15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans

Grace
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We’re about to embark on a global trek to uncover 15 fascinating customs from around the world that may leave Americans scratching their heads in disbelief. These intriguing traditions remind us that what we might consider strange or shocking is another culture’s norm.

So, buckle up and come with an open mind as we look at the captivating world of unique and astonishing traditions.

Heart-stopping Custom of Baby Tossing in India

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by AndriyPorokhnenko

In a blend of faith and tradition, babies are dropped from a height of around 50 feet onto a cloth held taut by a group of men, all for the promise of good health and prosperity. The spectacle of tiny infants plummeting through the air is genuinely hair-raising.

The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has researched that a baby should not be thrown into the air before he is two years old because it could cause a disease called Shaken Syndrome. This culture poses a risk to the baby’s health.

Ritualistic Cannibalism in New Guinea

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Spauln

This startling practice, rooted deeply in their cultural traditions, sees the consumption of human flesh not as a savage act but as a profound form of respect towards the deceased. By partaking in this ceremonial feast, tribe members believe they are absorbing the wisdom and strength of the departed, keeping their spirit alive within the community.

Reviving and Marching with the Deceased in Indonesia

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by ckstockphoto

In the Toraja society, the deceased are not bid a swift goodbye. Instead, they are preserved, kept at home, and treated as sick. Once every few years, in a ritual known as Ma’Nene, or “The Ceremony of Cleaning Corpses,” these loved ones are exhumed, dressed in new clothes, and paraded around the village.

This intimate and moving ritual showcases the Torajan’s unique perception of mortality and their profound bonds with those who have passed on.

Skyward Departure in Tibet

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by toleren

This ancient practice, profoundly spiritual and startlingly raw, involves offering the departed to nature in its most primal form. The deceased’s body is placed on a mountaintop, returning to the elements via the beaks and claws of foraging vultures. For the uninitiated, it may seem brutal, but in the Tibetan belief system, it’s seen as an act of generosity and a continuation of life’s cycle.

Sky Grazing in Vanuatu

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by rweisswald

In the tiny Pacific island of Vanuatu, locals engage in an astounding, heart-stopping tradition known as “Land Diving” or “Sky Grazing.” Picture bungee jumping, but instead of cord, they use tree vines.

Yes, you read that right, tree vines! This breathtakingly brave leap of faith, believed to ensure a bountiful yam harvest, is a vivid testament to Vanuatu’s vibrant and unique culture.

Custom of Canine Cuisine in Vietnam, Korea, & China

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by HoaiPT

Western travelers are often shocked by the practice of dog meat consumption. This practice, deeply rooted in history and tradition, often baffles and unsettles outsiders. Yet those who partake defend it as just another aspect of their diverse and complex food culture.

This stark difference in cultural norms is a vivid reminder of the varied tapestry of traditions that make up our global community.

Pre-Marital Chick Dissection in China

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Onefox from Pixabay

As part of the pre-wedding rites in some rural regions of China, the betrothed couple engages in the peculiar tradition of chick dissection. The ritual involves the young couple dissecting a chicken to examine its liver. If the liver is healthy, the couple can set a wedding date; if not, they must continue studying chickens until they find one with a robust liver.

Blood-Pounding Tradition in Kenya

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by WS Studio

In the vast Kenyan plains, the Maasai people uphold a tradition that would give even the most adventurous American traveler a moment’s pause. This striking culture, famed for its brilliant red robes and high-jumping dance, has a deeply entrenched custom of indulging in a unique, blood-curdling beverage.

The Maasai warriors demonstrate their courage by partaking in a cow’s blood and milk concoction, a shocking yet captivating spectacle for the uninitiated.

Wielding Pain for Penitence in Mexico and the Philippines

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Enter89

This intense religious practice involves individuals inflicting physical pain onto themselves as an act of penitence, starkly contrasting the Western interpretations of repentance. These flagellants, clad in plain garb and often masked, commit to this physical manifestation of devotion with a profound sense of humility and sacrifice.

It’s a potent, visceral image that challenges our understanding of faith, making us question the depths of devotion and the human capacity for enduring pain.

Showering Engaged Couples with Garbage in Scotland

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by HotDuckZ

This charming tradition involves showering the soon-to-be-married couple with a deluge of garbage! Friends and family gather together to douse the unsuspecting lovebirds with all sorts of waste materials, from rotten eggs to spoiled milk and even more unspeakable items.

