World's Wackiest Holidays

Think relying on a groundhog's shadow to predict the end of winter makes little sense? Check out even stranger celebrations from around the world.

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Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade
Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Macy's Thanksgiving Parade

Giant balloon puppets like Spiderman debuted at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade back in 1927. Today, the 87th annual event is one of the oldest Thanksgiving Day parades in the US. 960 1280

Michael Nagle/Getty Images  

Here Comes Santa!

Here Comes Santa!

Santa Claus rides on his sleigh down Central Park West during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade in NYC. St. Nick’s arrival at the parade's grand finale signals the official season's start to Christmas in NYC. 960 1280

Reuters/Gary Hershorn   

Houston's H-E-B Holiday Parade

Houston's H-E-B Holiday Parade

Participants strike a pose in Houston's annual Thanksgiving celebration, which we’ve voted among the top Thanksgiving Day parades. Now 64 years strong, the parade gets a makeover in 2013, with renewed focus on everything from fashion, food and heroes; to culture, sports and talent. 960 1280

Sean Boyd/Houston Holiday Parade  

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade

Make it a long weekend in Chicago, while checking out "Chicago's Grand Holiday Tradition," now in its 80th year. You just may see Teddy Turkey strut his stuff; he's been the parade mascot since 2009. 960 1280

Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar, flickr  

America's Thanksgiving Parade

America's Thanksgiving Parade

Giant balloons float above the street during Detroit's annual America's Thanksgiving Parade, which shares the title of second-oldest Thanksgiving parade (alongside the Macy's parade). Plus, check out our own Andrew Zimmern's Detroit-inspired pumpkin pie! 960 1280

Image by visualthinker through the Flickr Creative Commons  

Carolinas' Carrousel Parade

Carolinas' Carrousel Parade

Yep, that is "Carrousel" with 2 r's. Founded in 1947, this parade through Charlotte, NC, is the fourth-largest in America, with an estimated 100,000 spectators. In 2013, though, it didn't look like the parade would happen, until a corporate sponsor stepped in and saved the day. 960 1280

Charlotte Fire Deparment, flickr   

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade

So what is the nation’s oldest Thanksgiving parade? Head to Philadelphia to find out! The 1.4-mile 6ABC Dunkin' Donuts Thanksgiving Day Parade started in 1920, sponsored by a popular department store of the day. 960 1280

M. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia/GPTMC  

America's Hometown Parade

America's Hometown Parade

Upping the ante, America’s Hometown Parade, in Plymouth, MA, bills itself as “America’s only historically accurate, chronological parade.” Inspired by the Pilgrims’ establishment of Plymouth Colony, the parade foregoes giant balloons of popular characters for parade features based on the history of the US, from the 1600s up to the 2000s, with a Santa Claus float at the end. 960 1280

Denise Maccaferri  

Seattle Macy's Day Parade

Seattle Macy's Day Parade

It’s not just NYC that has a Macy’s Day Parade, The Emerald City does, too. Grab your hat and coat (it’s forecast to rain) and head to Seattle for the city’s annual Thanksgiving parade. See more than 20 balloon floats, 600 costumed characters, local marching bands and some adorable St. Bernards. 960 1280

Robert Charter  

Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade

Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade

In 2013, this St. Louis Thanksgiving parade celebrates its 29th year. Featuring over 130 parade units, the Ameren Missouri Thanksgiving Day Parade starts in downtown St. Louis and concludes on 10th Street; you’ll see why St. Louis truly is an all-American town. 960 1280

Christmas in St. Louis  

Elaborate decoration seen along a street in preparation for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebration Singapore's Chinatown neighborhood. 960 1280

REUTERS/May Naji  

Divers perform a dragon dance during an event to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year at an aquarium in Beijing. The Lunar New Year begins on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese zodiac. 960 1280

REUTERS/China Daily  

A girl holding red lanterns used for decoration runs in a park ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Beijing. 960 1280

REUTERS/Jaso  

Participants dressed in festive regalia take part in the annual Chinese New Year parade in Washington, DC's Chinatown neighborhood. 960 1280

Getty Images/Alex Wong  

Members of a dragon team perform during the Chinese New Year festival and parade in San Francisco. The city's Chinese New Year parade is the largest of its kind in the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators. 960 1280

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan  

A woman rides a float decorated with brightly colored lanterns during the Chinese New Year festival and parade in San Francisco. 960 1280

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan  

Children practice drumming before the start of the Chinese New Year festival in San Francisco. 960 1280

Getty Images/Justin Sullivan  

People offer prayers to the deities during a midnight ceremony in Chinatown at the Chua Thien Hau Temple in LA. Every year in the Chinese lunar calendar is associated with an animal, and positive characteristics associated with that animal are believed to be bestowed upon people born in that year. 960 1280

Getty Images/David McNew  

"Wow, that’s amazing." Chinese ethnic dancers react backstage as they watch a performance during the Chinese New Year in Bangkok. 960 1280

Getty  

People place gifts and money in the mouth of a dancing dragon during the Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in NYC. 960 1280

Getty Images/Chris McGrath  

Parade participants prepare to march in the Chinese New Year Golden Dragon Parade in the Chinatown neighborhood of LA. 960 1280

Getty Images/J. Emilio Flores  

Artists and dancers take part in Chinese New Year celebrations in Plaza de Oriente, opposite the Royal Palace in Madrid. 960 1280

