15 Delightful Picnic Traditions From Around The World


The earliest known picnics were extravagant outdoor meals meant for groups of medieval royal hunters. Picnics would remain fancy meals for the wealthy throughout the Victorian Era, before eventually shifting to simple meals that anyone could pack in a bag and enjoy in the sunshine. Now, cultures across the world have added their own spin on eating outdoors, adding games, specialty foods, and specific holidays to enjoy dining alfresco.


Cherry blossom season announces spring’s arrival in Japan, along with the start of hanami—or cherry blossom-viewing picnics—season. To celebrate both, many Japanese spend warm days picnicking beneath the sakura blooms. The tradition is so popular—and the timeframe to enjoy the blossoms is so fleeting—that many parks are packed to the brim with friends and families enjoying homemade dishes (though food vendors peddle among picnickers who didn’t pack enough snacks, and department stores market hanami bento boxes).


While the upper hemisphere mostly dreams of a white Christmas during the snowflake and cold-weather season, Argentineans celebrate the holiday outdoors with Christmas picnics. These holiday events often take place on beaches or at home on patios, complete with roasted or barbecued turkey, pork, or goat.


Britain’s relationship with picnics dates back to the Middle Ages, when royalty would eat out of doors during hunting parties. But it wasn’t until the late 18th century when one of the UK’s most iconic picnic foods emerged: the Scotch egg. Self-proclaimed creator Fortnum & Mason fried sausage-wrapped boiled eggs as a luxury lunch item for upperclass travelers, as they became known for being easy to eat on the road. In years since, the savory snack has become popular among picnickers looking to pack a filling dish that can be served cold—perfect for celebrating the country’s National Picnic Week each June.


There are a couple stories as to how Australia got a national holiday dedicated to picnicking, but regardless of whether it dates back to the 1910s or 1940s, its Northern Territory celebrates Railway Heritage Picnic Day on the first Monday of each August. The holiday allows families a long weekend full of activities like dancing, tug-of-war, and lizard racing.


If you intend to sip wine at a French picnic, don’t expect to do it from a red plastic cup. Even when the French dine outdoors, fine diningware—specifically stemware—is still often used to ensure wine tastes its best. That’s because the shape of a wine glass allows flavors and aromas to breathe instead of being stifled by a normal shaped cup. And you and your wine both deserve to breathe in the lovely fresh air.


Picnics aren’t just for eating—there are games to be played, too. But Germans take it one step further by disrobing before competition. It’s not unusual for picnic activities like a friendly Frisbee toss, a few kicks of a soccer ball, or a quick swim to be done au natural. Freikorperkultur (Free Body Culture) encourages Germans to venture out and enjoy daily activities sans-clothing, and nudity is considered a cultural norm—even at picnics in public parks.


Many Americans use the summer holidays—Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, and Labor Day—as excuses to picnic. These gatherings also include competitive games like three-legged races and egg relays, but Americans pride themselves on a race of another sort: the food eating contest. The first one appeared in 1916 and pitted hot dog eaters against one another. That year, the winner ate 13 hotdogs at an Independence Day celebration in Coney Island. Now, picnickers and those hosting outdoor events often include contests for speed-eating pies or watermelons.


Below the equator, New Zealanders have historically enjoyed outdoor meals with standard picnic foods like sandwiches and pies. But during the 19th century, picnics mimicked barbecues with whole-roasted oxen and baked potatoes cooked over fire pits. Afternoon tea was also a common everyday staple that needed to be included with any picnic, so it was prepared hot in a “billy”—a metal can with a wire handle. After the invention of the thermos, tea arrived at picnic sites pre-prepared, and it remains a common picnicking beverage.


Croquet, soccer, and badminton are common picnic games, but in Denmark, Finland, and Sweden, kubb is a regular game. The lawn game is a mix between bowling and chess, where players attempt to knock over wooden blocks called kubbs with wooden batons. Kubb players win by knocking over their opponents' smaller kubbs, followed by a large one called a king. And just like picnic games round the world, a good game of kubb can last a few minutes or several hours depending on skill level.


