We tend to glide through life doing countless little things every day without any second thought. But the truth is that our lifestyle, views, and values are strongly influenced by the culture we’re exposed to. And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, customs and traditions vary widely around the globe. It’s a part of what makes our beloved planet such a diverse and charming place to live, isn’t it?
Traveling is a great way to learn about the similarities and differences people share with others across borders. After all, a thing that seems ordinary to us may look totally bizarre to people elsewhere. Thankfully, with the internet at our fingertips, those of us confined to our countries can expand our perspectives from the comfort of our own homes. So one Redditor, kerris2508, decided to delve deeper into the facts about other parts of the globe.
Recently, they reached out to the ‘Ask Reddit’ community with a very fine question: “What is something that in your culture is normal, but in another place is a weird thing?” People jumped to type out their honestly fascinating examples, and the thread immediately became a hit. We’ve hand-picked some of our favorite responses to share with you, so check them out down below. Be sure to upvote the ones you have not heard about before, and if you know any odd quirks about your home country, let us know about them in the comments!
Psst! If you’re keen to broaden your cultural awareness even more, take a look at KristenBellTattoos.com’s earlier piece right here.
Where I live in the US, we pull over for funeral processions. It’s a respect thing and everyone does it. A friend of mine from a different part of the states saw me do this while driving once and was SO confused and made fun of me out of confusion. It’s so common I didn’t realize some people don’t do this.
Hold the door open behind you a minute ahead of the next person, making the person run to it, then expect a thank you.
Celebrating a chubby, mystical, groundhog that can predict the end of winter based on its shadow 😮
Guests pay to attend the wedding banquet. Depending on who you invite, it’s quite common for the newlyweds to make a decent profit.
Calling someone a c**t is sometimes a term of endearment. It’s all about intonation, as in “cuuuuunt”, translates to “maaaate”.
Let’s see… In no particular order:
-Giving your boss a kiss when you arrive at the office,
-Drinking one big glass of alcohol whenever we’ll you eat something, even the 6pm snacks,
-Getting mad at people who arrive early at your parties or even on time because who the f**k shows up without being at least 5 minutes late,
-Giving a nod to the fully-armed military whenever you go out in the city center,
-Preparing about three different glasses, four plates of different sizes and three sets of cutlery **per person** whenever you invite them to eat at home.
Guess where I’m from?
Saying “Hey, how you going?” as a greeting. Extremely common in Australia, but apparently it isn’t used anywhere else in the English-speaking world.
Was extremely surprised when I said it to an American one day while talking online and they were confused. “What do you mean how am I going…? By car…?”.
It’s interesting, because it’s like the perfect amalgamation of “How’s it going?” and “How you doing?”, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to register that way for non-Aussies!
Using a puzzling mixture of metric and imperial measurements, for example, measuring cooking ingredients in grams but measuring body weight in stones.
Cheering in a pub when someone drops a glass.
saying “bye bye bye buh bye, bye now, bye bye bye, buh bye…” a hundred times before you hang up the phone.
Going to the funeral of anyone you even remotely know. Our funerals can be massive.
Waving a salute to anyone you pass on the road.
Leaving the pub without telling anyone.
Being casually naked in same room with strangers, sometimes even with opposite sex. In this case, it’s of course good ol’ finnish sauna.
In my culture it is considered an insult to refuse food offered to you in someone else’s home if you are their guest
Uuh lets see
– living with your parents in your 20s, and when you get married it’s still commonplace for the husband and wife to live with the wife’s parents for the first couple of years of marriage.
– Alcohol is strictly frowned upon but smoking (even from a young age) is a societally acceptable act.
– Eating rice with every meal.
– Being late (up to around half an hour to 45 minutes) is societally acceptable nd is sometimes expected so invitees would often push the meeting time a bit earlier.
– Absolutely stuffing your guests with food.
– Eating chocolate with cheese
Giving two kisses, one on each cheek, when meeting someone of the opposite sex.
When getting a traditional body tattoo, you lie on the hard floor with strangers “stretching” your skin for the tattoo artist to pierce. One person is designated to wipe your blood 🩸 and excess ink and the tattoo session usually lasts over a couple of back-to-back days or a week depending on a few things.
While you are being held down and your skin stretched, women fan you and sing you songs.
When getting this tattoo, it’s common for you to ask someone to be your tattoo partner. Meaning the other person will have to come with and get the same tattoo as you. This is somehow meant to ease the pain, encourage you, and so they can lend some of their strength to you and also for luck so you won’t die in the process (as many did in the past from infection or whatnot).
The tattoo itself is done with boars teeth or carved whale/shark bones, but nowadays some artists use steel needles. Men are tattooed from the torso to to their knees (also around the penis and almost to the butt crack).
Women get it from the the knees to the top part of their thighs.
After days of pain, you will have to dance for your family party to show your tattoo and to have a grateful celebration in that you didn’t embarrass your family by not finishing the tattoo.
Let’s just all get on the same page, and all agree to take our shoes off indoors, shall we?
