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10 Unusual Customs From Around the World

By HarryWednesday 12th March 2014

The world is a marvellous place, with so many weird and wonderful customs to discover and explore. We’ve put together our top 10 list of unusual customs to look out for as you cruise around the world.


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Etiquette is very important in Japan, from avoiding blowing your nose in public to how you greet people. The correct use of chopsticks is something many Japanese people find essential to eating out, so it’s impolite to get it wrong. To avoid any strange glares while enjoying a mountain of delicious sashimi, make sure that you don’t point them, play with them or stab them into your sushi. 


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Instead of saving their teeth and placing them under a pillow for the tooth fairy to collect, Greek children’s teeth are thrown on to the roof of their homes. This unusual tradition is thought to bring good luck for the family, as well as a healthy replacement tooth for the child!


Norwegians are another country big on cutlery etiquette, so it’s important to watch your table manners when calling at restaurants during your Fjord Cruise. It may seem a bit extreme to you and I, but knives and forks are seen as a must when eating out, even with a sandwich!


When dining with locals and exploring the city it’s tempting to give out gifts as a way of saying thank you. But, remember to avoid giving them the following gifts: clocks, handkerchiefs, shoes and anything white or black. They may seem like an innocent way of saying thank you for their lovely hospitality, but they’re each strongly associated with death and funerals. An alternative gift to pass on to your new companions is delicious sweets or fresh tea.


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This is probably one of the more unusual customs to look out for, but it’s also a lot of fun – especially for your kids! Every November, in the town of Lop Buri, the locals dish up platters of fresh fruit, cakes and candy on top of tables that line the streets. But these mouth-watering treats aren’t just for the people, they’re for the native Macaque monkeys to munch on. This slightly bizarre but wonderful celebration is called the Monkey Buffet Festival, and is a must-see on an Asia cruise to Thailand.


Another weird and wonderful holiday is the Spanish El Colacho, which dates all the way back to 1620. Men dressed as devils group together to run and jump over babies lying on a mattress in the middle of the road. Originally, this was seen as a way to cleanse babies of sin and prepare them for a healthy life, but we wouldn’t recommend doing this back home! 


The Satare-Mawe tribe in Brazil are more famously known for their painfully daring ways to prove their strength and bravery.  For 11 hours young boys showcase their courage by placing their hands into a woven basket full of angry bullet ants that nip and bite their hands. One bite is said to feel like you’re being shot – ouch!


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India is home to so many beautiful and captivating temples, that you’re bound to be tempted to visit during your call at Goa. Before you head over to explore these mesmerising places of worship, ensure that your legs and arms are covered, and that you remove your shoes before entering – simple etiquette that’ll make you a hit with the locals.


Back home flowers are a great way to show someone you care, and work perfectly as a thank you gift, but in Russia it’s a little more complicated than that. Yellow flowers are a no-go, as they symbolise infidelity and the ending of a relationship. We also recommend avoiding red Gilly flowers, as they’re often used in cemeteries.

South Korea

Writing postcards back home to brag about our amazing cruise holiday is one of our favourite things to do, but if you’re calling at South Korea you should try to avoid using red ink. Historically, red pens were used to list the names of those who had died, and nowadays people see this as a bit of a bad omen.

Do you like the sound of these?

Head over to our destinations page if you fancy travelling to see these unusual customs for yourself!

Do you know of any other strange and wonderful customs from around the world?

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