10 weirdest hobbies in the world

Have you ever heard of these 10 weirdest hobbies in the world?

The idea for this article has come to me quite a while ago when I first heard about hobby horsing. ‘People do what?!’ I asked in surprise. I have started looking more into it and realised that there are actual competitions, trainers, and so on related to this bizarre hobby. This made me thinking – what other strange hobbies are out there that I have never heard about? The research for this article has taken me down the rabbit hole of strange (beetle fighting), disgusting (navel-fluff collecting), and dangerous (train surfing) hobbies, but it has led to this list of 10 weirdest and actually really interesting hobbies that people have. I have included some YouTube videos that I found along the way, I hope you will find them as entertaining as I did.

Hobby horsing

Hobby horsing is a strange hobby which came to news stories in early 2019. Originating in Finland, it now has it’s enthusiasts all over Tik Tok. Hobby horsing is the act and art of riding a rudimentary toy horse – a stuffed fabric horse head attached to a stick.

Detail from Children’s Games by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560, Wikipedia

But the story of a hobby horse goes much further than that and it is actually really interesting. In the 16th century, the term “hobyn” had the meaning of “small horse and pony”. The term “hobby horse” was documented in a 1557 payment confirmation for a “Hobbyhorse” from Reading, England. The hobby horse was made of a wooden or basketwork frame with an artificial tail and head. It was designed for a child to mimic riding a real horse, and it has stayed in a similar shape to this day, when the hobby horsing has came to light again. In the later designs it also had a small wheel or wheels attached to the other end of the stick.

From ‘hobby horse’ came the expression “to ride one’s hobby-horse”, meaning “to follow a favourite pastime” and eventually it turned to the modern understanding of the word ‘hobby’! How cool is that? The nowadays hobby horsing enthusiasts can claim that they merely going back to the roots of the word ‘hobby’.

The ‘horse head on a stick’ has also been an element of several cultures and used in some traditions such as English folk Morris Dance.

I was quite surprised though, learning that hobby horsing is not only a common hobby in Finland, but also that there are competitions, coaches and designers – a whole lot of adult people whose lives are connected to this fascinating hobby. I believe, it originally started with younger girls, where is now you can see older teenagers participating as well.

Finnish Hobbyhorse Championships 2019

This made me wondering – would hobbyhorsing become a hobby for adults as well? And then I found this video from 2011, so I am hopeful to see more of this in the future. I absolutely love the professional outfits, rather than gym clothes worn in the Finnish competitions.

World Class Dressage Stick Horse Quadrille

Extreme ironing

If you thought it won’t get weirder than hobby horsing, you were of course wrong. A great contestant to the weirdest hobby in the world is extreme ironing.

There are multiple stories how the hobby started. The earliest one goes to 1980 and Tony Hiam, who lived in Settle in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in England (have you noticed that yet another bizarre hobby originated in England?). Tony’s brother in law, John Slater was known for ironing his clothes even when camping in a tent and Tony decided to mock this habit by ironing in bizarre places such as on mountains tops, crowded airport lounges or on top of telephone kiosk. Apparently he was carrying his iron and the ironing board in the car-boot so he can use any opportunity he finds to try ironing in a new random place.

Another origin story, also comes from England, this time from Leicester. In 1997 Phil Shaw who had a particularly hard day in the knitwear factory came back home dreaming of a night out rock climbing. Unfortunately he came back home to a pile of laundry in need of ironing. He decided to combine the two in the act of the ultimate compromise and soon after he embarked on international tour promoting the activity. Can you imagine that when he encounter German tourists in New Zealand, they got so hooked on the activity, that a formation ‘Extreme Ironing International’ was created and it’s unique section ‘German Extreme Ironing Section’. They still do take part in the championships.

Geocaching

Right, now we are going away from some crazy hobbies into an interesting hobby that reminds me of my scouts days. I won’t dive too much into the history of it as you can find all these details on Geocaching website, but a quick explanation might be in order for those unfamiliar with the term.

Geocaching is a recreational activity where the participants hide and seek containers using GPS coordinates and other navigational tools. The containers often include trinkets for the finders to take (and often encourage them to leave something for the next explorer) and a bit of paper or a notebook, where the geocachers can leave their names to commemorate the finding of the container.

Video from the Geocaching YouTube channel

Competitive duck herding

Well, yes. When I first heard of the competitive duck herding, I honestly thought that it was people herding ducks themselves, maybe while pretending to be a herding dog. It is more complicated than that though and actually quite interesting! The discipline uses sheep-herding dogs in order to maneuver a group of ducks around a series of obstacles and eventually into a closing pen. It is apparently way harder than it looks and it requires learning a lot about traditional sheepdog handling.

This video shows that it is actually an art and requires a lot of restraint!

