15 Social Practices That Are Totally Normal in Other Cultures


People in different countries do a lot of things…well, differently than we do here in the USA. That’s why it’s important to be respectful and observe before you act when you’re in a foreign nation. And by the way, I’m sure people who come here think we do a lot of things that are odd as well.

AskReddit users shared the social mores they’ve seen in other countries that made them think twice.

1. Hungarian weddings

“At Hungarian weddings, around midnight (of an all-night party) the bride and groom will disappear, and then reappear some time later with the bride having changed from her white dress into a red one. Then the wedding emcee will basically announce that there is one less girl in the world and one more woman, and essentially now that she’s no longer a girl she can dance with anyone for money.

Then the wedding guests basically put money in a hat to have a brief time to dance with the bride, and if you put a lot of money in you can even request the song. (At traditional, huge weddings this would even go on so long that groomsmen would show up wearing drag to ‘pretend’ to be the bride and give the poor woman a break!)

I can’t say I have ever heard of other modern cultures celebrating the consummation of the wedding short of nomadic tribes or something similar.”

2. Another wedding ritual

“There’s a tradition at Orthodox Jewish weddings where directly after the ceremony (like between the ceremony and the reception), the bride and groom go into a special room for ‘Yichud’ (togetherness behind closed doors between a man and a woman alone, which is forbidden unless you’re married).

The assumption is that they bang (which, traditionally and among practicing Orthodox people, would be the first time that happens), and then they just come out and dance with their friends/family, with everyone holding the knowledge that ostensibly they just made love.”

3. I don’t think this would fly here

“In the United Kingdom, if a waitress or waiter drops a plate, or smashes a glass in a restaurant, at least one person (and often many people) in the restaurant will shout ‘WHEEEYYYYYYYYY.’ In effect, deliberately highlighting their mistake with a loud, sarcastic jeer.

It’s not all that clear why this happens, but it just does, and I don’t think it would be acceptable in most other countries.”

4. Not young anymore

“I am Korean (Canadian), and it is poor taste to not appropriately address someone by a title like ‘big sister (Noona)’ or ‘auntie (Ajumma).’ While auntie has more respect than big sister, calling someone auntie instead of big sister is not great either. When I was in my mid-20s, I had Korean neighbors down the hall from me in my apartment complex; a young couple with a cute little boy.

He would get restless and want to walk up and down the halls with his mom at least once a day.

One day, I said hello to his mom, and she told her son to say hi. He bowed a little and said, ‘Hi Auntie.’ Our jaws dropped and his mom immediately started correcting him to say ‘Big Sister.’ He looked at me and continued to call me auntie, while his mom was apologizing to me for not calling me ‘Big Sister.’

That was the day when I realized I wasn’t young anymore and to accept the fact that I will be called ‘Ajumma’ instead of ‘Noona’ or ‘Unni (big sister to a girl).'”

5. Japan

“My professor taught in Japan, and he would speak of his time there quite often. Some of this might not be true as its a second-hand story, but still. In Japan, it’s impolite and childish to expect to be able to tell a chef ‘no tomato please’ or ‘no onions’ or anything like that.

If you want food without onions, you should order something that doesn’t contain onions. You can pick the onions off but people find that childish too.

Even though he lived there for seven years, he was still described as ‘that foreigner.’

Even by his close friends or neighbors. Assimilation into their culture is nigh impossible, they’d prefer you to conform to their idea of an American foreigner. Walk around not knowing where you’re going while wearing a USA baseball cap and eating a hot dog.

Also, apparently, it’s incredibly insulting to use your hand the classic ‘come hither’ motion.

Palms facing up and waving your fingers towards yourself. That is something you’d do to a dog. You’re supposed to have your palm facing the ground in Japan.”

6. Taking care of each other

“In Asia, it’s a custom to live with your parents when you’re the sole earner and supporting the whole family in a house bought by your own money.

In my country and culture, the parents support kids until they get a job and then it’s the kids’ responsibility to support their parents.”

7. ‘Auntie’

“”I used to have my hair cut by a Vietnamese woman. There was a new stylist at the shop, and Minh (my stylist) was fretting about having been very rude to her by accident. She said she had been addressing her as someone her own age, instead of something akin to ‘Auntie’ (the new woman was older).

I said that most women consider it a compliment to be mistaken as younger than they are, but Minh felt very bad and was slinking around all apologetically that day.”

8. Alright

“When I moved to England three years ago, I initially had a very odd time getting used to a certain custom. All of my colleagues were like ‘Alright?’ every time they saw me, even multiple times a day.

At first, I found it a little annoying, but as time went by, I started to like it.

It was so weird having people acknowledge me even though they don’t mean it.

But I guess it’s better than passing by in silence pretending that is not another human being walking towards you, like in my country.”

9. Rude

“A friend from South Korea said that asking someone’s age is one of the first things you do when meeting them (so you know how formally to speak with them).

Logically, it makes sense, but I can’t imagine walking up to someone I’ve never met before and asking how old they are.

It’d be awfully rude.”

10. Smooches

“In Argentina, we have a tradition to greet people with a kiss on the cheek. I once met a guy who was asking if his girlfriend was cheating on him because a friend gave her a kiss in front of him. It would be awkward to greet a woman or a male friend with anything else than a kiss in the cheek here.”

11. Sit up front

“In Canada, we feel super rude if we sit in the back seat of a cab when we’re alone. Actually, even in a group, there’s usually one person delegated as the ‘front seat person.’

The front seat person handles the payment and makes small talk with the cab driver.

This isn’t normal elsewhere?”

12. That is messed up

“I lived in Korea for three years, and once I learned the language, I found out people were saying terrible things about me everywhere I went.

When I would confront them, they would be shocked that I understood them, but they would never apologize.

In fact, some of them would be angry that I was able to understand and talk to them as if a language isn’t something that you can learn.”

13. Only do it if you mean it

“I learned that you should never invite someone over in Chile unless you really want them to show up.

By inviting your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, the lady who cleans your parents’ house, her family, the bus driver, that person you met three years ago at an indigenous people issues seminar and his wife to an ‘asado’ (bbq) at your place, you should expect that every single one of those people will show up.”

14. Fill ‘er up

“I went on an orchestra trip to France as a kid. While I was there, I stayed at peoples’ homes. During one of my stays, I was definitely given adult beverages.

After convincing this woman we shouldn’t really be having such drinks, she said, ‘okay,’ and gave me some hard cider instead.

After realizing that was spiked as well, we just gave up and went with it.”

15. Insulting

“While tipping is a custom in much of the world, the practice is very socially unacceptable in Japan. Most Japanese consider it insulting as if you are saying, ‘Your job is so pathetic I pity you, have some money from someone with a real job.'”