Why Are Ravens Seen As An Omen Of Death?

This myth partly began in medieval England. Back in those days, there were no handy methods to dispose of old and rotting meat—and meat rotted quickly before the invention of refrigerators. As scavengers and less than picky eaters, ravens became valuable as garbage removal services. In fact, it was actually illegal to kill them. But because they fed on dead things, and because swarms of ravens increased during times of plague and disease (more death means more food for the ravens), many people began to think that ravens brought about death rather than the other way around.

Lots of cultures see ravens as holding a special supernatural power. In England, ravens are ceremoniously kept at the Tower of London (by an official whose real job title is “Ravenmaster”) due to a legend that England would fall if they ever left the Tower. In Ancient Greece, ravens were often seen as a messenger of the God Apollo, while some European cultures saw them as the ghosts of lost souls who weren’t buried properly. You’ll find ravens portrayed as tricksters in Native American folklore, but also as the creator of the world.

The truth is that ravens are extremely intelligent birds and capable of sophisticated problem-solving. Some can even speak a few words. Their uncanny intelligence, dark appearance, and appetite for dead flesh gives them a famously spooky reputation. Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven,” in which a raven famously croaks “Nevermore,” has definitely helped keep this myth alive!

As for other beliefs about crows, in Hinduism, a particular call of a Jungle Crow outside one’s home could signify the impending death of a family member or relative, and another that a guest is about to arrive. And, if any of this does happen (by chance of course!), then the elders would say, “I told you so”! If you witness only a single crow that is flying across your way is probably an indication of misfortune as watching a single crow is ill-fated and unpropitious.

7 Weird Laws That Exist In Austria

Eagle-eyed police mean no need for speed cameras

Motorists in Austria looking to avoid ‘speed traps’ (Blitzer) will usually have to keep their eyes peeled for a speed camera. But according to valid Austrian law, police officers can determine if a car is speeding with the naked eye – and levy fines accordingly. Austrian law states that police have a “trained official eye”, which allows them to detect speeds in excess of 30km/h and hand out punishments. 

Feeding the pigeons – unless you feed them birdseed

Colloquially known as ‘rats with wings’, pigeons rank alongside the weather and early closing hours as some of Vienna’s most popular topics for complaint. Feeding the pigeons is illegal in Vienna – with anyone caught risking a 36 euro fine. However, a glance at the fine print reveals that the fine will only be imposed depending on what’s on the pigeon’s menu. 

Tying up your furry friend

In Austria, it is illegal to restrict the movement of your animals to the point at which they feel pain, suffering and/or fear. This means that you are not allowed to keep your dog tied or chained up, even for a short period of time. 

If you’ve got chicken pox, you better tell someone about it

While vaccination has helped to reduce its prevalence, chicken pox remains a highly infectious disease – which is why you should tell everyone about it.  No, we don’t mean on Instagram – although if that’s what your followers want, then don’t keep them waiting – but in the states of Vorarlberg, Tyrol and Salzburg, anyone with chicken pox is legally required to tell health authorities. 

Apricots must be cheap

Another odd rule is the ‘apricot price cap’, or for all you legal eagles out there, the Verordnung über die Höchstpreise von Aprikosen(Marillen): RGBL 1917/289 idF 1918/171. According to this law, you are not allowed to charge more than a certain price for apricots – known in Austria as Marillen and in high German as Aprikosen. There is also a similar price cap on dried fruit. Good news for apricot fans everywhere. 

Kissing on a train

OK so this isn’t exactly a law, but you are forbidden from kissing on a train if it causes a public nuisance. We’d hazard a guess that even the most conservative Austrian wouldn’t raise an eyebrow at a friendly peck on the lips, but a passionate pre-porn kiss on public transport might get you in trouble. While this may seem a little harsh to couples on romantic holidays to Austria, as far as we’re concerned, if you can hear the kiss, you should be doing hard time. The nuisance laws also prohibit eating something too smelly, which I think is a rule we can all get behind. 

Running out of petrol on the motorway

In Austria, it is illegal to run out of petrol on the motorway – provided you’ve done so knowingly or negligently. According to Austrian law, anyone who runs out of petrol on the motorway because they have driven with “clearly insufficient fuel reserves” under section 46(3). Of course, it might be difficult for the police to prove, but the last thing you want after pushing your car halfway down the motorway to a gas station is for the police to give you a ticket.