It looks like the competitive duck herding is more of an art than a sport. If you watch the above video from 1996 competition you will see how much restraint, patience and skill is required from the person to guide the dogs guiding the ducks around the field. Although I cannot see myself watching the Competitive Duck Herding Championships on tv while biting my nails and binging anxiously on popcorn, I think this is a hobby definitely worth mentioning and looking into if you like outdoors, animals and not too much exercise, while still calling your hobby a ‘sport’.

Mooing

Have you every tried to moo like a cow? I’m not gonna lie, I have done it multiple times, most recently couple of weeks ago while travelling with my friends to countryside (yes, I am over 30 and have a serious job. I still like to moo when I see a cow. Sue me). I did not expect there to be a competition though. And there is!

Watch this interview with Wisconsin Mooing Champion 2010

It seems to be a quite common competition during state country fairs in the US. We have to bring it to UK soon too (or if there is one, please do let me know!). Although at first I got excited and considered participating myself (how fun is mooing!), but then I watched the above video and realised I am nowhere near this level of impersonating a cow. This is some quality mooing right there!

Toy voyaging

If you like me still have your favourite plushie, you might consider sending it off on a toy-voyage. The idea behind this hobby is to take pictures of your toy doing all the holiday activities – surfing, skydiving, horse-riding, either while you go on holiday or sending it away on its own. Many people offer to host the travelling toy and take it on adventures in their local area. You can also do a ‘wild-release’ when you send the toy on its own with a note, hoping, somebody will pick it up and document its story. It is much safer though to send it to existing toy-voyage enthusiasts to make sure the toy won’t get lost in the big world.

The idea of toy-voyaging came from a couple who fell in love with the traveling gnome in ‘Amelie’ and while admiring the snaps they have taken of their son’s toys on holiday they thought of creating something bigger than just holiday albums. Today, ToyVoyagers is a booming forum with over 5,000 people sharing snaps of traveling toys.

Quidditch

You don’t have to wait for your letter from Hogwarts to start playing Quidditch. Many serious universities have their own teams these days in this fantastic (!) discipline.

UCLA Quidditch team explains the game

The most ridiculous part of real-life quidditch is that the players do actually carry broomsticks between their legs. It is part of the game, and you have to be on your broomstick the whole time. To me it feels, like Quidditch could be actually quite an interesting game, involving the bludgers and quaffles, but adding the broomsticks it just feels like a bit too much… What do you think? Would you ‘fly’ around a field on a broomstick while scoring some goals?

The idea in real-life Quidditch I really like is that golden snitch is a person! They hide around the campus and need to be found by the Seekers. Once found, the golden snitch moved back to the field where the game is played and the Seekers need to retrieve the tennis ball he has, without touching the person (if it sounds confusing, just check out the above video).

Dirt polishing

Hikaru dorodango, or “shiny dumpling,” (dango is a type of Japanese flour cake) is the Japanese art of shaping mud into lustrous, perfect balls. Often translated as ‘dirt polishing’ this eccentric activity originated most likely in Japanese playgrounds, where kids were playing by forming mud balls by hand. How this kids play evolved into an art form is unknown.

Beautiful mud

News bombing

One thing I learned today is not to google ‘news bombing’ as it does give you quite gruesome results… However, news bombing (or news raiding) is an actual hobby. The idea behind it is to find the locations of live news reports and appear in the background behind the journalist being filmed. Paul Yarrow is the most known news-bomber in the UK. He claims that his aim is to make a serious point about broadcasters only allowing attractive people on-screen.

You can see some Paul’s news appearances in this video

After I have read a few articles mentioning Paul, I thought – I bet there are other people doing this – and honestly I couldn’t find any. The only other story mentioning news bombing was this short story. I started wondering if Paul is the only news-bomber in existence and if it could actually be considered a hobby. A search for a ‘news bombing hobby’ did not bring any better results, especially where I came across a story about a compulsive bomb-maker.

I hope that despite that Paul might be the only one engaging in this hobby, he is still maintaining a good work-life-news-raiding balance.

Element collecting

You could say that this hobby rocks. Being quite niche, it still attracts chemists and nonchemists alike to gather metals, minerals, and even gases, using the periodic table as their guide. The quest to collect all the elements is what is appealing to most of the collectors (it is not encouraged though to collect any of the radioactive elements).

This could be a great group activity for a family as well, especially if you have kids and want to get them a bit more excited about science. The element collecting doesn’t have to focus only on the ‘collecting’ aspect. You can do fun experiments with the gathered elements, test their properties or find peculiar uses.

There are different approaches to this hobby. Some are searching for the purest samples of each elements (often spending thousands on retrieving them), others prefer finding these elements in everyday use. Some manufacturers also make coins from various elements.

Real life periodic table

The website periodictable.com offers short descriptions and various uses of each element in the real life. It seems that periodic table has vastly expanded since my time in school. Check it out yourself.

Strangest hobby

Which of the above hobbies do you find the strangest? Or did you not consider them weird at all and you are planning to engage in some of these activities? Let me know in the comments!

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