50 Unique Traditions From Around The World
The world is full of different cultures, religions, and countries with unique traditions. These traditions are celebrated in various ways and have stood the test of time as people worldwide still practice them today. People might find that some traditions are more bizarre than others, but each has its own unique purpose.
Traditions are practiced by people no matter their background and have shaped each culture to become what they are today. Whether celebrating Oktoberfest or participating in a religious ceremony, these unique traditions keep those who celebrate them in touch with that culture. So if you want to learn more about these unique traditions from around the world, be sure to check out this piece.
El Colacho is a tradition that is celebrated in a small village in Spain named Castrillo de Murcia. This tradition dates back to 1620 and is also known as the baby jumping ceremony. The tradition is celebrated for newborn babies and is practiced each year.
This tradition has men dressed as demons jumping over newborn babies who are thought to help with cleansing the babies of sin. This tradition might seem strange to many people around the world, but it is celebrated by thousands of Spanish people each year, and they strongly believe in their customs and traditions.
In Madagascar, the Malagasy people have a funeral tradition named Famadihana which is quite unique as they take the bodies of their dead family members out of their resting places and rewrap their bodies with new linen. This tradition, which is also known as the turning of the bones, has been practiced since the 17th century but fewer people are practicing it today as it has proven to be quite dangerous.
Since the bodies of the deceased can carry diseases, the government of Madagascar regulates how many of these ceremonies can be performed, but despite the danger, many Malagasy people still participate in the tradition.
Sateré-Mawé Tribe - Bullet Ant Tradition
When it comes to becoming a man, each culture has its own tradition which celebrates the passage from childhood to adulthood. Some of these traditions are quite harmless, but when it comes to the Sateré-Mawé tribe located in the Amazon Rainforest, pain is part of the game.
The Sateré-Mawé's bullet ant ritual has to be one of the most bizarre ways to become a man and really tests the might of mental will of the young boys that participate in this ritual. Wicker gloves are filled with bullet ants, and the young boys have to wear the gloves for five minutes in order for them to be called men afterward.
Purification Ritual In Bali
Bali is one of the most beautiful places in the world and is a place of healing for many people, especially its inhabitants. Balinese Hindus practice a purification ritual at the Tirta Empul Temple which is said to cleanse your mind, soul, and body and is performed by thousands of Balinese Hindus each year.
Participants undergo a series of steps to perform the ritual and end up cleansing their bodies with the spring water, which is thought to be holy. Balinese Hindus are not the only ones who can perform this ritual, as tourists are able to participate in this unique tradition that dates back thousands of years.
Boun Lai Heua Fai
Boun Lai Heua Fai is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated annually in Laos when the full moon is seen in late October. Boun Lai Heua Fai, which loosely translates to "floating boats of light," is a tradition that has been celebrated for hundreds of years.
The people of Laos make boats and lanterns made out of banana leaves which they decorate and place candles in to light them up. Once the night arrives, the people set the boats and lanterns in the Mekong River and celebrate the night away. This tradition is known to cleanse bad luck and bring good fortune to those that participate.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
The Japanese have always been known to keep their traditions alive as they have always paid respect to their ancestors. One tradition that stands out in Japan is the Japanese tea ceremony which has been practiced since the 9th century. The tradition originates from Zen Buddhism and is performed several times a year.
The ceremony involves a tea master who prepares powdered green tea, also known as matcha, in a certain way and provides anyone who participates with a sense of relief. The Japanese tea ceremony is one of the best ways to experience Japanese culture and can be performed by tourists as well.
The people of Myanmar, also known as Burma, have been practicing a tradition for hundreds of years that involves putting a creamy white paste on your face and skin. The paste is called thanaka, which is a root and bark of a thanaka tree ground up and is known to help prevent sunburns, give you smooth skin, help cool you down, and prevent acne from building up.
The ritual is practiced by Myanmarian women as they believe that it helps prevent you from looking old and is applied to their bodies almost every day. Thanaka has become a big part of Myanmar culture and is something sacred to the people.
