6 Arriving Late
In many parts of the world, arriving late to a social gathering is considered quite rude, but that’s not the case in South America. In Chile, if the host says that dinner will be served at 8:00 PM, guests are expected to arrive around 8:15 or even as late as 8:30. Arriving on time or earlier could mean catching the host unprepared, and the offender will be regarded as “too eager” for a meal. In Ecuador, arriving 15–20 minutes late is also considered being “on time,” and Brazilians consider meeting times “elastic,” showing up whenever they please.
Even parts of the United States have adopted these traditions, because they have attracted large populations of immigrants from these countries who brought their customs with them. For instance, in Miami, it’s more common for dinner to be served late and guests to be less punctual than in other parts of the country.
7 Alcohol And The Devil
Although stereotypes can be harmful, it is true that Russia is one of the highest-ranked countries in the world in alcohol consumption. The country’s love of vodka is also its leading cause of death, from liver disease and alcohol poisoning to fatal accidents and crimes.
Since it’s such an integral part of their culture, there are many rules of etiquette surrounding drinking in Russia. For instance, you can’t place a glass of alcohol back on the table after a toast—it should be bottom’s up and empty. Arriving late for dinner means that you have to drink a full glass of vodka, no questions asked, as you’ll have to catch up with the rest. Between the first and second shots, there must be no interruptions whatsoever. Lastly, you should never make the mistake of offering a toast with an empty glass. If you do, you’ll have to drink the entire bottle.
Russians also love to swear, but their custom is steeped in superstition. It is said that when you curse another person’s health in a manner without malice, you should spit three times over your left shoulder. This symbolically spits in the eye of the devil, preventing bad omens or a temptation of fate. If the curse is made in writing, you should write the guttural sound, “Tfu, tfu, tfu!”
8 Pearly Whites and the Tooth Fairy
There are several variations of the tale of the tooth fairy. In Denmark, the tooth fairy is called Tann Feen. In many cultures, the mythical figure is actually a mouse, known in France as La Petite Souris, in Spain as Ratoncito Perez, and in Colombia as El Raton Miguelito.
In Greece and Mauritania, a child does not simply leave his tooth underneath his pillow. Instead, children throw it as hard and as high as they can toward the roof of their home. In Greece, this provides good luck and strong teeth. In Mauritania, if there’s a rooster crowing by daybreak, he could keep the tooth.
In Jamaica, children are told horrible tales about a calf that will take them away unless they place their lost tooth in a can and shake it vigorously. The noise is said to drive the calf away. Malaysian children take a more spiritual view of their lost teeth—they bury them in the ground, as what was once part of the body must be returned to the Earth. In Turkey, lost teeth can be used to convey parents’ expectations to their children. For example, if they want their child to be a doctor, they might bury the teeth near a hospital.
9 Bushido And Seppuku
Bushido, the warrior code of Japan, emphasizes strength, loyalty, and integrity. Some analysts and academics have recommended its implementation in the world of business, given the many irregularities that have faced corporations in the past and present. Conducting business inspired by bushido means working effectively and honestly, with the best interests of your superiors and the public in mind.
Seppuku, or ritual suicide as an alternative to defeat introduced by samurai, has a less vaunted reputation. It was particularly vilified in the wake of World War II, when thousands of Japanese soldiers carried on the practice by choosing to take their lives rather than surrender, but it continues to this day in many parts of Asia. Notable instances include the suicides of Yukio Mishima while protesting Japan’s military policies in 1970 and Masaharu Nonaka after he was laid off by his company in 1999.
In Korea, many people feel unbearable guilt and shame in the wake of great tragedy and see no other choice but to end their lives. When the MV Sewol sunk on April 16, 2014 and left hundreds of students dead or missing, the vice principal was so intensely plagued by guilt that he committed suicide.
10 The Haka
The haka is a tradition of the Maori people of New Zealand. The spectacle involves menacing facial expressions, grunting, guttural howling, loud chanting, stomping, clapping, chest-thumping, and tongue-wagging intended to strike awe and fear into the tribe’s opponents.
Today, it is most often seen when it is performed by New Zealand’s national sports teams. Their rugby team, the All Blacks, perform the haka on the field prior to a match,
But the haka is more than just a war dance or a challenge for a fight. It can also invoke poetry and art detailing the history and the lore of the tribe, or be used to communicate peace, a welcome greeting, or a show of respect. One example is a moment that occurred after the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was filmed on the island and included many local actors. Viggo Mortensen was known for performing many death-defying stunts that earned him the respect of the team, so on his last day of filming, the Kiwi cast performed a haka for him and another crew member.
6 Arriving Late