Putting parents in care homes, I’ve been in some cultures where that’s unbelievable.
in vietnam, when you order in places with menus. The waiter will stare at you when you chose food
Some casual Iranian sayings of endearment:
“I want to eat your liver”
“I will sacrifice my life for you”
“My stomach is tight for you”
“Wishing your breath to be warm”
Not endearing, but “dirt on your head” if you are upset with someone, essentially meaning that you should be buried.
To leave the stroller (with the sleeping baby inside it) outside a café, while the mom/dad sits inside – if the weather is good. (Denmark)
Edit: It’s a common thing all over Scandinavia/Scandinavian Peninsula – I’m specifically mentioning Denmark because I live here.
beating women with a bundle of twigs, throwing cold water at them and then spraying them with cologne as a part of folk tradition on Easter
I wouldn’t say this is part of my culture, but in both Kenya and India, when you go to the movies they play the national anthem on screen before the trailers and everyone has to stand up. I’d been away for so long that I’d completely forgotten this craziness and was visiting my mum, went to watch a movie, everyone stood up and I was so confused until the memories were unlocked.
Apparently people don’t just walk up to strangers and start a conversation in other places. Friendly people here tend to do it and most actually don’t mind a little small talk.
Edit: apparently everyone does this everywhere except around the baltic and north seas
Addressing strangers using terms used for family members like brother, sister, uncle, aunty, grandpa, etc. The most common being brother/sister. We have unique words representing all 4 variations of little/big brother/sister.
And guess what, one day you would be calling a girl ‘baini’ (little sister), that girl be calling you ‘dai’ (big brother) and a couple weeks later you are dating each other and ditch the sibling style addressing. Then you either call each other by name or come up with nicknames.
Edit: I’m from Nepal.
Using a small packet of tissue paper, name card, office access card with lanyard, heck even laptops to reserve a seat at an public eatery.
Once you place those items down on an empty table, it’s known to be occupied and you can then make your way to the food stall to place your food order and come back to the table you’ve reserved.
When foreigners come, some may not understand this local practice and take the seats anyway, or assume that the packet of tissue left there as a form of reservation is for their use, or trash left behind by the previous user.
Bankrupting people with medical debt. 🇺🇸
Swearing using body parts, for exampe if we angry at someone we would yell “YOUR EYES” or “YOUR HEAD!” or even “YOUR KNEES!”
Saying “No, Yeah” to mean yes/agree and “Yeah, No” to mean no/disagree. And “Yeah, yeah no” as fk no and “No no, yeah” as of course. Changes with inflection.
Calling people nicknames by their appearance if you don’t know they person like for example we could see someone random in the streets and we need help with SM and the person is skinny the just scream “skinnyyyy” which is “FLACO”
Calling someone a monkey isn’t racist here it just means they are being cheeky or hyper if its a kid
eating raw pork
Mettbrötchen (seasoned, raw minched pork on a bun, optional onions, salt, and pepper) is a pretty cheap and delicious snack or meal in Germany and some surrounding countries. Shouldn’t be attempted elsewhere since raw pork isn’t safe to eat unless you know it’s fresh.
Mett is made specifically to be eaten raw and has to be made fresh on the day and either eaten, cooked or frozen (to cook later) on the same day. If your country doesn’t have this kind of standard you shouldn’t try it unless you trust your butcher with your life.
Edit: a lot of people pointing out Trichinosis as the main issue, and after into looking into it for a bit it seems that testing samples of every piece of meat meant for Mett production has to be done by a vet to verify that it’s free of parasites. I’m assuming this is what’s not being done in places where it’s not normal to eat raw pork, because if you’re gonna cook it anyway, you’re also killing the parasites.
Here are some famous ones!
1. Touching someone’s foot as to give them respect (Usually Young children touch elder’s foot, which symbolizes them giving respect to the elderly) (only people who are lower can touch a person’s foot who is higher, in whatever be the circumstance). I can touch my father’s foot, as he is older than me. If I teach my friend something, who’s technically older than me, he can touch my foot, because im his teacher…
2. Pointing(objects close to you) with your middle finger (Ive done this many times unknowingly)
3. Touch NOTHING with your foot. All objects have ‘god’ inside them, so touching god(higher power than you) with your foot is like showing disrespect. So whenever you need to pickup that fallen book/pencil, you bend down and pick it up with your hand
You could just start talking with random kids and start playing with them. It isn’t considered a offence in India.
Also head nods and bobble.
Normal to greet females with a kiss in informal settings.
Quite common to eat shark meat, not the fins the actual fillet of the fish and probably a lot of people have eaten it under a commercial name elsewhere.
In Israel, yelling and cursing is normal, even between bank managers and customers or people of different rank in a hierarchy. There’s no politeness or etiquette. We’re extremely informal. Obviously, moving to Germany with that socialization earned me several police reports for insults.
Swastikas are very core of Hindu culture and you will find one (if not very many) in almost all Hindu households. Unfortunately they were hijacked by some crooked people and mean something else in whole rest of the world, since.
