Discover some of the strangest ways on the planet for people to declare their affections.

1. Bathing with crocodiles
Where: The Gambia, West Africa

Folklore has it that the waters of a small, luminous green pool in the Gambia called Kachikally aid fertility. Bathing in them reputedly boosts the chances of conception, and if the number of local children called Kachikally is anything to go by, conventional medicine may have something to learn.

The only snag is that the pool is full of hundreds of enormous Nile crocodiles. Astonishingly, though, none of those crocs has ever been reported to have attacked a human – something again attributed to magical qualities of the water. One of the monsters, Charley, even allows people to go up and stroke him.

2. The padlocked bridges
Where: Keila Joa, Estonia

In a charming little spot by a waterfall in Estonia, separated by a forest from the sea, lie a couple of rather unusual bridges.

Traversing a river, they are absolutely covered in padlocks of every shape and size. Close inspection of the locks, moreover, reveals that they all have two names written on them – and a date.

The custom belongs to the area’s Russian community. Newly-wed couples engrave their names on a padlock and then throw the key into the river. The tradition is supposed to symbolise that the pair’s bond will never be broken, and it’s rather touching to see how many people have come to the bridges to seal their union over the years.

3. Giant penises on parade
Where: the city of Komaki

Forget Valentine’s Day, on February 14, if flowers and chocolates leave you romantically cold. Try March 15, instead, if you think carrying a four-metre phallus through the streets is a more meaningful way to celebrate passion. Hounen Matsuri is an ancient Japanese fertility rite involving a group of 42-year-old men (42 is thought to be an unlucky age in Japan, one needing this kind of ceremonial reinforcement) carrying a comically oversized penis towards a shrine.

Backing up the chaps is a group of ladies carrying smaller versions of the big bruiser. It is considered lucky for members of the crowd to touch the traditional todgers as they progress through the streets.

People who are out of reach – or just a little shy – may have to settle for all manner of genitalia regalia sold in shops and souvenir stalls on the day.

4. Love spoons
Where: Llangollen, Wales

It is, of course, vital for a father to know that any prospective son-in-law is able to sustain himself and his family. And what better way to prove it than getting him to carve a spoon?

So, supposedly, did the Welsh tradition of love spoons come about. The premise was that an amorous young buck would give the spoon to the apple of his eye, the delicacy of the carving being an indication both of his craftsmanship and the degree of his devotion. If she accepted the spoon, they were officially courting. Well, it’s better than, “Get your coat, darl, you’ve pulled,” isn’t it?

Nowadays, young Welshmen generally prefer flowers, chocolates or alcohol for the same purpose, but a small cottage industry has built up selling kitsch love spoon souvenirs to tourists. Picturesque Llangollen is the capital of the trade – you can hardly move for supposedly romantic cutlery.

5. The Trevi fountain
Where: Rome, Italy

A giant piece of baroque ostentation, the Trevi fountain is one of the many highlights of Rome (if you can fight past all the men trying to sell you handbags and toy commandos to reach it, that is). But for all the architecture, leaping water and mood lighting, the main attraction for many people is a silly superstition.

It has long been held that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you are bound to return to Rome. It is what happens afterwards, however, that is of main interest to lovers.

Some versions of the legend insist that throwing two coins into the fountain will lead to marriage, but that three coins promise divorce. Others say that the marriage part comes from throwing three coins in with the right hand, over the left shoulder. Hmm, try your luck ...

6. Four-leaf clovers
Where: Ireland

The four-leaf clover is a well-known lucky charm, but many people fail to realise that it also forms part of a love ritual. In some parts of Ireland, it is still believed that if a woman consumes a four-leaf clover while thinking about a particular gentleman, he will eventually be hers.

And if that doesn’t work, why not soak him in Guinness and then pounce on him, anyway?

msn, UK
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2 Responses
  1. Anney Says:

    I don't think I can bathe with the crocodiles! Yikes! #3 is kinda funny! hehehe!

  2. Sera Melinda Says:

    Hahahhaha... i also like #3, it looks like fun!

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