Here are 25 of the weirdest and most fascinating etiquettes around the world.
1. Kiss the bread that is dropped on the floor
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.
2. Don’t eat with your hands
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
3. Don’t ask for extra cheese
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.
4. Don’t show up on time or early
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.
5. Don’t refill your own glass
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.
6. Slurp your food to show appreciation
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.
7. Don’t show the soles of your feet in public
Talk about starting off on the wrong foot. In Tanzania, showing the soles of your feet is considered offensive.
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.
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.
11. Don’t hug, just kiss
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.
11. Don’t chew gum in public
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.
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
13. Answer the phone with your last name, instead of ‘hello’
Saying hello is considered a bad telephone etiquette in Netherlands where is customary to start a call with your last name.
14. Always accept tea
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.
15. Drink vodka neat
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.”
16. Don’t ask for salt
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.
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.
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.
19. Don’t clink your glass when toasting
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.
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.
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.
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.
23. After a toast, empty your glass in one sip
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.
24. Eat tacos with your hands
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.
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.