Who knew there would be so many rules!?!
Rule #1 – Do not stand on the Ger threshold.
Rule #2 – Do not walk or pass anything through the support beams of the Ger (its bad luck). This is a lot harder than it sounds considering space is at a premium to being with, let alone with 6-8 people and all their stuff.
Rule #3 – Wearing hats inside or touching anyone on the head is veeeery disrespectful. (So, the hat thing was really more when socializing indoors because we all wore beanies to bed to try and stay warm)
Rule #4 - Women do almost all of the cooking/cleaning, unless meat needs to be cut, in which case the male head of house is responsible.
Rule #5 – The youngest woman present serves the male head of house his meal first and then serves everyone else before herself.
Rule #6 – She is also responsible for pouring the milk tea and collecting all dishes at the end of the meal.
Rule #7 – After dinner vodka shots are common and again, the youngest woman is in charge of pouring (she’s basically everyone’s whipping boy). It is considered very rude for anyone else to touch the vodka bottle, especially guests!
Rule #8 – All items (shot glasses, plates, etc.) are passed with the right hand while the left hand supports the right elbow. The same is true when accepting any item.
Rule #9 – The male head of house initiates the pace of vodka shots and they typically continue until the bottle is gone (Oi).
Rule #10 – If you don’t want a shot, you still must accept the glass with your right hand, touch your mouth to the rim and then hand it back. (This really only applies to women, because a dude refusing to take a shot is grounds for ridicule by all other men in the room.)
Rule #11 – If a snuff (powdered tobacco) bottle is passed around, always accept with you right hand and cradle the bottle in your palm. Scoop a bit onto the snuff spoon and snort – once in each nostril.
Rule #12 – Not down with snuff? Still accept the bottle, open it, take a whiff and then pass it on (with the right hand of course).
It took us awhile to get comfortable with all of the customs; draining an entire bottle of vodka certainly didn’t help our retention.
That first night, we went to bed full, drunk, warm and happy. It lasted a few hours.
Then the fire burned out, the temperature plummeted and discomfort set in. Conor (bless him!) got out of bed at 4am to try and restart the fire with little success.
It wasn’t until just before 7am that one of our hosts came in, relit the hearth and left a new pile of dung to burn. We all just stared at her from our sleeping bags in awe and appreciation.
Up to that point, night one in the Ger was the coldest night of sleep I’d ever experienced. But that was only night one…