While attempts at going to outer space and exploring the cosmos, or diving deep into our vast oceans and trying to figure out where the heck is Nemo are all fine and dandy, but there’s more to learn about the world we live in than just physical exploration.
Take learning about cultures, religion, and just all things societies, for instance. Humans are complicated beings in general, but the social and societal structures we’ve built is the same vast vat of everything as is the ocean deep and space infinite.
People on AskReddit were curious about these exact things in a now-viral thread, where u/yahyahashash asked the lovely people of Reddit to share things they’ve discovered about a different culture or religion that completely blew their minds.
Over 9,400 comments later, we have a slew of fun facts and bizarre insights into how humans function on a cultural and religious level, blowing even more minds along the way. Scroll down to check the best of the best answers to the question, and be sure to upvote, comment, and share your thoughts and things you have learned in the comment section below!
More Info: Reddit
#1 Jesus Is The Most Mentioned Person In The QuranNot only is Jesus in the Quran, he is the most mentioned person in the Quran (if you count direct and indirect mentions). Islam teaches Jesus was a prophet and was a precursor to Muhammad.
In other words, Jesus is a central figure in the Quran, and the Islamic faith not only believes in Jesus but generally reveres him.
Image credits: rayrayrayray
#2 Buddha Has Snails Protecting His Head So He Could Meditate In The Scorching SunBuddha has snails protecting his head so that he can meditate in the scorching sun. And here I thought it was a hair style.
Image credits: LoneerBoii
#3 Canada Is Deceptively HugeHow much which country you grew up in f***s with your sense of scale.
I was born and raised in Canada, lived here all my life. We're the second-largest country in the entire world by area, behind only Russia. When I went to visit some friends in Germany, we got talking about Canada and I mentioned how I went to university in a city that was "only" a four hour drive away from my childhood home. I commented that I liked it because it was far enough away to have some independence, but still close enough I could drop by and visit my family on holidays or breaks.
This caused them to laugh uproariously, much to my confusion. One of them eventually explained that a four hour drive would take you more than halfway across the entire country of Germany and it was not what any of them would consider "close". These same people, by the way, had a church just outside of their town that was over 800 years old and no one thought that was particularly remarkable.
That's when I learned the difference between European and North American cultures. A European thinks a 100 km trip is "far"; a North American thinks a 100 year old building is "old".
Image credits: darkknight109
#4 In South Korea, Both Girls And Boys Hold Hands And Nobody Cries Homophobia At ItI taught English in a middle school in South Korea. When I was roaming around in the hallways, I found that not only were the girls holding hands, some boys were holding hands as well. They were just "friends". There weren't any homophobic cries or jokes being made. In North America, if that happened, you'd be automatically labeled gay.
Image credits: Frizeo
#5 There's A Specific Time Of "Past Tense" In Turkish Called "Gossip Tense"In Turkish, there's a so-called "gossip tense." A specific kind of past tense that indicates that someone else told you this.
Image credits: airbagpiper
#6 In Sikhism, The Turban Is A Symbol Of Total EqualityIn Sikhism, the turban is a symbol of total equality.
Before Sikhism was the religion it is today, the turban was worn only by the wealthy upper classes. The person who started the Sikh religion donned the turban to show people that everyone is truly wealthy in spirit, and that it is the duty of all people, rich or poor, to help one another.
So the Sikh turban became a symbol of equality in humanity, and as a sign that that person can be turned to for help.
Image credits: senpalpi
#7 Late Living Habits Of The SpanishThe Spanish eat dinner at like 10pm and party until like 4am and still have energy to go to work the next day. Idk where they get the reserve of energy to do that but it’s wild
Image credits: adubsi
#8 The Japanese Use Stamps Instead Of Signaturesmaletgs said:
Japanese stamps instead of signatures.
I lived there for 2 years and I’ve still got mine with my name in katakana. It’s a whole process to procure one and then have it registered as your official signature.
Image credits: Eviscerate_Bowels224
#9 Extremely Dedicated Customer Service In JapanSo much stuff from Japan.
I think if I had to pick one it was how seriously they take customer service there. Like, it's just night and day from literally anywhere else in the world I've been. At one point I needed to go visit a bank to get some cash and I asked the cashier at the store I was at where the nearest bank was. In most places in the world, if you got anything more than a shrug, it would be some vague directions; a really nice place might give you a map or an address for your phone and point out where you were going.
