Traditional Saudi War Dance Gives ‘Jumping the Gun’ a Literal Meaning

Taasheer is a traditional war dance performed by Saudi men and boys which involves spectacular, well-timed leaps that synchronize with the dramatic discharge of long muzzle-loading rifles.

Once performed before battle to motivate fighters and instill fear in the heart of the enemy, Taasheer is now performed at important social events, like weddings and festivals. Boys are trained to perform the traditional dance from a young age, first with an unloaded weapon, until they are ready to handle the gun powder. It is passed down from generation to generation, and the people of Taif hope to be able to preserve it forever.

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In This New Zealand Town, Easter Is All About Wiping Out Bunnies

In Christian countries around the world, the Easter Bunny is a beloved symbol of one of the world’s most popular holidays, but in one New Zealand town, bunnies are such a plague for farmers that locals spend Easter wiping them out.

In New Zealand, rabbits are an introduced species that threatens both the country’s biodiversity and its agriculture. They are essentially pests that have to be culled in order to minimize the damage they cause. The town of Alexandra, in Central Otago, has turned the mass culling of rabbits into an event known as The Great Easter Bunny Hunt, which attracts hundreds of hunters from all over the country. The local Alexandra Lions club has organized the event for the last 25 years, which has become popular both with hunters and the local population, including kids, many of whom take part in the “celebration”.

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Gangina – The Afghan Way of Keeping Grapes Fresh For Up to Six Months

Gangina is a traditional means of keeping grapes and other fruits fresh for several months, by sealing them in air-tight containers made of wet soil.

Grapes are tricky to keep fresh for long periods of time, even when refrigeration is available, but apparently Afghans have long been using an ancient method of keeping the soft fruits fresh for consumption in the winter months, when fresh fruits are otherwise hard to come by. Called gangina, this ingenious conservation technique involves sealing healthy grapes in a saucer-like container made of two layers of wet soil. The container is left in the sun to dry and then has to be kept in a cool place, away from direct sunlight. If stored properly, gangina containers can keep grapes picked in autumn fresh until next year’s spring season.

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Microfishing – When the Tiniest Fish Becomes the Biggest Catch

Catching fish as small as a penny would be nothing short of embarrassing for the average fisherman, but in Japan it’s a source of pride, as in the old art of Tanago Fishing, the smaller the fish is, the bigger a catch it represents.

Most fishermen believe that the bigger the fish they catch, the greater their fishing skill is, which is why you routinely see them posing only with very large fish, and hear them telling tales about veritable sea monsters that only narrowly eluded them. However, things are very different in Japan, a country where minimalism is pervasive in all aspects of life, from gardening, to architecture. Fishing makes no exception, so it’s not very surprising that fishermen judge their skills not by how large their catch is, but by how small it is.

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Daisugi – Ancient Forestry Technique Produces Plenty of Lumber From a Single Tree

Daisugi is a centuries-old forestry technique developed in Japan as a way of cultivating the highly-prized Kitayama Cedar without actually using any land. Today, the visually-striking technique can be witnessed in ornamental gardens.

Dating back to the 14th century, daisugi allowed for the cultivation of Kitayama cedar, a species of tree known for growing exceptionally straight and lacking knots, in a time when high demand and lack of straight land for planting enough trees made growing Kitayama cedars impossible. Similar to the famous art of bonsai, daisugi basically involved heavily pruning a so-called “mother cedar tree” so that only the straightest shoots are allowed to grow. Careful hand-pruning is conducted every couple years, leaving only the top boughs and ensuring that the shoots remain knot free. After about 20 years, the now massive shoots can either be harvested as exceptional Kitayama lumber, or replanted to repopulate forests.

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Chechen Man Forced to Issue Public Apology for Crying at Sister’s Wedding

Chechen men are considered some of the most masculine in the world, and this is an image that authorities are keen to maintain, so anything that threatens to damage that hard-earned image of fearlessness is frowned upon. A young man recently learned that first-hand, after crying at his sister’s wedding.

According to historian Zelimkhan Musaev the public display of emotions at Chechen wedding parties is unbecoming, even among women, so when a video of a young man shedding tears at his sister’s wedding went viral on social media, it angered a lot of people. And seeing as the nation’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov – who boasts a very manly public image himself – had also criticized the violation of Chechen customs and traditions, the offender was identified and forced to apologize for showing excessive emotion.

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The Flogsta Scream – Screaming into the Night to Relieve Stress

For decades, students living in the Flogsta neighborhood of Uppsala, in Sweden, have been engaging in a unique tradition that has come to be known around the world as the “Flogsta Scream”. Every night, at 10 pm, they open their dorm room windows and scream out into the night as a way to relieve stress.

In most parts of the world, walking down the street at night and suddenly hearing human screams from the surrounding buildings would send cold shivers down your spine, but in the Swedish city of Uppsala, it’s just a part of daily life. Students attending Uppsala University have been practicing the Flogsta Scream since the 1970s, so everyone is well used to it by now. It’s become a campus tradition, and today universities actually remind students where and when they should scream.

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Bambooze – Chinese Liquor Matured in Living Bamboo Trunks

Bamboo was already one of the most versatile resources available to man, but villages in various parts of China have come up with yet another use for the giant grass – living casks for maturing liquor.

Villagers and liquor producers in several Chinese provinces have come up with a way of using living bamboo trunks to produce alcoholic drinks that are proving very popular with tourists. By using high-pressure injection techniques, they fill up sections of living bamboo trunks with rice wine or sorghum and leave it to mature for several months, up to a year and a half, during which time the liquor is infused with flavone (the liquid naturally released by the trunk) and the sap of bamboo. This apparently gives the liquor a pure, pleasant aroma and detoxifying properties. It also lowers alcohol content, as the plant absorbs part of it.

