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Gift Giving Superstitions and Legends — 1 Comment

  1. A good read and thank you. Always difficult to be precise when tying down provenence of social customs and therefore much conjecture surrounds some interpretations. To the best of my knowledge, the origins of Baker's Dozens relates to
    avoidance of corporal punishement given to dishonest traders by the authorities in the Middle Ages. The extra loaf/roll was a good will gesture to a customer who purchased 12 items and by the practice baklers would avoid official scrutiny. Those who shortchanged customers found the punishment severe and had their feet beaten (known as falanga or bastinado). Falanga is still used in the Middle East both as a corporal punishment (mild) and torture (severe).

    A common misconception about the Bakers Dozens was it represented the twelve disciples plus Jesus.

    Greeting of the Season

    Falanga (or bastinado) describes a form of foot torture where victims were bound with their feet raised and their soles beaten with sticks (later cables or metal implements). It is thought falanga had its origins in the Turkey. Sometime blows were direct to bare feet or through shoes. In severe cases, casualties were forced to walk on glass; or jump, on the spot, carrying a heavy weight. The immediate effects are pains, with bleeding and tissue swelling but permanent damaged is dependent on posttraumatic oedema (or swelling). Torturers might limit this, as part of the ordeal, by cooling the feet or forcing the victim to put their shoes on after a beating. Smashing the heel and ball of the foot destroys the natural fatty-fibro padding, which assists shock absorption in normal walking. Depending on the severity of damage this would leave the victim unable to walk without pain. Skin wounds heal by second intention, leaving painful scars. Detachment of the skin at its deeper levels results in damage to proprioception adding considerable to pathological gait. Many victims report aponeuritis where the whole sole of the foot has become painful. Changes in pressure within muscle compartments cause a radical change in walking style. The feet are reported as hot and cold and there is an increase in the rate of perspiration. Stability and balance may also be adversely affected due to falanga. In many regions of the world falanga is still practiced as a form of corporal punishment in bringing up children. In the Middle Ages falanga was a punishment often used on traders who were dishonest. For some reason bakers were particularly singled and this sent shock waves across Europe.

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