We all hate those silly rules in life that stop us doing what we want. Maybe we can remember not being allowed to have dessert until we’d eaten our vegetables or school punishments like writing lines and sitting in the corner. But as we’ve grown, some rules and laws around the world seem no less crazy.
Sure, some of the world’s craziest laws were made long ago or in times of extreme need for control. Others appear as though their writers were having a bit of fun. And some, after a long time of disbelief, actually make you realise there was a method in the madness.
Have a read of some of these craziest laws in the world and see how high they are on your scale of ridiculousness!
10. Show me the money: Canada and coins
Many of us think it’s just polite and a matter of common sense not to pay with too many coins, in case the person we’re buying from end up labouring along the street with their pockets weighed down, trying to get to the bank before they get robbed. But in Canada, this has been made sure of, thanks to the Currency Act. In one section, there are details about how much of a payment amount can comprise of coins.
So watch out if you’re there and thinking of dishing out more than 25c in 1c pieces, or $25 in $1 coins, for example. And that might also put off people stashing money away in a swear jar for a rainy day, or kids building up their pocket money too high!
9. Don’t get too festive in Alabama
This southern US state is apparently well known for some crazy sounding rules, and according to the municipal code in the city of Mobile, confetti is definitely off the list of things that can be used to celebrate in party times. It comes under the code’s Offenses Against Public Safety and Real Property section, which spells out that not only can you not throw or ‘handle’ the little paper circles, you also can’t possess, store or sell them. Sounds more like a law combating drug crime!
And in case you were looking at other things you might be able to throw in the city, you’d also want to cross fruit skins like banana peel off your list. Apparently, it’s forbidden to throw these on bus floors, elevators, buildings, theatres, walkways or parks. Very specific!
8. Play your cards right in Thailand
One of Thailand’s laws is part of the country’s strict rules around gambling, and – apparently dating back to 1935 – it states that individuals may not possess more than 120 playing cards. That’s not too many more than two standard decks of 52.
According to a BBC report, a group of bridge players were surprised when their club was raided by anti-corruption officials after a tip-off that they had more than the regulation number of cards. They were even schooled afterwards by a bridge expert so they wouldn’t repeat their mistake, according to the article!
7. Getting along in the Philippines
Some standards of decency just seem right to apply no matter where we are in the world, like being polite to your fellow citizens. But in the Philippines, it’s all in black and white in an act about governing the Civil Code there. Under ‘Human Relations’, “vexing” and “humiliating” other people are definitely banned, with the law stating that this applies in regard to religious beliefs, station in life, place of birth, physical defect or other condition.
It’s worth knowing that prying into someone else’ private residence, meddling in someone else’s private life and causing someone to become alienated from their friends are also against the rules. So let’s just make sure we all get along!
6. The British and their housekeeping
As one of the world’s oldest nations, Britain has some of the most archaic laws and one of them will be of the utmost concern to any diligent housekeeper or homeowner. Dating back to 1839, the Metropolitan Police Act made it illegal from anyone in that jurisdiction to beat or shake their rug, carpet or mat in a public thoroughfare.
It was all part of a drive to stamp out public nuisance at the time, although late risers were let off because they were allowed to shake out their floor coverings after the more civilised hour of 8 AM. Other public nuisances of the time were throwing out coal, stones or rubbish into the street, or burning various materials.
5. Drunk in charge
It wasn’t just housekeeping the British were strict about when it came to crazy laws – take this Licensing Act from the 1800s that set in place rules against being drunk in charge of methods of transport from the era. Anyone found to be drunk in charge of a carriage, steam engine, horse, cow or while using loaded guns, in public or on a highway, risked a fine of 40 shillings or even jail time.
Most of us aren’t going to strap on a loaded rifle on our horse ride back from the local pub, but if you think of today’s equivalent of driving home after too many drinks, you can see how this seemingly crazy law was made with public safety in mind!
4. The rain falls in Colorado
Modern sustainability practices are slowly catching up with the people of Colorado. As more ecologically minded people look to collect rainwater, they’ve been up against the state’s constitution that prevents storing these precious drops in barrels as it falls from the roof. But according to the Washington Post, gains have been made in recent years to allow people to keep 110 gallons (about 416 litres) for themselves.
The article tells us that the law had followed an outdated first come, first served principle, where settlers of various US states, like gold miners and farmers, claimed the water based on need, taking rights landowners may otherwise have had.
3. Switzerland’s social animals
The Swiss have gone the right way about establishing a reputation for animal rights protection – in 2008 in addition to an animal rights code meant that anyone who got a goldfish, guinea pig or budgie had to make sure they had a companion of their own kind. According to an article in MercatorNet, the law also required fish tanks to have an opaque side so that the fish could live out day and night cycles.
The rule was part of a push to protect various ‘social animals’ in the country and prevent them from being subject to psychological abuse. More broadly the legal additions were especially strict on dog owners, who had to complete a course before getting a dog, and anglers, who had to school upon humane fishing.
2. Saying ‘I do’ downunder
Weddings are a big deal pretty much everywhere, but it seems even more so in South Australia, where disrupting a ceremony like this could apparently get you into a lot of trouble. In 1953 an act was introduced that said if anyone deliberately obstructed a wedding, they could end up in prison or being fined $10,000.
This is the same act that seems to have a lot to say about parties in general – according to the ABC news website, if someone turned up uninvited to a private party, trespassed, or didn’t leave when asked, they could be fined $5000. And if they then behaved badly, another $2500 could be added to the fine, says ABC.
1. Entertaining in British Columbia
It seems street performing is pretty competitive in British Columbia if the Canadian city of Victoria’s bylaws is anything to go by. Bagpipers are especially in the spotlight, with the bylaw saying that they’re not allowed to blow their pipes during a street performance at the same time as a fellow piper, and there are some pretty strict rules about where and when bagpiping is allowed.
Even chalk drawing street performers aren’t let off lightly – they apparently can’t take up more than 10 square feet of the footpath with their drawings, or move in on the turf of another drawer on the same block.