Every culture, race, and age group seems to have them: traditions. A tradition is set to be simply a set of practices. Christmas festivities are seen as traditions, just as throwing rice at a wedding is considered a tradition. Traditions are just one of the many things that allow people from all over to interrelate and have a common bond. However, traditions aren’t always fun and games.
Most don’t consider traditions and immediately think of something dangerous. But, throughout the world, there are plenty of traditions that can cause bodily harm, and sometimes even death. Here is a list of ten traditions that just may cost a limb, or a life. Some videos may be disturbing, so please view with caution.
10. New Year’s Dive – Siberia, Russia
In Russia on New Year’s Day, divers from all over take the plunge into the world’s deepest lake, as well as freshwater reserve, Baikal. The lake reaches about 5,390 ft until you reach the bottom. On this day, dives cut a hole into the ice that covers the top of the lake, and then dive 40 meters down. One specified diver carries the New Year tree to the lake’s bottom. Once the tree is planted, the divers dance around it. This tradition has been carried out since 1982, and though it doesn’t sound too dangerous, keep in mind that this lake is the deepest lake in the world and that divers have to swim with over 100 kg of equipment.
9. Polar Bear Plunge
Polar Bear Plunge takes place at many locations around the country, and there is definitely never a shortage of participants. It involves jumping into cold water during the winter season for a charity organization. The biggest plunge takes place in Sandy Point State Park, Maryland, and raises money for the Special Olympics. Though it seems like nothing but harmless charity, the plunge can be dangerous. In some locations, participants have to sign a document consenting to the fact that they know the plunge can cause serious injury such as paralysis, hypothermia, and possibly even death. Thankfully, no one has died from taking the plunge.
8. Firework Battle – Chios, Greece
Churches are boring right? Wrong! At least not the ones in Chios, Greece. On the small island of Chios, every Easter Sunday is sure to be a spectacle. On this day, two rival parishes, so to speak, light up their fireworks and shoot them at the other church. The purpose is for one of the churches to hit the bell of the other church. All of this goes on while a service is in session. It’s said that over 25,000 rockets are used and 150 help to fire them off. In the past the rockets have caused fires, damages to homes, and even deaths, but the tradition carries on still. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3619425.stm
7. Baby Dropping Ritual – Solapur, India
Muslims in the western Indian town of Solapur line up to drop their babies off a 15 meter tower in a shrine, catching them in a white sheet. The ritual, which has taken place for more than half a millennium, is believed to make the children grow up healthy and strong. The faithful claim there have never been any injuries during this ritual which has lasted over 500 years. How much different is this from the lullaby “…and down will come baby, cradle and all.”
6. Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling – Gloucester, England
Probably one of the oddest traditions, Cooper’s Hill Cheese Rolling involves a round piece of Double Gloucester, a steep hill, and daring people. It is said that the tradition is about 200 years old. A piece of cheese is rolled down the hill and the first person to get down the hill first takes the cheese! It’s really supposed to be about catching the cheese, but since the cheese is rolled about a second earlier than the race itself, it can go as fast as 70mph. Though no one has ever died from chasing a roll of cheese down a hill, plenty have sprained an ankle, injured their back, broken a bone, or gotten a concussion.
5. Onbashira – Tokyo, Japan
A festival in Tokyo that only takes place once every six years, Onbashira is a tradition that many in the region claim has gone one for over 1200 years. When translated, the name literally means “the honored pillars.” There are two parts to the festival: Yamadashi and Satobiki, the first which takes place in May, and the second in April. Yamadashi is the more dangerous part of the festival. Men go into the forest and cut down trees and then ropes are attached to them and they are dragged down the mountain by the men. Many say this is a sign of bravery, but many have come out with injuries, and others have died while carrying out the traditions.
4. Christmas Trees
Many people around the world know the tradition of either buying a live tree or putting up an artificial tree within their home and then decorating it just in time for Christmas. The tree serves as a great place to put presents, as well as to celebrate the festivities throughout the month of December. However during 2003-2006, 240 homes fires per year took place, all of which started due to a Christmas tree, according to the National Fire Protection Association. On average 16 people died because of the fire, and 25 were injured each year. Christmas tree fires are rare, but when they do happen, they are usually catastrophic.
3. Female circumcision
Though frowned upon and seen as extremely abusive and dangerous, tribes in places such as Egypt, Sudan, Mali, and Ethiopia still hold onto the tradition of female circumcision for religious and sometimes just cultural reasons. It is said that over 130 million women worldwide are affected by this procedure, and over 2 million occur each year. Because the procedure is done without any sort of anesthesia or medication, many women can die of shock or from excessive bleeding. Others sometimes contract infections due to non- sterilized tools. While no specific numbers exist, it is said that at least 1/3 of the women who undergo female circumcision die due to various complications.
2. Running of the Bulls – Pamplona, Spain
Even though bull fighting is very popular in many South American countries as well as others, the Running of the Bulls is one “encierro” that anyone can join. The most popular and well-known is the nine-day festival that takes place in San Fermín, Pamplona in Spain, which has taken place since 1910. The running involves penning up the bulls, and then letting them run through the street while people crowd in as well and run in front of the bulls. Since its start, 15 people have been killed, the most recent being at the latest run in 2009. It is said that 200-300 people are hurt each year during the run, and most are susceptible to being gored or trampled. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8143744.stm
1. College Hazing
It is said that out of all of the new students going into college each year, about 47% of them will undergo what is known as “hazing.” Despite the fact that hazing is banned and disproved of on every college campus, it’s safe to say that most social, cultural, and academic clubs haze the newcomers. Even laws such as Matt’s Law have been put into motion to try to stop hazing. It is said that hazing is the highest among those clubs that deal with athletics. Most hazing involves using alcohol, but there are plenty of other methods. Since 1970, at least one person has died on a college campus due to hazing.