By Fizza Rashad, Lahore
When travelling, it’s important to brush up on the customs and manners of different countries. What we consider polite and sensible behaviour at home isn’t always considered in the same fashion outside our borders. Don’t be labelled rude, or disrespectful on your travels. Here are some unusual international customs you never knew about.
Be careful when presenting flowers to a friend or business associate in Russia. Yellow blooms signify deceit or a relationship break-up. Skip red carnations, too. Traditionally, red carnations are placed on the graves of the dead, or are offered to surviving war veterans.
Clocks, handkerchiefs, straw sandals and flowers are all associated with death and funerals in China. Deemed inappropriate and morbid, you’ll risk damaging the relationship if you present these gifts for any occasion to someone in China.
When tucking into a meal in Egypt, by-pass the saltshaker. It’s insulting to your host to sprinkle salt on your food. If you have to season your plate, it means that you find the meals’ taste repulsive.
Here’s one place where being early or on time is viewed as being rude. In Venezuela if you are invited over to someone’s home for a meal, it’s recommended that you arrive 10 to 15 minutes later than the requested time. Early or on time guests are viewed as being too eager, even greedy.
In Norway, table manners are extremely important. Most meals, including sandwiches, are eaten using utensils.
Gift giving should be a happy, positive experience. When selecting a present for someone in the Netherlands, don’t purchase fancy kitchen knives or scissors. Giving sharp, pointy objects as gifts is considered unlucky.
Children in Greece don’t expect the Tooth Fairy to cough up money in exchange for a lost tooth. Instead, Greek kids toss their discarded baby teeth onto the roof of their home. This custom is meant to bring good luck and a healthy replacement tooth.
In Bolivia, it’s rude to discuss business during a social occasion such as a wedding, or dinner party. The dining experience is meant to enrich personal relationships, not make deals. If you’re attending a business lunch or dinner, wait until your host brings up the subject of work before diving into the topic.
When doing business in Turkey, it’s the custom for your host to pay for your meal. Requests to split the bill will be viewed as a polite gesture, but won’t be accepted. If you would like to pay your fair share, Turks recommend inviting your host to a follow-up meal.
Japan is a very polite nation, and their fondness for etiquette extends to the mealtime use of chopsticks. According to Japanese custom, it’s considered ill-mannered to point, play with, or stab food with chopsticks.
Writing a lot of cards or notes while visiting South Korea? Be mindful of your pen’s ink colour. Scrawling a person’s name in red ink traditionally signifies that the person is deceased.