One of the beauties of travelling and having so many different cultures across the world, is the difference in cultural practice, beliefs, and traditions. It’s amazing how someone across the world from you could believe in something entirely different – what you may think is inappropriate or rude could be completely acceptable in another country.

As we become well-traveled and global citizens of the world, it’s important that we remain mindful of these different practices. Let’s be respectful of the cultures around us and learn to be open-minded and accepting.

8 Cultural Lessons in Manners from Different Countries to Be Mindful Of

1. Burping is a compliment

Most of us would probably stifle a burp, or let it out ever so gently, but did you know in places like Turky and Saudi Arabia, it’s perfectly fine to burp (let it rip) after you meal? This lets the cook know that you are very satisfied with your meal and you enjoyed every bite. It might even be considered NOT to burp!


2. Say hello with a spit

In Kenya, there’s the Maasai Tribe who spits as a form of affection, good luck, or reverence. A father will spit on his daughter when she is married to bring good luck and prosperity. They also spit on newborn babies to keep it safe from harm and curses.


3. Always greet with the right hand

In the Middle East, you must only use your right hand when shaking a hand in greeting. It’s a terrible insult to use your left hand – why? Because they use the left hand specifically for wiping after using the bathroom, so you can imagine the kind of insult it would be if you use the same hand to greet someone. Make sure to be mindful of this, and use the right hand always.


4. A tip may work in the States, but not in Japan

Unlike America, where some of the waiters make their earnings from tips, this can be considered an insult in Japan. Flip the perspective and those in Japan may read it as “Here’s some extra cash because you clearly need it as you’re not very good at your job”. Or they might be very confused with the extra money and think you have misread the bill. Do yourself and them a favour, and keep the tips to yourself.

5. Slurp you food loud and proud

In most of South East Asia, if you are consuming a really great bowl of noodles – for example Ramen – slurp loud and proud. It’s considered a huge compliment to the chef who prepared the meal. Most of us aren’t used to this and we consider any form of loud eating a little annoying.


6. Don’t ask for salt

In Egypt, when you dine at a restaurant, it’s rude to ask for salt. This is a way of you indirectly insulting the chef and saying it wasn’t flavoured properly or needs a little more salt.

7. Don’t fill your own glass

We’re so used to just filling up our own glass when we need a top-up, but in Japan this is considered greedy, and a little anti-social. Instead, it would be proper for you to fill other glasses of the people at the table first, and they will in turn fill your glass – a return of the gesture.

8. Avoid bringing wine to a dinner party in France

This makes sense to me for a country that has some of the best vineyards in the world. Many in France pride themselves on their wine collection, bringing a bottle of wine may imply that the wine they are serving isn’t good enough. Instead, bring some flowers or sweets. Of course, if you’ve been asked to bring wine that’s a different story all together.

Do you have any other cultural lessons in manners to share with us? Or perhaps some that you’ve stumbled upon? Do share!

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