One of the greatest parts about traveling to foreign countries is that you have the opportunity to learn about others’ cultures and customs. Some customs, however, have left a lot of tourists scratching their heads.
These are some customs and cultural celebrations from around the world that absolutely shocked foreign visitors.
Using Your Left Hand Is Not The Way To Go In Many Countries
In some countries, the right hand is reserved for things like eating and greeting others, while the left hand is reserved for cleaning up after using the washroom. This practice applies to multiple places such as the Middle East, Sri Lanka, India, and parts of Africa.
Russia Has A National Holiday Dedicated To Getting Pregnant
September 12 is the “Day Of Conception” in Russia, and it is a public holiday—meaning people are off from work—that’s dedicated specifically to couples getting it on and making babies.
Pointing With Lips In Nicaragua
In most cultures, hand and head gestures are often used to point to a specific thing, but it’s normal to point using your lips in Nicaragua. People will purse their lips and direct them toward the item they want to point out.
Spitting On The Bride Is Typical At Greek Weddings
While it’s an old tradition, it became better known through the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In Greek culture, spitting is seen as a good luck charm meant to help ward off the devil. For weddings, it’s more mimicking the act of spitting rather than launching your saliva at the bride.
Lie Down To Show Respect For Others In Nigeria
In Nigeria’s Yoruba tribe, it is customary to kneel before elders to show your respect. Women will often kneel during greetings and men will lie down prostrate to show respect.
Tipping At Restaurants In North America
In most places in the world, gratuity fees are included in the price of a meal or service, making tipping an optional choice for customers and therefore rare. In comparison, they find the practice of regular tipping in North America quite bizarre.
Giving The Monkeys A Buffet In Thailand
An annual festivity in Bangkok, Thailand, involves preparing a delicious assortment of vegetables and fruits in a buffet style and providing it for the local monkeys to eat to their hearts’ content.
Hanging Out In The Cemetery Is Normal In Denmark
While most others might prefer to hang out in the park, Danes have been converting their cemeteries into social spaces for citizens, giving the large, green spaces a more pragmatic use.
Kissing Everyone You Meet In France
In France, like many Latin and Romance cultures, it’s the norm to greet both loved ones and acquaintances with a kiss on the cheek as a way of saying “hello.”
Slurping Is Just Fine In Japan
While it’s considered rude to slurp up your food in most countries, it’s totally fine in Japan. In fact, slurping your food loudly can be used as a compliment to indicate that you’re really enjoying the meal.
Groundhog Day In The US
Groundhog Day, where people patiently wait for a groundhog to emerge from its burrow and react to the weather and/or its shadow in order to predict the end of winter, puzzles many foreigners who think the holiday is absurd.
Catch Hands On Christmas In Peru
Every year at Christmas, citizens in the Peruvian province of Chumbivilcas partake in a festival called “Takanakuy” meaning “when the blood is boiling.” On this day, people solve their social problems with others by physically fighting them and then end the fight with a hug or handshake.
No Bathroom Breaks After The Wedding In Northern Borneo
In the Tidong tribe of Northern Borneo, it’s customary for a new husband and wife to undergo a three-day bathroom ban—that means no peeing, defecating, or showering. They eat and drink minuscule amounts over these days to avoid the washroom.
Eating The Dead’s Ashes In Venezuela And Brazil
It’s hard to let go of our late loved ones, but some take it to another level. The people of the Yonamamo tribe who live in the rainforests of Brazil and Venezuela believe that it’s wrong to keep parts of the body, so when someone dies, they burn the body, split the ashes, and eat them.
Carrying A Pregnant Wife Over Hot Coals In China
In some areas of China, it’s believed that if a husband carries his pregnant wife while walking over a bed of hot coals, she will have an easier birthing delivery.
A Food Fight As A Holiday In Spain
The Valencians in the eastern Spanish town of Buñol participate in an annual festival called “La Tomatina,” where people throw tomatoes at each other in an enormous, town-wide food fight.
Point With Your Thumb In Malaysia
Pointing with your index finger is pretty normal in North America, but Malaysians and Indonesians can find the motion offensive. Instead, it’s customary there to gesture towards things using your thumbs.
“Blackening” The Bride In Scotland
In some parts of Scotland, there’s a pre-wedding ritual called “blackening the bride” that involves throwing eggs, spoiled milk, and an array of other disgusting things at the bride-to-be before taking her around the town to be seen by everyone.
Don’t Show Up On Time In Venezuela
If you’re invited to a dinner party in Venezuela, it’s considered disrespectful to show up on time. Guests are expected to show up at least 15 minutes after the agreed-upon time, or else they come across as greedy.
Writing In Red Is Not The Way To Go In South Korea
In the history of the country, red ink was primarily used to write down the names of dead people. To this day, it is considered taboo to write a living person’s name in red.