Taboos are deeply ingrained in the cultural practices and beliefs of various societies across the globe. They are practices, beliefs, or customs that are forbidden or considered inappropriate by a particular community. Taboos vary across cultures and reflect the values and norms that define the society. Some of the most intriguing taboos around the world include practices related to death, sex, and religion. In this article, we will explore some of these taboos and understand their significance in different cultures.
Table of Contents
- Interesting Taboos Around the World:
- 1. Pointing with the feet – Thailand
- 2. Whistling at night – Russia
- 3. Eating with the left hand – Middle East
- 4. Showing the bottom of your feet – Arab and Muslim countries
- 5. Tipping in Japan – Japan
- 6. Using the thumbs-up gesture – Middle East
- 7. Using the number four – China
- 8. Touching someone’s head – Thailand
- 9. Wearing shoes inside – Japan
- 10. Using the left hand – India
- 11. Frowning – Russia
- 12. Eating pork – Muslim countries
- 13. Don’t drink until eye contact – Sweden
- 14. Don’t whistle when you’re indoors -Ukraine
- 15. Don’t point at the moon with your finger
- 16. Never ever do the Nazi greeting
- 17. The burning flag is a serious issue
- 18. Don’t compare with Americans
- 19. Don’t call Cyrillic the “Russian alphabet”
Interesting Taboos Around the World:
1. Pointing with the feet – Thailand
In Thailand, pointing with your feet is considered extremely disrespectful. The feet are seen as the lowest part of the body and are associated with dirt and uncleanliness. Pointing with your feet can be seen as an insult to the person you are pointing at.
2. Whistling at night – Russia
In Russia, it is considered bad luck to whistle at night. It is believed that whistling at night can attract evil spirits and bring misfortune. Whistling is also associated with calling animals, so it is considered inappropriate to do it at night.
Related: Japanese Culture That Are a Little Baffling to Outsiders
3. Eating with the left hand – Middle East
In many Middle Eastern countries, it is considered rude and unclean to eat with your left hand. The left hand is traditionally used for cleaning oneself after using the restroom, so it is considered unhygienic to use it for eating.
4. Showing the bottom of your feet – Arab and Muslim countries
In Arab and Muslim countries, showing the bottom of your feet is considered extremely disrespectful. The feet are seen as the lowest part of the body and are associated with dirt and uncleanliness. Showing the bottom of your feet can be seen as an insult to the person you are showing them to.
5. Tipping in Japan – Japan
In Japan, tipping is considered rude and can be seen as an insult to the person providing the service. The Japanese believe that providing excellent service is part of their job and they do not expect to be rewarded for it.
6. Using the thumbs-up gesture – Middle East
In many Middle Eastern countries, the thumbs-up gesture is considered an obscene gesture. It is associated with the phallus and can be seen as an insult to the person you are showing it to.
7. Using the number four – China
In China, the number four is considered unlucky because it sounds like the word for death. It is often avoided in buildings, phone numbers, and addresses.
8. Touching someone’s head – Thailand
In Thailand, the head is considered the most sacred part of the body. Touching someone’s head is seen as disrespectful and invasive. It is considered a violation of their personal space.
9. Wearing shoes inside – Japan
In Japan, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home. Wearing shoes inside is considered unclean and disrespectful. It is seen as a way of bringing the dirt and germs from the outside into someone’s home.
10. Using the left hand – India
In India, the left hand is considered unclean and is used for cleaning oneself after using the restroom. It is considered disrespectful to use the left hand for eating or passing objects to someone.
11. Frowning – Russia
In Russia, frowning is considered a sign of bad luck. It is believed that frowning attracts negative energy and can bring misfortune. Smiling is seen as a way of attracting positive energy.
Related: Funny Cultural Differences Between America And Canada
12. Eating pork – Muslim countries
In many Muslim countries, eating pork is considered forbidden. Pork is seen as unclean and is associated with disease. It is considered disrespectful to serve or eat pork in these countries.
13. Don’t drink until eye contact – Sweden
Surely you are familiar with the search query ”places to visit in Sweden” but are you familiar with the term ” drinking taboo in Sweden”? Well, nice and beautiful Swedish culture got one drinking taboo for you.
No matter what you are drinking, don’t drink until eye contact keeps with your Swedish drinking buddy. You don’t want to offend your Swedish friends, do you?
Ensure that each and every person seated on the table gets to have a personal eye connection with you before you even take a sip. Don’t worry about looking awkward; you don’t seem that way in from of the Swedes.
14. Don’t whistle when you’re indoors -Ukraine
This interesting taboo is considered very rude in Ukraine. Apart from that, the Ukrainians believe that if you whistle indoors, you will lose a lot of money after that. They also hate being confused with Russians, do well not to make the mistake.
15. Don’t point at the moon with your finger
The people of Taiwan believe in the goddess of the moon called Chang’e. This goddess is known to be powerful, but also very shy. So, when your hands are pointed to the moon, you’re pointing fingers directly at her, which she finds offensive.
As punishment for pointing fingers at the goddess of the moon, legend has it that Chang’e will cut off the offender’s ear. We don’t know if it’s real or not, but you surely don’t want to find out this unusual taboo in real. When you’re in Taiwan, don’t point at the moon!
16. Never ever do the Nazi greeting
If you are traveling to Germany and don’t want to upset German culture then never do the Nazi greeting. This is such a grave offense in Germany. It is so seriously offensive; you could get arrested for it. And we are looking at a 5-year sentence here.
Don’t ever start the subject of Hitler, there is a high chance you will say something offensive as you talk, so just avoid the entire Hitler and Nazi topic altogether.
17. The burning flag is a serious issue
This taboo might not interesting as others, but knowing this might save you from fine. Everyone knows how Americans value their national flag; they are practically in love with it. So if you ever burn it, you could face a serious penalty.
18. Don’t compare with Americans
Whether it’s their health care system, their Canadian dollar, government policy…anything at all. Just keep your opinion to yourself if you feel they’re beneath the people of America.
Don’t say anything that will make them look inferior to Americans; it is so offensive. However, many Canadian will not go to accept this unusual taboo against America.
Related: Funny Cultural Differences Between America And Canada
19. Don’t call Cyrillic the “Russian alphabet”
In Bulgaria, don’t call Cyrillic the “Russian alphabet”, as it considers as very offensive to their culture. They hate it so much; you could even be kicked out of their country, don’t talk about it at all if you’re going to mention Russia.
It is always advisable to understand the cultural differences before traveling to a new country. This will save you from any kind of unwanted situation. I hope, you enjoyed this list of interesting taboos from around the world and learned something new.