20 Customs That Remain a Mystery to Newcomers but Are Absolutely Ordinary for Locals

It might seem like the modern world doesn’t have too many mysteries left. But in many parts of the world, people still respect the old customs. Some traditions are kept only in small towns, while others are still very much alive in the entire country. While some practices are confusing, other sound so amusing that we’d like to try them or at least see them with our own eyes.

  • UK here. Not even sure where to start. It’s considered proper to not fasten the bottom button on your waistcoat. This is because King Edward 7th was getting too fat to fasten his—so he started the custom. © Unknown author / Reddit
  • In Sweden, leaving your dishes on the table of a café and leaving is considered inappropriate in most cases. You are expected to take them to a shelf yourself. © Chris Ebbert / Quora
  • In the Netherlands, we have birthday parties like this. In the living room we organize a circle of chairs with a coffee table in the center. There are 2 time slots: for friends and for family. Guests upon arriving congratulate the birthday boy or girl and hand over presents. Then they are taking empty chairs and stay there till the end of the party. In the evening, the cycle is repeated again with the other group. The weekend after that, you can invite your close friends to come over and have the real party. © briefnuts / Reddit
  • We have a weird Christmas in Hungary. Only the parents are buying presents, they are all under a tree, and we are not gifting each other. Presents are opened on Christmas Eve, not the 1st Christmas Day, and the two Christmas Days are not being celebrated often. © thatajmek / Reddit
  • In Australian rural towns, we all had our back doors unlocked; and friends are allowed to go through the back door and make themselves a cup of tea or coffee while they wait for you to get back from whatever you were doing. © Captain_Coco_Koala / Reddit
  • On Saturday in Japan, over a hundred people lined up at 9:00 am. First one hundred get a ticket. At 10:30 we all line up again. One at a time, we draw a number, 1 to 5. Then we go over to a big basin of rice and take as many scoops as the number we drew. You are encouraged to make each scoop heaping. This is not a food bank thing, just the promise of “good rice” draws a crowd. © son_of_volmer / Reddit
  • In Eifel, Germany, on the night of the 1st of May, people paint a long line from one house to another. The line means that someone in these households is having an affair. Every year, several relationships break up because of this. © definetly_not_a_duck / Reddit
  • I live in the western part of Germany, and we set up decorated trees or styrofoam hearts at our crush’s house in the night from April 30th to May 1st. © unknown author / Reddit
  • I suppose Wakes in Ireland would be considered quite odd to different cultures — at least the way we do them. The deceased relative stays in the family home, usually in the living room or bedroom, and are visited by friends and neighbors right up till the day of the funeral. You don’t leave the dead alone, you make sure they have company until the priest finishes the deal. © Mary Lea / Quora
  • In Iceland, it is absolutely normal to announce loudly when a person goes to the toilet and ask if he or she has permission to do so. © Sarah Stone / Quora
  • On Easter, we spray water or perfume on women. So they continue to grow, apparently. After that, males receive sweets. I live in the Czech Republic. © Feliencz / Reddit
  • In the northern regions of India, calling someone a cow is a compliment. I’ve heard a lot of older people saying things like the following: “She’s so kind and helpful. Doesn’t even expect anything in return. She’s such a cow.” That’s because calling a person a cow here means that he or she is innocent and selfless. © Parth Dutt / Quora
  • I am Nigerian. People here do not cross over other people’s legs because it is said that if you let someone do it, then your child would look like the person who crossed over your legs. © Lord_Zinyak / Reddit
  • In Spain, we’ve been doing a special ritual on New Year’s Eve for at least a century. At midnight, with every toll of the bell, we eat a grape. Every single person in the country does this. It has even sprouted a saying for when you’re running late for something: “We’re going to have to eat the grapes here.” © unknown author / Reddit
  • I grew up in Aalst, a city of about 120,000 cynical souls in between Brussels and Ghent. Our town is organizing Carnival festivities yearly. This day men dress up as women and go around the city yelling at people, spraying with garlic spray, kissing whomever they please, etc. (Aalst is known for its carnival festivities, celebrated every year before Lent — CHEERY). © William Peynsaert / Quora
  • In Argentina, there is a mate ritual, where the same bombilla (straw) is passed between participants (don’t ever try to clean the bombilla, it’s extremely rude). © Gerardo Arceri / Quora
  • In Nigeria, it is normal to attend a wedding without a formal invitation. Formal invitations are for strangers and dignitaries. Your friends, neighbors, co-workers, siblings’ friends and coworkers, parents’ colleagues get to come without any invitation. © Abigail Abby Abok / Quora
  • In Canada, we apologize to inanimate objects after running into them. Nobody knows why we do this. We just do. © skywolfe666 / Reddit
  • In Bremen (Northern Germany) you have to sweep the stairs of the local cathedral if you’re still not married on your 30th birthday. © Alex Neuenfeld / Quora
  • In some parts of Scotland, each year there’s an event where a giant wheel of cheese gets rolled down a hill and people chase it. First person to catch the cheese gets to keep it. © 50ShadesOfA***Trips / Reddit

Do you have any unusual traditions in your town or country?

Cheery/Travel/20 Customs That Remain a Mystery to Newcomers but Are Absolutely Ordinary for Locals
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