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Ancient Traditions

Ancient Origins brings you articles related to Ancient Traditions from all over the world. Find related articles in the sections of history, archaeology, human origins, unexplained, artifacts, ancient places and myths and legends.

The marital prison in Biertan, Romania

Locked into a Relationship: The Medieval Remedy for Divorce Still Requested in Romania

Global divorce rates are on the rise. Some people see this as a social issue. But the small Romanian village of Biertan has a unique method to remedy this problem. They follow a tradition which has...
‘The Divorce of the Empress Josephine’ (1843) by Henri Frédéric Schopin

Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Divorce Laws Have Evolved, But One Country Is Holding Back

Divorce can be traced all the way back to ancient Greek and Roman societies. But the idea of marriage in these cultures was different from what is found in modern Western society, so it makes sense...
Artist's rendering of the hof, a pagan temple, in Uppsala, Sweden.

The Heathen Hof: Resurrecting a Germanic Pagan Temple

A heathen hof, also referred to as a Germanic pagan temple, is the name given to a place of worship in the Germanic religion. These were pre-Christian temples found in various parts of Northern...
The Romans of the Decadence (1847) by Thomas Couture.

Why is Christmas Celebrated December 25th?

Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25th? The popular answer is that it is Jesus’ birthday. However, it is necessary to reconsider that belief, No records exist in the Bible, or elsewhere,...
Detail of decorations on a Christmas tree.

Why Do We Put Up Christmas Trees? The Ancient Roots of this Decorative Tradition

The Christmas tree is an iconic feature of the holiday season. You can find this symbol on greeting cards, in advertisements, shaped into cookies, plastered across wrapping paper, and in the homes of...
Medieval style bathing depicted in calligraphy of a book circa 1400.

Medieval Hygiene Might Have Been Better Than You Think

The Medieval period is usually perceived as a time in Europe during which the greater part of the continent was in decline. In many aspects of Medieval society, the quality of life was inferior as...
 A door decorated with a Christmas wreath

Mistletoe, Holly, and Yuletide Cheer: Weaving Natural Elements into Ancient Christmas Customs

It is estimated 2 billion people celebrate Christmas each year. Although the popular holiday is linked to Christianity and the birth of Jesus Christ, people all over the world, Christians or not,...
Roman fresco with banquet scene from the Casa dei Casti Amanti

Savoring the Danger: ‘Sugar of Lead’ Was Used to Flavor Roman Food and Wine with Toxic Consequences

How far did ancient people go to enhance the flavor of their food and drinks? Would they consume toxic substances if it made things a little more appetizing? The Romans did, by adding a sweet version...
Rock art in central Northumberland, northern England. (Author provided)

What Neolithic Rock Art Can Tell Us About the Way Our Ancestors Lived 6,000 Years Ago

The British and Irish countryside is often celebrated for its wealth of unique places of heritage, significance and interest. But not many people know that this heritage includes thousands of ancient...
Animals are commonly found in creche sets, but surprisingly not in the Bible.

An Ox, an Ass … a Dragon? Sorry, there were no Animals in the Bible’s Nativity Scene

From nativity plays to crèche sets to Christmas cards, animals are ubiquitous in our vision of the birth of Christ – but according to the Bible, not a single animal was there. Where did all these...
Mural from a Pompeii brothel.

The Grim Reality of the Brothels of Pompeii

Like the anxious men who began excavations at Pompeii in the 18th century and discovered more about the ancient Italians than they had bargained for – such as phallic-shaped lamps – historians of sex...
A Byzantine depiction of the Three Wise Men (526 AD), Basilica of Sant' Apollinare Nuovo, Ravenna, Italy.

What the Magi Had in Common with Scientists

Picturesque and exotic, with their crowns and camels, the three kings regularly appear on Christmas cards and in nativity scenes. But how much is original, and how much is later addition for the sake...
Healing Temple of Aesculapius (Asklepios) by Robert Thom

A Dream Cure? The Effective Healing Power of Dream Incubation in Ancient Greece

In the ancient world, many cultures built elaborate temple complexes dedicated to their healer gods - Imhotep in Egypt and Asklepios in Greece for example. These gods were recognized as having the...
Santa with pipe and the knowing smile of ancient wisdom.

Santa the Shaman Comes to the New World: The Shapeshifting Magic-Man from the Ancient Past

In 1626, a ship filled with folks from the Netherlands put into what would later be called New York Harbor and went about building a Dutch colony called New Amsterdam. The figurehead on the prow of...
Canis Major as depicted on the Manuchihr Globe made in Mashhad 1632-33 AD. Adilnor Collection, Sweden.

What is so Special About Sirius, the Dog Star?

The accolade of ‘brightest star in the sky as viewed from Earth” goes to the well-known star Sirius, also popularly called the “Dog Star”, due to its role as the dominant star in the Canis Major (...
This Swedish Viking had filed front teeth.

Did These Filed and Grooved Teeth Belong to a Viking Elite Warrior?

BY THORNEWS Scandinavian findings and a mass grave in Dorset, England, proves that some Viking males filed grooves into their front teeth and most likely filled them with pigment. Researchers are...

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