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Laws and Customs Trivia

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During the time of Peter the Great, any Russian man who wore a beard was required to pay a special tax.

During World War II in May 1942, U.S. ice cream manufacturers were restricted by law to produce only 20 different flavors of ice cream.

Egg-shaped stones were placed at the corners of a field or by a fruit tree during ancient times to insure a good crop. Symbolically, anything egg-shaped represented fertility.

Eleven days before the statute of limitations was to expire on the Brink's robbery in Boston, Massachusetts, that netted nearly $3 million in January 1950, one of the robbers confessed and betrayed his fellow robbers.

Eugene-Francois Midocq, a French thief and outlaw, evaded the police for years, turned police spy, joined the force as a detective, and ultimately used his knowledge of crime to establish a new crime-fighting organization, the Surete.

Every citizen of Kentucky is required by law to take a bath once a year.

FBI agents were first allowed to carry guns in 1934, 26 years after the agency was established.

Kissing one's fingertips is a common gesture throughout Europe and Latin America countries. It connotes the declaration of "aah, beautiful!" The recipient of the kiss may be anything from a woman or a wine, a sports car or a soccer play. It is believed the gesture originated from the custom of the ancient Greeks and Romans who, when entering and leaving the temple, threw a kiss toward sacred objects such as statues and alters.

Law on the books for Wetaskiwin, Alberta, in 1917: "It's against the law to tie a male horse next to a female horse on Main Street."

In Georgia, Gwinnett County has a law that forbids residents from keeping rabbits as pets. The county livestock law restricts rabbits to farm areas and homes with at least three acres of land. The law was amended in 1993 to allow Vietnamese potbellied pigs as pets after a woman with a pet pig pleaded for the exemption.

Licensed London taxis (otherwise known as black cabs) are required by law to carry a bale of hay at all times. This dates from the days of the horse-drawn cab and the relevant law has never been revoked.

In Germany, shaking hands with the other hand in a pocket is considered impolite. In Mali, a man will shake hands with a woman only if she offers her hand first. The handshake is often done with the left hand touching the other person's elbow as well.

LSD was legal in California until 1967.

In Greece, it is a wedding tradition to write the names of all single female friends and relatives of the bride on the sole of her shoe. After the wedding, the shoe is examined, and those whose names have worn off are said to be the next in line for marriage.

Mailing an entire building has been illegal in the U.S. since 1916 when a man mailed a 40,000-ton brick house across Utah to avoid high freight rates.

In Greenwich, England during the 1800s, it was unlawful to impersonate a retired person on a pension.

Married women were forbidden by law to watch, let alone compete, in the ancient Olympics. The penalty was death. The Greeks believed that the presence of wives in Olympia would defile Greece's oldest religious shrine there, although young girls were allowed in. Ironically, the shrine that was off-limits to married women was dedicated to a woman, the fertility goddess Rhea, who was the mother of the supreme god Zeus. Women who broke the rule were thrown from a nearby cliff.

In Hazelton, Pennsylvania, there is a law on the books that prohibits a person from sipping a carbonated drink while lecturing students in a school auditorium.

Massachusetts Puritans passed America's first law against gambling in 1638.

In Idaho, a citizen is forbidden by law to give another citizen a box of candy that weighs more than 50 pounds.

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