As next week’s solar eclipse draws closer, many people are preparing to safely witness the event and crossing their fingers the weather will be clear as it happens.
On August 21, the moon will obscure the sun leaving a burning ring in the sky.
The best place to view it will be the mainland US, where the so-called “path of totality” will pass across 11 states in the middle of the country. Over here in the UK we’ll only get 4% coverage when the eclipse reaches its peak at 8pm BST.
Even though we won’t be able to see the eclipse here, there are plenty of places around the world with some bizarre celebrations and rituals that come out every time the moon passes in front of the sun.
And we’re not talking about Bonnie Tyler performing on a cruise ship .
Here’s what other cultures did (and in some cases still do) when the great celestial event takes place:
1 Shoot the moon
The ancient Chinese used to fire arrows at an eclipse, a tradition that lived on for milliennia.
They weren’t celebrating the moon’s arrival, but trying to scare it off for fear the sun would never shine again.
In the 19th century, Chinese sailors were spotted firing cannons at the eclipse in the hope of stopping a dragon – the moon – from eating the sun.
2 Mistreat their kitchen utensils
People from all over the world share a belief the moon is attacking the sun during an eclipse.
In the Middle East, some societies bang together their pots and pan to frighten off the angry man in the moon.
Happily, the ritual seems to work because the moon always runs away eventually, meaning it’s repeated over and over each time an eclipse happens.
3 Lock the door and close the windows
Folklore suggests eclipses can harm pregnant women, so many hokum-peddlers advise women to stay in their homes.
In India, it is believed the rays of the eclipse harm women’s unborn children, whilst other countries believe it could cause kids to be born with birthmarks or cleft lips.
All this is – quite honestly – rubbish, because the only risk an eclipse poses is eye damage to those who stare at it for too long.
4 Take a (brief) vow of chastity
Some Hindus refrain from romping during solar or lunar eclipses.
Before the eclipse begins, some observant Hindus clean the entire house and throw away any cooked food, which becomes impure.
They then chant until the eclipse is over, before taking a ritual bath and going out to give charitable donations.
5 Wear red knickers
Superstitious women in South America believe eclipses can leave children with birthmarks.
In the olden days, Mayans and Aztecs wore an arrowhead and red string to prevent this.
Modern women wear red pants and stick a safety pin through them.