Gummatapura: the Indian village that ends Diwali with massive cow dung battle

The small Indian village of Gummatapura is famous all over the world for its unique way of ending the annual Diwali celebrations: a massive cow dung battle called “Gorehabba”. If Spain has La Tomatina, a famous battle with tomatoes, and Italy has the traditional Battle of Oranges during popular Ivrea’s Carnival, India has Gorehabba, a cow dung battle to end the important Diwali festivities. Diwali is literally the Festival of Lights, celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world. Diwali, which for some also coincides with harvest…

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Why one Australian Island celebrates thanksgiving

Norfolk Island is tiny, both in size and population. It is an Australian territory hundreds of miles from the mainland, that hosts fewer than 2,000 inhabitants. It has nice blue waters, unique flora, including famed Norfolk pine also displayed on their flag, and a curious story about its origin: the island was in fact populated by the descendants of mutineers from the British ship HMS Bounty. The British mutineers and several captive Tahitians had fled to nearby Pitcairn Island in 1790, and by 1856, their descendants moved there, to the…

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Stamford bull run: a custom demised after 700 years of cruelty

If you are lucky enough to own a castle you want to enjoy the fine views on your lands from your windows. And that, according to legend, is just what William Plantagenet de Warenne, 5th Earl of Surrey (1166-1240), was doing one day at the turn of the 12th century. As story goes, looking over the meadow stretched before him outside the town of Stamford he saw two bulls fighting over a cow. Local butchers then came with their dogs to part the animals, enraging them further and causing one…

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Thai funeral cookbooks: to preserve recipes and memories~

If recently you’ve been to a wedding, probably you’ve been handed a wedding program upon your arrival, featuring photographs of the happy couple, tidbits about how they met, details about their families or the story of their first date. Little books like these can frequently be found in Thailand as well, but not for weddings. For funerals. Yes. Really for funerals. In Thailand the custom to give out gifts to attendees at funerals it has been a long-held tradition. These small memorial books, locally called nang sue ngam sop, are…

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Święconka: the Polish Easter tradition artfully assembles symbolic foods, from bread to lamb-shaped butter.

The Polish people are very religious. Most of them are Roman Catholics. For centuries, during the 40 days before Easter (Lent) the Polish people fasted: they ate no meat, butter, eggs, cheese or desserts. On this day, the day before Easter, called Holy Saturday, Catholics still today assemble artful collections of symbolic foods for a traditional sacred ritual: the blessing of Easter baskets, locally know as Święconka. With roots dating back to the early history of Poland, it is also observed by expatriate and their descendants Poles in the U.S.,…

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March, 17: It’s St Patrick’s Day!

All we known that March 17 is St Patrick’s Day, a cultural and religious holiday celebrated every year in Ireland and by Irish communities around the world. The celebration marks the anniversary of Saint Patrick’s death in the fifth century and represents the arrival of Christianity in the country. Historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day, which has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of alcohol consumption. On St Patrick’s Day, it is customary to wear shamrocks, green clothing or green accessories. St…

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Chinese New Year 2020: the year of the Golden Rat. History and traditions of a millenary festival.

Two days ago, on January 25, the new year began according to the traditional Chinese calendar, a holiday period that will end on February 8, with the start of the Lantern Festival. This is the year of the Metal Rat (associated with gold), and according to Chinese astrology, those born under this sign are meticulous, intelligent and charismatic and, combined with the element of Metal, also controlled, ambitious, energetic and resolute. I asked myself, what are the ancient roots from which current traditions such as red color, fireworks, famous ravioli…

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How do people celebrate New Year around the world?

