Writer Andre Gide once said “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” In other words, you can’t learn anything new and expand your horizons unless you’re willing to explore the unfamiliar, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Every country has its own cultural and social practices, and what we may see as beyond bonkers can be the norm somewhere else, and vice versa. Take a look at what is considered normal in some countries.
FINLAND: WIFE CARRYING IS A SPORT
Ouch! Well it’s safe to say that the Finnish certainly do know how to bond with their mates! In Finland, wife carrying is a recognized sport in which a man carries his wife around a track. You may think it’s bizarre, but every year the Wife Carrying World Championships takes place in Sonkajaervi, Finland. People come from all over the world from places like Japan and Russia to be a part of that, and who could blame them? Books next flight to Finland
EGYPT: THROW YOUR TEETH AT THE SUN
When kids in Egypt lose their teeth, the tradition is to wrap them in tissue, go outside, and throw it at the sun. They do this in the hopes the sun will give them better teeth. Chucking teeth at the sun is common practice in other Middle Eastern countries like Sudan, Iraq, and Palestine, but in countries like Brazil, Argentina, or the United States, we just spend a ton of money at the dentist’s office!
CHINA: KIDS POTTY TRAIN IN PUBLIC
Did you know that diapers aren’t a huge seller in China? Wanna know why? Because kids potty train in public! They wear little pants with slits in the back called kaidangku and when they need to do number one or two, they just do their thing on a nearby bush or lamppost. To us it may seem unhygienic and kind of gross, but to the Chinese it’s normal and teaches kids to control their movements faster. I wonder if they think pooping in diapers is weird?
THAILAND: DON’T FORGET YOUR UNDERWEAR
When people think of Thailand they tend to think of beautiful beaches, lady boys standing in every corner, and lots of partying in the beach. However, Thailand is actually a very conservative country, and tourists often find themselves in trouble for what we might think are minor things. For example, in Thailand it’s illegal to leave your house without your underwear on. Seriously. So if you were planning on pulling a Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan circa 2006 move, you might’ve ended up in jail!
SAUDI ARABIA: WOMEN NEED A MAN’S PERMISSION FOR EVERYTHING
In Saudia Arabia women live under the supervision of male guardianship. This means that they need a man’s permission to do most things that women living in other parts of the world, (aka, mostly everywhere!) are able to do freely. Activities like travelling and complaining to the police are restricted, and driving isn’t even allowed. Saudi feminists having been fighting for more rights, though, and just recently women were granted permission to vote, and to use government benefits such as healthcare and education without their guardian’s consent. Dial “Yes” for progress, am I right?
INDIA: THE RIGHT HAND IS MORE PURE
In India the left hand is considered the “dirty” hand because it’s the hand people use for cleaning themselves after using the toilet. As a result, eating and activities like exchanging money are done with the right hand. If you were to use your left hand you would definitely scandalize and offend people, which can be a riot, and not in the good way.
DENMARK: CELEBRATE WITH CINNAMON
Denmark is known as the happiest country in the world. They value family time, consider the home sacred, and love to eat food and drink a lot. In fact, the smiley citizens of Denmark love to please their taste buds so much, that one of the country’s most beloved traditions involves cinnamon! If you’re not married by the age of 25 in Denmark, friends and family will throw cinnamon on you. Sometimes people are tied to a pole but usually it ends with lots of drinks and laughs.
SLOVAKIA: EASTER IS FOR DRENCHING AND WHIPPING
No, this cultural practice wasn’t inspired by Fifty Shades of Grey, but rather by spring. In Slovakia on Easter Monday, men will douse women with cold water as a symbol of youth, health, and good fertility. Often, the girls and women will even be lightly whipped with thin willow branches and ribbons. Something tells me that the women probably don’t enjoy it as much as the men…
SINGAPORE: CHEWING GUM IS ILLEGAL
To North Americans, chewing gum is an activity that can be done practically anywhere, anytime. In fact, we have different brands, flavors, colors, and even bubblegum blowing competitions, thanks to the bubblegum gods! In Singapore, though, it’s illegal to sell or chew gum. The ban came into effect in 1992 when officials wanted to put a stop to people sticking their old, chewed gum everywhere. That’s definitely one way to make a city cleaner!
GERMANY: BEING UNMARRIED REQUIRES ALCOHOL
Not being married can be a good thing—you can date around, be a slob at home, and sleep in a bed all to yourself. In Germany, if you’re an unmarried man by the age of 25 people hang a garland of socks around your house on your birthday, and every few socks you pass you have to have an alcoholic drink. For women they use a garland of old boxes. Hum, not too shabby if you ask me!