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20 Traditions From the Past That Would Be Frowned Upon Nowadays

Most people shower every day, and some even several times a day. Because of that, it is hard to imagine that just a couple of centuries ago, royalty could not afford this luxury. People of the past generally had many prohibitions or customs that would be inappropriate today, and these were not only related to hygiene but also to dress codes, society, and work. Comparing the past with the 21st century can make us thankful things have changed.

Ancient Greece

  • In Ancient Greece, the beard was considered a symbol of masculinity and wisdom. Hence, the thicker and more beautiful it was, the higher the status of a man. A smooth face was a symbol of effeminacy.
  • At that time, the Olympic Games raised people’s awareness of the need to stay healthy to promote physical fitness and prevent injuries. One of the techniques to achieve this was the use of olive oil to raise body temperature. Another practice was to warm up before competing to avoid injury.
  • The “Hippocratic face” was an expression used to describe a person’s face before dying. If an individual had the following signs and did not improve, the physician might suspect that this person was near death: a sharp nose, sunken eyes, and temples, cold and receding ears with distorted lobes, and hard, stretched, and dry facial skin.

Middle Ages

  • According to one version, the tradition of clinking glasses comes precisely from the Middle Ages. A legend stated that there were demons that could penetrate a person’s mouth. However, these could be expelled by banging one glass against another. For these same reasons, people were required to cover their mouths when yawning.
  • The tradition of raising one’s hat as a sign of greeting also comes from the Middle Ages. Back then, it was customary for warriors to remove their helmets to show that they had no ill intentions.
  • In Persia, men belonging to the same social class greeted each other with a kiss on the lips. On the other hand, those in a lower rank kissed each other on the cheek. If the difference was too great, the person belonging to the lower class had to lie on the ground.
  • Cutlery began to be used in the 12th century. Before that, only spoons were used to eat sweets, and forks were not welcome, as they were regarded as instruments of Satan.
  • In medieval France, people wiped their hands on the tablecloth and drank the soup directly from the bowl.
  • Moreover, in the Middle Ages, people already had the custom of washing their hands before eating. The curious thing was they rinsed them directly at the table with water brought to them by their servants.

Habits of the royalty in the Middle Ages

  • Doctors believed that bathing was dangerous. Apparently, it was so harmful to health that many people consulted their astrologers to find the most propitious time to do so. For example, Queen Isabella I of Castile only bathed twice in her life.
  • Henry VIII forced his subjects to kiss his bedclothes every morning to make sure they were not covered with poison.
  • The fashion of the 18th century dictated its terms to the ladies of high society. It took hours to build the structure of the hair, and people used to give it height with false hair, which they incorporated using wires. They also decorated it with fruits, flowers, and even stuffed animals. To keep these hairstyles in place, they used lard.
  • Marie Antoinette was proud of her lice. Their presence was considered a sign of holiness. It used to be said that a person paid more attention to the purity of the soul than to the physical. In those days, these insects were even called “pearls of God.”

Victorian England

  • In Victorian times, it was forbidden to show the body, so “bathing machines,” invented in the 17th century, were used. These allowed people to change their clothes to a bathing suit to be able to swim.
  • Unmarried women were not allowed to go out alone. Etiquette also prohibited ladies from looking around for acquaintances or stopping to chat in a crowded place.
  • If a lady met a gentleman she knew in the street and wanted to talk to him, she had to offer him her hand. The man, for his part, had to forget what he was doing and accompany the woman for a while.
  • Young and not-so-young women had no choice but to remain chaste until they married. They were also not allowed to talk to men unless there was a married woman present as a chaperone.
  • Wealthy families used to dress their young children in frilly white dresses. The wealthier the family, the more lace and ruffles the garment had, regardless of gender. In addition, both boys and girls wore hats with ribbons.
  • The “age of the crinoline,” which took place between 1850 and 1870, involved draping several skirts over a large wooden hoop to create truly massive outfits. Often, women wearing crinolines would get stuck in doorways.
  • Women, and even some men, would put thin slices of raw meat on their faces as facial masks to prevent their skin from wrinkling and getting acne.

What’s the most curious thing people did in the past? If you could choose your year of birth, which would it be?

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