Weird etiquette rules around the world

EntertainmentFeatured

Written by:

When it comes to social etiquette, it seems that the devil is in each culture’s details. Every country has its own social rules and manners, and what one man considers rude may be appropriate for another.

Here are 25 of the weirdest and most fascinating etiquettes around the world.

Afghan bread
Sohrab Omar/iStock

1. Kiss the bread that is dropped on the floor

Country: Afghanistan

Being butterfingered in Afghanistan comes with an intriguing ritual.

A bread dropped on the floor should be picked up, kissed, put to one’s forehead, and then placed on the side. In Islam, food is seen as a gift from God, and wasting it is considered a sin.

Hungry Woman with Knife and Fork Ready to Eat
nicoletaionescu/iStock

2. Don’t eat with your hands

Country: Chile

When it comes to paying respect to food, Chileans go the complete opposite way. In Chile, touching the food you eat is considered a faux pas and very unsanitary. Everything, even french fries, should be eaten with utensils.

Related slideshow: 30 etiquette rules that nobody should ever break again

Waiter is adding grated cheese to pasta -
Kondor83/iStock

3. Don’t ask for extra cheese

Country: Italy

You don’t need to be a superfood to know that Italians take their food seriously. So, when in Italy, don’t ask for extra cheese on anything. This is considered a culinary sin in the food-loving country.

Kondor83
Olivier Le Moal/iStock

4. Don’t show up on time or early

Country: Canada

Being tardy is frowned upon almost everywhere except in Canada, where showing up early or on time is considered bad. However, being late more than 15 minutes is also considered rude.

Refill
Poike/iStock

5. Don’t refill your own glass

Country: Egypt

In Egypt, refilling your own glass is considered rude. If your glass is half full or empty, you should wait for the host to refill it.

Woman enjoy her bowl of noodles
anon-tae/iStock

6. Slurp your food to show appreciation

Country: Japan

Slurping is generally considered an annoying and rude habit. Not in Japan, though. Slurping food loudly means you enjoy the meal, and it’s a sign that you appreciate the chef’s work. The louder you are slurping, the greater the thanks.

Bottom view of callused feet
kbycphotography/iStock

7. Don’t show the soles of your feet in public

Country: Tanzania

Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. In Tanzania, showing the soles of your feet is considered offensive.

Happy young Women group Eating hot pot
Tomwang112/iStock

9. Burp loudly to show you liked the food

Country: China, Taiwan

While burping on the table is an unforgivable faux pas almost everywhere in the world, in China and Taiwan is the highest form of flattery—it means you like the food.

Culinary Gourmet Party
simonapilolla/iStock

10. Eat only with your right hand

Country: India, Nepal, Middle East, Egypt

In Middle Eastern countries, as well as in India and parts of Africa, eating with your hand is the norm, but make sure it’s the right hand. Literally, the right hand. In these countries, the left hand is used for self-cleaning, so it should stay away from food.

Friends kissing
DGLimages/iStock

11. Don’t hug, just kiss

Country: France

Apparently, the nation that trademarked kissing isn’t big on hugging. In France, people don’t hug to say hi. They rarely hug at all. In fact, there is no verb in French that means “to hug.” It is customary, though, to do a cheek kiss to say hi. At least it was, pre-Covid when kissing was not considered a health hazard.

Chewing gum
Sergii Gnatiuk/iStock

11. Don’t chew gum in public

Country: Singapore

In Singapore, chewing gum is not only a bad manner, it is also against the law, as the country has banned chewing gum in 1992 in an attempt to keep the streets clean.

Nose kiss
PeopleImages/iStock

12. Kiss on nose for greeting

Country: United Arab Emirates, Oman

Here’s another pre-Covid greeting etiquette. Known as khashm-makh, nose-to-nose kiss is a tried-and-true way of saying hello in countries like Oman and the United Arab Emirates.This  custom symbolizes respect and pride among Arab men.