In Japan, the cashier bowed, stepped out from behind the cash register, grabbed an umbrella (a typhoon was passing through, so it was pissing down rain at the time) and *physically escorted me* the TEN BLOCKS between the store and the bank, holding the umbrella above my head the whole time (and getting absolutely drenched himself). I felt really bad about it and tried several times to tell him that an address was fine, but he insisted he would walk me there. It was just a totally different mindset towards how to treat a customer or a guest. Honestly pretty humbling.
Also the "no tips" thing threw me for a loop. Not that I didn't know about it, but I didn't know how seriously it was enforced. There was a point where I was running late for an important event and had taken a cab to where I was going. I still remember the total cost - 3481 yen; since I was in a hurry, I grabbed 3500 yen, hastily gave it to the driver and dashed out the door. I make it about 10 metres away and I suddenly hear, "Sumimasen! Okyakusan! Sumimasen!!" (Excuse me, sir! Excuse me!!) from behind me. I turn around and the cabbie has gotten out of his cab and dashed after me, just to hand me the 19 yen (about 19 cents) change that I'd left behind.
Image credits: darkknight109
#10 Pingelap Atoll, The Micronesian Island Of The ColorblindThere’s a Micronesian island where all the inhabitants are color blind. They know when fruit is ripe by the smell. It just gave me a new understanding of how people see the world and the different pathways cultures take to solve the same problems.
Image credits: Unleashtheducks
#11 Mandarin, Cantonese, And Other Chinese Dialects Have The Same Written Language, But Are Mutually UnintelligibleChinese languages: mandarin and Cantonese and other Chinese dialects are mutually unintelligible but the written language is exactly the same. Two Chinese people speaking different dialects would have no idea what each other is saying but they could communicate by writing
Image credits: babystay
#12 In Buddhism, The Question Of A "Universal Creator" Doesn't Really MatterWhen I first became Buddhist, the fact that the Buddhist response to the question of whether there was a creator of the universe or not is basically "It doesn't matter". It's one of a list of questions that the Buddha was asked and refused to answer one way or another, or even speculate on, because they're irrelevant to Buddhism. Coming from a Western background, it kind of blew away a lot of my ideas about the purpose and function of religion.
Image credits: FearlessLingonberry
#13 Not Everyone In The World Eats RiceI remember when I was a kid I was shocked when I realized a good chunk of the world did not eat rice regularly in meals lol.
Image credits: Xivlex
#14 Whether People Treat You, Or Your Treat People On Your Birthday Depends On The CultureSome cultures your friends treat you on your birthday and other cultures you treat your friends on your birthday. An example would be paying for a birthday dinner with friends.
Image credits: theottozone
#15 Our Internal Visualization Of Time More Or Less Follows The Direction Of WritingOur internal visualization of time more or less follows the direction of writing.
I'm from Brazil, and i can only speak for Brazil, but this feels online with the rest of euro-centric culture.
I mean that when we talk about the Past or the Future, the trend to gesture from left to right, which just so happens to be the way we write. I spent some time in Taiwan, where they used to write from top to bottom and sure enough, "yesterday" is literally translated as "the day above" and tomorrow is translated as "the day below". And it's more than just that, think of timelines, horizontal versus vertical. The whole internal visualization seems to be related to that
I would love some input from someone who speaks a language written from right to left because right now this theory feels like grasping at straws but somehow kinda right. Please someone prove me wrong
Image credits: billionai1
#16 A Lot Of Americans Heavily Rely On Cars To Get AroundThat a lot of americans literally cannot get anywhere without a car and that getting your drivers license is as a result extremely vital for gaining any independence (which is why the car is so synonymous with the american meaning of 'freedom'). I've talked to americans for years and only recently thanks to Not Just Bikes did I find out just how car centric american culture is.