Pachamama Temple Rituals
The Andean culture celebrates La Ofrenda a la Pachamama (The Offering to Mother Earth) at the beginning of August each year, and it is a tradition that has been alive for thousands of years. The offering must be performed by a shaman that prepares a small package of goods that usually contains coca leaves, nuts, flowers, brown sugar, incense, red wine, and sometimes even the blood of a baby alpaca.
The shaman then heats up the package in a small oven dug out of the ground and blesses everyone in the group with offerings to Mother Earth. The practice is widely celebrated and is believed to bring good fortune to one’s crops.
Almabtrieb is an annual tradition that takes place mostly in the Austrian Alps but is known to be practiced in several parts of Europe that are located in the alpine regions. The annual event is celebrated for the safe return of farmer’s cattle that return home to the valleys below the mountains.
During the summer, cattle are sent to high altitudes in order to graze on the best grass possible, as most have spent the winter inside. This tradition has become a tourist attraction in recent years. It is one of the most colorful celebrations in Austria as farmers dress their cattle with flowers and colorful garments.
Day of the Dead
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that is traditionally celebrated in Mexico on November 1st and 2nd. The holiday is one of the biggest in the country as it celebrates loved ones that have passed on to the afterlife. Although the name of the holiday might sound depressing, it is quite the opposite when it comes to the celebrations held on both days.
The Day of the Dead has been a tradition since the 1500s and consists of participants dressing up in costumes and creating altars to help guide their loved ones to the afterlife. The celebrations have a humorous tone and everyone has a great time during these two wonderful days.
Lunar New Year
When it comes to one of the biggest traditions in China, the Chinese New Year is ranked as the best as it is celebrated all over the world. Also known as the Lunar New Year, the celebrations and festivals last up to two weeks and are filled with musical performances, fireworks, and more food than you can handle.
The official start date of the Chinese New Year is different every year as it follows the lunisolar Chinese calendar but usually tends to start in either late January or February. Chinese people from all over the world celebrate this immense holiday, and it has been a tradition for thousands of years.
Las Fallas De Valencia
The Falles is a traditional celebration that is held annually in the city of Valencia, Spain, in honor of Saint Joseph. The celebration lasts five days, starts on March 15th, marks the end of winter, and welcomes spring. The tradition was first created during the Middle Ages when Valencia artists burned unusable parts that they would use to make monuments.
The tradition has changed dramatically over the years as now each neighborhood’s residents will create elaborate figures made out of wood and paper mache that they burn during the five-day celebration. This is one of the biggest celebrations in the city, and many people look forward to making their figures.
The Regata Storica is a celebration that is held in Venice, Italy, on the first Sunday in September. The celebrations are comprised of two significant events: a historical boat parade followed by rowing races. The boat parade consists of hundreds of decorated boats that Venice is known for that row through all the canals in the city. The event celebrates the gondoliers and rowers that made Venice one of the most popular cities in the world.
Many residents dress up in 16th-century costumes and try to replicate how Venetians dressed back then. The traditional holiday is not only popular with Venetians, but several tourists visit the city during these events as they are epic.
The Dwijing Festival is an annual celebration that is held on the banks of the Aie river located in Assam, India. The 12-day festival takes place on the last week of December and ends the first week of January, which marks the beginning of a new year. Several local dishes are served during the Dwijing Festival, including fried silkworms, fried pigeons, and jute leaf curry.
The festival is also full of games, giving locals a chance to win either a chicken or some other farm animal, as it is part of the tradition to do so. People from all over the world participate in the Dwijing Festival as it is magical.
Chiang Mai Flower Festival
The Chiang Mai Flower Festival is a traditional annual event that takes place during the month of February. Thousands of people celebrate the end of the winter season, and flowers bloom within the region. Thai people gather flowers from all over the country to celebrate this festival by making elaborate floats covered with colorful flowers and parading down the streets.
Women dress up in traditional dresses that they make each year to celebrate the Chiang Mai Flower Festival. The festival also includes a pageant to determine which woman has the best flower queen outfit.
Diwali is an important Hindu festival that is celebrated in India, and all over the world, each year and is one of the oldest traditions that is still practiced. Diwali, also known as “The Festival of Lights,” celebrates the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.
