Your Guide to the ‘Chinchilla Festival’ in Australia 

If there is any nation on Earth who knows how to party and throw a festival then it’s the Aussies and their offering which we’ve decided to give you a guide to is the Chinchilla Melon Festival.  Never has there been a celebration of the rotund fruit quite the way there is in Chinchilla, Queensland. This festival has been going for some years now and if you want to visit a zany and exciting festival then look no further than the Chinchilla Melon Festival. Let’s see what it is all about.

The Origins

Chinchilla produces around 25% of all of the melons in Australia including Honeydew, Watermelon and Rockmelon varieties. The town began its festivities dedicated towards melons in 1994 after a sever drought left the town unable to grow melons for an entire season. When the drought was over, local businessmen and producers put their heads together and decided that they would have some festivities to celebrate the end of the drought, the result was the Melon Festival.

How Many Visitors

Visitors to the festival have increased steadily in number and after beginning with around 2,500, this figure has risen to more than 10,000 in recent years as popularity of the festival continues to spread.

What Goes On?

The festival is exactly what it says, a festival dedicated to Melons and all of the events that take place are centered around the various different types of melons which are produced. The unique and interactive events involve the following unique and crazy activities:

– Melon skiing

– Melon bungee

– Melon bungee

– Melon Ironman

– Melon chariot

– Melon eating races

– World record attempt melon pip spitting

Everyone can enter into the contests but if you think this is for you then you should be aware, the locals practice their crazy activities all year long in order to become the champion in their chosen discipline.

A super special event in 2009 saw resident John Allwood broke the Guinness World Record for the amount of melons smashed with his head, the impressive Aussie managed a rate of 47 melons per minute.

A Look at the Accolades

In 2009, the same year as Allwood’s Guinness World Record, the Chinchilla Melon Festival won the award for Queensland Regional Achievement and Community Award for Tourism Event.

How You Can Visit

If you want to go to this crazy festival then you are more than welcome, head down to Chinchilla in Queensland on the 19th of February this year. All you is to get yourself some accommodation and then enjoy the festival. In order to take part or watch, you do not need to book tickets, simply pick up a schedule of events and then go crazy with some melons. Make sure that you take your camera though, there is no festival in the World like this one and your friends probably won’t believe you when you tell them just what you saw.

Your Guide to ‘The Day Of The Dead’ in Mexico

As far as worldwide festivals go, there are none that are more haunting, more colorful, more spiritual and more all encompassing than Day of the Dead is to the Mexican people. Day of the Dead or Dia de los Muertos is a celebration and remembrance by the Mexicans of those who have passed on and across three days, they will use rituals and traditions in order to give thanks to the lives of their loved ones and remember with fondness the lives which they lived.

Let’s take a look at exactly what this festival consists of and how it is celebrated.

When and Where?

Celebrations take place throughout Mexico, some towns take it much more seriously and have far greater celebrations than others but all Mexicans celebrate this festival. Day of the Dead takes place between October 31st and November 2nd with each day relevant for the different souls who have died.

On the 31st of October, Halloween is widely celebrated throughout Mexico, as it is in many other parts of the World. Traditionally this would have been part of the day of the dead celebrations but modern influences have altered this day slightly.

 

The 1st of November is dia de los inocentes and dia de los angelitos, this is the day that is dedicated to those who were killed by accidents or children who have died. The 2nd of November is dia de los muertos o dia de los difuntos which means day of the dead and this is the day where all of those who have died are celebrated.

What Are The Rituals and Traditions

The majority of day of the dead traditions are centered around the ofrendas that are given towards the dead. These ofrendas are displays which often consist of similar objects that are placed in the home, on the streets, in churches or even at gravesides to remember the dead.

The offenders usually consist of  the highly scented Cempasuchil flower, orange in color, these flowers are to attract the should of the dead. The altar or ofrenda will also be set on three tiers to represent the three stages of life, below Earth, Earth and the Heavens. Around the altar you will find water to quench thirst on the journey to the afterlife, salt, to heal wounds and candles to signify life. You will also find skulls and foods and drinks that the dead person enjoyed placed on their altar as well as a photo of the dead. These altars will remain in place for around a week.

Pan de Muerto

A sweet bread is often consumed around the day of the dead festival and is a loaf-style bread, heavily sugared with bone-shaped portions.

Dress

The clavier style has become heavily associated with day of the dead and Halloween costumes, these are living dead style outfits that are incredibly intricate and impressive to see. The female version of the costume is the Catarina, a beautiful women’s outfit with skulls for faces.

Wherever you go throughout Mexico during this time of year you will see altars and processions for day of the dead and it is a great festival to be involved with.

