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Weird, Weirder, Weirdest   

Some of the weirdest worldwide laws that still exist today


ver wonder why we have laws in our communities? Like, who cares if we don’t stop at a red light or cross in the middle of the street instead of at the crosswalk? It’s because laws keep people safe, and when they are enacted, they usually make sense. However, times change, and though the laws may have been relevant at one time, now they might be completely outdated and even downright strange.

Here are some of the weirdest worldwide laws that still exist today. Read on to hear about how these laws came to be!


Arizona’s Bathtub Donkey Ban

The Law: It’s illegal in Arizona for your donkey to be in a bathtub after 7 p.m.

The History: This law was created in 1924 after a dam broke and the flood swept away a bathtub with a person’s sleeping pet donkey inside. It took hundreds of concerned citizens to save the animal.  So to save everyone a lot of time and effort in the future and to prevent harm to bathtub-snoozing donkeys, the law was signed into action.

Funnily enough, there have been no recorded bathtub-donkey incidents since the law was enacted!

California’s No-Eat Frog Law

The Law: Any person may possess any number of live frogs to use in frog-jumping contests, but if such a frog dies or is killed, it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose.

The History: The law comes from a tradition that dates back over 80 years: the famous Frog Jumping Jubilee. The competition, inspired by Mark Twain’s tale “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” is apparently taken very seriously in Calaveras County, California. The law was made in 1957, and was meant to discourage contestants from eating the frogs (ewww), which could potentially make them sick. It was also a way to make sure the frogs were treated kindly. Well, it’s nice to see a state that cares so much about its people and its amphibians!

One of the longest jumps recorded at the Frog Jumping Jubilee was a whopping 21 feet, over three times the length of an average frog!


United Kingdom’s Royal Fish Rule

The Law: In the United Kingdom, any beached whale or other “royal fish” found within 5 km (about three miles) of the shore belongs to the reigning monarch (king or queen).

The History: This law dates all the way back to 1324, and was established by King Edward II. Back then, whales and other large marine animals were valuable for their meat, bones, and oil, and were considered a dish fit for kings. By declaring them “royal fish,” the king ensured these prized food items were saved for royal use. Even though the law was made so long ago, as recently as 2004, a fisherman had to ask the queen’s permission to sell a large sturgeon he had caught. That was nice of the queen to give up her royal meal!

The law is so old that it was made 400 years before the United Kingdom even existed.


Edward III’s Anti-Obesity Edict

The Law: It’s illegal in England to eat more than two courses during one meal.

The History: In 1336, Edward III of England passed a law to fight against people gaining too much weight. The law prevented people from eating more than two courses at mealtimes. It also defined soup as a separate course to prevent people from calling it a sauce or condiment (duh! Bubby’s chicken soup doesn’t even come close to resembling ketchup).

This medieval law was enacted to help chunky soldiers lose weight and be better fighters. King Edward also saw eating too much as something that could make people poorer and more prone to doing not nice things. He did allow three courses on days that he termed “Feast Days,” however (lucky for you if those days landed on your birthday).

Feast days were the fun days of the 14th century – on these occasions, indulging in a third course was perfectly fine. I vote for ice cream!


To Beat a Swede

The Law: It’s legal for a Danish person to beat a Swedish person if the Swede crosses the frozen sea between the two countries.

The History: This weird law originates from the Dano-Swedish War of 1657-58. The ruler at the time, King Charles X Gustav of Sweden, planned to cross to the Öresund strait by boat when the waters were calm to attack Denmark. However, in late January 1658, the Öresund froze solid, and he simply had his army march across (without ice skates!). This took the Danish army by surprise! They panicked and signed the Treaty of Roskilde, which gave Sweden a ton of land. Ever since then, Danish people are allowed to hit a Swede with a stick if and when the Swede is marching across the frozen Öresund.

The crossing of the Öresund was an amazing military maneuver and made the King of Sweden famous.


There you have it, strange laws that are almost too bizarre to believe, but should probably be eliminated altogether. Until that time, remember, keep your donkeys far from your bathtub!


(Originally featured in Treeo, Issue 990)

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