Tis the season for Animal Festivals
Celebrating animals should always be in season as they play important and diversified roles in our lives. Below are a few well-known festivals worldwide that honor animals specific to their region. Globally it seems like the months of July, October and November are jam packed with holiday checklists and preparations everywhere!
The Grand Monkey Buffet in Lopburi, Thailand
Lopburi province, just 100 + miles Northeast of Bangkok, hosts a most intriguing festival called the Monkey Buffet every last week in November. It is held in honor of the Crab Eating Macaques or Long Tailed Macaques who do in fact have long tails and an appetite for crabs. The reverence the Thai culture has for these monkeys dates back to the early roots of Hinduism. It stems from a tale about a heroic monkey named Hanuman who rescued a bride from a 10-headed demon (yikes!).
As the story goes, Hanuman founded Lopburi and the Crab Eating Macaques are direct descendants of him. While 95% of Thai people are Buddhist, they still regard the traditions of Hinduism by taking care of the monkeys as they are often headquartered in various temples. During the festivals, monkeys are banqueted with large portions of food and towers of fresh produce.
What Kilts and Golden Retrievers Have in Common
Every year the Golden Retriever Club of Scotland celebrates the ancestry of this Scottish breed in mid-July. It is set in the quaint town of Alva in Clackmannanshire County that is the smallest historic county in all of Britain. Alva is nestled the Scotland foothills and is surrounded by 200 year old mills and architectural remnants of the Scottish Alva Highland Games.
The Golden Retriever Club of Scotland schedules dog shows, dancing, food, and plenty of activities to bond with these beloved canines. Official events start Wednesday July 15th as the day for puppy walking and hand out prizes. Saturday July 19th is the main event where people can eat an outdoor barbecue and watch the dog olympics where Golden Retrievers play and have fun racing one another. Whether it is touring the vibrant green charm of the Scottish Highlands or taking in the historical pull of Edinburgh, there is a lot of excitement and dog kisses to look forward to at this destination.
Alpabfahrt-the Swiss Cow Parade
To kick off the fall season, the Alpine Villages in Switzerland host Alpabfahrt, or Swiss Cow Parade, each year. Picture 350,000 cows parading down the mountains in the beautiful backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Massive herds celebrate the long summer days and journey south to the valleys to escape the cold winter. Cows are dressed in their autumn best with flower crowns and brass bells. This widely known tradition is celebrated in Switzerland and other European countries.
Alpenhorns and yodeling will be heard in the air as traditional dances are performed and other Swiss customs unfold. Crafted fare like pastries and the infamous Swiss cheese are offered to taste. Experts say cheese typically tastes better in the summertime because the milk is still flavored with the crisp green grass cows graze upon. The Swiss sure know how to commend local cows for their hard work.
Wooly worm Festival
Another great festival to attend in honor of animals is the Annual Wooly Worm Festival hosted in the Appalachian Mountains in Banner Elk, North Carolina. This family friendly festival offers worm racing contests, inflatable rides, and handcrafted goods surrounded by the scenic beauty of the fall leaves changing. Over 160 vendors, approximately 17,000 people, and several banjos make it out every year to partake in festivities on the third weekend of every October. The first place prize for worm racing competitors is $1,000.
You might be asking yourself why so many individuals venture out to race furry little worms. As the tale goes, the Wooly Worm has the ability to predict the winter weather with its 13 brown and black segments. Wider brown segments predict milder winters while the black segments forecast harsher winters. The winning worm is always the one chosen to predict the looming forecast. Who knows what the ole Wooly Worm will say this year!
Dogs of Diwali
The Hindu celebration of Diwali either in October or November, depending on the cycle of the moon. This celebration of light triumphing darkness is known in Nepal as Tihar. During Tihar, each day is dedicated to a different belief and concept revolving around reverence for animals. Unlike other variations of Hinduism, Nepalese Hinduism reserves the second day to honor and uphold their worship of dogs. Dogs are believed to embody Dharma also known as the path of righteous.
This second day is called Kukur Tihar and all dogs are formally recognized. They’re ornamented with garlands around their neck and marked on their foreheads with a red paste called abir. Both rituals symbolize the dogs’ devotion to Dharma and being objects of devotion in Hinduism. And, if these canines didn’t already feel loved enough, they are fed high quality food and sweet treat on the third day of Tihar. Here are a few great pictures of pooches participating in Tihar!
The Chiloe Island Bird Migration Festival
The Chiloe Island Bird Migration Festival is dedicated to the migration of shorebirds that are wintering in Chiloe, a Chilean island off of the Chiloe Archipelago. It takes place on November 23rd and 24th in the temperate coastal town of Putemún. Chiloe is home to the Hudsonian Godwit and Pacific coast Whimbrel which both live part of the time in North America. Other birds such as the Zarapin make the long 15,000-mile trek too.
The island is a thriving site for species to inhabit. In fact, the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network has conserved the wetlands because of the incredible diversity found there. Attendees can partake in educational lectures on migration, live music, photography, and even go birdwatching with some local guides. The community gets really involved too. A local elementary school performs a play every year called the Flight of the Zarapin that is about the migratory shorebird. So, next time you find yourself on the Chilean coast in their late springtime, bring some binoculars just in case you stumble across this amazing voyage.