You do not have to be a world traveler to know some things about other countries, cultures, and traditions. Some things are so well known that you do not even remember when you heard about them first. Some of these are the famous, things and customs that are sensitive to talk about. The reasons for such silence are multiple, but it mostly comes down to how people feel while talking about them.
All cultures have their own taboos that they consider almost forbidden to mention. Some of these are historically or politically sensitive, while others are just making the participants of the conversation uncomfortable, and hence nobody talks about it. In this article, we will go over nine of the most interesting and famous taboos from around the world. It is important to know them in order not to get yourself in a sticky situation while talking to foreigners and strangers!
Bedroom Details and Sex Toys
Right of the bat, we have perhaps the most obvious and well-known taboo of all and not geographically specific. People are generally quite uneasy when mentioning things they romantically like and do. This goes from the very mention of genitalia, even though they have names like everything else in the world. In addition, sex toys and practices people enjoy are rarely talked about because people tend to be insecure about them. This is why many have trouble buying sex toys like vibrators without an immense sense of social anxiety. Fortunately, there is an easy solution for this in the form of online stores where you can buy various types of toys. To learn more and order one, visit Sextoysaver.co.uk.
Male and Female Restrictions
In the Islamic countries of the Middle East, there are many male- and female-specific restrictions. For example, it is a serious problem if a male touches a female he is not related to. This means men cannot and should not shake hands with women in the Middle Eastern countries, no matter the situation. It is a serious taboo and one that everyone should be familiar with. Furthermore, it is not allowed for men and women to ride in the same elevator. If a woman sees a man walking into her elevator, she will naturally walk out. Separate transportation vehicles also exist for men and women, especially in the country of Saudi Arabia. If you ever find yourself there, respect their tradition, and comply with the taboos, even if you come from a western civilization country in which it is considered a violation of women’s rights.
Asking about Income
Present around the world and often considered impolite, this taboo is especially important and sensitive in Mexico. When you go to Mexico, never ask anyone how much money they make, despite how polite you think you can make it sound. You will never be met with a welcoming and positive answer because it is simply not polite nor normal to ask this in Mexico. One of the reasons for this is the huge inequality in how much various social classes make, so you can never really know just rough or how well someone is living. It is better to forget about this entire topic.
Drinking without Eye Contact
Drinking without paying too much attention to your friends is not a big deal in most places around the world. In some Balkan countries like Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Montenegro, it is considered impolite if you do not look the person straight in their eyes as you “cheer” a drink with them and bump glasses. Sweden however takes it a step further, as they have a drinking taboo that other countries cannot wrap their minds around. When in Sweden, no matter what you are drinking and with whom, you have to make eye contact with your Swedish peers. Not doing this is considered offensive. To be safe, make sure you make some eye contact with every person at the table before sipping your drink. It is not awkward in Sweden, so do not worry about that.
In the country of Ukraine, it is widely believed that whistling indoors is connected to a loss of money in the near future. Therefore, if you want to hold onto your cash, never whistle indoors when in Ukraine. This taboo is similar to the belief that opening umbrellas indoors brings bad luck.
Taking Things from Archeological Sites
If you ever decide to visit Honduras and end up finding something that could be considered an ancient artifact, you must not touch it. This is a very serious offense for the Hondurans, so much so that their officials might arrest you. Most offenders are let go with a warning and a theft fine though.
Pointing at the Moon
Taiwanese people believe in the moon goddess Chang’e, a powerful and shy being that overlooks our world. Therefore, if they see you pointing at the moon, they will immediately ask you to stop because their goddess finds it offensive. The legends states that Chang’e punishes those pointing at her by cutting off their ear. This is quite an unusual taboo that many think of as paganism, but one must respect it when in Taiwan.
Joking about Religion
Making jokes about religion is never okay, but Polish people take their religion particularly seriously and have an important taboo topic in their society. They will think of anyone who speaks ill or offends their religion as both rude and disrespectful. Catholic beliefs are very treasured in Poland and tourists must respect this if they want to have a good time there. Another sensitive topic is the Pope and everything related to him, especially the late Pope John Paul II. He means a great deal to the Polish, their history, and their tradition.
The Nazi Greeting
The infamous raising of the hand is very reminiscent of the darkest period in the history of mankind, enough to make it an unwelcome greeting anywhere. If you ever decide to visit Germany, never do it, not even as a joke. It is a giant taboo and something German people are not proud of. They view the atrocities of World War II like everyone else and do not want to be associated with the Nazi Party. Some offenders were arrested and sentenced to up to five years in prison for doing the greeting. Furthermore, refrain from mentioning Hitler, the Nazis, and the war altogether when in the beautiful country of Germany.