Crazy. Weird. Bizarre. WTF?
There are some things that you could do only in Europe and when you get home you silently whisper, “WTF was I thinking?”
1. Polterabend. In the U.S. and in other parts of the world, we simply wish newlyweds the best. Yawn. Boring. Engaged couples in Germany have it better. There is no better way to start married life than to have their friends and family bring you old dishes, plates and other pieces of pottery and breaking it in front of them. Sounds like something that a jealous crazy first wife might do, but friends? What’s more, the couple is supposed to clean everything up.
Apparently, broken plates bring good luck if you are in Germany. Plus, it’s a good way to rid your cupboards of that old horrendous dinnerware that your mother-in-law gave you.
2. Cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill. To demonstrate British humour, you can go to Gloucester and witness the cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill. So you actually watch 20 men who go after a piece of cheese rolling down the side of a hill with very uneven terrain and a very steep slope. The result is that you get to see quite a handful of them take a tumble. Some even roll down to the bottom and are taken away to a hospital.
We are not really sure if you need to catch the cheese in order to win or whether you just need to cross the finish line running after it. Or maybe your face has to hit the ground a certain number of times and have all your teeth knocked off. In any case, we are sure that there is an easier way to get the prize: a Double Gloucester cheese.
3. Krampus. Let’s admit it, Santa Claus is weird enough. A fat guy who can magically fit into your chimney and proceeds to get into your house in the middle of the night in ways that even the best breaking and entering professionals would be jealous of. But since Santa Claus is now very well-known, he does not pass off as weird at all. But how about a Christmas character that would fit better in a Halloween parade? That’s what Krampus is. Krampus is the ultimate anti-Santa. If Santa was Dr. Jekyll, then Krampus will be Mr. Hyde. So if Santa brought gifts to well-behaved kids, Krampus punished them. Krampus looks like a demon, but if that is not enough to scare kids into good behaviour, he also carries a big stick.
4. The Danube Race for the Cross. Young men strip to their underwear or shorts and swim the icy Danube River in January. The water is downright freezing cold but they do not care. They not only risk catching pneumonia but they risk drowning as well. And for what? Getting a cross that an Orthodox priest throws into the river.
The tradition is said to honour Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. Another version says that throwing the cross into the river would make the devil run through the fields where he is chased down by wolves.
And for all your trouble, you get a really nifty reward for your efforts of getting the cross: good luck for the entire year. That is if you do not die from hypothermia first.
5. Wife Carrying Contest. In the Stone Age, men clubbed women on the heads and then pull them along by the hair. Now that it is the 21st century, you simply cannot do that. Instead, you have to carry your wife on your back. Every year in Findland, men have to carry a female partner piggyback, over the shoulder or what is called Estonian style where the wife hangs upside-down and her legs are around the man’s shoulder. For five years Taisto Miettinen and Kristiina Haapenen have won the Wife Carrying World Championships.