Cultures & traditions

Wacky festivals, bizarre traditions and other interesting cultural curiosities

Burial of the sardine: Spain’s strange Ash Wednesday tradition

Burial of the sardine: Spain’s strange Ash Wednesday tradition

The more I learn about Spain and its customs, the more questions I have. Whilst talking about Pancake Day and Ash Wednesday to my Spanish boyfriend, he exclaimed, “Oh! Yes, I know. When you bury the sardine!”

The Egyptian pyramids: When, how and why

The Egyptian pyramids: When, how and why

The pyramids. What could be more majestic and mysterious than these pointy tombs in the deserts of Egypt? Not a lot to be honest with you. The only thing more mysterious I can think of is who actually likes those coffee-filled chocolates you always get lumbered with?

Debut: The Philippines' fancy coming-of-age celebration for young women

Debut: The Philippines’ fancy coming-of-age celebration for young women

It’s my birthday tomorrow. I know you didn’t get me a card but it’s OK – you weren’t to know. I’ll be turning 30, if you’re wondering, and I’m not at all happy about it. 30 is the oldest I’ll have ever been. But at least I’m not a girl from the Philippines who’s turning 18 tomorrow – I’m not sure I could handle the fuss.

Diogenes: Ancient Greece’s strangest philosopher

When you think of Greece, a few things probably come to mind – sunshine, beaches, feta. But that’s not all Greece is known for. They’ve also given us quite a few philosophers over the years.

The spinning stilt dancers of Anguiano

The spinning stilt dancers of Anguiano

Have you ever tried walking on stilts? The closest I’ve come is walking on those little bucket things you get as kids, with the string attached. That was hard enough for me.

Baba Marta Day: Bulgaria's first day of spring

Baba Marta Day: Bulgaria’s first day of spring

Spring has officially arrived. Are you doing anything to celebrate it? I think I might put an extra blanket on my bed tonight. In Bulgaria, though, they have a more interesting way of celebrating – Baba Marta Day.

The history of gap years

Gap years are a bit of a cliché these days. When I hear those two words, it conjures up images of uni students posing in various touristy locations, thinking they’re exploring.