Let’s be honest, humans are weird. And never more so than when engaging in the ancient ritual of dating. So many rules and protocols, how are we to make sense of it all?
Different societies have developed some astonishing mechanisms to guide the confused single through the trials and tribulations of finding a potential match. So, if you think standing in a pub casting eyes at the object of your desire while getting progressively drunker is odd, check out the following top ten weirdest dating rituals from around the world.
10) Sheathing the sword
Benny Hill could learn a thing or two about innuendo from this 19th Century Finnish ritual. Eligible women would wear a dagger scabbard (or sheath) at their waist.
Interested parties would then *ahem* sheath their blade. If the blade was returned then it was a no. If the blade was kept then marriage was on the cards.
There’s anecdotal evidence that trendy Finns are reviving the tradition although I’ve had no confirmation from Finnish police. Speed knife dating anyone?!
9) Whip me if you like me
For those who remember school days when kids would often be a bit aggressive towards those they liked, the Polish Dyngus Day - or Wet Monday - festival is just for you.
During the festival, potential paramours spray each other with perfume and water. Boys also hit girls with pussy willow without a hint of irony.
The yearly festival falls on Easter Monday and if you want to get a glimpse at the whippy spraying pagan fun, the Polish Church on Ealing Broadway still still holds a service in celebration.
8) One for sorrow, two for joy
Eligible women of the Miao people of South West China have a peculiarly culinary way to sort potential suitors.
During the annual Sisters’ Meal Festival they give suitors a parcel of colourful rice. If the rice contains garlic or pepper then on yer bike sunshine. If one red chopstick is in the bowl it’s a ‘you can give it a go but it’s unlikely’? A pine needle is a request for more time to think about it and two red chopsticks is a suggestion that perhaps you can eat your fill.
7) The Love Shack
In Cambodia, fathers will often build a separate room or shed in which their daughters are encouraged to ‘entertain’ as many boys as they want.
Long marriages are important so the thinking is that it’s best to try before you buy because, I’m assuming, there’s a strict no returns policy.
Importantly, incidences of rape are extraordinarily low and divorce almost non-existent.
6) When is a wolf whistle not a wolf whistle
Whistling at those you find attractive is pretty much frowned upon except, that is, among members of the Kickapoo tribe in Mexico.
At dusk, potential lovers arrange meetings with each other by whistling. Each couple has their own whistle tone to avoid confusion and, because the whole village can hear, they develop their own code so only they can understand the conversation.
Men will often bring a younger brother with them in order to teach them the art of whistling.
5)The Love Swipe
Tech savvy tribes in The West have taken to using mobile technology to find suitable matches.
Single men and women download a piece of software called an application, or app, onto a mobile communication device and are then presented with pictures of potential lovers one at a time. ‘Swiping’ the image to the right is an expression of interest while ‘Swiping’ the image left is a clear rejection.
Those who accept each other are then recorded as a ‘Match’ and can then communicate their interest further through the ‘app’.
4) Love is a battlefield
Every May during the Usabah Sambah Festival in the Balinese village of Tenganan, men literally fight for the attention of ladies.
Armed with the thorny leaves of the pandanus plant and a bamboo shield, men who are coming of age literally whip two shades out of each other.
To make sure the women of the village get the best view they ride a foot powered ferris wheel that only stops once the fighting ends often several hours later.
The down side is that even though some years there are no single women, young men are still expected to undertake the ceremony.
3) If the shoe fits
Back in 2012, Malaysian shoe store Shoes Shoes Shoes joined forces with a dating company to offer a match system based on shoe selection.
Men signed up for the dating site and then selected their favourites from 20 high heel shoe designs and pay between 10-100% of the purchase price.
Women then enter the store, select their favourite heel and then go online to find their ‘sole’ mate (sorry).
If the purchase price hadn’t been paid in full by the man and they went on one date, the woman was reimbursed any cost she incurred.
2) Not so long in the tooth
In traditional Balinese Hindu culture, potential spouses undergo a painful dental procedure. A Brahman priest files their canines down to the level of their incisors.
The ritual is thought to rid the couple of negative traits such as greed, jealousy, lust, anger and drunkenness. Thus purified the couple are then ready for for married life.
1) Fleeting meetings
Particularly popular in large Urban centres in the ‘Western’ world, equal numbers of men and women gather in private rooms in popular bars and pubs. They each date each other for around four minutes and then mingle at the end of the event.
Potential paramours then record who they would like to see again, who they consider possible friends and who they outright reject, often through a computerised central system. Mutually interested couples can then message each other further outside of the event. Those who don’t match cannot communicate.
We now of at least one of these peculiar rituals that has proven so successful you’re guaranteed to meet someone you like. And with events throughout the week and across London you’d be foolish not to give it a go.
Check out our list of dating events and book yourself in. We promise no dentistry or whipping.
WORDS BY JOHN DAVIS