Crossing continents and centuries Stephen Arnott brings us invaluable information about all kinds of bizarre regional customs - from sexual practices to the received wisdom on cannibalism - that could save you from embarrassing local faux pas while travelling.
Did you know that amongst the Tartars, relations of the bride and bridegroom would traditionally divide into two groups and fight each other until some had suffered bleeding wounds? It was thought that causing blood to flow in this way would ensure the couple had strong sons; or that in Hungary, a cure for infertility was to beat a barren woman with a stick? The stick having previously been used to separate mating dogs; or that amongst some Aboriginal tribes of New South Wales that men who had any contact with their mothers-in-law would suffer terrible hard luck? The threat was so great that married men even avoided looking in their mother-in-law's general direction.