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10 Surprising Cultural Practices from Different Countries

Traveling to a new country can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a source of confusion and embarrassment if you are not familiar with the local customs and etiquette. Different cultures have different ways of doing things, and what may seem normal or polite in one place may be rude or offensive in another. To avoid any awkward situations or cultural faux pas, it is important to learn about the social norms and expectations of the places you visit. Here are 10 examples of cultural practices from around the world that may surprise or perplex tourists.

Cultural Practices

1. Baby Jumping in Spain

In the village of Castrillo de Murcia in Spain, there is an annual festival called El Colacho, or the Baby Jumping Festival. During this event, which dates back to the 17th century, men dressed as devils jump over babies who are laid on mattresses in the street. The ritual is supposed to cleanse the babies of original sin and protect them from evil spirits. The babies are usually less than a year old, and their parents watch nervously as the jumpers leap over them. The festival is held on the Sunday after Corpus Christi, a Catholic feast day.

2. Spitting on the Bride in Greece

In Greece, spitting is not always considered rude or disgusting. In fact, it is sometimes used as a way of expressing good wishes or warding off bad luck. For example, when a bride walks down the aisle, her relatives and friends may spit on her, or pretend to do so, to wish her a happy marriage and protect her from the evil eye. The same practice may also be done to newborn babies, or to people who have just bought a new car or house. The spitting is usually accompanied by the word “ftou”, which is meant to sound like spitting.

3. Avoiding the Salt in Egypt

If you are invited to a meal in Egypt, you may want to think twice before reaching for the salt shaker. Adding salt to your food is considered an insult to the host, as it implies that the food is not tasty or well-seasoned. Egyptians take pride in their cuisine, and they expect their guests to appreciate it as it is. If you really need some extra flavor, you may try to discreetly add some salt when no one is looking, or ask for some bread or salad to go with your dish.

4. Wife Carrying in Finland

In Finland, there is a sport called eukonkanto, or wife carrying. It involves a man carrying a woman, who does not have to be his wife, on his back, and racing against other couples on an obstacle course. The woman can be carried in various ways, such as piggyback, fireman’s carry, or Estonian-style, where the woman hangs upside-down on the man’s back with her legs around his neck. The sport originated from a legend about a bandit who stole women from nearby villages. The winner of the race gets a prize of beer equivalent to the woman’s weight.

5. Noodle Slurping in Japan

In Japan, slurping noodles is not only acceptable, but also encouraged. It is a way of showing that you enjoy the food and appreciate the chef’s skills. It also helps to cool down the hot noodles and enhance their flavor. Slurping noodles is especially common when eating ramen, soba, or udon, which are served in broth. However, slurping other types of food, such as rice or soup, is still considered rude. So, if you want to fit in with the locals and savor your noodles, don’t be afraid to make some noise.

6. Throwing Teeth in Greece

In many cultures, children who lose their baby teeth place them under their pillow and wait for the tooth fairy to exchange them for money or gifts. In Greece, however, the tradition is to throw the teeth on the roof of the house. The children make a wish and hope that their adult teeth will grow healthy and strong. They also say a rhyme that goes something like this: “Take my tooth, o mouse, and give me an iron one, so that I can chew rusks, bread, and nuts.”

7. Dish Smashing in Germany

In Germany, there is a custom called Polterabend, which means “noisy night”. It is a pre-wedding celebration where the guests bring old dishes, pots, or tiles, and smash them outside the bride and groom’s house. The noise is supposed to scare away any evil spirits that may harm the couple’s marriage. The bride and groom then have to clean up the mess together, which symbolizes their cooperation and teamwork. Polterabend is usually held on the night before the wedding, and it is a fun and festive occasion.

8. Numbing Juice in Fiji

If you visit Fiji, you may be offered a drink called kava, or yaqona. It is a traditional beverage made from the roots of the kava plant, which are pounded, mixed with water, and strained. Kava has a numbing effect on the mouth and tongue, and it also induces relaxation and calmness. It is often consumed in social gatherings or ceremonies, and it is a sign of respect and hospitality to accept it. However, kava also has some side effects, such as drowsiness, nausea, or liver damage, so it should be consumed in moderation and with caution.

9. Eye Contact in China

In China, eye contact is not as important or expected as in some Western cultures. In fact, it may be seen as rude, aggressive, or challenging, especially when talking to someone who is older, higher in status, or unfamiliar. Chinese people tend to lower their eyes or look away when conversing, as a sign of respect, humility, or deference. They also avoid staring or gazing at someone for too long, as it may make them uncomfortable or embarrassed. Of course, this does not mean that they are not paying attention or interested in the conversation.

10. Conversation Topics in Brazil

In Brazil, people are generally friendly, open, and talkative. They like to chat about various topics, such as sports, music, family, or travel. However, there are some topics that are best avoided or handled with care, such as politics, religion, or money. These topics may be sensitive, controversial, or personal, and they may lead to arguments or misunderstandings. Brazilians may also have different opinions or views on these issues than foreigners, and they may not appreciate any criticism or judgment. Therefore, it is better to stick to lighter and more positive topics, and respect the diversity and complexity of Brazilian culture.


These are just some of the many cultural practices that exist around the world, and that may seem strange or confusing to tourists. However, they are also part of what makes each country unique and fascinating, and they reflect the history, values, and beliefs of the people who live there. By learning about and respecting these customs, we can enrich our travel experiences and broaden our horizons. We can also avoid any unpleasant or awkward situations, and make friends with the locals. After all, as the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”