May Day offers Finland the opportunity to celebrate spring’s arrival with friends and family, and it tends to lead to some exceptionally exuberant parties and picnics. May Day celebrations begin on April 30, and by the first official day of May, many picnic-goers are looking for relief from overindulging the night before. Day-of meals are often called “herring lunch,” featuring pickled fish and other salty foods that supposedly cure hangovers, though Finns will wash it all down with a swig of schnapps. Hair of the dog, as they say.


Not all picnics have to celebrate a holiday. Some are just for good fun and a day in the countryside. In Iceland, berry hunters often pack picnic lunches to take along on their search as berries ripen throughout the summer months. But besides the meats and cheeses, the most important ingredient for an Icelandic picnic is secrecy: Keeping berry picking spots under wraps means more for your own harvest.


Turkey has a reputation for superb picnics, and it could have something to do with the country’s thousands of picnic grounds open to the public. Many Turkish families bring along cushions, rugs, and furniture to set up comfortable picnicking spots, along with games, string lighting, and a potluck-style selection of stuffed veggies, grilled meats, and desserts. By nighttime, many picnics are still going and turn into bonfires complete with music, dancing, and raki (a Turkish, licorice-flavored alcohol).


Sharing a gourd of yerba mate (also called chimarrão) is a common practice among friends and family members in Brazil, Uruguay, and other South American countries, and takes place at picnics and other gatherings. One person will prepare the tea in a gourd or container with a straw, which is then passed around and refilled until the mate loses its flavor. Even though sharing chimarrão is among friends, there are rules: It is rude to break the circle and sip out of turn, or to wipe the straw before taking a sip.


"Clean Monday" ushers in the start of Lent in Greece and brings about religious food restrictions. But, the holiday has its own special foods, such as mussels, octopus, and unleavened bread, that are shared at family picnics. Afterwards, families fly large, colorful kites to celebrate the day and mark the beginning of spring.


A Ukrainian family has a Sunday picnic at the grave of a loved one in Kiev.// Getty

Picnicking by the final resting places of friends and family isn’t confined to any one culture. Around the globe, friends and family have gathered in ceremonies to celebrate special occasions, holidays, and to remember deceased loved ones. During the Victorian Era, picnickers often set up lunch next to headstones, enjoying the cemetery as a recreational space for games and activities. In Mexico, those celebrating Día de los Muertos lunch among family gravesites, as do the Chinese during the annual Chung Yeung Festival honoring their ancestors. While cemetery lunching is less common in the modern U.S., some morticians and preservationists support its reemergence as a way to celebrate and enjoy life at all stages. After all, isn’t that what picnics are all about?

All photos via iStock unless otherwise noted.

Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

The Annual Festivals That Draw the Most People in Every State

Every state has that one big event each year that draws residents from across the region or even across the nation. Louisiana has Mardi Gras. Kentucky has the Kentucky Derby. South Dakota has Sturgis. Genfare, a company that provides fare collection technology for transit companies, recently tracked down the biggest event in each state, creating a rundown of the can't-miss events across the country.

As the graphic below explores, some states' biggest public events are national music and entertainment festivals, like Bonnaroo in Tennessee, SXSW in Texas, and Summerfest in Wisconsin—which holds the world record for largest music festival.

Others are standard public festival fare. Minnesota hosts 2 million people a year at the Minnesota State Fair (pictured above), the largest of its kind in the U.S. by attendance. Mardi Gras celebrations dominate the events calendar in Missouri, Alabama, and, of course, Louisiana. Oktoberfest and other beer festivals serve as the biggest gatherings in Ohio (home to the nation's largest Oktoberfest event), Oregon, Colorado, and Utah.

In some states, though, the largest annual gatherings are a bit more unique. Some 50,000 people each year head to Brattleboro, Vermont for the Strolling of the Heifers, a more docile spin on the Spanish Running of the Bulls. Montana's biggest event is Evel Knievel Days, an extreme sports festival in honor of the famous daredevil. And Washington's biggest event is Hoopfest, Spokane's annual three-on-three basketball tournament.

Mark your calendar. Next year could be the year you attend them all.

A graphic list with the 50 states pictured next to information about their biggest events


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