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Ban’ei – The World’s Slowest Horse Race

Horse races are usually all about speed, but in Ban’ei, a form of horse racing unique to the Japanese island of Hokkaidō, it’s strength and stamina that matter most.

Ban’ei race horses, also known as ‘banba’, are very different from the fast thoroughbreds we associate with horse racing. They can weigh up to 1,200 kilograms and are more than twice the size of the small dosanko horses native to Hokkaidō. These horses are crossbred descendants of workhorses imported from France and Belgium at the end of the 19th century to help farmers work their land, and are now considered a Japanese breed in their own right. Depending on their size, these strong animals can pull up to a ton of weight, and that’s exactly the kind of strength required to win the world’s slowest horse race.

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The World’s Oldest Lie Detector – Licking Hot Metal in the Name of Truth

The Ayaidah, a Bedouin tribe in north-eastern Egypt is the last to practice the Bisha’h, an ancient ritual used to determine whether a suspect in a crime is innocent or guilty. They have to lick a red-hot spoon or rod in the presence of tribal authorities, and if their tongue blisters, they are guilty, if it’s left unscathed, they are innocent.

Believed to date back to ancient Mesopotamia, Bisha’h was used by most Bedouin tribes throughout the centuries, but all except the Ayaidah eventually abandoned it. The ritual is banned in countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but not in Egypt, although religious groups in the African country view it as unislamic. Considered by many the world’s oldest lie detection system (but definitely not the most accurate), Bisha’h was mostly used in situations where a crime was committed, but there were no witnesses. Suspects had to lick a heated spoon to prove their innocence, and regardless of the result, the verdict could not be contested.

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Artist Uses Ancient Scandinavian Herding Call to Summon Cattle Home from Pastures

Jonna Jinton is a young blogger and photographer known for making an ancient and haunting Scandinavian herding call called “kulning” viral a couple of years ago by using it to call a herd of cattle home from the pasture.

Kulning is an ancient singing technique used by women on the Scandinavian Peninsula since ancient times primarily to call herds of cattle down from mountain pastures, but also as a form of communication, as its high-pitch sounds could be heard over long distances. Today, kulning is still used in isolated villages in Sweden and Norway, but to most of the world it only became known in 2016, after Swedish artist Jonna Jinton posted a YouTube video of herself using the haunting call to summon a herd of cows. It went viral, and she’s been posting kulning videos on her YouTube channel ever since.

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The Country Where Burying Someone Can Take Months Or Even Years

In most countries, people are buried within a few days of their death, but in the African country of Ghana, burials are complicated affairs that can take months or even years to prepare. In some communities, speedy burials are considered downright sacrilegious, so despite the wishes of the deceased and their immediate family, bodies spend months frozen at the morgue before finally being laid to rest.

Ghana’s lengthy funerals are closely related to the notion of family in the African country. During one’s life, their children, spouse and parents are considered immediate family, but once they are dead, their body belongs to the extended family in which they were born. In many cases this includes distant relatives that the deceased hand’t even spoken to in decades, but that makes no difference. They get a say in how, where and when the deceased is buried, and whatever instructions they left regarding this aspect, or whatever they asked their close family to do, is meaningless unless the extended family agrees to the terms.

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Portuguese Town Encourages Children as Young as Five to Smoke on Epiphany

On January 6 the Portuguese village of Vale de Salgueiro celebrated the traditional Epiphany festival, also known as the Feast of The Three Kings. While the holiday involves such benign traditions as eating cake and singing carols, there is one tradition that causes an outcry every year – parents allow and even encourage their children to smoke cigarettes.

Locals defend the practice, claiming that is has been passed down for centuries as part of the Epiphany and winter solstice celebrations, but no one is sure exactly what it is meant to symbolize. In Portugal, the legal age to purchase tobacco is 18, but there is nothing to stop parents from giving their children cigarettes, and the authorities have yet to intervene and put an end to the tradition.

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Meet China’s One and Only “Spider Woman”

Luo Dengping has become famous as the only woman in a group of “spider men” who climb vertical cliffs of up to 100 meters high, without ropes or safety equipment of any kind, for the entertainment of tourists in China’s Guizhou Province.

Men of the Miao people, in Southwest China, have been free-climbing steep cliffs for centuries. They originally developed this skill as part of a burial custom, to lift coffins of relatives up the cliffs and place them in small caves or just hang them on the cliffside, like the Tana Toraja tribe, in Indonesia. This practice fell into obscurity, but the Miao spider men continued climbing the perfectly vertical cliffs of Ziyun, in order to collect rare medicinal plants said to cure asthma and rheumatism. However, as Western medicine started taking precedence over traditional Chinese medicine, spider men found themselves struggling to support their families. Today, only a few members of the Miao people still practice this ancient tradition, and one of them is a woman.

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The Chinese Town Where Crickets Are Worth Much More Than Gold

Cricket fighting has been popular in China for thousands of years, and with the country in full economic boom, fans of the “sport” are investing more money into it than ever before. One town in particular has built an entire industry around the genetically-superior crickets living in the surrounding fields, and for good reason, as the best specimens can reportedly sell for up to 50,000 yuan ($7,661).

The tradition of cricket fighting can be traced back to the Tang dynasty (618-904), and the crickets found in the fields around the town of Sidian, in China’s Shandong province, have long been renowned for their large size and aggressiveness, both very important features among enthusiasts of the sport. It is said that several of China’s emperors favored Sidian’s crickets for their high win rate, and today’s rich spend absurd amounts of money for exceptional specimens that can give them an edge against their rivals.

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