Borderline Bizarre: Weird Traditions Across the Globe

I love to talk about weird world facts. And if there’s one particular topic that I can’t get enough of then it’s quirky traditions, rituals, festivals, and ceremonies across the world. From wedding traditions, to unusual variations of popular holidays, the world never fails to amaze me. And today, I wanted to share a little bit more of that. From rituals steeped in centuries-old beliefs to customs that challenge conventional understanding — get ready to explore weird traditions across the globe.

Tooth Filing, Bali, Indonesia

Tooth filing isn’t anything too ceremonial in the Western world. However, in the lush landscapes of Bali, Indonesia, this is an ancient tradition with a deep and spiritual meaning. The act of tooth filing, or “mepandes,” marks the transition from childhood to adulthood. During the ceremony, typically held during adolescence, the sharp edges of the teeth are filed down to symbolize the removal of negative traits associated with youth, such as selfishness and egoism. 

This ritual is believed to promote physical and spiritual balance, while also paving the way for personal growth and maturity. Tooth filing ceremonies are elaborate rituals, accompanied by prayers, blessings, and festive celebrations. And they are also considered essential for social acceptance and spiritual well-being in Balinese society.

Crying Marriage, China

Let’s teleport ourselves to rural China, where a peculiar marriage tradition known as the “crying marriage” is practiced as a way to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits. During this ceremony, it’s expected from the bride to cry, or should I sat weep. But it’s not just the bride that’s crying. She’s also accompanied by her female relatives. 

The ritual, which may seem unusual to outsiders, is believed to demonstrate the bride’s sincerity and devotion to her family and ancestors. The tears are believed to bring blessings and prosperity to her new home and ensure a harmonious union with her spouse. Honestly, most of us cry on our wedding days. And wouldn’t it be much less awkward if we were accompanied by our mother, sisters, and aunts? 

Ant Whispering, Venezuela

Shamans of the Yanomami people of Venezuela’s Amazon rainforest are known for a special and unique ritual called “yanoana,” or ant whispering. And it’s exactly what it sounds like. Why do they do it? To speak with spirits and ask for direction for the community. The shaman simply takes a potent hallucinogenic drug called “yakoana” and focuses on listening to ant whisper. The sounds, or voices, were actually thought to be messages from the gods.

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The ants basically acted as intermediaries between the material and spiritual worlds. Which is also a testament to their connection to the natural world. As a reflection of the Yanomami people’s deep appreciation for the knowledge and direction found in nature, ant whispering ceremonies are held with the utmost reverence and respect for the animals.

Living with the Dead, Sulawesi, Indonesia

Indonesia seems to be the land of quirky tradition, but this one really takes it up a notch. In Sulawesi, Indonesia, the Toraja people practice a tradition known as “ma’nene,” or the “walking dead.” In this centuries-old custom, the deceased are kept in the family home for an extended period after death. And I don’t just mean a couple of hours or days — some of them would stay there for years, or even DECADES. 

Of course, the family wouldn’t simply neglect the bodies. They would treat it with care, even offering food, clothing, and other provisions. The practice is rooted in animistic beliefs and reflects the Toraja’s deep reverence for their ancestors and the cycle of life and death. They believe that this is a way of keeping the bonds between the living and the dead strong. 

Kanita is a wanderlust-fueled traveler with an inclination for unraveling the mysteries of history, the paranormal, and the bizarre world of medicine. As a true crime buff, Kanita's nights are often spent delving into the depths of chilling mysteries. Yet, it's not just the paranormal that captivates her—her background in medicine fuels a fascination with the weird and wonderful world of medical oddities, from twisted historical practices to the myths and legends that shroud the field. From exploring haunted locales to uncovering the strange and morbid tales of medical history, Kanita is your guide to the unconventional, the unexplained, and the downright eerie.

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