Since Diwali is one of the most important traditional festivals, Hindus take to the streets and party all night. The night is usually filled with fireworks and loud music, which makes this a great festival to partake in if you are a tourist. This annual festival is always an event that Hindus look forward to as it is a fun night.
Mayan Cleansing Ritual
In Mexico, a traditional ceremony has been practiced for thousands of years as it dates back to the Mayan civilization and is called the Mayan cleansing ceremony. The ceremony is performed by a Mayan shaman that blesses people before they enter a cenote which is something that ancient Mayan warriors practiced.
The cleansing ritual is performed on a table which is known as a Mayan cross. It consists of offering traditional materials from the region to the Mayan gods to ask permission to enter a cenote. Thousands of people participate in the cleansing ceremony as they want to preserve their cultural traditions.
Buglasan Festival, also known as “The Festival of Festivals,” is a traditional event celebrated in the Philippines annually on the second week of October. The festival is celebrated to honor the friendship among fellow citizens and the peace among cities within the country. Every city creates its own unique booths that they transport to the city of Dumaguete. The festival also consists of a dance competition in which locals dress up in traditional costumes and participate in the dance competition.
Each town and city has its own traditional dances and costumes, making this festival one of the most unique in the country.
The Midsummer Festival marks the beginning of summer and light and is one of the largest festivals in Finland. The traditional festival has been practiced for hundreds of years as the people of Finland have always looked forward to summer as they always have harsh cold winters. The celebrations usually take place between June 20th to the 26th and consist of several festivities that the Finnish have come to enjoy.
Midsummer is usually celebrated in the countryside of Finland, and the tradition is to light a bonfire and celebrate the coming of warmer days. When it comes to food, the Finnish prepare barbecue meals and cook their meals over the fire.
The annual festival of Durga Puja is celebrated in India. It marks the victory of good over evil, which is celebrated multiple times a year in Indian culture. This is another tradition that has been practiced for a long time, as it dates back to the 1500s. The festival is all about creativity as many artists will create monuments of the Goddess Druga, who was the one that defeated a powerful demon.
Durga Puja is not just celebrated in India but also by Hindu Bengali all over the world. The festival consists of parading the monuments of Durga and other deities, such as Lakshmi, and serving traditional dishes that have been eaten for hundreds of years.
Timkat is an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church celebration of Epiphany that is celebrated on January 19th. Timkat marks the celebration of the baptism of Jesus and is performed in the River Jordan. This is one of the most essential traditional ceremonies that Ethiopian Orthodox participate in as it re-enacts the baptism of Jesus.
The three-day festival consists of several ceremonies and prayers that are performed in front of the River Jordan. Although the main ceremony takes place on the River Jordan, Timkat is celebrated across all of Ethiopia and is easily the biggest event that happens in the country annually.
Seoul Lantern Festival
The Seoul Lantern Festival is a traditional ceremony that is celebrated annually in Seoul, South Korea. The festival is held every February and marks the celebration of the end of the year and the beginning of the new year. The whole city of Seoul is lit up by lanterns that local residents create to honor the new year.
There are various types of lanterns that are used to light up the capital city, and it is one of the biggest celebrations in the country. Many tourists visit Seoul around this time of the year as the festival makes the city feel more welcoming, and it is a great way to dive into Korean culture.
Mama Negra Festival
The Mama Negra Festival is a traditional festival that is practiced by Ecuadorians and marks the celebration of the Virgin of Mercy, who was responsible for keeping Ecuadorians safe from erupting volcanoes. Since Ecuador is full of volcanoes, the country's citizens strongly believe that the Virgin of Mercy has always had their backs.
The festival is celebrated twice a year, the first being in September and the last being in November. Ecuadorians from all over the country visit the small town of Latacunga and dress up in traditional clothing to celebrate this immense festival.
Yanshui Fireworks Festival
The Yanshui Fireworks Festival is a traditional celebration that is held in Southern Taiwan and has been labeled one of the most exciting but dangerous festivals in the world. The two-day festival is held at the beginning of February and consists of participants lighting different types of fireworks to ward off evil spirits.