Even if people celebrate New Year in a number of ways, on 31st December, the festivities hit all places across the world at slightly different times too, due to the different time zone. Where’s the first place in the world to celebrate New Year? Tonga and Kiritimati (Christmas Island), part of Kiribati, are examples of the first places to welcome the New Year, while Baker Island in the United States of America is among the last. Some cultures may celebrate New Year at a different time to our 31st December,…

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14# The Christmas Pickle

Each december, millions of people dust off Christmas ornaments and hang them on their respective trees. They carefully place glass baubles and string lights to respect a tradition that, as we already know, has very ancient origins. However, in Berrien Springs, Michigan, some Christmas trees have something to hide. But why, if they are adorned in tinsel, string lights, and ornaments, and they don’t absolutely appear out of the ordinary? A closer look might reveal a shimmering emerald vegetable hiding inside the evergreen branches. No mistake, you’ve just spotted a…

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Vintage Photographs and customs from a 1920s/30s Halloween

Today, we associate October 31 with candy, costumes, and creepy decor. But, have you ever thought about the origin of Halloween and how the ghoulish holiday has evolved over the years? Halloween has very ancient origins. Traditionally linked to the Anglo-Saxon world, Westernization and globalization have now led it to become everyone’s cultural heritage, even in other parts of Europe. The genesis of the holiday is controversial, but it is probably common to Celtic and Roman festivals, in a mix of celebrations that coincided with the Samhain, the Celtic New…

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Onions in the Middle Ages were so precious that they were used also as money!

How many tears are shed by peeling an onion? Despite this little drawback, the use of the onion is normal, both for the taste that ensures in countless recipes, and for the benefits it brings to health. The onion has been used as a food for millennia, although modern archeologists, botanists and historians are unable to determine exact time and place of their first cultivations, because this vegetable is perishable and its cultivation leaves little to no trace. However, some written records enables us to paint a very interesting picture…

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The ancient and strange English custom of wife-selling

Between the late eighteenth and the mid-nineteenth century in England, there was a strange and fascinating custom called wife-selling. Married women in England were commonly bought and sold at village fairs. During this time, not a year passed when there was no court case concerning the sale of a wife. Between 1780 and 1850 the cases of sale of 300 wives were certainly recorded, free women treated as an purchasable good, in addition to the cases of many women who were not registered. Although it may seem brutal and disrespectful…

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The ancient Lycians and and their spectacular funerary culture

The ancient Lycians are probably one of the most enigmatic peoples of history, because there are not many traces of their civilization. However, what has been discovered reveals a fascinating people culturally distinct from the rest of the ancient world at the time. Today there are around twenty important sites to learn about the unusual funerary architecture of the Licyans, including the astonishing rock-cut tombs that dominate the unspoilt land of Lycia. Lycia occupied the region which is today the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of…

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The Ma’Nene Festival in Indonesia: the mummies of the dead return to visit their loved ones.

As we know, all cultures have their own way of celebrating those who have passed away, but in Indonesia, in the province of Tana Toraja, funeral rites are a little “different” from the usual. The Ma’Nene ritual is the festival of ancestor worship. When a person dies, the body is mummified with natural ingredients and buried in rock tombs. The mummification process allows the preservation of the corpse and allows the family to return to exhume it! The Torajan people proudly display their dead relatives after digging them up and…

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The Venice Carnival: a history lasting over 900 years.

The Carnival of Venice, which has just ended a few days ago, if not the most grandiose, is certainly the best known for the charm it exerts and the mystery it continues to possess even now that 900 years have passed since the first document that refers to this famous celebration. Who has never heard of it? There are memories of the Carnival festivities since 1094, under the doge Vitale Falier, in a document that speaks of public entertainment in the days preceding Lent. Historically, It’s said that the Carnival…

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The mysterious Hanging Coffins of Sagada, Philippines

In the mists of time, for over 2000 years, the Igorot population has traditionally created wooden coffins and set them overhanging in the rock. The Igorots are an indigenous tribe living still today in Sagada, Luzon Island, Philippines, and this tradition is still present today. The Igorots practise unique funerary customs, in which the dead are buried in coffins which are tied or nailed to the side of cliffs. As tradition requires, everyone builds his own coffin, starting this work when he begins to feel the first signs of weakening…

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