South Korea, after a wedding ceremony, friends of the groom take him, tie his ankles up with rope and proceed to beat the bottoms of his feet with dried fish. This is done to test the knowledge and strength of the groom, and questions are often asked of him while the beating occurs. After this has happened, the groom is free to leave with his new wife.

5 Cheese Rolling, England

Cheese Rolling, EnglandNow that it’s become known all over the world, the tradition of cheese rolling down Cooper’s Hill near Gloucester in England has become more popular than ever. It is essentially exactly as it sounds - a wheel of cheese is rolled down the hill with a one-second head start, and the participants chase (or roll, or stumble) after it. The winner is the person who catches the cheese.

6 Blackening of the Bride, Scotland

Blackening of the Bride, ScotlandTalk about disgusting! In Scotland, it is a common custom for the friends of a bride to catch her unawares and douse her in all kinds of horrific and gross things, such as spoiled food, raw fish, feathers, spoiled milk and tar. The bride is then tied to a tree, after which they all go out drinking. It’s thought that if the bride can survive that humiliation, she can survive anything - even marriage.

7 Nanggol, Vanuatu

Nanggol, VanuatuPerhaps the most dangerous custom on this list, the men of Vanuatu jump off wooden towers in a bungee-jumping fashion with vines tied around their ankles and with no safety equipment whatsoever. You heard right - no helmets, joint pads and certainly no harnesses. Their jumps land scarily close to the ground, but according to their belief, the higher the height they jump from, the more prosperous the harvest.

These customs and rituals are wacky, crazy and sometimes even ridiculously dangerous, but they’re still practised as part of tradition and respect. Have you ever participated in a cultural custom or tradition? What was it?

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