This is considered to be one of the most dangerous festivals as participants will aim fireworks in any direction. If you are willing to attend this festival, you will have to have full body protection, including a helmet, as there are fireworks going off in every direction.
Lucia is a Christmas tradition that is celebrated in Sweden on December 13th and has been a tradition ever since Christianity was introduced to the country. The annual celebration takes place in a church and involves children dressing up in traditional garments and singing Christmas songs in front of onlookers.
The tradition is celebrated throughout the country and is one of the most beautiful and uplifting traditions in Swedish culture. The tradition is celebrated to commemorate the martyr Lucia of Syracuse, who was believed to have brought food to Christians while they were hiding from Roman captors.
Fasching, also known as Carnival, is a traditional festival that is celebrated the week before Ash Wednesday. The festival is a week-long and consists of games, parties, and celebrations in which the whole country of Germany participates. What makes Fasching unique is that almost everyone wears creepy masks that date back to pagan times, which are believed to ward off evil spirits.
The festival is also celebrated to bring luck to farmers' crop wields, so many local dishes are served throughout the week. This is one of the largest festivals in Germany, but it is not the only tradition that Germans follow, as they have tons.
Bonfire Night is an annual celebration that is practiced in the United Kingdom and is one of the most unique traditions that the country has. The firework celebration is held on November 5th and commemorates the failure of Guy Fawkes, who was planning to blow up King James I and the House of Parliament.
Once Fawkes and his conspirators were caught, a wide celebration was held in Great Britain. Now the holiday is celebrated by bringing the family out to watch fireworks throughout the night. British people look forward to this holiday every year as it is a time to spend time with family and enjoy the show together.
Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival has to be one of the world's most popular and unique festivals, as it is a spectacular event to experience. The festival is held at Ueno Park, which is one of the largest in the city of Tokyo, Japan, and is home to thousands of blossom trees.
The traditional festival is celebrated for the blossoming of the cherry blossom trees and is visited by thousands of people each year. The Japanese believe that the blossom tree represents the beginning of a new life, the renewal of life, and nature's everlasting beauty.
The Zangbetos, a voodoo ceremony, has to be the most unique tradition on the list as it involves some strange outfits and customs that might frighten you. The traditional ceremony is held in the Republic of Benin, which is the birthplace of voodoo culture. Many people believe that this tradition has been practiced for over 10,000 years and helps ward off evil spirits that are known to roam throughout villages.
Locals dress up as the evil spirits that are known to wreak havoc, and villagers and participants will dance around these demons, which is one of the ways that they ward these evil spirits away.
Sak Yant is a traditional form of tattooing that is practiced by the Buddhist culture but has become quite popular with celebrities who have gotten these tattoos as well. Although you can get a bamboo tattoo just about anywhere in Thailand, there are only a few temples that offer to perform a blessing ritual which is believed to protect you from evil spirits.
The traditional ritual must involve a trained group of monks that are taught to bless you during the process of tattooing. This is a pretty painful experience, but in the end, people feel enlightened.
Persian Wedding Ceremony
When it comes to different cultural wedding ceremonies, they all have their unique traditions that have been around for centuries. One wedding ceremony that stands out is the Persian wedding ceremony, also known as Sofreh Aghd. The traditional ceremony has been around for thousands of years and consists of the bride and groom looking into a mirror which represents looking into the future, while the host announces the couple's marriage.
The ceremony also includes the bride and groom dipping their pinkies in honey before they kiss each other. This amazing ceremony is like nothing you have ever seen at a wedding and is unique in every way.
Water Blessing Ceremony
The Khmer people of Cambodia practice a traditional Buddhist blessing that has been around for hundreds of years. The Khmer people believe that the water is meant to bring people together and bless everyone who partakes in the ritual. Water blessing rituals started after the first Buddhist king of Cambodia came to power, which in turn made the Hindu populace fear religious conversion, but instead of punishing them, the king instead blessed them with holy water.
This is why Cambodians from all over the country practice this ritual, as it not only protects you from bad things happening but also brings you good fortune.