Getty Images/Raul Urbina  

Young performers have fun and pose for the camera before the start of the Chinese New Year Twilight Parade in Sydney. 960 1280

Getty Images/Lisa Maree Williams  

Gearing up. Chinese girls practice before a performance during Chinese New Year celebrations in the Chinatown neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. 960 1280

Reuters   

Show time! A crowd watches a lion dance performance during Chinese New Year celebrations in NYC's Chinatown district. 960 1280

Reuters  

Performers reenact an ancient Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune and harvest. The ceremony is part of an annual Chinese New Year celebration at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. 960 1280

Reuters/Jason Lee  

Participants perform a dragon dance during a Chinese New Year celebration in Vina del Mar, Chile, about 75 miles northwest of the capital city of Santiago. 960 1280

Reuters  

Chinese New Year  17 Photos

Israel: Sukkot
Israel: Sukkot

Israel: Sukkot

Sukkot (Feast of Booths or Feast of Tabernacles) is a biblical holiday celebrated on the 15th day of the month of Tishrei, which is between late September and late October. On this special occasion, Jewish people reflect on how the Israelites felt during their 40 years of travel in the desert after the exodus from slavery in Egypt, as referenced in the Bible. The 7-day tradition includes special prayer services and holiday meals. 960 1280

Reuters  

Canada: Jour de l'Action de Grâce

Canada: Jour de l'Action de Grâce

Canadians celebrate Jour de l'Action de Grâce, aka Thanksgiving Day, on the second Monday in October. Similar to the American Thanksgiving, people in Canada reserve this time to celebrate the harvest and other blessing of the past year. And Canucks enjoy a good feast, too. During the holiday weekend, most families have the big Thanksgiving meal on Sunday or on Monday. 960 1280

Monkey Business Images  

Korea: Chuseok

Korea: Chuseok

Chuseok, a major harvest festival and 3-day holiday in Korea, is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the lunar calendar. Koreans return to their hometowns to perform traditional rituals in the morning to remember their ancestors. Family members also visit and clean up the area around the tombs of their immediate ancestors, before offering food, drink and crops to their lost loved ones. Japchae, bulgogi and songpyeon (a crescent-shaped rice cake) are popular foods prepared during the holiday. 960 1280

riNux, Flickr  

Vietnam: Tết Trung Thu Festival

Vietnam: Tết Trung Thu Festival

In Vietnam, people celebrate the Tết Trung Thu Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival) in September or in early October. This fall celebration is also known as the Children’s Festival. The Vietnamese believe children are symbols of innocence and purity -- the closest connection to the sacred and natural world. Children light lanterns and perform lion dances as part of the celebration. This is the second most important holiday tradition in Vietnam. 960 1280

Viethavvh, Wikimedia Commons  

UK: London's Harvest Festival

UK: London's Harvest Festival

Locals and tourists with “green thumbs” converge on London to stroll through the city’s Harvest Festival in October. Organized by the Royal Horticultural Society, this festival has several fun activities including the Fruit & Vegetable Competition, which highlights the UK’s best growers and their best produce. Gardening tips, apple tasting and a giant pumpkin contest are other featured events held during the 2-day festival. 960 1280

Reuters  

Ghana: Homowo Festival

Ghana: Homowo Festival

Ga people celebrate Homowo, a festival to commemorate the pre-colonial famine that occurred in Ghana. The festival starts in May during the planting of the crops -- just before the rainy season begins. The celebration includes marching in the streets with drums, face painting, singing and performing traditional dances, like the Kpanlogo. 960 1280

Reuters  

Germany: Erntedankfest

Germany: Erntedankfest

Although it’s not an official holiday, Germans celebrate Erntedankfest (The Harvest of Thanks) on the first Sunday in October. Usually a church-organized celebration, this harvest festival includes several fun activities including a Thanksgiving parade and carnival with elaborate decorations made from harvested fruits and vegetables. 960 1280

madle-fotowelt.de, flickr  

China: August Moon Festival

China: August Moon Festival

Celebrated in China, the August Moon Festival is a 1,000-year-old tradition for the Chinese to reflect on the bounty of the summer harvest, the fullness of the moon and the myth of the immortal goddess, Chang O, who lives in the moon. Millions of Mooncakes -- flaky, round, semi-sweet pastries -- are given as gifts during this celebration. The festival is often thought of as “Chinese Thanksgiving” because of its spirit of gratitude and abundant food. 960 1280

Shizhao, Wikimedia Commons  

India: Pongal

India: Pongal

Pongal is a 4-day festival celebrated January 12th through the 15th, to mark the beginning of the end of the winter season in India. The second day, Surya Pongal, is the most important day of the festival. On this day, people throw their old clothes into the fire, have an oil massage and then wear new clothes, to worship Surya, the sun god. During the festival, cattle are bathed, dressed and served pongal (rice boiled in milk), women of the house perform puja for the prosperity of their brothers, and families decorate their floor with decorative patterns using rice flour. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Barbados: Crop Over

Barbados: Crop Over

The Crop Over, a traditional harvest festival in Barbados, features singing, dancing, climbing a greased pole, feasting, drinking competitions and a calypso music competition. The celebration starts in June and ends on the first Monday in August. With street parties, craft markets, food tents, Crop Over has evolved into Barbados’ biggest national festival -- similar to Carnival in Brazil and Trinidad. 960 1280

Getty Images