Your Guide to the ‘Festival Of Colors’ 

The festival of colors as many of us know it, is actually an Indian festival called Holi which, whilst celebrated by many around the World, is observed largely by the Hindu faith. The celebration involves the throwing of colored powder over others who are celebrating and after being such a large hit across India, the festival is now celebrated in many countries across the World.

You may have had an experience with the festival of colors but may not know exactly why the festival is celebrated or how the celebrations and traditions came about. Read on to find out more about the festival of Holi.

What is Holi

Holy is a festival that takes place between  the second and third week of March and coincides with the Phalgun Purnima or full moon each year that signifies the the end of winter and the arrival of spring. The celebrations of the festival are all about fun, pleasure and happiness and are representative of good beating evil or in this case, spring beating winter. The festal lasts for 2 whole days and is celebrated throughout India and Nepal.

Celebrations and Traditions

Most parts of the celebrations that take place over these two days are indicative of happiness, one is encouraged to play, laugh and more importantly to repair broken relationships and to forgive and forget.

The origin of the celebrations comes from Prahlada who was a worshipper of Vishnu and the son of  Hiranyakashipu, a man given an indestructible boon and believed that he was god-like. Prahlada suffered a cruel life but his faith prevented him from being injured. Prahlada’s aunt tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her but she was wearing a fire-proof cloak, the fire burned and the cloak flew from his aunt and covered the boys body. When his aunt died his father smashed a pillar with his mace and Lord Vishnu appeared and killed him. The next day, when peace was restored, the people covered their faces in the ash of the fire and this is where the traditions of covering each other in color comes from.

Traditions

The traditions kick off with bonfires on the eve of Holi and for weeks beforehand the locals will collect firewood for the bonfires. On top of the bonfires the locals will place an effigy of Holika, who famously tricked Prahalad onto the fire.

On the morning of Holi, colored water, chalks and paints are thrown around with careless abandon, all of those celebrating will be covered in color as they sing and dance.

The evening of Holi is spent cleaning up and bathing to wash away the colors and this when the ritualistic forgiveness takes place.

Elsewhere

The celebration is enjoyed all over the World at different times of the year although the only tradition that is really carried out is the throwing of colors, this has less religious connotations and is more about people enjoying themselves and being covered in bright colors.

Your Guide To ‘The Purim Festival’ in Israel

The Purim festival is on of Israel’s most widely celebrated festival, this is a deeply important festival in the Jewish calendar and today we are going to take a look at why the festival holds such importance, and how it is celebrated.

The Significance of the Celebration

If possible, we will try to break the history of the celebration down in a nutshell. At its most basic level, this festival is to celebrate the survival of the Jewish people after a decree was issued by the King in the 4th Century BC to kill all of the Jews.

King Ahasuerus was the ruler of Persia during this time and when his wife, Queen Vashti disobeyed his orders, he had her executed. During a kind of beauty pageant to search for his next wife, he decided upon a Jewish girl named Esther who would become the new Queen, she never divulged her religious beliefs.

There was a man named Haman, an anti-Semite who rose to become the Prime Minster of the Empire and in one incident, the leader of the Jews, Mordechai, also the cousin of Esther, refused to bow to the Prime Minister because of his hatred for the Jews. Enraged and embarrassed, the Haman convinced the King to issue a decree that all Jews would be killed on the 13th day of the Adar – Interestingly this is where the name Purim or ‘lots’ comes from as the day was chosen by way of a lottery.

The Jews gathered behind Mordechai and Esther revealed her identity to both Haman and the King during a feast. The King reneged on the decree, had Haman killed and put Mordecai in his place as the Prime Minister. On the 14th day of the Adar, the Jews feasted like never before.

How it is Celebrated

To this day the Jews celebrate this festival on the 14th day of the Adar and there are 4 keys to how they celebrate

Hear the Megillah

Jews head to synagogues all over Israel to hear the Megillah ( The book of Esther ) which tells the story of the Purim. When the name Haman is mentioned, it is customary that the Jews stamp their feet to eradicate his name

Give to Those in Need

Jewish unity is a key theme here and during the celebrations for Purim it is customary to give to the needs. Jews must give food or money to at least 2 people during daylight hours and they must place at least 2 coins in a collection box.

Send Food for Friends

The importance of togetherness and friendship is marked by sending food gifts to friends. Men send food to men and women to women and the food packages must contain at least two food items.

Feast

What better way to celebrate survival than to feast, and that is exactly what happens during Purim. The table should be well decorated and the food be plentiful as the Jewish people celebrate with friends and family in a great feast.  Songs from the Torah are sung as they enjoy various meats and wines.

This sis the biggest festival in the Jewish calendar and if you are in Israel during this time then you can expect to see some grand celebrations.