The Rapa Nui people are located on Easter Island and participate in an annual tradition that goes back centuries called the Tapati Rapa Nui Festival. Also known as the "Week Festival," the Tapati Festival last two weeks long and celebrates the birth of the Easter Island culture. The festival consists of two opposing family clans competing against each other in games to determine who gets to choose the next queen of the island.
The festival is full of games, food, and creativity as everyone on the island partakes in this ancient ceremony. The games that are played during the festival are unique to the Easter Island culture and are a way to determine who is better.
Fasnacht Basel, also known as the Carnival of Basel, is an annual celebration that usually starts between February and March in the city of Basel, Switzerland. It is one of the largest festivals in Europe, and for good reason, as residents from Basel will dress up in outrageous costumes and parade through the city.
Fasnacht Basel is celebrated to mark the end of winter, drive evil spirits away, and as a time to let loose. The tradition has been around since the Middle Ages, and people from all over the world visit the city of Basel to participate in the fun.
St. Patrick's Day
When it comes to American traditions, they usually stand out among the others as Americans are always known to go all out, and that saying is true when it comes to celebrating St. Patrick's Day in Chicago, Illinois. On March 17th, of every year, the city of Chicago dyes the Chicago River green for the day.
St. Patrick's Day is an important holiday in America as it celebrates Christianity's arrival in Ireland. Chicago is known to go all out because there is a significant Irish cultural presence in the city. The day is celebrated by drinking and eating good food all day and is one of the biggest holidays in America.
Vardavar is an Armenian festival that has been around since pagan times and is still widely celebrated today. The tradition is linked with the ancient goddess Astghik, the goddess of love, water, and beauty. The festival is celebrated all over the country to honor the goddess that helps provide crops.
The tradition has changed over the years as people tend to have water fights throughout the street, but everything is all for fun as they still understand why the festival is celebrated. Vardavar is pretty unique and something that you don't see in every country.
Eastern Europeans and Russians who call themselves Orthodox Christians participate in a traditional ritual that celebrates the baptism of Jesus. The celebration of Epiphany is conducted during January, which is one of the coldest months in Russia, but that doesn't stop participants from jumping into an ice-cold lake to perform the ritual.
Believers submerge themselves in the ice-cold water three times while a priest blesses them to honor the Holy Trinity. The hole in the lake or river is usually shaped like a cross and is one of the most popular traditions that is still practiced in Eastern Europe and Russia.
Koningsdag, also known as King's Day, is a national holiday that is celebrated on April 27th in the Netherlands. The festival commemorates the birth of King Willem-Alexander, who is the present King of the Netherlands. People all around the Netherlands go out and celebrate the birth of their king and support the national color of orange to honor their King.
The tradition was started in 1885 on the fifth birthday of Princess Wilhelmina and was named Prinsessedag at that time. The Dutch really take their history seriously and don't mind partying the night away for their king.
Libson Sardine Festival
The Libson Sardine Festival, also known as the Feast of St. Anthony, is a traditional event that occurs annually on June 12th in Lisbon, Portugal. Each year the city's residents commemorate St. Anthony of Padua as he was known to talk to fish, which would often gather around him, especially sardines.
So the locals eat sardines in honor of St. Anthony of Padua as he was full of miracles. St. Anthony was also known to be one of the leading priests that spread Christianity throughout Portugal, which is why he is so looked up to. The festival includes eating as many sardines as you can.
Mardi Gras is the American version of Carnival and is hosted annually in New Orleans, Louisiana. The festival is celebrated two weeks before Ash Wednesday and is full of parades and activities to keep your head spinning. Mardi Gras was originally a French tradition, but since the French owned Louisiana for quite a while, their traditions stuck with the people of Louisiana.
Mardi Gras is the largest festival in the state, and people from all over the world visit New Orleans to experience the unique nature of Mardi Gras. This is one tradition that everyone should participate in.
Spain is full of traditions, and the Semana Santa, also known as Holy Week, has to be one of the most unique that is practiced in the country. The traditional ceremonies occur all over the nation just a week before Easter and are an annual tribute to the Passion of Christ.
