Locals reveal traditions in their country that tourists find BIZARRE09/12/2023
Locals reveal things that are normal in their country but seem BIZARRE to tourists, from nodding your head for ‘not’ in Bulgaria to drive-through daiquiri shops in the U.S
- A Reddit user quizzed people about unusual customs in their native countries
- Hundreds of comments came in, with themes including parenting and politeness
- READ MORE: You’ve been drinking tequila all wrong! Here’s why…
Experiencing different cultures is part of the magic of travelling.
But some have the potential to leave tourists scratching their heads, thanks to bizarre local customs.
Commenters took to online forum Ask Reddit to reveal some of the choicest examples after user ‘LifeOnMarsden’ posed the question: ‘What is totally normal in your country that would be really bizarre to foreigners or tourists?’
The discussion, which has gained thousands of comments since it began, recently resurfaced online.
Getting the ball rolling, ‘chillphilsonthegrill’ said: ‘In Canada, we put maple syrup on snow and wait for it to get all gooey, then we eat it.’
People took to Reddit to answer the question: ‘What is totally normal in your country that would be really bizarre to foreigners or tourists?’
Explaining how this is done, fellow Redditor ‘truecdn’ added: ‘You basically make a mound of snow and cut a trench in it, then pour the hot syrup into it and the snow cools it. Then, when it’s still gooey, you roll it onto a stick and eat it off the stick.’
Sharing another peculiar foodie tradition,’seeyouyeah’ suggested: ‘Throwing cheese down a hill then running after it.’
The comment, which earned 788 upvotes, refers to the Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake event in Gloucestershire, England, where competitors roll a cheese wheel down a steep hill and the first person to cross the finish line wins.
In another food-focused comment, ‘Azel’ said: ‘In Cambodia, there’s this food called “Happy Pizza”. It’s a pizza with marijuana on it.’
While ‘molecularpotet’ shared how, in Colombia, people put cheese in hot chocolate.
In Canada, it’s traditional to eat maple syrup that’s been solidified on blocks of snow
They explained: ‘You put in a bit of cheese in the cup, it melts, and you take it out with a spoon and eat it with bread. No, it doesn’t make your chocolate taste cheesy, it just melts in a nice way… the first time I did this with foreigners they were completely beside themselves.’
And while it’s not a foodie custom per se, chewing gum is banned in Singapore – a rule that locals find ‘odd’, Reddit user ‘Im_Tsuikyit’ revealed.
Sharing the story behind the ban, which was implemented in 1992, they said: ‘The fact gum is illegal here in Singapore may be odd to foreigners, but there’s a reason for that. The reason being, people [were] constantly spitting gum onto the ground, sticking it on cars and elevator buttons, making everywhere you went covered in gum. And when the gum dried up, it would become very hard to remove.’
One Reddit user shared how, in Colombia, people put cheese in hot chocolate
Also in Singapore, ‘bluezebra1990’ said that in food halls, coffee shops and food courts, you can ‘reserve a table or a seat by placing a packet of tissue or a handkerchief on the spot’.
They added: ‘No need to leave my bag or bottle or anything else to reserve the spot before I walk over to a food stall to buy food. I come back and my 20-cent packet of tissue is still there.’
And quirky customs extend to drinking too. Offering insight into a Russian tradition, Reddit user ‘Skordge’ revealed it’s customary to put ‘liquor bottles under the table when you finish them, because there’s a superstition about empty bottles on a table bringing bad luck’. They added: ‘You follow it even if you don’t believe it because you never know if anyone drinking with you actually does and takes offence.’
Several users, meanwhile, pointed out that ‘clamanto juice’ – clam juice and tomato juice – is frequently mixed into beer in Canada and Mexico. ‘It’s a “hangover cure” but I’ve had it and it might be the most repulsive thing ever,’ user ‘thatdrunkgirl’ commented.
And user ‘DrUnce’ revealed that drive-through daiquiri shops are an unusual custom in the U.S. The cocktails are served in closed containers, so they can’t be sipped while driving.
Another common theme in the discussion was different countries’ approaches to parenting. For instance, ‘Zrina94’ said Denmark’s approach to caring for children ‘baffles a lot of foreigners’.
They explained: ‘We find it natural to leave them unattended. They are left in their prams to nap basically everywhere, usually outside, no matter what time of the year it is.’
‘Rimana2015’ replied that it’s customary for children to be left to nap outside in Finland as well.
Drive-through daiquiri shops are an unusual custom in the U.S. Above is one in Harahan, Louisiana, in 2021. Image courtesy of Creative Commons
Thanking the bus driver is a custom that’s popular in Ireland, but can confuse visitors from other countries, one Redditor suggested. Pictured above is a bus in Dublin
The Cooper’s Hill Cheese-Rolling and Wake event in Gloucestershire, England, where competitors roll a cheese wheel down a steep hill and the first person to cross the finish line wins
Sharing a parenting custom of the Ute people, an indigenous tribe in the U.S, ‘nativehoneybaby’ said that it’s traditional for new mothers to be confined to a room in their homes for 30 days after having a baby, only leaving to go to the doctor.
The Reddit user, who explained they are Ute themselves, said that ‘it’s to help the baby identify where his/her home is’.
Manners and politeness are other topics that seem to underpin intriguing local customs.
Irish Reddit user ‘Madra_ruax’ suggested that the custom of ‘thanking the bus driver’ can confuse visitors from other countries. They said: ‘If I don’t thank them, I think that [the bus drivers] think I’m rude.’ Another UK-based Reddit user admitted this is commonplace in Britain too.
Sharing a custom in Iran, ‘Sunchild21’ said ‘it is common to say “no” out of politeness’ when you are offered something.
They explained: ‘Only if the other person asks again will you say yes. Cab drivers will do this too for instance.
‘You ask how much you owe them and they’ll say something along the lines of “oh, don’t worry it’s worth nothing” to which you then reply by insisting on paying. Only then will they tell you the price.’
‘In Bulgaria, we nod for “no” and shake [our heads] for “yes”… foreigners get really, really confused,’ said one Reddit user. Above is a Bulgarian woman in traditional dress
One Reddit user revealed that flip-flops are called ‘jandals’ in New Zealand
User ‘EasyDeezy’ said: ‘In Bulgaria, we nod for “no” and shake [our heads] for “yes”… foreigners get really, really confused.’
And Reddit user ‘Skordge’ revealed that in Russia, it’s not customary to smile at strangers.
One unnamed user said the ‘no smiling’ practice also happens ‘in Eastern Europe and Scandinavia’, adding: ‘When we smile, it actually means something.’
Local festivals can baffle foreigners, the forum suggested. Reddit user ‘TommyTbone’ revealed that Swedes dance around a penis-shaped maypole that’s festooned with flowers to celebrate Midsummer each year. ‘Historically this was to ensure a plentiful harvest,’ they explain.
Other customs that can cause confusion are the different words used to describe the same thing, the forum highlighted.
Australian Reddit user ‘Imnotavegan’ said: ‘We call flip-flops “thongs” and erasers “rubbers”.’ User ‘guustavoalmadovar’ weighed in and said that flip-flops are called ‘jandals’ in New Zealand.
While ‘butterpopkorn’ said that in Malaysia, water is referred to as ‘sky juice’.
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