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We have heard the love stories. We have even seen them. The story from every dorm room, to the stories on our celluloid screens…love and courtship. Soon people will be silently judging their significant others by the size of their bouquet, box of chocolates, and bling but this was not always the case.
From offering sweat-brushed apples to severed heads, courtship used to be a different ball game altogether. While some people moved to more sophisticated woo-ing, there are still some who continue with other bizarre rituals.
A weird courtship ritual among the Gypsies of the UK has come under the limelight recently, where a guy grabs a young girl for a smooch, sometimes forcefully so. Unfortunately, the girls don't have a say in this, or in their own lives for that matter. They are not allowed to approach a guy, or even make a move. These girls, mostly between the ages of 14-21, are generally pulled out of schools by their parents to get married, serve their husbands, and bring honor to their families. Shocking, right?!
A very bizarre courtship ritual, practiced in Taiwan up until the 1930s, was discovered through 150-year-old letters of botanical experts at Kew. A tribe called the Atayals was very enthusiastic about head-hunting. The men often used severed heads from their battles to woo the women they coveted. Once accepted, these prized possessions were not promptly removed from sight. They were, instead, kept in open air on a narrow platform, for everyone to see.
Going through some strange courtship rituals so far, surely we must had some eyebrows raised. Now, let's see that cringe on your face, as it's time for something gross! We are talking about 19th century Austria, where pretty lasses had the liberty of courting men they liked with a slice of an apple. Not just any apple slice mind you, but the one soaked in their armpits during a dance ceremony, presented to them later. If interested, the men would happily gulp it down in acceptance. How sweaty, Glad they don't do it any more.
The Dai folks might have a free-spirit kind of approach to love, but the Kreung tribes from Cambodia have simply taken it to a different level. Here we have parents, who actually build what they call "love huts," for their teenage daughters. The girl can spend the night with any guy, or as many guys, as she wants to, until she finds her ideal life partner. She better choose wisely though; once married, the couple cannot split apart. It's a strict social taboo.
God bless womankind for what all they had to put up with in their lives in ancient times! Pick up any book on our ancient history, and you will find a mention of how women were just picked up by invaders from villages and tribes during a raid, and brought in as "wives" to carry on with their civilization. So just imagine, one day you are baking a dish for your loved ones, and the next day you're washing the dirty laundry of some jerk you are forced to call your "husband."
It is also called Foot binding and it is the custom of applying painfully tight binding to the feet of young girls to prevent further growth. Foot binding became popular as a means of displaying status and was correspondingly adopted as a symbol of beauty in Chinese culture. A woman with perfect lotus feet was likely to make a more prestigious marriage.
To prepare for marriage in traditional Hindu Balinese society, girls and boys approaching puberty undergo a ritual tooth filing. Preparations for the special day are extensive, six teeth are filed, and the ceremony often concludes with prayer at the family temple. Tooth filing is one of 13 rituals completed throughout a person's life and is done to help cleanse them of sin .
If an old Nordic custom is to be believed, playing hard-to-get is only a modern phenomenon. This doesn't win any points for subtlety when it comes to courtship, but their methods were very Game of Thrones-ish, so we approve. When a girl became ready for marriage, her father would let men know she was available by placing an empty sheath on her belt. If a suitor fancied her, he would place a knife in the sheath, which would signal to others she was taken.
Welcome to the perfect modern world. Followers of Buddhism, the Dai people are famous for their courting and marriage rituals. Flirting, dating, premarital sex, you name it and they've got it! They also have an interesting traditional courtship ritual. Various people gather at one place. You'll find all the young women sitting around a bonfire, and turning their spinning wheels. The men, clad in red blankets, will be playing a musical instrument. Everyone can approach a woman of their choice and, if it's a yes from her, she'll invite him to sit on a stool with her. He will drape his blanket around her, and they can just have all sorts of mushy fun together. Love just blossoms!
When Welsh couples talk about "spooning," they're not discussing cuddling. Since at least the 17th century, the Welsh have exchanged "lovespoons," intricately hand-carved wooden spoons, as signs of romantic intentions. Young men spent hours meticulously crafting their spoons so they could offer their crushes the most magnificent utensil imaginable. If the girl accepted the spoon, the courtship was on. The courtship aspect of the spoons has since faded, but lovespoons are still given on special occasions as tokens of admiration and affection.