Your Guide To ‘The Nowruz Festival’ in Iran

For over 3,000 years, the Iranian people have been celebrating a festival called Nowruz which is their New Year. The festival takes place each year between March 20th-23rd and signifies the first day of the Spring and the rebirth of nature. The Persian and Iranian New Year is one of the biggest celebrations of all the Persian festivals and is made up of various different customs as part of the overall celebrations. Let’s take a look at the past and the present of this incredible festival. The word Nowruz quite literally means new year and this is how the celebrations go down.

The Origins

For thousands and thousands of years, this time in the calendar has long been a celebration for many different religions and peoples, from the Zoroastars the Babylonians and to the Proto-Indo-Iranians as a celebration of the end of the winter. The vernal equinox signifies the beginning of the spring in the Northern Hemisphere, the rebirth of nature and the time when crops can once again be sewn. This is a celebration that is enjoyed by many different people’s and religions to this day but the largest by far is by the Iranian people by way of Nowruz.

Celebrations

There are many different parts of the overall celebrations and we are going to take a look into a few of the ways in which the people enjoy the festival.

Haft Sin

Some days before the New Year, a special cover called the cloth of seven dishes is placed on the Persian carpet or table in the household. The number 7 is sacred in Persian tradition and seven dishes are placed on the cloth to represent the seven angelic heralds of the life-rebirth. Sprouts, Samanu pudding, Apple (Seeb), Senjed (fruit from the locust tree,) Garlic (Seer,) Somaq berries and vinegar (Serkeh) are all laid out n the table. Other items can be placed on the table which represent hopes for the future, these range from coins for wealth, eggs for fertility, a mirror for reflection and sometimes an orange floating in a bowl of water to represent the Earth in space.

Chaharshanbe Souri

The actual beginnings of the celebration are on the eve of the final Wednesday of the year. Many bonfires are made and family members will jumping over the bonfire and chant “Give me your redness and take away my wintry sallow complexionˮ. When the fires go out, the ashes are collected and planted in the fields to represent the burial of the previous year.

Haji Firuz

The heralding of the New Year is this character who signifies a fire-keeper, a man from the village will dress up in a red get-up complete with black face and red hat. People will gather around Haji Firuz and chant, sing and play the tambourine to celebrate the New Year.

Sizdah Bedar

This occurs on the 13th day of the year and sees families take to the great outdoors to celebrate nature. They will take picnics and enjoy games in the fields. The sprouts (sabzeh) which have been kept on the tables or in the homes will be thrown into the fields to rid bad luck form the house and to make the nature greener.

And that is the celebrations of the Iranian New Year or Nowruz.

Your Guide To ‘La Tomatina’ in Buñol, Spain

If you want to a go to one of the World’s messiest festivals then why not visit Spain this year and go to a festival where you can spend the day throwing rotten tomatoes at people. Wait, what, Tomatoes? That’s right people, a festival exists in the World where you essentially spend your day, launching piles and and piles of tomatoes at each other in the street before being hosed down by the local fire service. Ladies and Gentlemen, we bring you, La Tomatina, and here is your guide to this crazy Spanish festival.

The Origins of the Festival

The festival takes place in Buñol, Valencia and has done since around 1944, its origins are unclear but the general thought is that it began when the townspeople became frustrated at the city councillors and rioted by throwing tomatoes at them to display their discontent. The years that followed saw the beginnings of the festival until it was banned in the lat 50s as a result of having no religious significance. After a swell of public support, the festival was reinstated in 1970 where it became an official festival and had rules imposed. the key year for the festival was 1975 where the introduction of tomato throwing became a key part of the festival and that has continued up until the modern day.

The Festival

The amount of participants that join the festival each year has risen to around 40,000 as of 2016. The festival is held on the last Wednesday of August during the week-long festivities of Buñol and the tomatoes arrive in trucks from local growers.

The Fight

The tomato fight lasts for around one hour, the beginning of the fight is signified in a strange way but one that is much in line with the festival. At 9am there is a large, greasy pole with a ham tied to the end of it, people scramble to reach the ham and once someone has grabbed it, the fight begins. The rucks will tip around 130 tonnes of ripe tomatoes on to the waiting crowd and madness ensues. The hour-long fight culminates in the sound of a cannon where everyone is left covered in squelchy tomatoes and red from the juice. After the fight, everyone scrambles to find the nearest person with a hose to be cleaned down.

The Rules

Yes, there are rules to this madcap festival and they are as follows:

– You must squish the tomatoes before throwing them in order to avoid injuring people.

– You must not throw anything other than tomatoes during the fight.

– Participants must make way for trucks and lorries coming through.

– After the second cannon is sounded, no tomatoes are allowed to be thrown.

How to Get Involved

As mentioned before, the festival takes place on the last Wednesday or August and in the town of Buñol, Valencia. Participation for the event costs 10 Euros and if you want to be one of those on top of the truck then you will have to pay a whopping 750 Euros.

What better way to spend a Spanish summer day than launching tomatoes at strangers!