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Wave Gotik Treffen – The Goth Festival of Leipzig

The festival-friendly city of Leipzig, in Germany, has hosted the 19th edition Wave Gotik Treffen, considered the world’s largest Goth event.

Around 25,000 Goth fans, from all over Europe, gathered in Leipzig, four a 3 day festival (22 – 24 May), that started back in 1992. Covered in tons of eyeliner and makeup, and sporting shiny jewelry and extreme piercings, attendees paraded their eccentric outfits, on the city streets, and turned Leipzig into a dark fantasy realm, if only for a few days.

During the Wave Gotik Treffen, Goth enthusiasts enjoy Goth rock concerts, theatrical performances, film premieres, exhibitions and discussions on various philosophical topics. Take a look at some of the coolest costumes from the recently ended Wave Gotik Treffen 2010:

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The Parade of the Lechon, in La Loma

The La Loma district, of Quezon city, in the Philippines, is famous for having a pig roaster on every street corners, but on the third Sunday of May, roasted pigs take to the streets.

Lechon is the word Filipinos use for roasted pigs. It’s derived from the Spanish word “leche” which hints that the pig must be a suckling pig. For this monumental feast, pigs are stuffed with tamarind, pandan leaves and a concoction of spices, their skins bathed in soy sauce and vinegar. They are roasted over a charcoal pit, by an expert roaster, who knows just when to turn them, until they become crispy red.

Although everyone enjoys a nice helping of delicious Lechon, complemented with liver sauce, the highlight of this Asian fiesta is the Parade of the Lechon. Roasted pigs are dressed up in funny costumes and paraded through the city streets, on the shoulders of devotees. After 50 years of celebrating the Parade of the Lechon, Filipinos have turned dressing up roasted pigs into an art. Read More »

Bolivia’s Day of the Skulls

Dia de los Natitas (Day of the Skulls) is an ancient Bolivian ritual where skulls are decorated with flowers and pampered with cigarettes, coca leaves and other treats.

Every November 9, the central cemetery, in La Paz, Bolivia, becomes the scene of a bizarre pre-Columbian tradition, known as Dia de los Natitas.  Women carrying skulls, in decorated wooden or cardboard boxes, fancy glass cases and even in plastic bags, gather outside the cemetery to show off their skulls. They are usually decorated with flower petals (hydrangeas and roses) and covered with knitted colorful caps.

Some Bolivians believe a person has seven souls, and one of them remains in the skeleton, after they’ve been buried. Once the other souls have left for heaven, the remains are dug up and the skull taken home and cared for. If they’re not respected, skulls can bring bad luck to a household, ruin the harvest and even break up a family. But if they’re properly taken care of, you can ask the skull for favors.

A big part of caring for the skull is represented by the Dia de Las Natitas celebration. Skulls are offered cigarettes, coca leaves, alcohol and are even serenaded by street musicians. Read More »

Pig Beauty Contest Held in China

The Pig Contest of Guanshan Village, Guangdong Province, China, is a centuries old tradition dating back to the Qing Dinasty.

Hundreds of thousands of tourists, from all over China, travel to Guanshan, every year, to take a look at the hundreds of pigs on display at the Pig Contest. This year, around 500 oinkers were sacrificed, cleaned up and set on display to be admired by passers-by.

After the most handsome pig is allected, the festivities end in a gargantuan feast, when the tasty participants are sliced up and served to the public. Read More »

China’s Lantern-Covered Building

To welcome the Lantern Festival that marks the end of the Chinese Lunar Year festivities, authorities have covered an entire building in brightly colored paper lanterns. Around 2,000 traditional lanterns were used to cover the facade.

The Lantern Festival is one of China’s most important celebrations, and this year it will be celebrated on February 28.

via ImagineChina

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Traditional Goose Fighting in Suzdal

Every year, the people of Suzdal, a small Russian town north-east of Moscow, gather at the the Museum of Wooden Architecture, for the traditional goose fight.

