Skip Navigation

Local Customs You've Found Strange/Interesting...

Travel Forums General Talk Local Customs You've Found Strange/Interesting...

Page

Last Post

11. Posted by julesfsmit (Full Member 1 posts) 7y

hi there!

I've been travelling to many different countries but one of the strangest cultural traditions I have found is actually in my home country, South Africa. And this tradition occurs with certain women in the Western Cape, predominantly the Cape Coloured culture. Some women have their front teeth removed and this is known in laymen's terms as a "passion gap". It's not 100% certain what the reason is for this drastic bit of dental work, there are many speculations as I'm sure you can imagine from the nickname given! However, I think it is generally meant to increase their attractiveness to men. Oh yes, and other people say it could be due to lots of tooth decay, but I prefer deducting my own conclusions from the nickname!

See the definition below from a medical journal that I found online:

'Passion gap' - a term used in the western Cape Province for removal of the top four incisor teeth, a practice widespreadamong members ot the Cape Coloured community

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Sep-2009, at 06:39 by julesfsmit ]

12. Posted by Calcruzer (Moderator 1989 posts) 7y

In Brasil, it is common for everyone to go to the beach at midnight on December 31st and toss gifts (offerings) into the water (in a deep portion of the ocean). If the gifts drift out to sea, then the belief is that they are being accepted and the next year will go well for you, while if the gifts all come directly back to shore, then it means that the gifts are possibly not perfect and that the next year may or may not go so well).

Also, in Brasil, the sign that is used in the US to mean "okay" means something completely different. There it means "you're an a--hole". I understand this is also true in some other South American countries.

A few other things that are weird is their "figa" symbol that indicates good luck. (Putting the thumb between the index and second finger and forming a fist). Also, their belief that if you spill wine (inadvertently only) then that will bring you good luck. They also believe that the last of any wine bottle should go to one of the beautiful women in the room and never to a guy. (I believe in this one myself and have followed it ever since being in Brasil).

13. Posted by zaksame (Respected Member 571 posts) 7y

These are great guys, well done. You have to just love all these little snippets from countries you may never visit. It really help with forming a mental image of a place without having been there - even more so than reading glossy magazines etc.

Is there anyone out there who has made a 'Cultural Mistake' - things like patting people's heads in Thailand, or not reading a Japanese person's business card properly?

Keep them coming, they're great so far.

14. Posted by Peter (Admin 5789 posts) 7y

Quoting BedouinLeo

In Albania it is an honour to have a lamb slaughtered at your dining room table and for you to get blood stains on your clothing as it happens.

In Albania, they also shake their head to indicate "yes" and nod to indicate "no". Most confusing thing ever!!

15. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

Quoting Peter

Quoting BedouinLeo

In Albania it is an honour to have a lamb slaughtered at your dining room table and for you to get blood stains on your clothing as it happens.

In Albania, they also shake their head to indicate "yes" and nod to indicate "no". Most confusing thing ever!!

The same is so in Bulgaria.

16. Posted by RachelChai (Budding Member 5 posts) 7y

When I was in Australia and New Zealand, every time I said "Thank You," their response would almost always be "It's alright." I was completely puzzled as I was thinking that they were not satisfied with what I said or what I did. Apparently, I learned that's Australian's and New Zealander's way of saying "You're welcome." It's amazing by the fact that Americans speak the same language as the Australians and New Zealanders, but there are different expressions!

Also, when I was in New Zealand, I said, "I'm pissed!" My friend who is a native of New Zealand told me to be careful about saying this expression because in New Zealand, it means, "I'm drunk." Woooops!

In France, instead of using a knife to pick up the food with a fork, they use bread instead!

Also, even though I've never been to Japan, I thought this article about one of the customs is very interesting! - http://sivers.org/jadr

17. Posted by zaksame (Respected Member 571 posts) 7y

Quoting Rachelchai

When I was in Australia and New Zealand, every time I said "Thank You," their response would almost always be "It's alright." I was completely puzzled as I was thinking that they were not satisfied with what I said or what I did. Apparently, I learned that's Australian's and New Zealander's way of saying "You're welcome." It's amazing by the fact that Americans speak the same language as the Australians and New Zealanders, but there are different expressions!

Also, when I was in New Zealand, I said, "I'm pissed!" My friend who is a native of New Zealand told me to be careful about saying this expression because in New Zealand, it means, "I'm drunk." Woooops!

Thanks for that Rachel. Just a word of advice, if you ever make it to Ireland, we use the very same expressions here. Thanks for taking the time. If you come across any weird customs on your travels make sure to post them here.

[ Edit: Edited on 11-Sep-2009, at 08:43 by zaksame ]

18. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Quoting RachelChai

Also, when I was in New Zealand, I said, "I'm pissed!" My friend who is a native of New Zealand told me to be careful about saying this expression because in New Zealand, it means, "I'm drunk." Woooops!

I have to watch that one when I visit the inlaws in Ireland. That and "I'm full"--which for them means "I'm drunk" (as opposed to "I'm full up" which means "I'm stuffed"). And the whole pants/trousers confusion... yikes!

I like cultures where men greet one another with a kiss on the cheek. In Quebec, we greet each other with a double-cheek kiss, but 2 men will still shake hands. I like seeing those big, macho Italian guys in Little Italy smack a doozie on each other's cheeks. So masculine and yet it says so much about how they care for each other.

19. Posted by BedouinLeo (Inactive 698 posts) 7y

In the north of England when eating a roast dinner, many people traditionally all their vegetables before they start on the meat.

20. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 7y

Quoting BedouinLeo

In the north of England when eating a roast dinner, many people traditionally all their vegetables before they start on the meat.

I knew someone who would eat each bit of their dinner one part at a time--say, potatoes first, then meat, then veggies. Always thought that was really weird...