Getting pregnant. It should be simple shouldn’t it, but for some of us it’s just not that easy and if you’ve found yourself with your legs up in the air after sex, charting your temperature and getting your hubby home from the office as soon as you’ve started ovulating, fear not!! There are fertility customs from around the world that make our efforts to conceive look positively boring!!
There are some weird and wonderful customs from all corners of the planet thought to enhance fertility. Whether you choose to believe them or think they’re a little silly, many communities around the world swear by them. From drinking the blood of a cobra to throwing your underwear on to the roof of your house like the Yansi people of the Congo, you’ll find plenty of different options. Yes, some are funny, some are odd, some are wonderful and some are just plain weird. But everything is worth a try, right? Hmm, we’ll let you be the judge….
Now if you want to completely immerse yourself in celebrating fertility, it’s time to board a flight and prepare yourself for phallic festivals and other strangely interesting events.
Kanamara Matsuri, Japan
To put it simply, Kanamara Matsuri is Japan’s annual penis festival. That’s right; an entire festival celebrating male genitalia. Also known as the ‘Festival of the Steel Phallus’, the streets of Kawasaki see people parading a huge penis-shaped mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine), all in celebration of fertility. It is believed that the festival takes its influence from the 17th century, when prostitutes would pray at Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases.
“17th century prostitutes would pray at Kawasaki’s Kanamara shrine to prevent the contraction of sexually transmitted diseases”
Although the whole concept of Kanamara Matsuri may seem strange, it’s all for a good cause. Today it raises awareness of safe sex and helps to fund HIV research. Each year, more and more tourists jet off to Japan for this festivity. Fancy joining in the fun? The festival takes place on the first Sunday in April every year. Pencil it in!
Watering of the Girls, Holloko, Hungary
The people of modern day Hungary keep their ancient fertility rituals alive by participating in the Húsvéti Locsolás festival every Easter. Also known as the Watering of the Girls, the festival dates back to the 2nd century AD. Men and women dressed in traditional embroidered clothing flock the streets and engage in an activity that can only be described as a huge water fight – only it’s just the women getting buckets of water thrown at them. It is believed that this cleansing ritual empowers them with the gift of fertility. Worth a try if you don’t mind getting wet.
The Annual Phallus Festival, Tyrnavos, Greece
That’s right, another penis festival exists. Who’d have thought it? Head to Greece on the first day of Lent and see it for yourself. Be prepared to eat penis-shaped bread, sing songs and kiss a giant ceramic penis at this traditional pagan festival– all in the name of fertility.
The festival goes way back to Ancient Greece where phallus processions took place during the worship of Dionysus – the Greek God of Fertility (and wine). However, the Greek Orthodox Church disapproves of the phallus-loving celebrations. Today, the festival attracts many tourists and is one of Greece’s most popular events. All hail the penis!
“Be prepared to eat penis-shaped bread, sing songs and kiss a giant ceramic penis – all in the name of fertility”
Of course, if you’d rather be more subtle about the whole fertility thing, there are other ways to boost fertility that are a little less…frontline.
Stick your thumb in The Weeping Column, Istanbul, Turkey
Head to Hagia Sophia Museum in Istanbul and you’ll be greeted by The Weeping Column, which is believed to have precious healing properties. Taken from the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus and placed in the once church /once mosque museum, the column is thought to be a powerful and sacred monument. Its name derives from the column’s weeping holy water. People hoping to enhance their fertility visit the Weeping Column, place their thumb inside a specific hole, and rotate it as close to 360 degrees as possible. OF their thumb has been blessed with the healing holy water (basically, if it is wet), then it’s believed that luck will be on their side and in turn, their fertility will be increased. So if you find yourself in Istanbul, stick your thumb in the hole and hope for the best!
Sleep on the Cerne Abbas Giant, Dorset, United Kingdom
Little more local this one! If you happen to be hiking across the rolling hills of Dorset and notice a peculiar fellow etched into the ground flaunting his rather prominent manhood and wielding a club that can only be described as a Golden Wonder Nik-Nak, then it’s likely you’ve come across the Cerne Abbas Giant. If a woman decides to take a nap on the 180ft grassy figure, it’s believed that her childlessness will be reversed and she will be blessed with fecundity. And according to the Office of National Statistics, the surrounding areas have the highest birth rates in the country -the Cerne Abbas Giant has caused a baby boom! So ladies, if you’d like to increase your fertility, pack up your sleeping bag and head to Dorset for the night.
Sit on the Miracle Chair in Naples, Italy
Increasing fecundity by sitting on a chair? Sounds absurd, right? But it isn’t any old chair; it’s the Miracle Chair of Naples. Believed to channel fruitfulness and fertility, women from all over the world travel to Italy to perch their bottoms on the chair with the hope of becoming pregnant (not instantly, of course).
“You’ll be surrounded by announcements pinned up on the walls of women who have fallen pregnant after taking a seat”
Dating back over 200 years, it is thought that a nun spent the last days of her life in the chair. Upon her passing, she became blessed Saint Maria Francesca of the Five Wounds of Jesus, to which childless women pray with the hope of enhancing their fertility. And yes, it’s quite a way to travel to spend a few seconds sitting on an old wooden chair, but you’ll be surrounded by announcements pinned up on the walls of women who have fallen pregnant after taking a seat. Is it a miracle or a coincidence? Nobody will ever truly know, but it could be worth checking out cheap flights to Naples.
Food and drink fertility customs
Yes, yes we all know that your diet can aid conception, but we’re not talking about adding folic acid and extra zinc to your daily menu….
Drink baboon urine
Now it’s a fact that urine contains a variety of hormones, which is why some fertility medication contains oestrogens from human urine as they help to stimulate fertility in both men and women. But what about baboon urine? Well, some tribal communities in Zimbabwe believe that this will indeed enhance fertility. Mixed with beer, they concoct a rather interesting cocktail in hope of parenthood. It’s worth noting, however, that today’s midwives in Africa are warning women about the dangers of practicing this traditional fertility remedy. Surely they won’t be too upset about eliminating this ingredient from their diet.
“Mixing the urine with beer, they concoct a rather interesting cocktail in hope of parenthood.”
Take a shot of beetle juice
This is not a joke. Apparently juice of the Spanish Fly (also known as a Blister Beetle) has been thought to increase one’s sexual function.
“The Spanish Fly secretes an acidic, poisonous juice that causes irritation and swelling to the genital area when ingested. Painful.”
Having been frequently used by people of Ancient Rome and especially by Marquis de Sade – a French aristocrat and revolutionary Politian of the 18th century who was a firm believer of its aphrodisiac properties – the Spanish Fly secretes an acidic, poisonous juice that causes irritation and swelling to the genital area when ingested. It does, however, enhance the libido (apparently), as well as causing a bout of itching and scratching, convulsions, and even the possibility of death. Painful.
Eat bird’s nest soup
Probably one of the strangest ways to boost fertility, this Asian delicacy is thought to get you in the mood for love. Bird’s nest soup is exactly that – the nest of a swiftlet bird. The birds build the edible nests with their saliva, and ONLY their saliva. No twigs, no branches, just the spittle of a swiftlet. Used as a treatment for infertility by Chinese herbal practitioners, bird’s nest soup is frequently consumed to promote fertility and a healthy sex drive. Apparently it has an acquired taste, so you may need to bring some condiments to the dinner table.
“Bird’s nest soup is frequently consumed to promote fertility and a healthy sex drive”
Convinced? No, we weren’t either. We’re thinking that taking a look at our conception section may yield some more appealing advice and of course your GP will be able to help too.