Nazarenos, which are the people wearing the strange costumes, are members of a brotherhood that has sworn to do an act of penance. The costumes might resemble something that the KKK would wear, but these costumes are what this brotherhood has been wearing for hundreds of years.
Surva is a traditional festival that is held in Pernik, Bulgaria, and is unique to the region as it dates back to pagan rituals performed in ancient Bulgaria. Just like many European cultures, Bulgarians believe that dressing up as monsters and creepy creatures helps scare away evil spirits. Participants are fitted with belts that have several bells on them, which are said to ward off any evil spirits in their presence.
While most of the men usually dress up in strange creature costumes, the women typically dress in traditional clothing that you would have seen back in the Middle Ages.
Krampus is a traditional holiday celebrated on December 5th and is practiced in the alpine regions in Europe but is most popular in Germany and Austria. In Alpine folklore, Krampus aids Santa Claus as he scares the misbehaving children. So adults in the alpine regions dress up as Krampus, which is a demonic-looking creature, and scare the children in the town.
The tradition is celebrated differently depending on the region, and some places allow even children to dress up as Krampus. This might seem like Halloween for Americans, but this tradition has been going on since the Middle Ages.
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
The Rio de Janeiro Carnival is one of the largest carnivals in the world, and undoubtedly the most famous as the whole city participates in the grand parades and parties celebrated in the city. People from all over the world come to visit Rio de Janeiro to see the colorful parades, competitive competitions, extravagant dances, and wild parties that the Carnival has to offer.
The festival is meant to celebrate the coming of Lent, and the celebrations last for a week long. There is a crazy mix of cultures in Rio de Janeiro which makes it one of the most unique festivals in the world.
Oktoberfest is another world-famous traditional festival because it involves drinking a lot of beer. Although the main Oktoberfest is celebrated in Munich, Germany, the tradition is celebrated all over Germany and the world. The beer-drinking festival lasts for over two weeks and is held between September and October. Around 6 million people participate in the Oktoberfest events in Munich, making it one of the largest festivals in the world.
The tradition of Oktoberfest was started in the 1800s by German Bavarians, who were known to drink a lot of beer. Now the festival brings several cultures together and undoubtedly is one of the coolest traditions out there.
Padaung Neck Ring Tradition
Padaung, the women of the Kayan people residing in Myanmar, have one of the most unique traditions that baffles many cultures around the world. Padaungs start wearing neck rings at a very young age which is the only way they are able to stretch out their necks over time. These women add a ring to their necks every year until there are around 20 rings in total.
This tradition has been practiced for many years as Marco Polo was the first to describe neck rings back in 1300. It might seem strange to many cultures, but this is something that is ingrained in their culture.
When it comes to pain, the traditional festival Thaipusam has to be ranked as number one, as this Hindu festival is not for the faint-hearted. The Tamil Hindu festival is celebrated on the full moon of January and symbolizes a day of prayers and penance. Things can be quite painful for the ones that are serious about the festival as some men will poke themselves with several hundred sharp objects to show a sign of penance.
The painful part of Thaipusam is not for everyone, and luckily that is not the only thing that people can participate in as there are a number of traditional prayers being conducted throughout the festival.
Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake
The Cooper's Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake is a traditional annual event that is held at Cooper's Hill, which is located in Gloucester, England. The event is celebrated on Spring Break Holiday, which leads to several hundred people participating in the events. The game is whoever catches the wheel of cheese that is thrown down a 200-yard steep hill wins the competition.
This dangerous, but fun, tradition was started in the 1800s by the residents of Brockworth but now has become one of the most celebrated events in the region. This event isn't for the physically weak, as you can wreak havoc on your body while running down Cooper's Hill.
The last unique tradition on the list is Polterabend which is a German wedding tradition that involves guests of a wedding destroying porcelain plates and dishes. The tradition is meant to bring good luck to the newlywed's marriage and is widely celebrated all over Germany.
Germany isn't the only country that has a wedding tradition that involves breaking porcelain as there are several cultures, such as the Greeks, who have similar traditions with similar beliefs. The tradition in Germany dates back to the Germanic tribes that once ruled over Germany. This is a unique tradition that ended up becoming a tradition for many cultures.