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Gestures and Customary Habits From Around The World

Updated on March 14, 2011

Each and every country and culture is unique and with that uniqueness come their gestures and customary habits that are long embedded in their ways that they naturally follow.

Traveling around the world you can pick up first hand their habits and costumes.

In a nation where many different nationalities move to, it is always sensible to know a bit of their habits especially if you deal with them every day.

For many years out of curiosity and respect I have been collecting short notes here and there on different cultures.

It´s a good way to understand closer the lifestyle of many people from all around the world and dealing with the many different folks and using their own way of life with correctness and respect is an excellent icebreaker.

They will feel you are a bit part of them that will bring you closer.

Clothing and Colors

  • In France and Germany, talking with your hands in your pocket is a sign of disrespect.

  • If traveling to a Muslim country during Ramadan, then do not wear red clothing.
  • In Egypt wearing lilac colors means you are in mourning, in Japan it´s white, in western countries black.
  • In Brazil the ladies can wear a G-string showing their buttocks. But at the beach doing topless is like going around naked and offensive.
  • In India tight clothes should not be worn and any clothing that shows too much skin.

Greetings, Kisses and Showing Affection

  • Japanese and Chinese greet themselves by bowing. The more you bow shows how greatly you respect that person.
  • In Islamic countries your right hand goes to your heart then touches your forehead and then over your head and you say (Salaam Aleikum) peace be with you. The greeted person then responds the opposite (Aleikum Salaam).
  • In India and Thailand you do not shake hands, you bring your hands to your chest in a prayer like manner and do a light bow.
  • Esquimoes greet only people they closely know by touching their nose on the other person’s forehead.
  • In Germany and Austria no greeting kisses, just a simple handshake
  • In Holland three kisses if you already know the person. Handshakes on the first time people meet.
  • In Italy men greet by kissing on the cheeks.
  • In Indonesia and Thailand showing affection should not be done in public.

Giving Presents and Receiving

  • In oriental countries you should present a gift with both your hands. The person that has just received this present will not open it in your presence, showing that you are more important than the present itself.
  • In Japan and China, 4 or anything presented in fours is bad luck. 8 is the good luck number there. Here we know it’s 13.
  • In Japan again or to a Japanese person, NEVER give a watch as a gift. It means that their time is up and death could just be imminent.
  • In Hong Kong a present should be given to a person in pairs.
  • To a Hindu remember that cows to them are sacred so never give anything with leather.
  • In Arab countries never give a gift to a woman that is married or engaged or you could have your stay cut short.

Table Manners

  • Making noise while you have your soup in China pleases your host.
  • In Arab countries you only use you right hand to eat. The left is used for your intimate hygiene making that hand impure.
  • Never refuse a drink in Russia or in Ireland, it´s offensive.
  • In China it’s an offence to refuse food.
  • In Russia and Arab countries, burping after a meal means you´re satisfied.
  • Jewish and Muslims do not eat pig meat.


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