Each era and each culture has its own rituals and customs. But if you think people were less eccentric than they are today, you are wrong. Our ancestors were already doing strange things.
Most of these things were completely harmless, but they remain for most of us today, just unimaginable.
Here are 11 examples of weird things that were considered normal in centuries past.
Chopines are historic women’s shoes with a high platform sole, which were worn from the 15th to the 17th century mainly in Spain and Italy and even surpassed the Buffalo of the 90s. In Spain, their height was around 10 cm, and they were made of cork covered with very soft goatskin. In Italy, they were particularly common in Venice and their soles had an incredible height ranging from 25 to 74 cm. To be able to walk with it, you had to be supported by servants. The upper and visible outer parts were often decorated with brocade or velvet. High heels were mainly used to protect those who wore them from dirt and mud, but also to make them look taller and thinner.
2) stones as toilet paper
It is well known that necessity is the mother of invention. The list of things people used before toilet paper is long. It includes plant leaves, corn on the cob, coconut shells, sheep wool, fabrics (for those who can afford it), sponges on a stick, or even water. But the ancient Greeks are the most surprising because they obviously used pebbles or pieces of ceramic as toilet paper.
3) Gladiator’s blood against epilepsy
In almost all cultures, sacrificial blood was considered a consecrated substance and was therefore also used as a miracle cure. In ancient Rome, it was believed that drinking the blood of slain gladiators was a cure for epilepsy, a ‘demonic’ disease often misunderstood in antiquity and above all non-treatable. Epilepsy patients naturally gave credit to this magic. After gladiatorial combat was banned around AD 400, the blood of the condemned, often beheaded, took over and continued to be used as a supposed method of healing until the beginning of the 20th century.
4) poor hygiene
In the Middle Ages, the term ‘purity’ had an essentially religious connotation. People believed at the time that water spread disease and that lice were the ‘pearls of God’. Even the nobility was convinced of it. Isabelle de Castille was proud to have only had contact with water twice in her life: after her birth and before her marriage. The nobles boasted of being able to do without the potentially dangerous bath by powdering and scenting themselves abundantly.
5) Sleep in two stages
In the Middle Ages, Europeans practiced what today we call multi-phase sleep. They would sleep from sunset until about midnight, then they would stay awake for about 2 to 3 hours. Some used this time for prayer or reading, others spent it with their families or neighbors. Then they would go to bed again and sleep until dawn.
6) boys’ dresses
From the 16th century until around 1920, it was common for boys to wear dresses until a certain age. One of the main reasons was the high cost of clothes. Making a dress was easier and the kids could keep it on longer. No need to buy new pants for your child every two or three months because the old ones no longer fit. This tradition did not spare the noble families. Alexei, son of Russian Emperor Nicholas II (right in the photo), wore a dress similar to that of his sisters.
7) human awakening
From the second half of the 18th century until the 1950s, there were what were called ‘knocker-ups’. Their job was to wake up factory workers whose day always started very early. They used sticks to knock on windows or blowguns to shoot peas at window panes. It is not known who woke the knocker-ups, but it is said that they stayed awake until morning and did not fall asleep until the end of their mission.
8) tobacco smoke enemas
In the 18th century, it was assumed that illnesses could be cured by enemas of tobacco smoke. After the exploration of the African continent, tobacco boomed in Europe. These enemas were used for a variety of conditions such as headaches, stomach cramps or even loss of consciousness. This method was also frequently used for drowning people. Fortunately, it fell back into oblivion in the 19th century.
9) the bath trolley
Unlike today, people in the 18th and 19th century were not allowed to simply go in the water on the beach. They had to use special bath carts that looked like little beach cabins. The carts were driven into the water and the swimmers, most in full suits, could glide and swim in the water without being observed. The women’s bath carts were placed at an appropriate distance from the men’s.
10) heroin for cough
Surprisingly, around 100 years ago, heroin was considered a harmless alternative to morphine and was sold in pharmacies as a cough syrup. It has even been used on children because of its reduced side effects. However, in the 1920s it was discovered that heroin was transformed into morphine by the liver, and therefore it was banned. In Germany, it was not banned until 1971, and the ancestor of methamphetamine was also available free of charge in German pharmacies in the 1940s.
11) smoke on the plane
Just 60 years ago, smoking was a common practice on airplanes. Smoking was not considered a bad habit at the time and people did not want to be deprived of the pleasure of flying. No consideration was given to other passengers or flight attendants. Nowadays, it is forbidden to smoke on planes, although in some countries, such as Iran, this ban has not been transposed.