Locals form a circle that acts as the circle of the fighting ring, and the geese are simply unleashed. Apparently, the colder the winter, the more aggressive the birds. This year the temperatures were way below zero,  so the geese started fighting almost instantly.

Two families are released into the ring, but only two geese take part in the actual confrontation, withe the rest of the parties doing all the cheering. But this isn’t as violent as it my look. Unlike cock fights or ouzel fights, goose fighting is a lot more gentle, resulting in only a few plucked feathers.

via toprn

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The 2010 Lemon Festival of Menton

Each year, the French town of Menton hosts an event unique in the world, La Fete de Citron, or the Lemon Festival.

This year’s 77th edition of the Menton Lemon Festival takes place between February 12 and March 3 and has the theme “Menton does cinema”. The second most important festival on the French Riviera, after the Carnival of Nice and just before the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco, The Lemon Festival draws in a crowd of over 230,000 people.

The lemons grown in the Menton area are favored by the world’s star chefs, for their distinct flavor and superior sugar content. The French town enjoys a sub-tropical climate,sheltered by a nearby mountain chain.

Back in the 1930s, locals used to celebrate by parading a few carts loaded wit orange and lemon trees, but throughout the years, the festivities turned into an international carnival. Over 300 professionals work on arranging around 145 tons of citrus fruits as giant sculptures.

Photos via CCTV

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Brazilians Celebrate Underwear Day

Scantily clad models showed up at malls, bus stations and on the streets of Brazil, as part of the celebrations for Brazilian Underwear Day.

The event took place on Tuesday, and was organized by Brazilian fashion website Finissimo. The models, both male and female, showed off their underwear in the most crowded places, to attract as many views as possible.

I know it sounds meaningless, but there’s more to Underwear Day, than beautiful models and plain fun. Style consultant Maria Thereza Laudares explains the aim of this national event: “The aim of the National Underwear Day is to make people recognize the importance of these garments left unseen, but which are the first to be put on and the last to be taken off.”

She’s got a point there, and since this is the fourth edition of Brazilian Underwear Day, people seem to be responding positively.

Photos by REUTERS via Daylife

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Whiteout at the Xinzo Festival Flour Battle

One of the many Ourense festivals, the Spanish village of Xinzo de Limia host one of the most unique food fights in the world, the “flour battle”.

Every year, Galicians from  Xinzo de Limia celebrate their very own Ourense festival. The entire festivities are centered around a number of mythical characters (peliqueiros) whose significance and stories have been forgotten in time. Still the are part of local tradition, so the people dress in colorful clothes, put-on intricate masks and run through the streets of the city, making as much noise as possible.

People all over Galicia come to see the “peliqueiros”, but also to take part in the Flour Battle, where people through tons of flour at each other. Glasses are recommended as the fine ingredient can get pretty much anywhere.

Take a look at some photos taken at this year’s edition of the Flour Battle, Xinzo de Limia.

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St. Anthony’s Feast – A Fiery Celebration

Every year on January 17,the people of San Bartolome de Pinares celebrate St. Anthony by riding their horses, donkeys and mules through piles of burning tree branches.

The unique tradition of leaping over and through flames dates back 500 years, but the men and women of San Bartolome de Pinares still celebrate it religiously. They gather all the branches they find in the days leading up to the festivities, and when dusk falls on the eve of Saint Anthony’s, they light them ablaze. Riders lead their mounts through the burning piles of the village, accompanied by sounds of drums and Spanish bagpipes.

Jumping through the flames is said to bring the animals the protection of St. Anthony Abad, acknowledged as the patron of domestic animals, ever since the Middle-Ages. Locals believe the fire purifies their animals and protects them against illnesses, all year long.

Animal rights activists don’t buy the whole purification deal, but in a country like Spain, where traditions like bullfighting, Shearing of the Beasts or Day of the Geese, they don’t have too many hopes of putting an end to it. Plus, the owners say their animals remain unharmed…

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No Pants Subway Ride 2010

Around 3,000 people stripped down to their underwear, on Sunday, for the 9th annual No Pants Subway Ride.

