The World's Weirdest Holidays

Japan's "Naked Man" festival is just the start of it

Many people around the world find the holidays stressful. But if you think for a second that juggling little-league holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa is difficult, be thankful you don't have to remember any of the truly bizarre holidays that made this list.

  • 01 of 05

    Up-Hell-Aa in Scotland

    Mike Pennington via Wikimedia Commons

    On the surface, the Scottish holiday of Up-Hell-Aa might very well seem like an angry mob carrying torches, the inclusion of the word "hell" in its name notwithstanding. Interestingly, the holiday is a sort of Pagan counterpart to Christmas – the rebirth of the sun, rather than the Son, and in late January rather than late December. The good news is that unless you're a replica of a Viking ship, you needn't worry about the flames all around you.

  • 02 of 05

    Naked Man Festival in Japan

    Hadaka Matsuri
    Mstyslav Chernov via Wikimedia Commons

    Everything you've heard about the Japanese being conservative (notable exception: love hotels) gets tossed out the window when you learn about Hadaka Matsuri, or the "Naked Man" Festival. Held or or near the coldest night of the year in late February, the festival is said to test the manhood of those who participate, which is pretty ironic if you happen to be male – you know first-hand what the cold does to manhood.

  • 03 of 05

    Lopburi Monkey Buffet in Thailand

    Lopburi Monkey Buffet
    Hbbhjgxjgf via Wikimedia Commons

    It's said that if you can't beat 'em, you should join 'em, and in the case of Lopburi, a village about 100 miles northeast of Bangkok, the "em" is a group of monkeys most famous for stealing food and beverages from human beings. The idea is that "inviting" the monkeys for a sumptuous buffet each November will curb their thieving ways the rest of the year – no word on how it's worked.

  • 04 of 05

    La Tomatina in Spain

    La Tomatina
    flydime via Wikimedia Commons

    Of all these strange holidays, La Tomatina is probably the most famous, but although it's not uncommon to see images of otherwise sane people writhing around in smashed tomatoes, few people understand the true meaning of this late-August festival – even those who participate. That seems to be because there isn't one: this festival is just for fun.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    Punch Your Neighbor Festival in Bolivia

    Tinku Festival
    Bjaglin via Wikimedia Commons

    If you've ever been to Andean South America, then you know first-hand how kind and gentle the residents of this region tend to be, whether you rub elbows with the descendants of the Inca in Cusco, Perú, or traipse through the Witch's Market in La Paz, Bolivia. Rules are meant to be broken, however, and when it comes to the Tinku Festival in the Bolivian town of Macha, it seems that faces are meant to be broken as well.

    The great news is that punching your neighbor in the face isn't the only element of this festival, which is meant to honor the fact that Pachaman, the ancient Earth goddess, demands blood for a good harvest. The bad news is that Pachamama doesn't discriminate, so if you happen to find yourself in Macha in May, prepare to be punched, foreigner or not.