You know Gus, the guy on the subway who always faces the wall, mumbles to himself, and rocks out in his headphones that aren’t attached to anything? He’s crazy, right? It may be hilarious to watch and laugh while hiding behind the Highlights Magazine you stole from your dentist, but guess what? Gus got a hold of some hair gel. He slicked back the ol’ mullet and shaved off his old timey villainstash. He ran for mayor and you voted for him, because who wouldn’t?
One of Gus’s promises was to institute a new, awesome festival. He stands before you, publicly thanking you for promoting him, and his new festival is in honor of you. It’s called the Puppy Bonfire Festival; a glorious celebration of puppies. They will be celebrated by setting piles of puppies on fire, and only the cutest are allowed. You aren’t laughing now, are you? Nobody is. Except Gus.
It turns out there are lots of Gus’s around, and here are four of the Gussiest festivals out there that you can actually participate in.
El Colacho: The Baby Jumping Festival
You know that wonderful feeling you get when a two hundred pound man leaps mere inches over your newborn baby? Oh wait, wonderful isn’t the right word. Horrifying. There it is. El Colacho is a festival that has been going on since the 1620’s, and is currently still organized by The Brotherhood of the Santisimo Sacramento de Minerva. While its roots are in Catholicism, in recent years the Pope and the church has actually been distancing themselves from El Colacho. Why, you ask?
I would think that the fact grown men are frolicking over baby faces would be reason enough, but apparently not. It comes down to a difference in beliefs on baptism. The Baby Jumping Festival is a ritual where any baby born within the past twelve months are placed in prime baby jumping locations, like hurdles if you will. Full grown men dress up as satan, yeah, you read right, the devil, nothing better to keep a baby calm than that. They run through the baby obstacle course and jump over them. The belief being that when they leap over said babies, they are cleansed of original sin.
Want to see some baby jumping fun? El Colacho takes place in Spain the first Sunday after Corpus Cristi.
The International Highline Meeting
Do you remember the movie Cliffhanger? Remember the iconic scene at the beginning when Sylvester Stallone is trying to save Sarah, only to have her harness break, at which point we all were like, “NO!” but he barely caught her by one hand, and we were all like, “Whew!” but then his glove started to slip off and we all were like, “NO!” again? Everyone thought for sure he would save her, but the sadistic writers hate us all and made the glove slip off and Sarah screamed into oblivion, sending Sylvester into a funk that eventually made him awesome? After that we all said we would never cross a wire like they did. If Sylvester can’t save Sarah I’m not even going to try. I’ll stay home eating enchiladas and continue to vicariously live through him.
It turns out though, that there is a group of people who dare Cliffhanger to happen to them. Since 2012 hundreds of highline enthusiasts from around the world have traveled to Monte Piana, Italy where some incredibly fierce fighting took place during World War I. The seven kilometers of trenches are actually still visible. During the week this festival runs there are all kinds of awesome things happening. Everything from movie presentations to friendly highline competitions, to some of the most intense sleeping possible. They sleep in hammocks dangling from a highline that could slip or break, leading to the most Cliffhangery of deaths. The purpose of the festival is simple, invite anyone who might have an interest in the highline/slackline sport and invite them out with the pros to learn how not to get Cliffhangered.
Nejapa Bolas de Fuego
There is nothing quite like throwing a flaming, fuel soaked rag into your best friend’s face, then laughing as he claws at his melting eyelids. Good times. You think I’m exaggerating, but that is exactly what happens during the Nejapa Bolas de Fuego (Balls of Fire) festival in El Salvador. Every year on August 31st, the locals wrap their hands in water soaked rags, and ignite thousands of rags wrapped in wire that have been soaking in kerosene for two months. Then they get into what is basically a giant snowball fight, except the snowballs are death spheres, and instead of gleeful laughter and Christmas carols there are vows for vengeance and ash.
If you want to participate, you should know that this isn’t sheer chaos. There are actually two teams, and police control during the entire event. And it does actually have some interesting roots. The locals say they are reenacting a fight between Saint Jeronimo and the devil. The physical manifestation of this was that in the early 1900’s a nearby volcano erupted and the villagers barely made it out alive.
Monkey Buffet Festival
Before you get your hopes too high, let me tell you right off the bat that this is not a festival where you get to feast on a buffet of monkeys. I was disappointed too, but we have to move past that now. It’s over.
The Monkey Buffet Festival takes place every year in Lopburi, Thailand. It was started in 1989 by a guy named Yongyuth Kitwattananusont. Yeah, I can’t say it either. Dude loves him some monkeys though. Like, crazy love. One time he dressed up in a monkey suit and parachuted to his favorite monkey buffet location.
Over 8,000 pounds of monkey lovin’ fruits and veggies and Pringles and candy and whatever else are laid out in front of temples where somewhere around 3,000 monkeys gather to feast.
The whole thing started long ago because of a traditional legend that tells the epic tale of when King Rama gave Lopburi to Hanuman the monkey king. Because of that, the locals believe monkeys bring good luck, so they take them out for a fancy dinner once a year.
By Hbbhjgxjgf – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27703460
Wikimedia Commons Celestebombin and Jtspotau