Started in 2002, with just seven participants, the No Pants Subway Ride has turned into an international tradition. This year, people from 43 cities, in 16 countries joined their New York peers and boarded the subway in their undies.

Some participants to the New York event were met by protesters carrying banners and asking people not to strip, but the joy of the strippers quickly convinced the protesters to take of their pants and join the party. Wearing all kinds of underpants, from bikinis to male thongs, commuters braved the cold and spent No Pants Subway Ride 2010 talking or reading magazines, like they normally do.

No Pants Subway Ride was initiated by Improv Everywhere, an organization that made it its mission to create “scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”

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Mass Ice-Fishing at Hwacheon Ice Festival

Each winter, Hwacheon county, in South-Korea, draws-in over one million people to the Hwacheon Sancheoneo ice festival, held on a frozen river.

Hwacheon Festival hosts sledding, ice-soccer and snowman-building events, but the highlight of the event is the ice-fishing for fresh mountain trout. Under the thick ice, abundant quantities of fish are waiting for skilled fishermen. Anyone can try their luck at catching trout, at one of the nine thousand holes drilled in the icy surface of the river.

You might want to change your seat regularly, as the fish tend to move from one place to another, quite frequently. Once you catch a fish, you can take it to one of the mane cooking centers scattered on the festival grounds. There you can have it prepare raw or grilled. Any way you choose to prepare it, the Sancheoneo fish will melt in your mouth.

Another fun event at the Hwacheon Festival is catching the trout with your bare hands. Just slip in a pool of ice-cold water and try to grab the slippery critters.

Photos by Reuters via Drugoi

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Kalofer Men Celebrate Epiphany

The Bulgarian men of Kalofer celebrate Epiphany, an important Orthodox holiday, by performing a traditional dance in the freezing waters of Tundzha river.

On January 6, the small town of Kalofer, located 200 km east of the Bulgarian capital of Sofia, was the scene of an unique event. The men dressed in traditional costumes and, carrying national flags, headed for the neighboring Tundzha river. Here they entered its freezing waters and performed the customary Horo dance.

During the Epiphany ceremony, an Orthodox priest throws a metal cross in the water and young men plunge in to retrieve it. Whoever finds it first is said to stay in perfect health throughout the entire year. After a swim like this, I have my doubts…

Kalofer-Epiphany

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Post Yule Pyre 2010

The yearly event organized by the “Friends of the Rootless Forest” is just a nice way of parting with the evergreens that were once adored Christmas trees.

But you know how we humans are, we like things just as long as they serve a a purpose. Same thing with Christmas trees, once the holiday season has passed, most of us just abandon them on the street corners. The Friends of the Rootless Forest patrol the streets of San Francisco, gather all the trees they can find and give them a proper “burial” by setting them aflame.

The tradition of the Post Yule Pyre began in 1990 and more and more people have joined the ranks of the Friends of the Rootless Forest, since then. Every year, after the holiday season, they stack the evergreens on Ocean Beach and watch them burn. But what’s even more impressive is these guys actually clean the ashes off the beach, after the event is over, and plant a number of trees to compensate for the gases released during the Post Yule Pyre. How commendable is that!

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Santa Speedo Run 2009

A bunch of people running in the streets in speedos, or how a small holiday stunt turned into a national phenomenon.

The Boston tradition known as the Santa Speedo Run began on a Saturday, in December of 2000, when 5 friends decided to do something completely crazy to spice up their weekly routine. The best they could come up with was running through Boston wearing nothing but speedos, Santa hats and fake beards. They tried to get another 20 runners involved, but one week later, at race time, it was still just the five of them.

But they kept their courage and went through with what the plan. People shopping on Newburry Street started screaming and cheering while the five naked Santas ran by. And that, in short, is how the Santa Speedo Run was born.

It has come a long way since then, turning into an annual charity event that raises money for various charities, and inspiring similar displays in other American cities. Anyone can enter the Santa Speedo Run as long as they raise the minimum $250 for charity and aren’t afraid to strip down to their speedos at race time.

Photos via Boston.com

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