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Bizarre Cultural Practices Around the World

December 5, 2023

One of life’s greatest privileges is relocating to varied foreign countries. Crossing oceans and experiencing life in different countries is not only interesting and fun but also helps you grow appreciative of cultures around the world.

Whether you are relocating for a short period or permanently trying to settle there, knowing their cultural differences in advance will help you settle in much more quickly. It could start from knowing daily things like the bizarre foods people eat to absurd beliefs and customs they follow. Learning and researching about the customary practices will also save you from shocking revelations post moving.

In this article, we run you through some weird and unusual cultural connotations practiced around the globe. Seeing them in a positive light will help you appreciate and embrace life in varied countries.


Ethiopia — Feeding you by hand

In Ethiopia guests are hand-fed the tastiest part of meals out of respect and this practice is known as Gursha. If someone reaches out their hand with a morsel of food in your mouth, you shouldn’t be surprised. Just gulp it down and smile back as a mark of acceptance. This is how you are expected to reciprocate to their hospitality, even if the food may not be the type you expect.


Iceland — It’s okay to be nude

Walking or bathing naked in Iceland isn’t a taboo. Icelanders value their personal freedom and consider nudity a natural state and this is why it’s a common sight on the streets.

Similarly, their people also show respect for others and the environment they live in. So, even women are relaxed about nudity and roam topless in public without feeling shame or experiencing backlash. It’s also completely normal to shower naked on beaches while onlookers and lifeguards watch you.


Japan — Age is no longer a secret

While it may be considered rude to ask people their age when you meet them first time, this is completely normal in Japan. Expectedly, it is usually one of the first set of questions Japanese ask when meeting new people, right after knowing their name and where they’re from.

Knowing your age, the country you come from and your marital status in the first interaction itself helps them speak to you better and develop an age-intensive communication pattern with you. You shouldn’t even mind if they openly inquire about your relationship status in the initial meet.


Thailand — Creepy Crawlies make a fine snack

It’s common for Thais to munch a handful of fried insects as yummy snacks to silence their tummy rumbles each day. From scorpions, worms to crickets and tarantulas, you’ll have to normalize such creepy food experiences. If you dare to taste these unusual foods and eat them every day, you’ll soon be accustomed to craving these crunchy bites while living there.


Demark — Cinnamon and spice sprinkle birthday party

Turning 25 and 30 can be particularly spicy for unmarried Danes due to the peculiar Danish traditions. While unwed 25-year-olds can look forward to a cinnamon shower, Danes who still aren’t hitched by 30 may receive an upgrade to pepper and salt cover from head to toe as a birthday present. To add to the sarcasm, Danes sometimes add eggs to the mix so that it sticks to their body too.

This Danish tradition dates back hundreds of years when salesmen selling spices would often travel around but in the process would be left single. Long periods of travel reduced their chances to settle down with a good partner. This cinnamon-attack tradition still exists because Danes are always looking for a reason to prank and party with others.

Whether you find these traditions absurd or not, cross-cultural understanding and appreciation is paramount if you want to get along with the locals there. Learning more about the people you’ll be living and working with will mean that you’ll be accepted into their lives much faster and enjoy wonderful, shared experiences while living in their land.


Disclaimer: The stories are a work of fiction based on facts. Identies and details may have been altered to suit the narrative.