Meeting someone for the first time can be incredibly daunting, especially when you know you have to find things to talk about for the next few hours over dinner. But compared to some dating traditions, a table for two is a walk in the park. The next time you find yourself on an awkward first date, spare a thought for those who have taken part in some of these rather unusual rituals!
In this somewhat euphemistic courtship method undertaken in 19th century Scandinavia, a young lady searching for a suitor would don an empty sheath around her waist. If she were to catch the eye of an eligible gentleman, he would place his sword inside the sheath as a proposal for marriage.
For the young man the answer was simple; if she leaves the sword in the sheath, she’s yours! Returning the sword however, meant a disappointing rejection.
2. Fancy a Spoon?
This Welsh tradition has been around since the 17th century. Ornate and delicately carved ‘love spoons’ would be presented to a lady by her potential suitor. If the man’s craftsmanship was deemed to be of a suitable standard by the lady and her father, then he was worthy of courtship.
In a warm show of tradition, the spoons were often passed down through generations. Although it is difficult to imagine this ritual still being used to find suitors in the present day, family spoons are still frequently gifted on special occasions such as Valentine’s.
3. Rice to Meet You
The Miao ethnic people in southwest China use the celebration of Sisters’ Meal Festival in April as an opportunity for many of the young girls to find a partner. Adorned with traditional robes, the girls cook sticky rice, dying it four different colours to represent the four seasons.
Along come the eager young bachelors, choosing a girl who catches their eye and singing them a song. They are then passed a ball of rice, wrapped in a handkerchief painted with a symbol. Two chopsticks mean the lady is keen; whereas one chopstick is a polite refusal. A pine needle signifies indecision – the man still needs to prove his worth. And the poor chap who finds a garlic or chilli has to settle for outright rejection!
4. The Apple of My Arm(pit)
During this unorthodox display of courtship in rural Austria some time ago, women would clench apple slices under their armpits amid a long night of traditional dance. The clammy fruit would then be offered to a man who took her fancy, and if the feeling was mutual he would devour it!
5. A-head of the Game
One of the more gruesome methods of pursuing a relationship came from the headhunting Atayal tribe of Taiwan in the 19th century. Women would be wooed using severed heads collected in battle in a fierce display of masculine prowess. If a proposal was accepted, the happy couple would then proudly display the heads on an outdoor platform. A macabre path to matrimony!
Although some of these practises may appear unusual, culture and tradition play a huge part in dating and marriage across the world. Discovering more about these customs can be eye opening and fascinating. Join FreeAndSingle to meet interesting people from all over the globe!
Photo Credit: Ashley Webb