25 Dangerous Traditions That Somehow Still Exist

Running of the Bulls

25 Dangerous Traditions That Somehow Still Exist

For more than a few reasons, several dangerous traditions around the world still exist. Almost all of them redefine danger in a new way, but they mostly attempt to honor the traditions of various cultures and history. While outsiders might look at them and scream in horror, the people who live these traditions are just expected to continue. 

No matter the risk, which sometimes can include death, these traditions will continue well into the future. With this in mind, let’s take a look at 25 dangerous traditions that somehow still exist.

Rouketopolemos (Rocket War)

Rocket Churches
The rocket war in Greece that takes place yearly includes hundreds of small rocket fireworks.

Every year on Easter two rival churches in the Greek village of Vrontados, Agios Markos and Panagia Erithiana, meet in a sort of mock combat. Firing as many as 60,000 small rockets, this creates quite the light show. Of course, many rockets have veered off course over the years resulting in injuries and death.

Phuket Vegetarian Festival

Phuket sign at Patong beach , Phuket sandbox
Harming yourself is a dangerous tradition that still exists during the Phuket Vegetarian Festival.

Unfortunately, the Phuket Vegetarian Festival is not at all about food or vegetables. Instead, it’s about abstaining from meat for 9 days. As a result, participants in this festival stick sharp objects in their mouths and cheeks to honor the animals.

Baby Jumping (Spain)

Baby jump by El colacho
While dangerous, baby jumping in Spain has continued for hundreds of years.

Since the 17th century, the Spanish village of Castrillo de Murcia has been doing something rather dangerous. As a ritual, street actors dressed as devils jump over babies lying on mattresses on the ground. While the act hasn’t (allegedly) injured any babies as of yet, it’s still very dangerous for all involved.

Cheese-Rolling (England)

Cooper's Hill Cheese Roll England
Rolling cheese down this hill in England often results in dozens of injuries every year.

Every year the town of Gloucestershire, England does something very strange. The goal is to roll an 8-pound wheel of Double Gloucester cheese while runners chase the cheese and try to catch it. Unfortunately, the hill is rather steep which inevitably leads to falls and injuries, with some being more serious than others.

Italian Fruit Battle

While an orange celebration might seem harmless, flying oranges can really hurt.

Oranges might seem harmless, but not in the Italian town of Ivrea. Every year in February the town stages a battle royale with oranges as a weapon as residents throw fruit at a horse-drawn cart carrying more oranges. The horse riders and horses have to wear hockey gear to avoid serious injury.

Running of the Bulls

Running of the bulls
The running of the bulls in Spain continues to be an incredibly dangerous event.

One of the most iconic dangerous traditions, the Pampolona, Spain event happens every year in July. Around 2,000 people take part across a half-mile course where six bulls charge down the human participants. Unsurprisingly, all kinds of injuries, including death, are possible during this event.

Christmas Lighting Festival (Peru)

Peru Christmas Festival
The Christmas lighting festival in Peru is essentially one giant fist fight.

Instead of decking the halls, this Christmas festival in Takanakuy, Peru looks to deck each other. On December 25th every year, disputes are settled with fists. Referees do carry whips to keep things orderly but, unsurprisingly, injuries do happen.

Extreme Log Ride (Japan)

Japan Log Festival
Carrying giant logs down a hill generally only ends with injuries upon injuries.

Taking place every 6 years in Nagano, Japan, the Onbashira festival is a giant log ride. Carefully chosen fir trees are cut down and moved down a hill. Men who hope to prove they are brave attempt to ride the log while it’s going downhill. Unsurprisingly, horrible injuries and deaths take place every year.

Beehive Rocket Festival

Lantern Festival in Taiwan
Taking place during a famous Taiwan lantern festival, firecrackers get out of control.

Occurring during Taiwan’s famous Lantern Festival, the Beehive Rocket Festival is a dangerous event. Over the last 130 years, firecrackers have been launched into the public in one of Taiwan’s most important religious events. As such, injuries and burns are commonplace.

Feria de la Pirotecnia

National Pyrotechnic Festival
If you attend Feria de la Pirotecnia in Mexico, watch out for fireworks.

The National Pyrotechnic Festival or Feria de la Pirotecnia takes place every year in March in Tultepec, Mexico. Honoring San Juan de Dios, locals and tourists alike look to take place in the “Burning of the Bulls” where fireworks are lit and the parade taking place beneath the towers are showered with burning sparks.

Calgary Stampede

Calgary Stampede
The Calgary Stampede is the largest rodeo in the world.

A ten-day celebration of heritage and culture in Calgary, Canada, the Calgary Stampede is more dangerous than it looks. As the world’s largest rodeo, over one million people attend every year. While human injuries are uncommon, over 100 horses have died since 1986.

Hiwatari Shinji

Japan Firewalking
Firewalking events in Japan have been popular (and dangerous) for generations.

