Top five bizarre love rituals worldwide

Ruth Doherty

What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by taking a look at the most weird and wonderful love rituals around the world (who needs chocolate and flowers)?

Here's our top five:

Male beauty pageant, Africa
In the Western world it's mainly women who need to worry about mastering makeup. It's the opposite in the Wodaabe tribe in West Africa. Every year, the males parade their beauty in front of would-be female partners at a festival called the gerewol, where they put on elaborate make-up and bright dresses. Getting ready for the competition takes hours: men pluck their hairlines, eyebrows and whiten their teeth until they're gleaming.The grooming finishes with a competitive dance called yaake, which, some say, is like a cross between an opera and a drag show.

Penis parade, Japan
Forget flowers and chocs, what about a giant penis, instead? In the city of Komaki, 15 March sees the Hounen Matsuri - an ancient Japanese fertility rite involving a group of 42-year-old men (42 is thought to be an unlucky age in Japan, so needing this ceremonial reinforcement) carrying a comically giant penis towards a shrine. Ladies carrying smaller versions of the phallus flank the men, and it is considered lucky for members of the crowd to touch the them as they pass through the streets.

Bathing with crocodiles, Gambia, West Africa
Myth has it that the waters of a small, green pool in Gambia called Kachikally aid fertility, and bathing in them reputedly boosts the chances of conception. Problem is, it's full of enormous Nile crocodiles - but no attacks on humans have ever been reported here. Must be the magic water.

The Trevi Fountain, Rome
The Trevi Fountain is one of Rome's biggest sightseeing spots - but some people may forget that its attraction also has to do with an old love ritual: if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are bound to return to Rome and meet the love of your life...

The four-leaf clover, Ireland
Not just a lucky charm, the four-leaf clover is also part of an old love ritual. In some parts of Ireland, it is still believed that if a woman consumes a four-leaf clover while thinking about a particular man, he will eventually be hers.

Heard of any other bizarre love rituals? Let us know below!