Our world is one of constant parallels. As all we as a species know, planet Earth has spent the last few million years undertaking a comparatively brand new adventure, of which human beings have played a leading role. Slowly spreading from our humble primitive beginnings to establish ourselves as the dominant animal species amongst a million others, humankind has made a huge impact on the planet. Whilst it must be said that we should strive to take the good with the bad, this is not always easy- and the unending list of predicaments we are faced with is unlikely to cease anytime soon. With this, all that one may really do is educate and immerse themselves into those areas which stimulate or indeed affect them, as much as humanly possible during the little time we’re given. This merely reflects my own personal opinion (at the moment anyway), and I am certain that each of you reading this will have your own thoughts to bring to the table. Whilst we’re in the spirit then, let us take a look at some of the most interesting cultural customs of our beautiful world.
10. Camel Wrestling
This ancient tradition is indigenous to the Aegean region of Western Turkey, and is believed to have originated with the Turkic tribes of the area over 2,000 years ago. Basically, it involves exactly what you may already think it does- 2 camels wrestling. Whilst the practice may seem a little unethical in our current politically correct climate, it is widely popular across much of Eurasia and is undeniably defended by the fact that camels are extremely prone to such activity whilst in the wild. Wrestles usually involve two males, who are encouraged into conflict through mutual introduction to a female on heat. We’re not so different, so it would seem.
9. Thumb Pointing
Indonesia is a nation rich in history and culture. Spanning across over 17,000 islands of varying size, the country is a Republic, and has a population of some 238 million people- making it the fourth most populous nation on the planet. Despite subject to Dutch Colonialism for a large part of its recent history, Indonesia is nonetheless a nation which has managed to thrive in an independent light- especially since its independence following the Second World War in 1945. Home to a large number of ethnic groups, religions and did I mention OVER SEVENTEEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, Indonesia has developed many pioneering customs and inventions. One which I particularly like however is the substitution of the forefinger with the thumb when pointing at another person. In Indonesia it is practiced heavily, as the classic way is deemed rude.
8. Lentils to see in the New Year
Not many can argue with the opinion that Lentil soup is both tasty and wholesome, however I, as I’m sure many of you, have encountered those who never fail to try. Such is the reputation of the bean (at least in its soup-form) in the South American nation of Brazil, that it is tradition to see in each New Year with a meal based around the dish. Whilst a menu item somewhat unfitting with Brazils colourful and fun-loving character, it is deemed to be a symbol of wealth amongst the countries natives. Hence, ushering in each new year is seen as placing a positive omen on a family for the imminent 12 months ahead.
A strange yet undeniably hilarious custom, gurning is a practice believed to have originated in rural England. The concept is rather simple: put your head through a horse collar and pull the most ridiculous face you can. Whilst far from being the most innovative or life altering of creations to have arisen from the UK, gurning has reached a worldwide level, with men, women and children from all areas of the world even competing at a World Gurning Championship. And just to clarify, yes- I am being serious.
6. Zwarte Piet
A particularly bizarre character, Zwarte Piet is native to Dutch/Belgian folklore. Accompanying Santa Claus (or Sinterklaas) on his mission to bring love, joy and festive cheer to the children of these nations, the characters translates to ‘Black Pete’, and, as you may have gathered from the image above- he often finds himself at the centre of the odd controversy or debate. Originating from an era of the Dutch nation’s inherently racist and prejudiced past, in which it was deemed perfectly fine for a white person to adopt ‘blackface’ in the name of celebration of performance, Zwarte Piet is looked upon with much more animosity these days. Understandable, really.