Everyone is different and every country is different. We cannot expect the rest of the world to live a life that is similar to ours. When we hear stories of how people do things differently than us, it might be a culture shock but it’s just the way things are done by others. For instance, giving a yellow rose is considered a sign of friendship in some cultures whereas in places like Iran and Mexico, it has a negative meaning since it is associated with funerals. Here, we have collected 10 such traditions from around the world that might be totally surprising to you.
1. No toilet paper in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka.
The practice of washing one’s behind is practiced differently throughout the world. For first time travelers, it might come as a surprise when there is no toilet paper in the hotel bathroom, instead, a bucket is left for visitors to use. This might seem unusual but the practice of using water is followed by many countries for various reasons. While countries like the US, Canada and other developed countries use toilet paper, Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia and Sri Lanka prefer water.
Most of the countries prefer the second method since creation of toilet paper means more large-scale deforestation. Apart from that, the country’s drainage systems are not designed to handle clogs caused by toilet paper. Meanwhile, in developing countries, toilet paper is a luxury and most residents cannot afford it. Water on the other hand is easily available. Although a small percentage of people do use toilet paper, it isn’t always available. So, if you’re traveling to a different country, taking one or two rolls of TP will come handy. (source)
2. In the Indonesian Tidong community, newlyweds are not allowed to use the bathroom for 3 days and 3 nights.
In the Indonesian Tidong community, there is an unusual and unique practice with newlyweds. In some cultures, the groom is not allowed to see the bride’s face until the day of the wedding, but in the Tidong community, newlyweds don’t get any bathroom breaks for 3 days and 3 nights from the day of their wedding. It might seem like a punishment for most of us but the ritual is normal and natural for the people of the Tidong tribe. According to the tribe’s belief, not practicing the three-day and night ritual would bring terrible luck to the couple for the rest of their lives. So, the newlyweds are constantly watched by family members and only given minimal amounts of food and drinks. (source)
3. Giving a yellow rose is considered rude or is associated with funerals in some countries.
In most cultures, giving a rose is considered a symbol of love or friendship. For instance, on Valentines day, some people gift their friends yellow roses. While this is normal in most countries, in places such as Mexico, Italy or China, it is considered rude, as it is associated with disaster, heartache or sorrow. In Mexico, it is associated with funerals, whereas in Asian countries, it is associated with the end of a relationship of life, and in France, it is associated with affairs. (source)
4. Polterabend is a German wedding custom in which the guests break porcelain plates to bring luck to the couple’s marriage.
In Germany, there’s an unusual wedding tradition known as Polterabend, where everyone joins in to break porcelain plates. The custom is a way of wishing the spouses-to-be good fortune by breaking as many porcelain plates as possible. According to the belief, the more shards of broken pottery, the better the luck that couple will have in their married life. Once the guests have had a great time breaking plates, the couple has the duty of cleaning up the mess, which is a symbol that they can work together and handle any major task. (source)
5. If you’re still single at 25 in Denmark, people throw spices all over you in the street.
When you turn 25, if you’re unmarried, then it is customary for your friends and family members to shower you with cinnamon from head to toe in public. The tradition dates back hundreds of years ago when spice salesmen would travel around and remain bachelors because they were never in one place long enough to settle down with someone. The tradition is also performed in public places so that everyone knows that you are still a bachelor. Once the person turns 30 and they’re still unmarried, friends and family members change the spice from cinnamon to pepper. (source)
6. Arriving late for an event, wedding or meeting is considered normal in Venezuela.
When it comes to being late, Venezuelans are always on time. In fact, being late for events such as parties or weddings are so common that invitations are printed for an hour earlier than their intended starting time. A reporter once arrived in Venezuela for the first time for a press luncheon. His flight was an hour late, causing him to be at the event an hour and fifteen minutes late. Upon arriving, he saw a large empty room and thought that the event was over but the front desk employee informed him that he was in fact the first person to arrive. Arriving late for any event is considered normal and some VIPs arrive late for social occasions just to make an entrance. (source)
7. In Vanuatu, men jump from tall wooden towers with nothing but vines wrapped around their ankles in order to bring good luck during the yam harvest season.
Unlike the sophisticated and strong bungee cords, the Vanuatu men use vines collected from trees to jump from wooden towers. Every year, the tradition takes place on the Pentecost Island of Vanuatu where men of all ages show their strength and courage by leaping off the tower. The only safety equipment these daredevils have are the vines they wrap around their ankles. Surprisingly, the men manage to successfully jump and land in one piece; which is also believed to bring them a good harvest season. (source)
8. Hungarians don’t clink glasses or bottles to celebrate or mark a victory.
The tradition of clinking glasses or bottles to celebrate is something that most people follow but Hungarians however, refuse to do so. Although there are several reports indicating as to why, the most known explanation seems to be that in 1849, Austrians celebrated their victory over Hungary by clinking glasses. The celebratory action ignited a tradition among Hungarians where locals do not clink their glasses. For more than 150 years, the tradition has been upheld. (source)
9. According to an ancient Finnish tradition, business meetings are held in saunas.
While most business meetings around the world take place in an office room, filled with people who have ideas to share and charts to explain, Finnish people go to saunas for a relaxed environment. The ancient practice of relaxation is also an important part of business relations in Finland. It might seem strange but for the Finnish business industry, the practice seems to help them thrive and come up with brilliant ideas. Saunas are also considered part of their culture since most Finnish people visit the sauna at least once a weekend. (source)
10. In some Middle-Eastern as well as Asian countries, it is considered rude and unsanitary to use one’s left hand to eat or greet someone.
In some countries within the UAE, the right hand is reserved for eating meals and greeting people and the left hand is considered to be used for everything else. For instance, most people use the left hand to open bathroom doors, so shaking one’s hand with the same hand is considered a rude gesture or an insult. Waving at someone or saying goodbye but using your left hand is also considered an insult. (source)