Inside 10 of the World's Strangest Festivals

The spooky rites of 'Midsommar' have nothing on these real-life celebrations.

Ari Aster's new film Midsommar tells the story of a Swedish festival that takes a gruesome turn. While that festival's carnage-soaked rituals are not based in reality (as far as we know), there are still plenty of peculiar festivals around the world for those seeking unnerving or flat-out bizarre forms of celebration.

These festivals vary greatly, both in terms of their religious significance and their spookiness, but they're all bound together by a common goal: to bring people together in celebration of something greater than themselves. From worms to radishes, Satanists to mud-bathers, here's a tour through some of the world's wildest gatherings.

1. La Tomatina, Spain

People filling the streets, soaked in a thick red liquid, hurling clumps of putrid red materials at each other… no, this isn't the scene of a horror film: it happens every year as part of La Tomatina. The festival started as a street fight between teenagers who decided to pummel each other with tomatoes from vegetable stalls, and it's become a beloved tradition in the Spanish town of Buñol.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via The Atlantic

2. Night of the Radishes, Mexico

Though this sounds like the name of an excellent horror film, it's actually the name of another vegetable-related festival. Based in Mexico, this celebration involves street vendors carving faces into their oversized radishes. The results are truly marvelous to behold, but also, it's deeply disorienting to imagine being in the vicinity of thousands of humanoid vegetables.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via Mental Floss

3. Fiesta de Santa Marta de Ribarteme, Spain

This festival is a celebration of near death experiences, and like you might imagine, it's all about death. As part of the celebration, live participants who have had near death experiences are carried in coffins through the streets of a small Spanish village called As Nieves in the province of Galicia. The procession ends at the cemetery of the Church of Santa Maria de Ribarteme, and culminates in this prayer: "Virgin Santa Marta, star of the North, we bring you those who saw death."

Despite how it might seem, the festival is not really about death at all. In Catholic tradition, Santa Marta is the sister of Lazarus, the saint who was brought back from the dead by Jesus. She's said to be the patron saint of reincarnation and protection, so honoring Santa Marta is actually all about honoring life.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via Atlantico.net

4. Frozen Dead Guy Days, Colorado, USA

This eloquently named celebration takes place in the town of Nederland, Colorado. In 1989, a Norwegian man named Trygve Bauge purchased the corpse of his grandfather, Bredo Mørstol, and promptly cryogenically froze him. For years, Bauge kept her father's frozen body in a shack behind her house. When she was finally evicted and fined, the story sent shockwaves around the community—and had a surprising effect: citizens began holding a weekend festival in celebration of Bauge's endeavor. Complete with coffin races and a slow-motion parade, this festival is the veritable embodiment of America: strange, absurdist, and inexplicable.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via The Know Denver Post

5. Hungry Ghost Festival, China

According to the Chinese calendar, the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar is called Ghost Day. The seventh month (which usually falls around August) is called Ghost Month, and it's supposed to be the time of year when the boundaries between the earthly and spiritual plane are the thinnest. On the fifteenth day, apparently the gates between Heaven, Hell, and Earth swing open. On this day, people make offerings to their dead, such as elaborate meals, incense, and paper boats or lanterns.

world's most bizarre festivals Pinterest

6. Famadihana: Festival of the Turning of the Bones, Madagascar

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via yallabook.com

As part of this funerary rite based in Madagascar, participants remove their loved ones from their crypts, rewrap the corpses in new cloth, and re-bury them. During the process, festivities such as dancing and drinking ensue–and sometimes participants will even dance with the corpses of their loved ones. The festival only occurs every five to seven years, and to honor their ancestors on the occasion, the people will sometimes spend more money on tombs than they spend on their houses. According to Malagasy tradition, ancestors serve as intermediaries between heaven and earth, and souls only move on to the next life after their bones have decomposed; so ancestor worship is highly important to the culture.

7. Black Mass, Catemaco, Mexico

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via Vice

Attended by over 200 shamans, witches, and healers, as well as around 5,000 spectators, this festival is a celebration of all things occult. It originally involved a large number of animal sacrifices, but since then the carnage has been turned down—at least publicly. Still, animal sacrifice rituals still occur in the nearby hills, with travelers coming from far and wide in hopes that a shaman might scare their demons away by slitting a goat's throat or two.

The festival is actually supposed to be a celebration of spring, and it has its roots in pagan rituals of ancient times, which began thousands of years before Europeans brought Christianity to the area. Today, the mass is intended to be a cleansing ritual, though some use it to rekindle their relationships with Satan or dark magic forces—and if you go, you'll probably see a few burning crosses, pentagrams, and other demonic symbols, flashing among the herbs and the crystals.

8. Vegetarian Festival, Thailand

This festival's name may seem innocuous, but it's actually one of the world's most painful celebrations. Based in the city of Puget, Thailand, this festival requires participants to fall into a trance and subsequently mutilate their bodies in different ways, using syringes, guns, blades, and more. These mutilations are always performed without anaesthetic, and the purpose of this is to show devotion and submission to the gods.

The Vegetarian Festival is an offshoot of the Nine Emperor Gods festival, which is a nine-day Taoist celebration held across Southeast Asia. It typically involves honoring the gods of life and death, and devotees wear white, light incense, and hold processions by waterways. Submission to the gods is an important part of this festival, and the Vegetarian Festival takes this idea to the extreme.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via The Culture Trip

9. Boryeung Mud Festival, South Korea

Every year, the inhabitants of the sleepy town of Boryeung, South Korea take advantage of their proximity to the mineral-rich Yellow Sea and spend the month of July playing mud games, taking mud baths, racing in mud obstacle marathons, and more. This is one rare example where someone selling something actually led to people enjoying themselves, instead of the other way around: The festival began as a marketing strategy for companies trying to sell cosmetics made from the region's mud, and soon blossomed into something much more.


World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via Lonely Planet

10. Blackawton Festival of Worm Charming, England

The little town of Blackawton, England is home to a very strange festival. It all began in 1983, when a man named Dave Kelland was relieving himself in a field when he noticed that he had inadvertently coaxed a bunch of worms out of the earth. Well, somehow or other, Kelland was inspired to turn this into a competition.

Today, Blackawton is home to an annual Festival of Worm Charming, during which competitors compete to see who can draw the most worms out of the ground. It's not all about urinating, though; worms can be charmed out of the earth through light tapping, mimicking birdsong, or "twanging" the ground with a fork in the soil. Surprisingly, it's been voted as Europe's most unmissable festival.

World's Most Bizarre Festivals Image via Afternoon Tea

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Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

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Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

Washington Park Arboretumtriposo.com

You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

Sarbucks Reserve Roasterydesigner.com

Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

buy happiness You sure about that?

Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.