Traditions Through Time: 50 Captivating Facts and Origins

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1 Left-Lane Driving Legacy

Left-Lane Driving Legacy

The tradition of people in the UK driving on the left originates from the 1700s, when travelers would keep passersby on their right to deter potential bandits. This positioning ensured their sword hand was prepared to draw it if necessary.


2. The tradition of saying “bless you” after someone sneezes has ancient origins. Some believed uttering “bless you” would prevent the devil from claiming the individual’s liberated soul, while others thought a sneeze momentarily stopped the heart.


3. The tradition of Santa Claus giving naughty kids lumps of coal traces its roots back to the 19th century, when coal-burning fireplaces were prevalent. His European counterparts would also leave stockings filled with twigs, bags of salt, garlic, and onions.


4. The tradition of engagement rings evolved as a form of “virginity insurance.” If the groom left a bride-to-be “damaged” and unwed, the ring would compensate. The notion of spending several months’ salary on an engagement ring originated as a marketing campaign by De Beers in the 1930s. Before WWII, only 10% of engagement rings contained diamonds, but by the end of the 20th century, this figure rose to 80%.


5. The tradition of mounting horses mainly from the left side dates back to ancient times when horses were war mounts. Soldiers carried their swords on the left side (for right-handed access), making left-side mounting necessary to avoid sitting on their weapons.


6 Pagan Origins of Christmas Tree

Pagan Origins of Christmas Tree

Although associated with Christianity, the tradition of the Christmas tree has pagan origins. Pagans brought evergreen trees indoors to acknowledge the winter solstice, which falls between December 20 and 23. These “magical” evergreens symbolized resilience against the life-threatening forces of darkness and cold.


7. The tradition of using Red carpets has its origins in ancient Greece, with the earliest mention found in the play “Agamemnon.” The “Crimson path” symbolized stature, reflecting luxury befitting the gods.


8. The history of the handshake dates back to ancient Greece in the 5th century B.C., serving as a symbol of peace and indicating that neither party bore a weapon.


9. The tradition of a bride wearing a white wedding dress started with Queen Victoria, whose wedding marked the first extensively publicized event featuring images and illustrations in ladies’ magazines worldwide.


10. The origin of the Easter Bunny can be traced to German Lutherans in 1682. Initially, the Easter Bunny served as a judge, evaluating children’s behavior at the beginning of Eastertide. Subsequently, colored eggs became part of the tradition for well-behaved children.


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11 Symbolic Easter Eggs

Symbolic Easter Eggs

The tradition of the Easter egg may have originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, where eggs were stained red to symbolize the blood of Christ shed during his crucifixion.


12. The origin of Trick-or-Treating can be traced back to Britain and Ireland, where it began as a practice of impoverished individuals begging for food in exchange for prayers for the dead.


13. The tradition of singing the national anthem at the start of a sporting event has its origins in 1905 in Cardiff. During a rugby match, the Welsh Rugby Union team led the crowd in a rendition of ‘Hen Wlad fy Nhadau’ as a response to New Zealand’s famous haka.


14. Valentine’s Day became associated with love due to Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, during the flourishing of the tradition of courtly love. In 18th-century England, it evolved into a custom of lovers presenting flowers, confectionery, and greeting cards to one another.


15. The tradition of April Fools’ Day dates back to around 1582. Those who resisted switching from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian were tricked and made to look like fools. People would place fish on their backs as a sign of their gullibility or being ‘easily hooked’.


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16 Candles on Cakes History

Candles on Cakes History

The custom of putting candles on birthday cakes finds its origin in Ancient Greece, where candles were often burned as offerings to various gods and goddesses. This practice paid tribute to the Greek moon goddess, Artemis, with round cakes symbolizing the moon itself. Candles were added to represent the moonlight.


17. Mistletoe kissing originated with fertility rites and traces its roots to Norse tradition. The hanging sprig symbolized virility in ancient times, and anyone standing beneath it signaled their sexual availability.


18. The tradition of wearing a tie gained popularity after King Louis XIII started wearing one in the 17th century after the 30 Years’ War. His inspiration came from Croatian missionaries who wore ties as part of their uniforms.


19. The tradition of making plant milk dates back over a millennium. In North America and North Africa, people separately developed mixtures resembling milk from legumes, beans, and nuts before the year 1000 CE. The English description of these mixtures as ‘milks’ dates back to 1200 CE.


20. Groundhog Day was introduced to America by German settlers, who initially used hedgehogs for weather prediction. They later switched to groundhogs, which were more readily available in the Keystone State.


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21 Babylonian Resolutions

Babylonian Resolutions

The tradition of New Year’s resolutions dates back to the ancient Babylonians, who made promises to their gods at the beginning of the year to seek their favor.


22. The tradition of bridesmaids wearing matching colors stems from an ancient practice. Bridesmaids dressed similarly not only to one another but also to the bride, aiming to confuse evil spirits or those seeking to harm her. This tradition traces its origins all the way back to Rome.


23. The origin of the word “Hello” can be traced back only to 1827. Initially used as a means of attracting attention, it later transformed into a common greeting, particularly after the invention of the telephone.


24. It is believed that ancient Indo-European people invented the superstitious custom of knocking on wood for good luck. They believed that spirits, both benevolent and malevolent, resided within trees. By knocking on a tree, one was seeking a blessing from the spirit dwelling within.


25. The tradition of bachelor parties isn’t a modern innovation; it dates as far back as the 5th century B.C. and finds its origin with the ancient Spartans.


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