Tag: Ethnic traditions

Why Medieval Europeans Slept Inside Boxes

For much of human history, privacy during bedtime was an alien concept. Many poor families lived in small houses, where there was only one or two rooms, the larger of which functioned as bedroom and living room both shared by every occupant of the house, including any guests. Even in large houses and palaces, it was not uncommon for servants to sleep in the same room as the master’s. When King Henry V bedded Catherine of Valois, writes Bill Bryson in At Home, both his steward and chamberlain were present in the room. In such circumstances, bed curtains provided a little privacy. But if you wanted true privacy, you had to sleep in a box bed.

The most iconic clock towers in Europe

Europe is called the ‘Old Continent’ for its long history – which has also been cruel and gruesome more times than not. However, the centuries haven’t only given us wars and misery, they’ve also left us with culture and beauty. There are many European cities with iconic clock towers that used to serve a pretty clear purpose: telling people the time! And, while nowadays we don’t use them for that anymore, the clock towers in Europe have become architectural and historical landmarks of their cities, silent testimonies of the years passing and of the events that have taken place under them.

Why do European monarchs wear Russian ‘kokoshniks’? (PHOTOS)

At official functions, European royalty can often be seen wearing tiaras that resemble an old Russian headdress called the kokoshnik. In Russia, empresses and grand duchesses wore this kind of tiara beginning from Catherine the Great’s rule during the second half of the 18th century. Outside of Russia, the fashion for the tiare russe developed thanks to Queen Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII and sister of the Russian Empress Maria Feodorovna, wife of Alexander III. Some of those tiaras still include the word “kokoshnik” in their official names, although they never actually belonged to any members of the Russian royal family

The Marvellous Christmas Tradition of Poland’s Szopki

One of Kraków’s most unique and singular Christmas traditions is the popular creation of ‘Christmas cribs’ or ‘szopki.’ While many churches across the country display elaborate nativity scenes during the holiday season, ‘szopki krakowskie’ (as the local variety are called) are so idiosyncratic to Kraków, that they were just added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Something of a strange cross between a nativity scene, gingerbread house and garish dollhouse, szopki krakowskie are the bizarre result of a slowly evolving folk tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages.