One of the things that people learn as they travel the world is that we only consider things normal because they've always been a part of our culture, which is why we will often find odd things around the world that seem so normal to the people over there! This is why many people believe that travel broadens the mind, forcing human beings to consider things from a different angle, thereby seeing the world as a whole in a completely different way!
While we have seen some fairly odd things in our time, we've decided to focus on the Cocullo Snake Festival today, as we think it's quite possibly one of the strangest festivals we've ever seen! What we've done, is pull together some images that will show you just what we're talking about, so that everyone can have a chance to take in some of the sights of one of the strangest festivals around.
So, we think it's about time that we got started, gave people a look into a world they've never experienced before. Is everyone ready?! Well, let's get started then!
25 Imagine If Some Of Them Escaped!
"Their handlers bring them to the central square on the day of the festival – traditionally the first Thursday of May, but nowadays every May 1st public holiday – and proudly display them to the public." (TheLocal) We're sure that this festival is incredibly safe and that they make every effort to ensure that nobody gets hurt, but imagine if even a fifth of this amount of snakes ended up escaping in a built-up area? They would wreak havoc!
24 We Wonder How Many End Up Getting Captured Numerous Times
"After a procession through the narrow streets, the serpari retrieve their snakes and release them back into the wild – until next year." (TheLocal)
How many of these poor things end up being ripped from their natural habitat to be handled by children and draped all over a statue do you think?!
We know it seems unlikely, but we bet that it's not 0% likely!
23 It's Unlike Any Festival We've Ever Heard Of...
"Every May 1st, the town of Cocullo in Abruzzo carries out a slithery ritual: the Festa dei Serpari or Serpent Festival, which sees locals parade the streets with scores of specially caught snakes." (TheLocal) Yes, there is a place in the world that sees people gathering up snakes so that the people in the area can then parade around with them. We know it sounds dangerous, but we all do dangerous things from time to time, right?!
22 Glad They Have Specialists...
"Handled by specialist handlers called serpari, the snakes are draped around the statue of San Domenico di Sora, the patron saint of Cocullo and protector against toothache – and, handily enough, snake bites." (TheLocal)
Yeah, it's probably a good thing that someone would have a patron saint of snake bites around while taking part in this festival!
That being said, we would rather be looked after by a doctor or a medic rather than a patron saint...
21 That's A Long Time!
"The festival is thought to date back further, to before the time of Christianity." (TheLocal)
When we look back in the world, it can often be difficult to get our heads around the actual level of time that has passed to get to this day. In fact, human beings haven't even been around that long when you think about it!
The world has been going on for a long time, and it was us who came along and started all these festivals and rituals!
20 A Snake Has Never Made Us Smile...
We're glad that someone is able to get some enjoyment out of these things, as we've always struggled to find them anything other than creepy!
Sure, this man turned up to a festival of snakes, so presumably he enjoys them a lot more than the regular human being, but still, look at the grin on this guy's face!
It's as if he's been waiting his entire life to be able to hold a snake in a safe environment, and he's finally been offered that chance.
19 Maybe It's A New Accessory?
Look, we're not going to pretend that we fully understand modern fashion, so if somebody told us that the new thing was to wear a stuffed snake on your head, we would probably end up believing them... Obviously, that's not what has happened here, rather it's just a young woman who felt the best thing would be to hold the snake on top of her head. We know they're not venomous or anything, but we still wouldn't want to be bitten!
18 Thanks For The Gift!
"He became associated with the rite when he left the town one of his teeth, which is kept as a holy relic to this day in the local church." (TheLocal)
Anybody else think that this is a weird thing to do? If somebody brought us this as a gift, we would probably be pretty unhappy about the whole thing...?
Honestly, if anybody is reading this and they were planning on leaving us some teeth as a gift, we can tell them now that they really don't have to do that...
17 Protecting Teeth Is An Odd Power
"The faithful have believed in the saint's powers to protect teeth and heal bites." (TheLocal)
Okay, so we understand that there are a lot of saints out there, so they can't all end up with the greatest of powers, but does anyone else think that they'd be annoyed to get the power to protect teeth?!
Imagine if that was the power of one of your favorite superheroes for example...
16 That Sounds Painful
"On the morning of the festival, his devotees pull the church's bell rope with their teeth to seek his blessing for their dental health." (TheLocal)
If you're the sort of person who needs to seek out the help of a saint to make sure that your teeth stay in your head, we would suggest not trying to ring a bell with them, to be honest!
We can only imagine the sort of pain that can be caused by pulling something this heavy with your mouth can end up doing to your teeth.
15 Dangerous Work!
"The serpari begin preparing for the festival more than a month earlier, catching wild snakes as the winter snow melts and animals begin to venture out." (TheLocal)
Funny to think that this happens so regularly that they've sorted out the best way to get all of the snakes together in the fastest way possible!
We doubt anyone thought that one day they would grow up to gather snakes for a festival...
