Once again, Mental Floss and I are here to bring you the knowledge you crave.  Well, maybe not crave, but you'll give it a passing glance, right?  C'mon dude, I spent so much time on it…

Anyway, in honor of the holiday season, we're going to learn about..

Strange Holidays

If you dig:
Pain
Your holiday is: Thaipusam
Celebrated in late January (mostly by Tamil Hindus in India, Singapore and Malaysia) Thaipusam honors the birth of Lord Shiva’s youngest son, who was given a spear to kill an evil demon. Spear’s the key word. While most religious folk celebrate with prayers, fasts, and a small pilgrimage, others shave their heads and show off their devotion by piercing their skin with giant skewers. The most extreme of the bunch drag a 6-foot high altar on their pilgrimage route that’s tied to their body through 108 piercings/skewers on the chest and back.  Many celebrants complain now that the holiday has "gotten too commercial" these days because of big name skewer stores manufacturing fake Thaipusam cheer.

If you dig:
Snakes on a statue
Your holiday is: The Festival of Snakes, Italy
Celebrated every March 19th in the mountainous areas surrounding Abruzzo, the festival goes back to when the land was supposedly covered in so many slithering creatures that they were affecting human life spans. The solution, as prescribed to shepherds by Apollo, was to capture the dangerous beasts, tame them by draping them around the shoulders of his statue, and then release them back into the wild. The trick was so effective that the villagers have kept doing it ever since. Over the years however,  Christianity’s taken its toll, and Apollo’s morphed into St. Domenica. Pyrotechnics have also become a major feature of the holiday.  Nowadays, it's almost identical to the 4th of July, except with more back hair and flagrant hand gesturing.

If you dig:
Seinfeld
Your holiday is: Festivus
Strangely enough, the Costanza klan’s holiday, featuring a stark aluminum pole instead of a Christmas tree, a hearty feast, “The Airing of Grievances” in which complaints are voiced about how friends have wronged you, and “The Feats of Strength” where someone has to wrestle and pin down the head of the household for the event to end, has existed since before the show. Back in the 60s, one of the staff writer’s fathers researched a bunch of obscure European holidays, and bundled them together as an excuse to bitch about his magazine job (he worked for Reader’s Digest). Today, Festivus is actually celebrated across the country in colleges, elderly homes and most anywhere that Seinfeld is watched religiously, which now includes Klan rallies. 

If you dig:
Making fun of cults
Your holiday is: X-day
X-day was the satirical “end of the earth” when  alien sex goddesses were supposed to destroy the world, and only save members of the Church of the Sub-genius. When nothing happened on July 5, 1998, the Church officially declared that modern calendars are wrong, and that July 5, 1998 simply hasn’t arrived yet. Today X-day is celebrated in underground and some pagan communities for 3-5 days in Burning Man style. Festivities tend to be greatest in Sherman, New York where underground bands perform, bonfires occur, and baptisms take place where people’s sins are washed away, so that they can promptly be given new ones.  Those new sins?  Calling crappy high school bands "underground."

If you dig:
Bathing in salsa
Your holiday is: La Tomatina
Essentially, for two hours, Valencia, Spain turns into a giant rotten tomato fight. While no one quite knows how it officially started (theories about anti-socialism, and class-warfare abound), here’s what’s definite: 30,000 revelers show up each year to eat paella, watch parades, and pelt food at each other’s faces. The town has vehicles dump truckloads of overripe ammunition on the streets, and once it begins it’s every man for himself. The town does have a few rules: they encourage people to wear goggles, white clothes and they ask that you squish the fruit before it’s tossed at someone. They also frown heavily on ripping other people’s wet clothes off, and bringing any item to the event that could cause serious injury— like a bottle, a lead pipe or a grenade.  Bummer.

As always, more information available at MentalFloss.com.