While it might sound outrageous to the uninitiated, this heartfelt ritual is believed to prepare the couple for any trials and tribulations they might face in their married life.

Slurping: A Unique Food Etiquette in Japan

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Lais Schulz

For Westerners, slurping may be associated with poor table manners, but in Japan, it’s a sign that you’re thoroughly enjoying your meal. It’s a unique etiquette that surprisingly creates a symphony at the dining table. So, the next time you find yourself in a Japanese noodle shop, follow this flavor-enhancing technique and slurp away.

Self-Flagellation in Shiite Muslim Countries

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Melissa Jones

Devotees, lost in a trance-like state, inflict wounds upon themselves with chains and knives in a soul-stirring display of faith and penance. This raw, visceral practice of mourning the death of their revered martyr, Imam Hussein, is steeped in a deep sense of spiritual communion and cultural identity, challenging the Western notions of religious expression.

Culture of Insect Consumption

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Sal73it

In countries like Thailand and Cambodia, a crunchy cricket or a savory silkworm pupa is a sustainable protein source and a passport to an age-old culinary tradition, inviting those bold enough to a sensory journey that challenges typical Western food perceptions.

Spain’s Unconventional Tomato Fight Festival

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Dyan Rina Anggraini’s

Every last Wednesday of August, the quaint Spanish town of Buñol transforms into a battlefield, but the weapons of choice are not what you’d expect — they’re tomatoes! Welcome to “La Tomatina,” a peculiar tradition where locals and tourists gather to participate in the world’s most significant food fight. Approximately 150,000 tomatoes are hurled in jest at this spectacle, painting the town red.

Bargaining for Bargains

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Canva by Cascoly

Haggling is accepted and expected, which might seem foreign to many Americans. Picture yourself in a bustling Istanbul bazaar, where bargaining is nothing less than an art form. Here, the back-and-forth banter of negotiation forms part of the cultural fabric, a dance of words and expressions where both parties strive for satisfaction.

10 Things Americans Do That Annoy the Rest of the World

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Provided by Frenz

Have you ever been accused of doing something that’s not considered polite in a foreign country? If so, you know the feeling of being judged by people who don’t understand your culture. Americans have a reputation for many things, but unfortunately, some of our habits can be seen as rude or inappropriate in other cultures. From table manners to tipping etiquette, Americans do ten things that annoy the rest of the world.

10 Things Americans Do That Annoy the Rest of the World

The 5 Best Air Fryer Toaster Oven of 2024

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
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Do you love fried food but hate the unhealthy consequences? If so, an air fryer toaster oven may be the perfect appliance for you! These devices allow you to enjoy your favorite fried foods without all the added fat and calories. This post will examine five of the best air fryer toaster ovens. We’ll discuss the features and benefits of each one so that you can find the perfect one for your needs!

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20 Odd American Traditions That Confuse the Rest of the World

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Provided by Frenz

It’s no surprise that cultures worldwide have their unique customs and traditions, but some of America’s most beloved habits can seem downright strange to outsiders. Many American traditions may seem odd or even bizarre to people from other countries. Here are twenty of the most eccentric American traditions that confuse the rest of the world.

20 Odd American Traditions That Confuse the Rest of the World

15 American Phrases That Confuse Foreigners

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
Provided by Frenz

Are you ever confused when speaking to someone from the United States? Do specific phrases they use make no sense at all? You’re not alone! Many foreigners find American English confusing because of its unique idioms and expressions. From “raining cats and dogs” to “biting off more than you can chew,” here are 15 American phrases that often confuse non-native speakers. Understanding these sayings will help clear any confusion while speaking with native English speakers from the U.S.

15 American Phrases That Confuse Foreigners

16 Things Non-Americans Can’t Stop Raving About After Visiting the U.S

15 Strange Foreign Customs That Shock Americans
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The United States of America is a land like no other. Whether embarking on your inaugural visit or returning after an extended absence, exploring this expansive country can be both exhilarating and awe-inspiring. America has many distinctive qualities that make it special, encompassing breathtaking natural wonders, thriving urban centers, and a vibrant cultural tapestry.

16 Things Non-Americans Can’t Stop Raving About After Visiting the U.S 

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  • Grace

    Grace combines her legal education with her interests in art, travel, history, writing, and nature to produce well-rounded and engaging content.

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