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Laws and Customs Trivia

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A superstition of yore involved a young unmarried woman taking a sprig of rosemary and a sprig of thyme, sprinkling them three times with water, and placing each herb in a shoe. She would then put the shoes at the foot of her bed. This ritual was to guarentee that she would dream of her next beau.

A U.S. federal law passed in 1994 requires that plastic six-pack ring holders disintegrate after use. Birds and marine life can get tangled in them and die.

About 10 percent of the workforce in Egypt is under 12 years of age. Although laws protecting children are on the books, they are not well enforced, partly because many poverty-stricken parents feel forced to send their children out to help support the family.

About a hundred years ago, it was the custom of sailors to put a tattoo of a pig on one foot and a rooster on the other to prevent drowning.

According to “Emily Post's Etiquette,” a tip at a family restaurant should be 15% of the bill without tax. For a buffet a 10% tip is sufficient, but never leave less than a quarter even if you only have a cup of coffee.

According to law, no store is allowed to sell a toothbrush on the Sabbath in Providence, Rhode Island. Yet, these same stores are allowed to sell toothpaste and mouthwash on Sundays.

According to the Recruitment Code of the U.S. Navy, anyone "bearing an obscene and indecent" tattoo will be rejected.

According to U.S. law, a patent may not be granted on a useless invention, on a method of doing business, on mere printed matter, or on a device or machine that will not operate. Even if an invention is novel or new, a patent may not be obtained if the invention would have been obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the same area at the time of the invention.

Almost every weekday morning, free Kleenexes are handed to the commuters in front of Japan's rail and bus stations. The tissues are distributed by workers of the companies whose messages and advertisement are printed on the packages. The reason for this. . . most public bathrooms do not have paper towels or toilet paper.

Among the Danakil tribesmen of Ethiopia, when a male dies, his grave is marked with a stone for every man he had killed.

An old Ethiopian tradition required the jewelry of a bride be removed after her wedding. Its likeness would then be tattooed on her skin.

An old folk custom for selecting a husband from several suitors involved taking onions and writing each suitor's name individually on each. Then all the onions were put in a cool dark storeroom. The first onion to grow sprouts would determine which man the undecided maiden should marry.

An old law in Delaware allowed public whipping for 24 crimes--and more than 1,600 people were publicly whipped.

As is their custom, the natives of the Turkish village of Kuskoy communicate through whistling. This unique language allows the Kuskovians to communicate over distances of up to one mile.

Bad weather on the way to the wedding is thought to be an omen of an unhappy marriage; some cultures, however, consider rain a good omen. Cloudy skies and wind are believed to cause stormy marriages. Snow, on the other hand, is associated with fertility and wealth.

Baked goods made on Good Friday were thought to contain many virtues. A cross bun kept from one Good Friday to the next was considered a lucky charm. It was not supposed to grow moldy, and it was used as a charm against shipwreck. "Good Friday bread," when hung over the chimneypiece, was supposed to guarentee that all bread baked after that would be perfect.

Because of heavy traffic congestion, Julius Caesar banned all wheeled vehicles from Rome during daylight hours.

Because orange roughy grows slowly – the average fish is between 30 and 50 years old – the New Zealand government has imposed fishing restrictions. Consequently, the fish is not as abundant in stores as during the 1980s.

Before eating, Japanese people say “itadakimasu,” a polite phrase meaning “I receive this food.” This expresses thanks to whoever worked to prepare the food in the meal.

Before the enactment of the 1978 law that made it mandatory for dog owners in New York City to clean up after their pets, approximately 40 million pounds of dog excrement were deposited on the streets every year.

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