We’re really pleased to have this guest post from Caroline, who’s a blogger at Culture Coverage. She’s taking us on a jaunt to some of the scariest festivals the world has to offer. Enjoy!
The cultural differences around the world can sometimes be shocking. What those in the US might consider taboo might be the norm for people of another country. Even the differences between those residing in the same country can sometimes catch us off guard. Traveling to a different state, for example, could seem like traveling to another world.
Sometimes festivities are happening right under our noses without our knowledge, and there are definitely some you won’t want to miss! Though some of these events might require you to travel across the globe to attend them, here are some festivals that are sure to give you a great scare.
Famadihana (Turning of the Bones)
In Madagascar, Famadihana is a festival that the Malagasy consider tradition. Every seven years, the Malagasy people gather from all over the country to pay their respects to the dead. Because it is their belief that their people aren’t able to immediately join the world of the ancestors after they die and must wait until their physical body decomposes completely, a festival is held to rewrap the corpses of their ancestors out of respect.
A celebration ensues during the festival where the Malagasy dance to music around the tomb with the newly wrapped corpses in tow. Though the tradition is on the decline, partially because of outside influences, it’s doubtful the festival will cease entirely anytime soon.
Dia de Los Muertos (Day of The Dead)
Dia de Los Muertos is a yearly holiday that is celebrated throughout Mexico beginning on October 31st and ending on November 2nd. While we’re celebrating Halloween in the US, the festivities in Mexico are just getting started! Much like Famadihana, Dia de Los Muertos is held to remember and pay respects to those who have died.
What’s especially interesting about this holiday though is that it is recognized by many across the globe. Even the traditional sugar skulls used in the celebration have become popular in the US. A 2014 animated movie titled “The Book of Life” was inspired by Dia de Los Muertos (which is available on Netflix and Hulu, but you may want to read over these Netflix tips from Secure Thoughts if you don’t see it available when you search for it).
The beliefs behind this festival are that deceased loved ones can visit with the living on specific days of the year. Altars are set up in homes and at the cemeteries and many people paint their faces for the occasion. Though this event isn’t meant to be frightening, it may appear as though it is to outsiders.
El Colacho (Baby Jumping)
El Colacho is a rather concerning holiday in Spain that is bound to make you flinch or at least turn away in fright. In Castrillo, men gather for a yearly festival to ward off the devil. During the festival, they often dress as Colacho (a character that is meant to represent the devil) and they take turns jumping over a group of babies.
El Colacho has been taking place since 1620 to celebrate the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. The belief is that if you jump over infants (who are laid on mattresses) that were born during the last 12 months, the babies will be cleansed of original sin and protected against illness and evil spirits.
Surprisingly, the only injuries that occur are those to the men, but it sure doesn’t make it any less frightening! Pope Benedict has previously attempted to persuade Spanish priests from supporting the festival or downplay its connection to Catholicism at least, but it appears that it’s going to take more than that to end such a long tradition.
Buried Alive Film Fest
If you’re a fan of horror movies, you might enjoy a film festival or two. Atlanta, Georgia has two annual film fests, one of which is the Buried Alive Film Fest. The Buried Alive Film Fest is a great place to catch a couple of movies or short films that you probably won’t hear too much about elsewhere.
They give indie filmmakers a chance to win one of a few different awards. Most of all, this is a festival you can relax at (at least until the movies get going) and you don’t even need to leave the US to do so!
Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night)
Perhaps one of the most entertaining scare-worthy festivals of all is Walpurgisnacht, which is commonly held in Germany, usually in the Harz region. This festival or gathering occurs on the evening of April 30th but is followed by a feast the next day for May Day.
On the eve of May Day, people dress up as devils and witches and gather for a night of fireworks, musical performances and of course lots of dancing. The beliefs behind this festival are that witches used to meet at the highest point of the Harz Mountain to hold revels with the devil and await the coming of spring the following day.
Variants of this festival exist across Europe, so there’s likely many different events you can go to if you’re interested in traveling a bit.
Do you have any scare-worthy festivals in mind that you’d like to share with us? Have you been fortunate enough to go to any of the events listed above? Leave us a comment below.
About the Author: Caroline loves a great scare, but one of her other passions is traveling. Whenever she can, she likes to go on adventures abroad and experience the festivities other cultures have to offer.