18 Cultural Oddities: Customs That Confuse Outsiders

Discover the intriguing practices that bewilder those not familiar with them, shedding light on the diversity of our global customs.

“In Canada, we put maple syrup on snow and wait for it to get all gooey then we eat it.”

“In Denmark our way of caring for our children baffles a lot of foreigners. i.e. we find it natural to leave them unattended, they are left in their prams to nap basically everywhere, usually outside no matter what time of the year it is.”

“Throwing cheese down a hill then running after it. (England)”

“Thirty days of confinement to a room in your house after having a baby and only leaving to go to the doctor. (Native American)”

“In the UK, its definitely how we treat our friends. At uni quite a few people, especially Americans got pissed at me for insulting them. That’s just how we act. Only worry when we’re being polite.”

“We let cheese melt, throw some schnaps in there and eat it with bread cubes on a long fork.

Oh and if your bread falls off the fork you’ll have to do some silly stuff like sing a song or jump naked in the snow… (Switzerland)”

“Apparently white gravy is a thing that’s not very common outside of southern America…”

“We call flip-flops ‘thongs’ and erasers ‘rubbers’. (Australia)”

“In Bulgaria we nod for No and shake for Yes. This doesn’t make us an impression but foreigners get really, really confused.

Tip: Listen to what we say, not how we move our head. :)”

“The fact gum is illegal here in Singapore may be odd to foreigners, but there’s a reason for that. The reason being people constantly spitting gum onto the ground, sticking it on cars and elevator buttons, making everywhere you went covered in gum. And when the gum dried up, it would become very hard to remove.”

“We have like a whole years worth of child leave here in Sweden and are encouraged to split between the parents, so there is lots of dads at the park with their kids.

Heard an American ask what was up with all the ‘mannys’?”

“In Iran it is common to say no out of politeness when offered something. Only if the other person asks again will you say yes. Actually, you might even say no multiple times.

Cab drivers will do this too for instance. You ask how much you owe them and they’ll say something along the lines of “oh don’t worry it’s worth nothing” to which you then reply by insisting on paying. Only then will they tell you the price and bla bla bla.”

“Eating fries covered with cheese curd and gravy. (Canada)”

“Colombia: Putting cheese in our hot chocolate. You put in a bit of cheese in the cup, it melts and you take it out with a spoon and eat it with bread. No, it doesn’t make your chocolate taste cheesy, it just melts in a nice way.

The first time I did this with foreigners they were completely beside themselves.”

“In the UK we don’t have one tap spout in a sink that you control the temperature of. We have two separate spouts: one hot that strips the flesh from your bones and one cold that gives you frost bite.”

“In Belgium we have neighborhoods where 90% of the people living there speak French yet they are forced to speak Dutch in all official capacities unless they specifically ask for French after the fact. Call the police, they speak Dutch first, then you have to ask them to speak French to you. Receive official documents from the community? In Dutch first, then you have to ask for them in French.

And that’s really just the tip of the iceberg.”

“At the longest day of the year, everyone has to gather in a large field and jam a large wooden p***s covered in flowers into the ground. Then we dance around it. Historically this was to ensure a plentiful harvest but nowadays it’s just an excuse to get drunk. (Sweden)”

“Kissing people on the cheek (even the one you don’t know personally) to say hello. (Lots of countries)”

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