Useless Facts on Manners And Customs Throughout the World
In medieval China and parts of Africa one method of enforcing chastity was to sew up a girl's vaginal labia as soon as she reach puberty. The stitches were not cut until the marriage; the husband then had the option of sewing them up again if he was called to war or on a long journey.
In Elizabethan England the spoon was such a novelty, such a prized rarity, that people carried their own folding spoons to banquets.
In ancient Japan public contests were held to see who in a town could break wind loudest and longest. Winners were awarded many prizes and received great acclaim.
The pilgrims in Massachusetts used a special tool in church, a wooden ball attached to a long string on a stick. If anyone fell alseep during a sermon (which might go on for seven or eight hours) a specially appointed member of the clergy would hoist the pole over the reprobate's head and clop him with the wooden ball.
When ancient Egyptian priests held a banquet, a large mummy was often carried into the feast chamber and propped up at the table where all the priests could see it, a reminder that even while at pleasure, death was ever near.
The ancient Egyptians slept on pillows made of stone.
Tibetans drink tea made of salt and rancid yak butter. Tibetan women carry a special instrument with metal blades for cleaning their ears and picking their nose.
The champagne used to christen a ship is a substitute for human blood. In bygone times the Vikings and various South Sea tribes sacrificed human beings on the prows of their ships so that the spirits of the murdered victims would guard the craft. Later wine was substituted for blood, and, in our day, champagne for wine.
Date-palm trees in Iraq are passed down through generations as part of family legacies. The trees are given individual names, have carefully recorded personal histories, and are considered a basic part of family wealth.
During the Middle Ages German men went to the barber to take a bath as well as to get a shave.
At Versailles, during the reign of Louis XIV, it was considered gauche to knock on a door with the knuckles. Instead one scratched with the little finger of the left hand, and for this purpose courtiers let that particular nail grow long.
America in the year 1800:
- There was no public library.
- Crockery plates were objected to because they dulled knives.
- Over one-fifth of the country's population lived in the state of Virginia.
- Men and women spat on the floors of their own homes and bathed only once a week.
- When someone was finished with dinner he placed his spoon across his cup to show that he wanted no more food.
- Gentlemen wore wigs and powdered their hair.
When gentlemen in medieval Japan wished to seal an agreement, they urinated together, crisscrossing their streams of urine.
Among the Betsileo Natives of Madagascar, in the eighteenth century, there was a caste of servants known as the ramanga who were made to eat all nail parings and blood lost by members of the upper classes. If the nail parings were too long or jagged they were minced up before being gobbled down. If a noble cut himself or was wounded in battle a ramanga would lick his wounds. Those of high rank rarely went anywhere without these attendants, and if by chance a nail broke or blood flowed when the aristocrat was alone he would preserve the residues and later give them to a ramanga, who obediently swallowed them.
In medieval Spain, it was customary to clean the teeth with stale urine. The theory behind this strange practice was that the urine would render the teeth especially bright and keep them firmly fixed in the gums.
In medieval Japan, a woman who was caught alone in a room with a man other than her husband was immediately put to death, even if the meeting was completely innocent.
When the Tasaday tribe were discovered in the Philippine Islands they were found to have no known enemies , no weapons of war, no words in their language for hate, war or dislike. They neither hunt nor cultivate.