When you think of love, do rotten eggs, your partner’s weight in beer or ‘courting huts’ come to mind? These five strange love customs from around the world prove that romance comes in a variety of strange forms.
1. Whale’s tooth promise
Nothing says commitment like a whale’s tooth, right? In Fiji whale teeth hold important cultural significance, especially for birthdays, funerals and weddings. It’s common practice for a man to present his future father-in-law with a tabua – whale’s tooth – to show his esteem for his new family.
2. Blackening of the bride
In this Scottish pre-wedding tradition, the bride and bridegroom are showered with a number of things, from rotten eggs, fish and treacle to soot, flour and feathers, and are then paraded through the streets on a cart. The lucky man or woman would likely be highly intoxicated, and would end up being tied to a lamp post or thrown into the shallow sea. The belief was this would ward off evil spirits and help the couple prepare for married life.
3. Monthly Valentine’s Day
For us, Valentine’s Day happens once a year on 14 February. In South Korea, it happens every month. On the 14th day of each month, a type of Valentine’s Day is celebrated. These days are all named after colours, with White Day and Black Day being the most significant after Valentine’s Day. White Day (14 March) is a chance for men to express their appreciation of their partners, traditionally with gifts of white lingerie or white chocolates. Black Day (14 April), is supposedly for single people who may not have received a gift in the previous two months. On this day, it is typical for single friends to gather and eat jjajyangmyeon (noodles in black bean soup).
4. African courting hut
In what we would deem a progressive way of parenting, girls in some African tribes are provided with ‘courting huts’ by their parents to entertain suitors and choose a partner, in privacy.
5. Wife-carrying race
Each year in the village of Sonkarjävi, Finland, competitors from around the world gather to undertake the Wife Carrying World Championships. In this tradition, men (typically) throw their wives or girlfriends over their shoulders and compete in a 253.5 metre obstacle course. The winner is bestowed with his partner’s weight in beer.
Just for fun, why not check out the video from this year’s Wife Carrying World Championships?
Find out about more strange love and marriage customs at lonelyplanet.com.