North Seattle Community College
Here are some unusual customs that you may find useful when hanging
out with your friends or traveling in other countries. Remember,
not everyone from these cultures follows these norms, but they are
Japanese people bow instead of shaking
hands upon meeting someone.
Bulgarians shake their haeads when they
agree with something and nod if they disagree.
Noisy eating in Chinese culture signifies
that the food is being enjoyed.
Japanese people always trade business
cards and treat the cards with respect.
If you admire an object in a Middle Eastern
home, the host may feel obligated to offer it to you even if it is of
special value to him, so don't praise an object for too long in
In Armenia, legend has it that if you are
a woman and do not eat everything on your plate, you will marry an
The number 4 is bad luck in Korea and China.
If you are in an elevator in either one of those countries, you may
see the letter "F" instead of "4" in floor
numbers. Some apartments skip the number 4, so you may have room
numbers 102, 103, and 105 but not 104. The number 4 is
considered to be very lucky in Thailand!
Other lucky numbers are the number 8 in China and the number 7 in the US.
Tibetans clap their hands to scare away
When Koreans visit friends who just moved
to new home, they usually buy soap as a housewarming gift.
The hope is that the friends will get rich as quickly as the soap
bubbles will form.
In Chile, holding the palm upward and
then spreading the fingers signals that someone is dumb.
In many regions of the world, people wear black clothes or armbands to
show that they are in mourning; Muslims
In Columbia, tapping the underside of the
elbow with the fingers of the other hand suggests that someone is
When Arabs receive gifts, it is a custom
not to open it in front of the giver. The same is expected when
they give someone else a gift.
Leather gifts are taboo items in Indian
tradition. This is because many Indians consider the cow a
sacred animal and do not eat beef.
Also in India, it is inappropriate to use
of the left hand when eating.
The American OK sign means money in Korea
because the sign looks like a coin.
It is customary for Egyptians, if offered
anything, to refuse the first invitation and accept it only upon
To express appreciation, a Brazilian may
pinch his earlobe between thumb and forefinger.
Do not use your left hand when giving or receiving a business card,
gift, or envelope in Tanzania.
To beckon someone in Guatemala, extend
your arm, palm down and move your fingers in a scratching motion.
In the US, you keep your palm up and do
the same motion.
In Saudi Arabia, avoid showing the sole
of your shoe to someone as the sole is considered the lowest and
dirties part of the body.
Now you know just a few customs from
around the world that might make your travel and communication easier!
Thank you all for your submissions.