We build huge crosses out of straw which then are set on fire to burn the winter. I guess seeing burning crosses could make the one or other person feel uneasy not understanding the tradition
Driving long distances. In Canada and the US (and I assume other large countries) people don’t think anything of driving 3-4 hours round trip in a day and driving longer distances for a longer stay. I’ve spoken to people in the UK who think driving an hour is an incredibly long distance.
I’m from deep south US but currently live in Northern US…….. apparently it’s normal for people to not bring a dish when they are invited for dinner or to a party unless it’s called a potluck. Where I’m from, if you don’t bring something it’s disrespectful.
Just for context I’m in Western Pennsylvania and everyone that I know around here has said the same thing. The way it got brought up was my boyfriend was invited to dinner one night at my house (I live with my oldest sister and her husband) and he just showed up, ate, and left. My sister brought up how it was weird (we were born in the same place) and of course I agreed but I said maybe it was just something they do up here. Normally, where I’m from, we feed you til you’re about to pop, always bring a dish, and always offer to help with the clean up. I’ve lived up here for a while now and I asked my coworkers who say they’ve never heard of this either. Like I was brought up that this was manners.
Hot dish and jello salad. Waiting for the bus in -30 degree weather because “it could be worse!”. The kindest community I’ve ever met. One time I got stuck in a snow bank trying to get on the city bus and everyone around me helped pull me up and onto the bus
1. Why are you fat/skinny during Christmas family reunions.
2. Why I am not yet married.
3. Who I voted for in the last election.
Calling elder people aunt and uncle, even if you’re not related to them.
Poking each other’s anuses with our fingers in school with friends as a prank. It’s so gay that it’s straight
1- Giving money at every event.
Someone gave birth? You give them money.
Someone got married? You give them money.
Someone died? You give their closest relatives money.
Someone is sick? You give them money.
2- Traditional and long ( so long it can take hours) oratory art, particularly at a funeral and a wedding.
3- Having the weirdest congratulations/wishes.
IE at a wedding : We hope you have 7 boys and 7 girls.
If you encounter someone who survived an accident: Congrats for still having a living heart and soul.
4- After a funeral, you have to jump above a flame lit at your doorstep otherwise the angel of death will follow you.
5- Most people wake up at 5am to go to work, some people start to sell vegetables at 4am.
Yelling “TAXI!” when someone drops their drink at a bar/party
Marrying our cousins. Completely normal tradition, and I’ve many family members that have multiple children from such unions who are all healthy.
Dressing up as scary goat demons that wield whips made from weeping willow branches and then visiting school and hunting down children who misbehave them and whip them all the while a few girls dressed like angels and a dude dressed up as saint nic stand and watch.
My culture is very sex positive and flirty. Compliments, touchiness and being upfront with your intentions is seen as a good thing. Move to North America and it was a culture shock all the unnecessary steps people take here if they want to sleep with someone. Like damn, is it that hard to just do the nasty without caring what others might think?
Buying your 5 year old daughter a pair of thongs. In Australia flip flops (the shoes) are called thongs.
We celebrate blackfaced people helping an old dude on a horse delivering candy and presents to kids.
Ever heard of a certain swedish controversy regarding guests?
Eating with the hands, but only the right hand because you clean your a*s with the left hand
Saying all sorts of vulgar words to each other, including wishing they were dead, telling then to drop dead etc supposed to be some kinda endearment among best buddies.
So it’s like Bro A gonna go away from a long trip.
Bro B : good, finally you’re gone. Don’t come back, and better die somewhere else.
Bro A : I don’t wanna see your face either, don’t ever call me.
Both A and B thought to themselves “that is a good friend indeed “.
Mimosas for breaky on Christmas morning. Followed by lunch and too many beers. Backyard Cricket with the family then falling asleep on the lounge.
In India, it’s totally normal and even encouraged to beat the s**t out of your children over the smallest things like scoring low or falling asleep in class.
I remember that this “Very smart but acts out due to childhood trauma” kind off boy get beaten the s**t out of for getting 87% in an optional subject in 5th grade. I saw him getting the s**t beaten out of him by his parents when he didn’t come to them when they called for him in the park.
My mom was like “He is deffo going to shine in future and thank his parents for slapping him”
On Easter we go to the Koleda. Koleda is, in most places, that guys go from house to house singing/saying rhymes and then whipping a*s of the women in the house with pomlázka (entwined rods of willow). And then the women give them reward (eggs, or alcohol shot for older guys and chocolate for kids).
As you can imagine not many younger women are keen on this tradition. I was lucky to be born in village where only kids go to koleda and not grown men who get drunk in process and then start to whip with more force than necessary.
And we also unwrap our christmas presents on evening of 24th of December and Ježíšek (Baby Jesus) brings them – which is irony because we are super atheistic nation lol.
Greeting strangers as you walk past them on the street, maybe it’s a small town thing idk
I’d say not knowing geography, but I’ve met some dumb Western Europeans who have no grasp on the geography of Easten Europe. Like thinking Romania is another name for Italy.
Drinking a VB long neck at twenty to eight in the f*****g morning