5 Interesting Summer Traditions from Around the World
July 05, 2018

5 Interesting Summer Traditions from Around the World

Here in the US our big summer occasions include Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day, but the rest of the world has their own interesting summer traditions that you may have never heard about.

1. For Math Nerds

We usually celebrate Pi Day here in the US on March 14th, which is due to our way of writing dates in the month/day format (3/14 and 3.14, the truncated value of Pi). Most other countries flip that around to day/month, so for other countries there's Pi Approximation Day, July 22nd or 22/7. If you divide 22 by 7 you get an approximation of Pi. An excuse to nerd out about numbers and eat pastries? Sure, why not! This YouTuber has done an entire video on Pi Approximation Day that'll get you up to speed on the tradition:


2. For Literature Lovers

If you're like me, you had to read some James Joyce in high school and perhaps found him at times dull and hard to follow. Apparently not everyone agrees and the people of Dublin have made Bloomsday an annual tradition. 

Every year on June 16th Bloomsday is celebrated and revelers gather for to dress in Edwardian costumes, retrace Bloom's route around Dublin, participate in Ulysses readings and dramatizations, and take part in pub crawls and other events. Super-fans have been known to engage in marathon readings of Joyce's Ulysses, sometimes lasting in excess of 30 consecutive hours!

The tradition has caught on in other parts of the world and has been celebrated from Portland to Prague.

3. For Pyrotechnics Enthusiasts

Maybe you most closely associate fireworks with 4th of July, but for the people of Japan it's all about the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival. This tradition traces its roots all the way back to 1732, when fireworks were launched as part of festivals for the dead. Originally called Ryōgoku Kawabirak, the display had become an established tradition by 1810, and rivalries began to emerge over control of each year's festival.

These days the celebration takes place every year as a competition between rival pyrotechnic groups and attracts about a million fans.

If you can't make it all the way to Japan to admire the festivities, you can at least take a look via the magic of YouTube:

4. For those with a taste for tomatoes

I'm conflicted about this next event. Every year on the last Wednesday of August, the town of Buñol, Spain celebrates La Tomatina. What exactly is La Tomatina?

A tomato fight. 

That's right: the most delicious & delightfully ambiguous of all fruits — my absolute favorite, bar none — is relegated to being ammunition in a massive, city-wide food fight, the roots of which are surprisingly mundane. It all started in 1945 when a participant in a parade was accidentally shoved off a parade float by some rowdy youngsters that muscled their way onto said float. The participant was so enraged that he began hitting everything and everyone in sight; a vegetable market stall was caught up in the melee, and shortly thereafter the crowd began pelting one another with tomatoes until police were able to restore order. The following year the rowdy youngsters brought tomatoes from home, and thus the annual tradition was born. 

Nowadays La Tomatina typically lasts for an hour, during which the streets, citizens, and tourists of Buñol become drenched in tomato pulp and juice. Following the fight, firehoses are used to scrub down the streets, walls, windows, and sidewalks. One slight benefit to all this friendly mayhem and food waste? The acidity in the tomato juice paired with the power-washing via firehose results in sparkling clean sidewalks and thoroughfares...at least until the following August.


5. For the muscle-bound & thirsty

Say what you will about Arctic life; it fosters some pretty unique creativity. Take Eukonkanto (translation: wife-carrying). This quirky sport was borne out of tales about a notorious forest-dwelling robber & thief named Herkko Rosvo-Ronkainen who was known for pillaging & kidnapping women from nearby towns, carrying the women on their backs as they fled back into the forest. This strength and endurance race evolved into a full-on sport played in Finland, Estonia (where it's called naisekandmine), and Sweden (where it goes by kärringkånk).

It's played by two-person teams comprised of one man carrying one woman along a track of 253.5 meters that features two "dry" obstacles (often sand or dirt mounds) and one "wet" obstacle (usually a water-filled trench approximately one meter deep). The team that completes the race with the fastest time wins. Some other fun rules of eukonkanto:

• The woman being carried need not necessarily be the carrier's wife, but she does need to be at least 17 years old.

• The minimum weight of the carried person is 49 kilograms. If they weigh less than that, they must themselves hold onto a rucksack filled with weights until they hit the magical 49 kg threshold.

• All competitors must enjoy themselves. (How is this enforced/measured?)

• The only sanctioned "equipment" is a belt (to be worn by the carrier) and a helmet (to be worn by the carried).

• The Wife-Carrying World Championship is held annually in Finland; the prize is the "wife's" weight in beer. Finally, an athletic prize worth competing for!