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What's up with that?Q: I was recently scolded at a pub for lighting my cigarette off the candle burning on the table. What’s up with that?

A: We’ve heard this before, and the explanation was always something to the effect that every time a cigarette was lit from a candle, a sailor would die.

We delved deeper into this mysterious belief and discovered it is common throughout Northern and East Europe. But what’s the connection between the candle and the sailor’s death?

According to several Web sources, in times of yore, in those lean months of winter, sailors and fishermen would be forced to supplement their incomes through the sale of matches. Thus, lighting a cigarette from a candle was essentially denying them an income.

Another ciggie tradition you may have encountered calls for the lighting no more than two cigarettes from the same source of flame. This is commonly attributed to wartime logic, when a light source left to burn for a certain amount of time would presumably enable a sniper to get a bead on your little flame. However, according to an article on the U.K.’s Guardian Unlimited http://money. guardian.co.uk/ ethicalliving/story/ 0,,1817745,00.html, this superstition may have been invented by a Swedish match tycoon by the name of Ivar Kreuger — in order to get people to use more matches.

Got a question about goings-on Europe? E-mail Stripes at: news@estripes.osd.mil


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