Put a little extra spring into your Easter weekend with this sexy selection of fertility rituals, come-hither customs and mischievous miscellany from around the world
Put the 'carnal' into carnival at one of these worldwide fertility festivals
Pleased to see me? A giant wooden phallus is the highlight of Hounen Matsuri, the largest fertility festival in Japan. Volunteers carry it across the town of Komaki (around 45min from Nagoya) every 15 March, to ensure fertility and fecundity to Komaki's residents. But it's not all about the guys in the land of the rising sun - Hime-no-miya Grand Vagina Festival is held in a neighbouring village the Sunday before Hounen Matsuri.
Get all wet… Guys throw buckets of water over young women as they run through the World Heritage village of Holloko in Hungary for this ancient fertility ritual. The Watering of the Girls pre-dates Christian traditions, but is held at Easter each year.
Light my fire… The Celtic festival Beltane marks the birth of summer and the new life that the change of seasons brings. Fires are lit to recall the sun, and some believe that couples that jump over the embers will be extra fertile. The Beltane Fire Society has reignited this traditional celebration - watch the Green Man and May Queen's procession at Carlton Hill in Edinburgh on 30 April.
Add some extra oomph if you're trying for a baby
Do it with the lights on... According to Chinese and Japanese superstition, babies conceived under the Northern Lights will be blessed with good fortune. The good news is that experts have predicted that autumn 2013 will be brilliant for aurora displays, so get booking your trip north… Here are 5 romantic Northern Lights experiences.
Hillside hanky-panky... The Cerne Abbas giant (main image) down in Dorset is considered a potent fertility symbol, so couples trying to conceive might want to consider a trip down south this May Day. Dancing around the maypole should do the trick, otherwise according to folklore, a woman who sleeps on the figure will be blessed with fertility.
Aphrodisiacs like champagne, oysters and chocolate are sure to get you in the mood (check out our guide to the best places to try the foods of love here), but did you know that wedding cake does the same job? The tradition of a wedding cake started in ancient Rome, where a loaf of bread was broken over a bride's head for fertility.
For a bit of bad education, take a field-trip to one of these saucy sex museums:
Sex Machines Museum, Prague
This museum is devoted entirely to the history and display of 'mechanical erotic appliances'. There are over 200 of these in the museum's collection, making the Red Room of Pain in 50 Shades of Grey look utterly unimaginative. There's also an intimate cinema for watching the world's earliest erotic films, dating from 1920s.
Museum of Sex, New York
Taking 'sex education' to a whole new level, New York's Museum of Sex has rotating exhibits and virtual installations on everything from the 'Sex Lives of Animals' and 'Kink', to a tribute to American pin-up photography. There's also the OralFix Aphrodisiac Cafe where you can try all kinds of erotic elixirs.
Classier, and cheaper, than the infamous Red Light District, Amsterdam's 'Venustempel' focuses on 'sensual love' with an extensive collection of erotic pictures, paintings, objects, recordings, photographs and even 'attractions'…
Hazelnuts - In ancient Ireland, the Celts carried hazelnuts in pockets or strung them together and hung them up at home to symbolise fertility.
Mistletoe - Another Celtic symbol, druids believed mistletoe had the power to bestow life and fertility, and used it as an aphrodisiac (which is why we now kiss under mistletoe at Christmas).
Pomegranates - superfood pomegranate isn't just good for your antioxidant levels, it's also a symbol of fertility in both Greek and oriental myths because of all its seeds. For fecund Feng Shui, put a painting of a pomegranate with lots of seeds in your bedroom.
Lotus Flower - in Hindu culture, the lotus flower is the highest symbol of fertility. They represent purity as they grow in muddy waters but remain untouched by the impurities.
Frogs - Over in South and Central America, squatting frogs represent giving birth to new life, but they're not the only ones. Frogs became a symbol of fertility in ancient Egypt too as large numbers of them appeared each year when the Nile flooded.
Elephants - In India, elephants' long trunks are associated with rain, which brings fertility to the fields. Put a pair of elephants on either side of your bed (facing into the centre of the room) if you want to have a baby as in China they're considered a symbol of pregnancy.
Main image Hardo Müller via Flickr
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