Weird customs explained

Jessica Chalas

Traffic Lights

Back in the day, it was all about farming. From dawn ‘til dusk, all the boys and girls would plow, hoe and generally try not to step on budding crops. The children knew that their parents’ love measured up to how hard they worked on the fields, so every day at dawn, it was a race to the plains across the fence. Green was gold; the first glimpse meant you could just barely make out where you were going without meeting some horrible fate. (Watch those snakes!) The yellow rising sun was more troublesome – the light was often so blinding that a weakling’s mad dash dwindled to a slight jog. But the bravest and strongest prevailed, pushing faster against the sun, eager to show their perseverance (major brownie points in their parents’ ranking system).

Vying for the title of best child (and an extra helping at supper), nothing could stop those kids. Well, nothing except stained red grass. Young Timmy, on his way to the plains, had once slipped on a pool of red goo and upon investigation, found the stable boy Jacob passed out from a bashed head (apparently the horse was not having it). Timmy administered basic life support, cauterized the wound, saved the stable boy’s life, made the papers, and went on to modernize the world of medicine. Generally, things worked out pretty well for Timmy, so whenever the slightest bit of red tinted the grass, kids would stop and investigate, praying the source was a dying neighbor and not just the cat’s breakfast. It was thus only reasonable that traffic lights should adhere to the well-known indications of red, yellow, and green.

Milking a Cow

That same stable boy, Jacob, came from a long line of subservient workers. Little did he know, his great-great-grandmother Susanne, born in the midst of 15th century feudalism, was not the clean soul she put herself out to be. In charge of raising her master’s livestock, she ailed from a bad case of zoophilia, with a particular attraction to black and white. It wasn’t long before she graduated to bestiality.

Old Betsy was her favorite, the poor cow. Susanne grew more curious each day, progressing from the head down. She eventually reached the udders, and the urge to tug was just too overwhelming. We all know what came out. By drinking what she thought was sweet, white urine – seems Susanne had a boatload of problems, adding urophagia to the list – Susanne eventually fattened up, which her master knew was impossible in her line of work. Curious, Lord Milk began to investigate and soon made millions off the discovery he of course named after himself. Susanne, after giving birth to a baby boy in an effort to keep her beastly secret, was eventually found out by Lord Milk. She was banished from his territory, and was soon after stomped to death by a wild boar while trying to hump its leg.

Fighting as Public Entertainment

Physical combat as a form of public entertainment actually began as the ancient custom of sumo wrestling. It started when two fat Japanese men ran into each other at the fish market, rolling onto their backs like a pair of bowling pins. Taken aback and ridden with anger, both men began flailing their arms at each other, each more focused on getting back at the other than getting back on his feet. The crowd that had gathered found it so amusing that they threw coins into one of the men’s fallen hats, mistaking the event as a staged spectacle. The two made next morning’s paper, in which the columnist (bless him) so casually mentioned that the only way the show would have been funnier is if the men had been dressed in diapers. So began the lucrative business of what is essentially public humiliation, as sumo wrestling was modified and enhanced to include jousting, fencing, bull fighting, martial arts, wrestling, and the likes.

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