Last week we reported on kiiking, an extreme swing set that’s popular in Estonia and surrounding countries. That area of the world seems to breed weird sports. Perhaps the weirdest is the increasingly popular sport of wife carrying.
Guys, it’s pretty simple: hoist your wife into the air and run a race. If you make it first and don’t drop her, you win. Oh, and you have to drink beer along the way. Now I can certainly understand wanting a cold beer after such a grueling contest, but having one in the middle of the race doesn’t sound like a good idea.
You have to be seriously fit. Huge guys with tiny wives still get laid out by this race. Serious contestants need to train hard and figure out the best position for the wife. The woman has a job to do too. As one wife said, “I just hang on and follow his rhythm.” Wink, wink, nudge, nudge … say no more.
Remember when we were kids playing on the swing set and we’d try to swing so high that we’d fly over the top bar and come down the other side? No, I never made it either. But in Estonia, they’ve taken a childhood dream and made it an extreme sport.
It’s called kiiking. Using a special swing with steel arms instead of chains, the kiiker stands on the swing and pumps back and forth until he or she gets enough momentum to make a full 360-degree turn. The best kiikers can go around several times. The longer the shaft of the swing, the harder it is, and according to the “Guinness Book of World Records,” the record for kiiking is with a 7.02-meter (23-foot) swing used by Andrus Aasamäe of Estonia on August 21, 2004.
Kiiking has taken off in the Baltic states and in Scandinavia. Here we show a video of the Estonian army taking a little time off from defending the nation to practice kiiking.
That’s right. Not content with having some of the best castles in Europe, the Spaniards like constructing living towers up to ten people high. Called a castell, the tradition originated in the region of Catalonia in the 18th century.
A bunch of strong, big castellars make up the pinya (base) and support their teammates as they create level upon level with progressively fewer (and lighter) people. Once a level is complete, the people who make up the next one climb up the backs of the others and take their place. Then the top person, called an enxaneta (rider) climbs all the way to the very top and, supported by only two people, raises a hand with four fingers up to symbolize the Catalan flag. The enxaneta and the very top levels are often made up of children to lighten the load on the bottom levels. Then the castell disassembles itself from the top down by each level climbing back to the ground. Only when everyone is safely back on the ground is the castell considered a success.
It’s an unusual tradition and now the castellars are applying to get their art on UNESCO’s list of “intangible world heritage”. The list includes examples of rare cultural practices that are relatively unknown and unpracticed outside a certain region. Check out the website for more bizarre and amazing practices around the world.