There are several reasons to travel. People travel for educational purposes, for business purposes, as well as for health or entertainment purposes. One of the major reasons people travel is to explore different cultures and learn more about them. An often unexplored part of culture is the fantastical. While it is common for people to think of food, art and nightlife of different cities when exploring their cultures, one major way to immerse yourself in the culture of a place is to check out their fantastical, superstitious and spooky festivals. While discovering these festivals can be fun, it can also be a tiring experience. As such, there is a need for a guide that helps you choose festivals around the world to explore. This article serves as a guide that introduces you to four spooky cultural experiences from four different countries.
- Famadihana – Madagascar
Famadihana or “Turning of Bones” is a festival that occurs once every seven years in the coastal country of Madagascar. During this festival, people in Madagascar dig up the bodies of their departed loved ones and reward them with fresh cloth. This festival might seem quite creepy but beyond the imagery that exhuming bodies creates, the festival is full of love, care, feasting, singing and dancing. During Famadihana, which happens between July and September, the loved ones of the dead place offerings on or beside the bodies of their deceased to be taken back to their graves.
- Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes – France
Almost everyone will agree that there is something a bit spooky about puppets. Puppets have held a prominent place in the world of horror films with their jerky movements and glassy eyes. However, if you want to get a truly spooky experience you should check out the Festival Mondial des Théâtres de Marionnettes or the World Puppet Theatre Festival in France. Every two years in September, over 250 puppet theatre troupes meet at Charleville-Mézières in France for this festival. There, they showcase their latest creations which are often eerily life-like.
- Triora Halloween – Italy
While this is just like Halloween, it comes with a twist. Liguria, the town in which the Triora Halloween has a peculiar Halloween story. This town commonly known as the “town of witches”, has a Halloween tradition that tells the story of the witches who were burned at the stake hundreds of years ago. The town hosts a series of spooky events starting from the witchcraft festival in August to the annual Triora Halloween event which happens on October 31st. During the Triora Halloween, hundreds of pumpkins are carved, the women of the Liguria don witch costumes and the best costumes win in the costume competition.
- Busó Carnival – Hungary
In late February, the Hungarian town of Mohács comes alive with a carnival. Busós is a hairy horned devil that wears a smiling face mask. This horned devil is responsible for chasing off winter and ushering in spring. As such, this carnival drives out winter and welcomes spring. During the carnival, men dress up in Busó costumes and a coffin is burnt to symbolize the end of winter for the year. The six day carnival features lots of singing and dancing around bonfires.
Festivals are a beautiful way to explore the cultures of the world and this list should help you navigate this new world of spooky festivals.