We all have our daily, weekly, or yearly rituals. Even a birthday celebration you repeat every year may be called a ritual. It’s a tradition that is repeated intentionally on a particular occasion. Maybe you have a ritual of going for a family dinner every weekend? Or you have a tradition to spend a week in the woods with your friends every summer? These are personal rituals. However, different nations all around the world have developed their own unique rituals as well. Some of these are quite ordinary and understandable, yet some may sound quirky or even unreal. These are 5 odd rituals around the world that will make your eyes pop.
by DIANA KIJAUSKAITĖ
Polterabend – pottery smashing in Germany
The luck of the marriage in Germany apparently depends on the amount of smashed porcelain and the ability of the couple to clean up the mess together. The Polterabend is a traditional ritual during which friends and family are smashing porcelain as the shards are supposed to bring good fortune into their lives. Another essential part of the ritual is for the couple to sweep out and clean all the shards. This action symbolizes the future challenges the newlyweds will have to go through together. Though it’s a perfect way for all the guests to get rid of their old and ugly china or tiles leftovers, I hope they are recycling all the shards afterward. It’s 2021, after all!
Midsommer – a pagan ritual loved by modern Scandinavians
Imagine the whole nation drinking, dancing, and hopping like a frog around a giant maypole – the ancient fertility symbol that is actually a disguised phallic symbol. Yes, this is what happens every year in Sweden. Every true swede is leaving home on the longest day of the year – June 24th, headed to a campsite, cottage, or a summer house. Modern Midsommer ritual includes a mix of activities: making flower wreaths, eating pickled herring, dancing, and singing. Basically, the swedes are having the time of their lives every year when the sun is around for more than 20 hours per day.
The worship of phallus in Bhutan
Even though the world is trying to escape patriarchy’s clutches, the exclusive body feature of the human male – the penis – is being worshiped in Bhutan. How did this happen? Well, it has a long religious history. Apparently, some mad man back in the day (think the 15th century), that was also a Tibetan saint or Lama, Drupka Kunley, was spreading his teachings around. He met a young girl on his way, who happened to be loyal to his teachings of Buddhism. Thus, the Lama found himself spreading more than his teachings to this young lady. The rumor exists that he blessed her with his offspring that night. And so, the worshiping began. The penis became a tool to disseminate the word of Buddhism for Drupka Kunley and later became a sacred symbol of fertility to the Bhutan people. Now you can take a trip to Punakha and see it for yourself. Big, small, colorful, and with mystical dragons around them – penises are painted all over the place on the sides of peoples’ homes.
The British and their rolling cheese
British people are charming in their own way. However, it’s not always the fancy accent or the 5 p.m. tea time tradition. They also have some weird rituals. One of them is a cheese rolling festival that is happening every spring at the now-famous Cooper’s Hill. The ‘game’ concept is to roll a huge wheel of cheese (a 7–9 pounds / 3–4 kilograms) down the 200 yards hill (around 180 meters) and then race while running after it. The contestant who reaches the finish first wins the cheese. The competitors should try to catch the cheese; however, it’s nearly impossible, as the rolling cheese may reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour / 110 kilometers per hour. All this may sound fun and games, but the way competitors are racing down the hill is brutal. Twisting and flying in the air causes broken arms, legs, and other injuries each year. And yet, the contest is attracting more and more crowds and enthusiasts every year. I guess quirky games and adrenaline is what make life meaningful for some of us.
Bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan
While all the other rituals mentioned above may sound fun or at least harmless, a ritual of bride kidnapping in Kyrgyzstan will make you pause. Think of the way you are choosing or maybe already chose your life partner. Maybe you were best friends and just clicked one day? Or your significant other swiped into your life via Tinder? Anyway, I hope it was pleasant and romantic. Though in Kyrgyzstan, the ritual of flirting is different, to put it mildly. Bride kidnapping is a socially accepted Kyrgyz tradition. It targets mostly young women, including minors under 18. The kidnapping is planned in advance, so usually, it happens quickly and successfully when the woman is abducted from the street while she’s alone. Then she’s being held in the home of the ‘groom,’ being assaulted psychologically and sometimes physically while trying to convince her to marry her thief, a.k.a. her knight in shining armor. Even though there might be some happy endings, however, the kidnappings can result in abuse, murder, and even suicide