Strange Greeting Etiquettes Around The World

Namaste… Ciao…Bonjour…. Ekaro….

These are the various forms of greetings around the world. These traditional greetings, representing various regions developed to cultural norms –often intended to show respect.

A handshake means hello in Britain or America; however, it can mean another thing in other parts of the world. From touching noses to a weighty handshake, here are some of the strange ways people greet or say hello around the world.

P.S. We’ve carefully compiled this to help not get lost culturally-wise in case you’re planning a trip.

1). Sticking out Your Tongue in Tibet:  Culturally, sticking out your tongue is an acceptable greeting in Tibet to confirm you’re not the reborn, black-tongued king of Tibet.

2). Asking: ‘Where Are You Going?” in Malaysia: This isn’t really a question per say. The polite response is considred to be “just for a walk” or “nowhere important”.

3). Putting Knuckles On Your Forehead in the Philippines:In the Philippines, young Filipinos respectfully greet elders by sometimes bowing, taking the elderly person’s hands and pressing the knuckles to their own foreheads in a gesture known as the Mano.

4). Touching Elders’ Feet in India: As a sign of respect in India, it is popular to see the young ones touch the feet of the elderly in a greeting gesture referred to as the Pranama.

5). Performing theWai in Thailand: To perform this greeting in Thailand, place your palms together at your chest, then bow your heads forward to enable your thumbs touch your chin and your fingertips touching your forehead. The deeper the bow of the head toward a person, the greater the respect accorded to that person. The Wai translates to “hello”, “goodbye”, and “thank you”.

6). “Eskimo” Kissing in Greenland: The natives of Greenland have a special traditional greeting called theKunik. To perform this greeting, place your nose and top lip on the cheek or forehead of the other person and breathe in.

7). Bedouin Men Rubbing Noses: In traditional Bedouin culture, it is expected of men to rub noses with each other as a sign of respect.

8). Clapping to Greet the Shona: There are 12 different Shona ethnic groups located across Southern Africa. Most of them perform rhythmic clapping as a form of polite greeting.

9). Performing the Hongi to say Hello in Maori Tribe of New Zealand:  The Hongi is a respectful gesture performed by visitors to hosts to say hello. This gesture involves the visitor placing their noses and foreheads against those of their hosts.  The hongi is referred to as “the breath of life”. A popular celebrity couple who performed this gesture is Prince Williams and Kate when they visited the country in 2014.

10). Kowtowing in China: Only used in the most formal of occasions today, the people of China would once prostrate by kneeling and touching their forehead on the ground to greet respected superiors. This can be seen in many popular regency Chinese or Korean movies.

11). Bumping Fists in the USA: Now a global form of greeting, fist bumping can be traced back to the USA in the 1940s. It was a form of greeting among motorcycle gangs.

12). Squeezing Thumbs in Zambia: Clapping and gently squeezing thumbs is a friendly greeting found in North West and West Zambia.

13). Raising Eyebrows in Micronesia: Raising your eyebrows in Micronesia (a sub region of Oceania consisting of thousands of islands in the Pacific Ocean) is a way to acknowledge someone’s presence.

It can also be translated to often mean “yes”. Therefore, be careful not to look too surprised at this form of greeting, or it could easily be misinterpreted as a disregard for culture.

14). Shaking Fists in Kanouri: The Kanouri of Niger greet one another by waving their fists close to their heads and uttering “Wooshay!”

15). Performing the Salame Gesture in Malaysia: To make this traditional gesture, stretch out both hands to your companion and lightly touch their hands before bringing your hands back toward your heart.

16). Yell Loudly in Costa Rica: According to James Kaiser, author of “Costs Rica: The Complete Guide”, when you visit someone’s house in Costa Rica, don’t knock. Instead, yell “Oooooooope!” (Oo-pay).

This greeting is derived from the longer expression, “Ave Maria para nuestra Santisima Madre la Virgen de Guadalupe”.  This means “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. The saying is both a knock and a greeting, and was over time shortened to just “upe”.

17). Kissing in France: While most Americans dislike other people in their personal space, it’s a very different story in France. In France, you get personal. In fact, French people don’t know how many kisses to give.  However, it depends on the region and occasion. For instance, on New Year’s Eve, you can give as many kisses as you want.

18). Weighty Handshake in Sierra Leone: According to Susan Eckert, owner of AdventureWomen, a travel company, who was once a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sierra Leone, you should hold your right arm with your left arm when shaking the hand of a person of superior rank. According to her, this implies “that the other’s hand is of great weight”.

19). A Twist on the Handshake in Rwanda: If you attempt to shake a Rwandan’s hand, don’t be surprised to find such person closing their fist, turning it downward, and offering his/her wrist.  Also, if you have a dirty hand, you present your wrist instead. If both people have dirty hands, they will touch wrists together.

20). Down the Hatch in Fiji: Planning to visit Fiji? Be sure to take along some kava(especially during the Fiji Kava Ceremony) for the villagehead to prevent being perceived as rude. You drink from a half coconut bowl, which is scooped into a large Kava bowl. And before you take your first sip, you clap your hands and shout “Bula!”

Be warned though – the kava tastes terrible, however,it’s deeply entrenched in the daily way of life in the Fijis.

21). Sweet Greet in Kenya: According to Katie Rees, a traveller who visited the Maasai Tribe in Kenya in 2014, there is a special way to greet the local children. The children bow their heads in deference to the visitors and in return; expect the visitors to touch their heads with their palms.

22). Prostrating/Kneeling in Africa: In some African states, culture dictates the young ones to answer more than “yes sir” or “yes ma” when relating with their elders.  For instance, in Western Nigeria, it is a tradition for male children to prostrate and females to kneel in front of their parents and elders, and wait to be told to rise up.



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