Holidays are brought on by condensed cultural and heritage backgrounds. Different people groups around the world are united in some common holidays, such as Christmas or Easter, but also have different ones to boot.
Some distinct celebrations are so interesting and unique that they break away from the mainstream.
Wintertime brings about the dark season, days are shorter and night comes very fast as the sun makes its presence less and less. It is no wonder then, that many traditional holidays revolve around the changing of the seasons, and winter is considered the scariest.
Having to fend for ourselves in the dark, all manner of creatures and scary ghouls populate our imagination and so were devised ways of combating these fears.
In Bulgaria, and throughout the Balkans, people create highly detailed costumes depicting various animals, with which they clad themselves to participate in rituals aimed at warding off evil spirits.
This holiday is referred to as Kukeri and the name itself is attributed to the men wearing the costumes and marching in the streets, around New Years, before Lent. Superstition dictates to observe this holiday at night so that the sun won’t catch the costumed men in the street.
A spring talisman
The coming of spring after the winter season of darkness and cold marks a new beginning, a rebirth of the seasons and of nature. Spring is then, a very good reason to celebrate, and in Romania on the 1st of March, people indeed honor a holiday. The manner by which March 1st is celebrated is by gifting women and girls, a talisman with a white and red string attached to it called a martisor.
Children will often give their female teachers flowers, and boys at school give girls a token with red and white string. A different version of Valentine’s Day but including all the girls. Of course, the gifting of said talisman often occurs between girls as well.
The most common talisman is in the form of a snowdrop, either the real flower or a plastic/ceramic ornament of one. People will also tie the red and white string around their wrist with 9 knots which they will wear for nine days, until March 9th.
Depending on where we are in life, different circumstances and points in our lives are celebrated for the milestones that they are. Having a baby is one such milestone and it is viewed as an occasion.
In Castrillo de Murcia, Spain, a yearly tradition is observed as a holiday. Men dress in a red and yellow costume depicting the Devil and jump over babies that were born in the last year that are placed on mattresses.
It is unknown where this tradition came from, but it is regarded as a way to cleanse the babies of original sin. They also believe it provides protection against illness and evil spirits, helping the babies as they venture towards adulthood.
The International Highline Meeting Festival, Monte Piana (Italy)
Some people are so passionate about their hobbies or job that they organize festivities around them. In the Italian dolomite Alps, Monte Piana, people gather to participate in the International Highline Meeting Festival.
Attendees spend their time in hammocks on tight ropes at high altitudes and call themselves slackers, due to the way they seem to chill in their sleeping arrangements. It looks like a dangerous way to spend a holiday but one cand admire the dedication these people have for altitudes and tightrope.
However people observe holidays, it is clear that there are as many celebrations as there are cultures and keeping such traditions alive defines us as humans with interests and legacies.