Taking place on the second Sunday of every December, Hiwatari Shinji is a Japanese Shinto Buddhist event. This firewalking celebration is said to provide a spiritual cleanse though it’s not uncommon to see burns on feet.


For Tamil Indians, a yearly firewalking festival looks to please the goddess Draupadi.

This firewalking festival is a Hindu ceremony that takes place in October of every year. Celebrated in Southern India’s Tamil Nadu area, both male and female participants run through a 9-foot fire pit. The goal is to be blessed by the Hindu goddess Draupadi.


Beautiful view of colorful gopura in the Hindu Kapaleeshwarar Temple,chennai, Tamil Nadu, South India
Taking place yearly, Thaipusam is celebrated by Tamil Hindus in India and includes serious numbers of body piercings.

A two-day Hindu thanksgiving festival, Thaipusam is celebrated by Tamil communities in Asia on a full moon every February. Physically demanding, men and women sacrifice their bodies through piercings. As one might suspect, injuries are not uncommon.

Cobra Gold

Cobra Gold
For military members attending Cobra Gold, be prepared to bite the head off of a chicken.

Active military members from the U.S., Thailand, Singapore, and other countries are invited to participate in “Cobra Gold.” Among other activities, soldiers are taught to hunt Cobra snakes and bite off the heads of chickens.

La Tomatina

La tomatina spanish festival sign with a Red tomato
La Tomatina is one giant tomato fight, but flying tomatoes can hurt quite a bit.

One might not think the world’s largest tomato fight could be dangerous, but it very much is. Starting in 1945, this Spanish festival has been held on the last Wednesday of every August. Participants and bystanders are regularly injured as a result.

Polar Bear Plunge

Polar Bear Plunge
Polar plunges are common all over the world but they are always dangerous.

Taking place every winter in Annapolis, Maryland is the Annual Maryland State Police polar bear plunge. With more than 10,000 participating in jumping into freezing cold water, there are regular cases of hypothermia and injury.

Baby Dropping

Map of India, in focus Solapur city with roads and surroundings macro shot, from above.
Dropping a baby off a balcony into a blanket is an all-too-dangerous tradition.

Every year in the Indian town of Solapur, Muslim residents participate in a baby drop from a local religious site into adults stretching out blankets. Taking place for over half a millennium, the ritual is said to make the children grow strong and healthy. Claims of babies never being injured have never been truly verified.

San Juan Bonfires

San Juan Bonfires
The San Juan bonfires are a celebration of summer arriving in Spain.

Celebrating the arrival of summer, the San Juan bonfire festival in Northern Spain is never without injury. Among other activities, one ritual requires participants to step barefoot onto hot coals carrying someone on their back.

Lake Diving

A group of tourists travels along the ice of the frozen Lake Baikal. Excursion to the beautiful iced rocks of Horin-Irgi or Cape Kobyliya Golova
Every New Year, Russian residents dive into Lake Baikal, the world’s deepest lake.

As a celebration of the New Year in Russia, thousands of divers jump into Lake Baikal in Siberia. One specially chosen diver carries a New Year’s tree that is sent to the bottom of the lake. With temperatures reaching -25 degrees Celsius, injuries are common.

Japanese Blowfish

Japanese Blowfish
If blowfish isn’t properly cooked, Japanese blowfish can be deadly.

For reasons that escape many, blowfish is still widely consumed in Japan regardless of its dangers. If cooked incorrectly, it can kill or severely injure those who eat it. This dish is so dangerous that only a licensed chef can properly prepare it before serving.

Bullet Ants

A Bullet Ant, Paraponera clavata, Costa Rica.
To become a man, one Brazilian tribe must suffer 10 minutes of ant bites.

In preparation for manhood, the Brazilian Satere-Mawe tribe uses bullet ants as a right of passage. For 10 minutes, the boys must wear a glove with ants placed on it. This can leave many boys temporarily paralyzed from ant venom, causing uncontrollable shaking for days.

Elephant Riding

Group tourists to ride on elephant in forest chiang mai, northern Thailand
Riding elephants continues to be a dangerous and cruel tradition around the world.

While elephant riding might seem like a great tourist idea, people should not make these gentle giants carry them around all day. This dangerous practice requires brutal training for the elephants. While inhumane, elephants tossing off riders has also led to thousands of injuries.

College Hazing

Fraternity building with large porch at Cornell University
College hazing is a tradition that has led to multiple deaths and injuries over the last 100 years.

This might seem out of place among international traditions, but college hazing remains dangerous. These practices commonly result in death and lawsuits. Hazing incidents in college are estimated to cause at least 1,000 injuries every year.

Wedding Bondage

Indonesian Tidong Wedding
Not going to the bathroom for three days can be very dangerous for the body.

As part of their heritage, the Indonesian Tidong community has one unique but dangerous tradition. A bathroom is not permitted to be used by the newlyweds for 72 hours before their wedding. Along with a restricted diet, it is believed this will result in a strong marriage and bring good luck.

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