#3. Festival of Colors: The Hit-Me-in-the-Face-with-Poisons Festival
Holi, the festival of colors, takes place in early March of each year in India and Nepal. Holi is a beautiful time when both humans and nature shake off the gloom of winter to rejoice in the wonders of spring. Obviously, this is best accomplished by hurling poisons at one another. It's not intentional, for the most part: It's just that the tinted powders and dyed water that festivalgoers fling and smear across literally everybody they see -- which are supposed to be from natural herbs -- are sometimes comprised of oxidized metals mixed with industrial dyes, acids and engine oil. Aluminum bromide, lead oxide, copper sulphate and a whole host of other toxins that can make you make you sick and cause skin conditions and even blindness are playfully, joyously sprayed all over just ... everything.
"Open wide, so it coats your lungs!"
Although maybe that's the true lesson here: You should appreciate the many varied and wondrous colors of nature while you can, because any day now, you could go blind.
Oops. Sorry, that was a typo. We meant "will." You will go blind.
"AHHH GOD THIS LEAD OXIDE IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING! ABSOLUTELY STUNNING MY EYEBALLS!"
#2. The Festival of St. Vincent: Beware of Falling Goat, Drunk Assholes
On the fourth Sunday of every January, the pious folk of Manganeses de la Polvorosa celebrate their patron, St. Vincent, by rounding up the unluckiest goat in the European Union. Said ungulate is then carried in a procession to the local church, where it is carted up to the top of the bell tower.
Historians don't fully know how this began, but it may be that the custom is a reenactment: An old legend says that there once was an 18th century priest who had a goat that he would milk for the needy. Then, one day, the goat followed him into the church and made its way up to the belfry. When the bells started ringing, the goat, scared shitless by the racket, took a flying leap off the tower. Luckily, he was rescued by villagers below, who were holding blankets out to catch him.
Of course, that warrants the question: How did the villagers know that the goat was even up there, much less to already be in position with blankets to save him?
The legend of the jumping goat may be quaint and charming, but there's actually a far more reasonable and likely explanation for the festival, put forth by historians earlier this year: There's a lot of drinking going on in Manganeses de la Polvorosa.
And yet somehow, clearly, not enough.
#1. Entroido: Antball-Hurling Madness
Entroido is the name of a popular festival in Laza, Spain, that celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Colorful and ornate "Peliqueiros" costumes are donned, and a general revelry is engaged in by all.
"Hey, it's like the Burger King Guy dressed up as a transsexual pope. I'm not planning on
having nightmares about that later at all!" -- Fucking Nobody
The festival lasts approximately five days, beginning with the weekend, during which folks run through the streets with flaming torches, while others throw dirt on them from second-story windows.
But why? You, the logical, sane reader might ask.
And that's a good question, actually, but now you're on fire and about to be buried in the street, so you don't get to hear the answer. Later, all of the participants gather to dance, whip one another and eat grilled goat and pig head.
But I don't understand, what's the cultural significance of that?
Because those are the words their fingers landed on while they were flipping through the dictionary. What, you think there's some rational motive here that you're missing? OK, try this on for size: To signal the end of Entroido, they hold the "sardine's funeral," in which a huge artificial sardine is constructed and then set on fire. Some dress in black to mourn the sardine's passing, while others choose white to imitate sardine ghosts.
Maybe the sardine is sacred to --
NOPE. We're not done. On Monday, a battle is waged in which the weapons of choice are mudballs filled with live ants. Of course, what antball is complete without a good seasoning of vinegar first, to make sure the ants are good and pissed off pre-hurl.
Stop. Please. You're just making noises with your mouth now, these aren't even words I --
Stop this madness.
When this blind orgy of torch-wielding, dirt-tossing, sardine-ghost-busting, antball-hurling madness is in full swing, there enters the "morena": "A morena, or brown cow masquerader in a carved wooden mask, appears amidst the ant-throwing to butt people, lift women's skirts and add to the chaos."
Any festival where a key figure exists solely to "add to the chaos" is OK by us.
I give up. I give up trying to understand this. I'm confused and angry for reasons I do not fully understand. I think I might throw ants on people. Why do I want to do that now?
Heeeyyy, that's the spirit! Happy Entroido! Now twirl! Twirl or the Cow God of Chaos will not honor you with his fire! Morena! MORENA!
You've won us over with your antballs and horse anarchy, Spain.