Shocking Customs from Different Parts of the World

We live in a world where there are many cultures, traditions, and customs. While we may not necessarily agree with all of them, we shouldn’t disrespect them. One thing’s for sure: The diversity is huge. Today, we’re going to list down a few customary traditions from around the globe that might come as a shock to you, but yes, they still exist. 


This pre-wedding tradition in Germany usually takes place in what we’d call a rehearsal dinner. Everyone in the party joins hands to break porcelain plates as a way of wishing the to-be wedded couple good fortune. After the tradition of breaking plates comes to an end, the couple cleans up the mess, symbolizing that they can work well together while dealing with any hardships that life might throw at them.

Picture Courtesy: mygrandmasue

Muharram Mourning

On Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, millions of Shia Muslims mourn the slaying of Imam Hussain, grandson of the Prophet Muhammed, who was killed in the Battle of Karbala in 680 AD on the 10th day of Muharram. They mark Muharram by flagellating (whipping) themselves with sharp objects to honor Imam’s sacrifice. While the practice is condemned by many Shia communities, it still exists. 

Picture Courtesy: Reuters

Bullet Ant Glove Test

The Sateré-Mawé tribe residing in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil believes that a boy can only be considered a man after experiencing the painful sting of Paraponera clavata aka the bullet ant. They are called Bullet Ants because the sting feels quite similar to being shot with a bullet. The ants are made unconscious and woven into leaf gloves, with their stingers facing inside of the glove. When the ants regain consciousness, boys are made to wear these gloves for a full five minutes and get repeatedly stung. To be completely accepted as a man, the boys must endure this practice for at least 20 times over the course of months or even years.

Eating the Ash of the Dead

The Yanomami tribe who reside in the Amazon rainforest on the border between Venezuela and Brazil believe that they should eat the ashes of the dead because their funeral traditions forbid keeping any part of the deceased body. It is said that doing so keeps the deceased’s spirit alive for the next generations.

Picture Courtesy: The Guardian Nigeria

Kanamara Matsuri

Also known as the Festival of the Steel Phallus in Japan, the festival encourages people to celebrate sex, fertility, and protection from sexually transmitted diseases. The streets are packed with people parading with large structures of penis’,  snacking on penis-and vulva-shaped lollipops in various flavors. 

Picture Courtesy: TripLvent

Cutting Finger Tradition

The Dani tribe in Papua Indonesia follows the tradition of cutting off the top part of their fingers when a family member passes away. Before the fingers are cut off, a string is tied around the finger for 30 minutes for it to go numb. Post- removal, the open sores are cauterized to prevent bleeding and to create new fingertips. The cut portion of the finger is burned and buried in a sacred place.

Baby Jumping Festival

Every year in Burgos, Spain, the El Colacho, a festival celebrated since the 1600s, ends with a finale of baby jumping. People lay mattresses in the streets where they would keep their babies, and a man dressed in a bright red-and-yellow suit and face mask, made to look like the devil, would jump across the babies. It is basically a christening of babies born in the town that year, which culminates with the local Catholic priest blessing the children after the ‘devil’ jumps over them.

Picture Courtesy: Gawker

The Cinnamon Nightmare

In Denmark, it is traditional to cover a person up with cinnamon, from head to toe, if they’re single at the age of 25 years. More than a tradition, it is most commonly used as an excuse to pull a prank on friends when they reach the age.

Picture Courtesy: The Telegraph

Red Ink

The South Koreans believe that it is very rude to write someone’s name in red color. Apparently, in the past, red ink was used to write deceased people’s names in the family register. So, if you write a living person’s name using red ink, it indicates that you wish to see that person dead, which is why South Koreans consider this a taboo. 

Aishwarya Gopinath
A foodie at heart, an aspiring novelist, and an enthusiastic writer by nature, I love to dig deep into culture and lifestyle of the place and people around me. I hope to make people cry, laugh, smile, angry, and satisfied with my writing.

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