Related slideshow: 12 things you should never, ever do in a restaurant

Woman laughing while talking on phone
Ridofranz/iStock

13. Answer the phone with your last name, instead of ‘hello’

Country: Netherlands

Saying hello is considered a bad telephone etiquette in Netherlands where is customary to start a call with your last name.

Tea
DepositPhotos.com

14. Always accept tea

Country: Kenya

In Kenya, you should always accept tea or coffee offered to you, even if you just take a few sips. If your cup is less than half full, it will always be refilled.

Vodka
Miguel Tamayo Diaz/iStock

15. Drink vodka neat

Country: Russia

When in Russia, steer clear from ordering Bloody Mary or any other vodka-based cocktail. Russians drink their vodka neat. Adding a mixer, including ice is seen as polluting vodka’s purity. Beer is the only exception, which when mixed with vodka produces a drink known as “yorsh.”

Salt
Deposit Photos

16. Don’t ask for salt

Country: Portugal

You won’t find salt and pepper shakers in any Portuguese restaurant, and you shouldn’t ask for them. Asking for more salt is considered bad restaurant etiquette in Portugal, implying you were served unseasoned and bland food.

Leaving a tip
LuckyBusiness/iStock

17. Steer clear from tipping

Country: Japan, South Korea, China and Hong Kong

While tipping is encouraged in many countries, in some Asian countries, it is seen as a rude gesture. The Japanese believe that if the staff does a good job for an establishment, customers will return.

Women talking
fizkes/iStock

18. Avoid eye contact when talking

Country: Vietnam, China, Hong Kong, South Korea

While, western cultures consider eye contact a good maner, in some parts of the world eye contact is frowned upon. For example, in China you keep eye contact with someone only when you are angry.While in Vietnam, eye contact is a sign that you are attracted to the person.

Toasting with cocktails
Age Barros/iStock

19. Don’t clink your glass when toasting

Country: Hungary

Avoid clinking your glasses when toasting in Hungary. Hungary frowns upon this practice, connected to the 1849 execution of Hungary’s 13 Martyrs of Arad. The legend says Austrian generals celebrated the death of Hungarian revolutionaries by clinking their beer glasses.

Inuit woman
IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock

20. Pass gas after a good meal

Country: Inuit Tribes

Letting one rip is usually one of the biggest social faux pas everywhere. However, if you are planning to visit an Inuit tribe anytime soon, feel free to break wind after a meal, as this culture treats flatulence as a compliment to the chef.

Port wine
Maksym Kaharlytskyi/iStock

21. Pass the port to the left

Country: United Kingdom

It is customary in England to pass port continuously to the left side of the table until it is finished. Some say it has to do with naval tradition – if you’re facing the helm, the port side is on your left – but the real reason is unclear.

Korean family eating a dinner
monkeybusinessimages/iStock

22. Wait to eat until the eldest person has started

Country: South Korea

In South Korea, it’s impolite to start eating before the eldest person at the table, no matter how hungry you are. In Korean culture, elders are highly respected.

Glasses of wine
Vershinin/iStock

23. After a toast, empty your glass in one sip

Country: Georgia

The toasting process in Georgia lasts for hours. Each person at the table makes a toast before taking a big gulp from their glasses. Once everyone has made a toast, the circle is recirculated. Georgians typically consume 10 to 15 (small) glasses of wine or vodka in an evening.

Eating a taco
Marcos Elihu Castillo Ramirez/iStock

24. Eat tacos with your hands

Country: Mexico

Never eat a taco with utensils. Especially if you are in Mexico — the birthplace of tacos. It’s impolite to eat the dish  with fork and knife.

 

 

 

 

Okay sign
evgenyatamanenko/iStock

25. Don’t do the “Okay” sign

Country: Germany, Turkey,  most of South America

Much of the world is not okay with the “okay” sign (touching thumb and forefinger to make a circle). It is considered an insult in Germany and most of South America—similar to giving someone the finger in the United States.

AlertMe