20 Strange Etiquette Tips You Must Know Before Visiting These Countries

If you’re in Spain, it is considered disrespectful if you don’t kiss someone on the cheek the first time you meet them. This is an example of cultural etiquette, codes of conduct and it varies from one nation to another. Cultural confusion can occur in some places, but we can still adapt to the etiquette the natives follow so that we do not come off as rude or irritating. Here are some strange etiquettes that you should definitely follow if you are traveling to these countries.

1. Spitting on the bride at weddings in Greece


Yeah, it is true. Spitting on a happy couple is a very old Greek tradition. But, not literally. Guests pretend to spit on the Bride and Groom to protect them from any evil spirits. Greeks do this at other special occasions too, including baptisms in order to acknowledge the beauty and good health of the baby. This practice was popularized thanks to the 2002 film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding

2. September 12: The Day of Conception in Russia


Don’t be surprised if you are in Russia around this time, and you see empty streets and curtains drawn in the region of Ulyanovsk, the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin. Ulyanovsk Gov. Sergei Morozov has decreed Sept. 12 a Day of Conception(also known as Procreation Day)to give couples time off from work to procreate. This step is taken because of the country’s decreasing birth rates, along with the unequal proportion of women to men and the alarmingly short lifespans of Russian men. In fact, parents whose babies are born exactly nine months later, win prizes for helping to keep the Russian bloodline going.

3. Hanging out in cemeteries in Denmark


Ever thought of hanging out in a cemetery? Denmark is the place for you. Since Danes are not very religious, there was a fear that no one would visit graveyards/cemeteries, cause they don’t normally believe in heaven or afterlife. Therefore they turned the cemeteries into spectacular parks where people actually go to hang out or to have a nice time.

4. Eating everything that’s on your plate in China

Eating etiquettes in China


Unlike India, in China, it is considered rude to eat everything on your plate as it is an indication that the host didn’t offer you enough food. But this custom has been changing with movements like ’Operation Empty Plate,’ which aims to reduce food waste.

5. Do not flip a fish when in China

Do not flip fish


Never flip a whole fish. Chinese people generally eat an entire fish, and a whole fish symbolizes a boat. If you flip over the fish, it means you’ve capsized the “boat,” therefore bringing a lot of bad luck.

6. Entering a house with shoes in Japan


Traditionally, instead of chairs, the Japanese eat meals sitting on tatami mats and rolled out futons to sleep on tatami floors. Since they are so close to the floor, entering a house with shoes on is not welcome. You must take your shoes off before entering.

7. Nodding in Bulgaria

Unusula NOdding

5-Minute Crafts / YouTube

Bulgarians don’t nod in the usual way. Nodding is a little different where shaking the head left and right simply means ‘yes’ and shaking it up and down means ‘no’. You should be careful about non-verbal communication when answering a question there. You might stick to the words “da”, which means yes and “ne”, which means no.

8. Eating with your hands in Chile

Eating with fork, etiquettes


In Chile, you are better off eating without ever touching the food. Chileans claim that using your hands to eat something, even snacks like french fries, is disgusting.

9. Writing someone’s name in red in South Korea

Writing name in red, unusual etiquettes


In Korean culture, red is used to write the names of the deceased. And writing the names of the living in red is a big no-no. It is considered to be very unlucky and potentially life-threatening. 

10. Do not flush toilet paper in any of these countries

Do not flush in these countries


If you’re traveling to Greece, Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Morocco, Egypt, or Beijing, please note that the plumbing may not be designed for flushing toilet paper.

Restrooms will have special waste bins to place used toilet paper instead. Failure to heed this bit of toilet etiquette could lead to clogged toilets and even floods.

11. Don’t try to shake hands before you enter the room in Russia

No handshake, unusual etiquettes


Shaking hands is a polite way to greet someone. However, when in Russia, do not offer to shake hands in a doorway; always enter the room first, or greet the person outside. It’s said that the “house spirit” lives in a home’s entryway, and crossing over it for a greeting generally means bad luck.

12. Careful with the finger gestures in the United Kingdom

No v sign in UK

Sticking your middle finger up at someone is a bad gesture in many countries, but in the United Kingdom, it’s also considered bad etiquette. Flashing a “V” at someone using your middle finger and index finger like a reverse peace sign is a no-no. In fact, British folks generally view the “V” as the equivalent of giving the middle finger.

13. No “thumbs up” in these countries

no thumbsup, unusual etiquettes


In Russia, Greece, Iran, Sardinia, and parts of West Africa, a thumbs up gets a thumbs down, as it’s also the equivalent of flipping someone off. So make sure you aren’t giving any thumbs up if you are traveling to these countries.

14. Eating before the eldest person at the table in Korea


In Korean culture, respect for the elderly is very important. In addition to waiting for the older person to start eating, you are also supposed to sit on the table until that person is done. And when you are offered a drink by someone older, you must accept it by lifting your glass with both hands.

15. Asking for extra cheese in Italy


Italy is renowned for its tasteful and delicious cuisine. In Italy asking for something that doesn’t already come with the meal that was served is considered rude. It’s normal to want to put some more parmesan cheese on everything but don’t. Many chefs will serve your food exactly how they believe it should be eaten, and they will likely take it as an offense if you think it needs something extra. 

16. Tipping in the USA


The tipping culture of the United States is very different from that of most other countries. Unlike many other countries who don’t tip at all or just tip in small amounts when the food was exceptionally fine, tipping at most restaurants in the U.S. is somewhat mandatory. It is expected that patrons leave between 10-20% of the bill in tips. Wait staff rely on this gratuity for a living because legal wages for waiters are low.

17. Not eating all of the food on your plate in India


You should finish all that is on your plate in India as Indians consider food sacred. Also finishing all the food on the plate is respectful to the host.

18. Kneeling or lying prostrate as greetings in Nigeria

greetings in Nigeria, etiquettes


Prostration and kneeling have been practiced in the Yoruba community as a style of greeting. Boys and men prostrate and girls and women kneel when greeting someone older or in a high position.

19. Using the left hand for things

using left hand, etiquettes


In some countries, the left hand is considered unclean, usually because it’s used for “ablutions”. If you’re left-handed and visiting places like India, Nepal and the Middle East, you may have to pretend to be ambidextrous – it’s incredibly rude to eat, pick anything up or hand over money with your left hand.

20. Don’t show OK gesture in Turkey

hand gesture, etiquettes


The OK hand gesture (when your forefinger touches your thumb) – is a positive sign in other countries, in Turkey it is not. It means you are accusing someone of being a homosexual and is considered very bad. It is also disrespectful to point your finger at someone. Best to avoid it in Turkey.

Do you know of any other strange etiquettes that must make to our list? Let us know in the comments below!

Also read: 32 Fascinating International Borders Around The World