14 They Must Know Exactly What To Look For
"Four types are the most commonly caught: four-lined, Aesculapian, grass and green whip snakes, all of them non-venomous." (TheLocal) Making sure that they have the best people on the job is very important! Not only could somebody get themselves hurt trying to capture a venomous snake, but they don't want to start handing out dangerous animals to crowds full of people, including children as well!
13 This Sounds Cool! They Should Still Do This
"The snakes were traditionally kept in clay pots and fattened up on a diet of boiled eggs and mice while they awaited the ritual." (TheLocal)
Why is it that this actually sounds pretty cool to us? We bet they're kept in cages these days, which isn't anywhere near as cool as what they used to do back in the day!
For whatever reason, we as a people seem to have decided to stop using pots as anything more than decoration...
12 Don't Drop That Statue...
"Then, at midday, the procession begins: four people carry the statue of San Domenico from the church and the serpari place their snakes on it." (TheLocal) When taking part in a major festival like this, the pressure must be on anyway to ensure that you don't do something like drop the statue, but when that statue is also covered in snakes, it makes sense that the people carrying the statue may end up feeling even more nervous!
11 Do We Know Much Else About Him?!
"San Domenico, an Umbrian abbot who lived in Cocullo for around seven years around the end of the 10th century." (TheLocal) Do you think that anybody will remember most of us this long after we've gone from this world? We suppose, this guy has managed to do what a lot of us want to do during our life, which is to bring together an impressive life, something that people will continue to talk about long after we've ended up passing on...
10 Yeah, Just Hand Them Out...
In any other walk of life, a man walking around handing out snakes to children would have the police coming after him long before he could manage to get many of them out there.
Yeah, just as he finally got a few out of them out there among the general public. he'd be in handcuffs and unable to explain himself!
However, we're glad that we live in a weird enough world that somewhere, there are people doing this sort of thing...
9 That Guy Looks Pretty Uncomfortable!
If you ask us, that guy in the background clearly hasn't been to this festival before. In fact, based on the look he has on his face, we wouldn't be surprised to find out that he actually just stumbled onto this place rather than turned up on purpose. Can you imagine having no idea that this sort of festival exists, but then turning up to the city one day and seeing everyone walking around with snakes? We would think that we had lost our minds!
8 Why Is She The Only One With A Snake...?
Is anybody else worried that, at this festival set around making sure that everyone has a snake to properly celebrate the festival, this woman is the only one in the photograph that actually has a snake on her person?
Does anybody else think that's just a little bit suspicious?!
We're not sure what she could possibly be up to, but we're saying that there's a chance people should be keeping a close eye on this woman...
7 Seems That Tourists Like It As Well!
We wouldn't be surprised to find out that, while it may have once held great importance to the people who live in the local area, it's actually mainly tourists who find themselves traveling to this place.
It's such an odd spectacle to everyone else that this is pretty much the only chance they're going to get to see it happen!
To be honest, the more and more we're thinking about it we may end up going ourselves...
6 A Lot Of People Turn Up!
See! There's no chance that all of these people live in the area, so we must be looking at quite a lot of tourists here who have made the journey just to see the spectacle!
That being said, we can't believe that so many people there are actually on their phones...
We don't know about you, but we think that people should just enjoy the moment that they're living in, rather than preserving it in a video that is blurry and they'll never look at it again.
5 They Dress Up Pretty Crazy As Well
We were pretty sure that there was no chance anything would top the odd nature of capturing snakes and handing them around to people in a town, but somehow this woman's fashion choice has definitely changed that...
We're not saying she looks bad by any means, but it's definitely some odd choice of clothing right there!
Maybe the world would be a more interesting place if more people dressed like back in the day.
4 Quite An Artsy Shot...
Pretty much all of the images up until this point have been very candid shots, showing us exactly what it would be like to actually be at the festival we're talking about.
However, there's always a place for shots like this, that bring the passion and creativity out of someone.
This is a side of the event that we haven't seen up until this point. It may be odd and eccentric, but that doesn't mean it isn't important to other people around the world!
3 Does She Look Worried...?
Seeing as we imagine there are a lot of people about that aren't used to be around snakes, we're surprised it has taken us this long to get to an image in which someone looks genuinely scared by the presence of a snake. We all know the sort of pain that some species of snake can cause, so many of us get worried just by the sight of one. If we're honest, we understand where this woman is coming from and think we'd be most like her if we were in attendance.
2 Kids As Well?!
We've already talked about how everyone in the area gets involved when it comes to festivals like this, but we have to say that the inclusion of children really does surprise us.
We would think that a lot of the people there would be too paranoid to let their children play around with snakes, no matter how much an expert may assure them that it's perfectly safe!
We know we would struggle to let our child play with snakes, that's all we're saying!
1 He's Got A Hold On Her...
We understand that these things are clearly safe otherwise, people wouldn't be handing them out to children, but we would definitely be keeping an eye on this child if they were ours! It's funny how, no matter the reality, that these snakes are perfectly safe, we would never be able to get it out of our heads that something was going to go wrong during this festival. Probably smart if we dodged it for the foreseeable, at least until we get a lot more comfortable with snakes!