Movember kicks off tomorrow so the men of New Zealand will be getting decidedly more hirsute. Eli Orzessek checks out some global destinations where the mo is king.
Home to the world's longest moustache — 4.29m on Ram Singh Chauhan's upper lip — India naturally tops the list. The country is known for its extravagantly bushy moustaches and beards, particularly in the south. Some of the best examples were even documented in a book, Hair India, A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan. Author Chris Stowers found that although India has long had a love affair with facial hair, the arrival of the British military inspired even more out there stylings.
When a country has a style of moustache named after it, you know it's on the forefront of facial hair styles. The Hungarian mo' is a big and bushy number, parted in the middle and pulled to the sides — perfect for catching the crumbs of a traditional chimney cake. The capital, Budapest, is home to the Hungarian Moustache Fellowship and the country has also hosted the World Beard and Moustache Championship.
In Turkey, moustaches are not just for fashion — the style of a man's facial hair can actually reveal his political preference. This dates back to the 19th century, during reforms to modernise the country. Those with left-wing leanings preferred a thick, walrus-style mo, while those on the conservative side preferred a clipped style that did not cover the upper lip — this style can be seen on current president Erdogan. Turkey is also home to numerous "beard implant surgeons", to help the follicly challenged.
There are a few facial hair hotspots around the United States, but only one of them includes a week-long festival and that's Portland, Maine. The Portland Facial Hair Festival launched in 2014 and includes a facial hair farmers market, a beard and mo contest and a film festival celebrating the moustache. And marking itself firmly in the hipster camp, there's also a Bearded Brewfest to get the requisite craft beer foam on your mo.
The English have a long and rich history with the moustache — from the medieval knights who made space in their armour for facial hair, to its heyday in Victorian times. Strict care has always been essential — as Rudyard Kipling wrote in the 1880s, "Being kissed by a man who didn't wax his moustache was like eating an egg without salt" — whatever that means. But if you're keen on membership in London's exclusive Handlebar Club, you'll need to get those ends twirling. Founded in 1947, the club's only requirement for membership is "a hirsute appendage of the upper lip and with graspable extremities" — but beards are forbidden.
For more information about Movember and how you can get involved, go to nz.movember.com