Image credits: MitchellBoot
#17 Some Hindy Rituals Involve Slamming CoconutsSome Hindu rituals involve slamming coconuts into the ground. I remember passing through a street in Chennai in a cab and all of a sudden like 50 people slamming coconuts into the ground at the same time
I can't wait to go back
Image credits: madkeepz
#18 Water Is Free In Restaurants In Some Parts Of The WorldI'm from South America, when I went to Germany I went to a meeting in a bar and ordered water out of politeness so I wouldn't be there without paying for anything, bc I don't drink alcohol. To my surprise water is free and from the tap. Started ordering sparkling water instead from there on lol.
Image credits: White_07
#19 De-Brancing A Tree, Decorating It, And Strapping The Tree To The House Of A Love Interest... In GermanyIn Germany there is a holiday in which, during the dead of night, a guy will get his friends together, take a thin, tall tree, strip it of its branches, decorate it, write the name of a romantic interest on it, then anonymously strap that tree to the house of said romantic interest.
When I was first told about this, I thought my German instructors were exaggerating, but nope. The next day the city was FILLED with decorated trees. And I didn't hear anything that night. I still don't know how they did it so quietly.
Image credits: Radioman_70
#20 India Has More Than 200 Languages And DialectsAdam Jones said:
India has more than 200 languages and dialects.
India and China are both better understood not as analogous to European countries, but as what Europe as a whole would look like if they had a single government.
Image credits: Hlodvigovich915
#21 Taiwan Temple Communities Consist Of Lost Boys And "Society's Rejects"Temple culture in Taiwan:
The people who run the temples, and put on holiday performances for their respective gods, are a community of lost boys and society's rejects. They have an unsavory reputation, associated with petty crime and drug use. Each temple is basically a carnie street gang with a folk religion theme. They take your real money in exchange for fake money, which you are supposed to burn so your ancestors have money in the after life (insert mandatory inflation joke). Sometimes the temples have rivalries, and brawls break out between devotees during religious festivals and competitions.
Folk religion is alive and well in Taiwan, but at the same time, people who take it seriously have a "trailer trash" image, so it's considered cringy to be too interested in it. Good upstanding citizens just burn incense, say a prayer to their ancestors, take pictures if it's a touristy temple, and leave.
Image credits: Glitter-Pompeii
#22 Mormon Culture In GeneralLiterally every damn thing about Mormonism. I could give you an entire book about the things. What should I call it though…
Edit: Some people are asking for the goods so let me blow your minds.
1. Mormons has bizzare ceremonies in the temples which are definitely “sacred” not “secret.” Haha. I researched these 15 years ago, but there was no proof of what actually happens. Then youtube happened. Watch Mormons do baptisms, with a proxy, for dead people. Watch them act out crossing into various levels of heaven using code words. Check out the secret underwear.
2. For many years Mormons boasted that they found a golden book that was transcribed with the help of an Angel. It is now accepted, even by the general authorities that the “book” which mysteriously disappeared was transcribed by Smith using seer stones that were placed in a hat. Yea folks, he was a con man. There is a whole history of seer stones. What’s more is that the church admits this now.
3. Smith was married to and had sex with girls as young as 14. He sent their husbands away and then had to “bite the bullet” and marry them for the good of their community and the authority if god.
4. The Salamander letter
If you are truly interested, google Jeremy Runnels and the CES letter. In short, Runnels was a passionate Mormon. He had some questions and was encouraged to write out his issues and send them to an LDS authority to get some explanation. He wrote a 70 page document called the CES letter that led to his excommunication. The CES letter has been them cause for many Mormons to leave the church.
Have fun! Im sure I got some details wrong here and there, but nothing of any importance.
Image credits: nmurja
#23 There's A Certain Routine You Have To Go Through When Picking Up A Call In SwitzerlandIn Switzerland, perhaps A and D too, when you pick up the phone there is a routine that must play out before the conversation continues:
Receiver: “Hello this is *business*, my name is *surname*, good day.”
Caller: “Hello Herr/Frau *surname*, my name is *surname*.”
R: “Good day, Herr/Frau *surname*”
C: “Good day, Herr/Frau *surname*. I am calling because ….”
Also you can’t just say goodbye and hang up, you will spend a good 2min saying goodbye and wishing the other a good day/evening/weekend and thanking them and saying you’re welcome until you both say “Also Tschüs” and **then** hang up.
Image credits: mrafinch
#24 Eating Rare And Medium Rare Steaks In CanadaWhen my dad and grandparents moved to Canada, they were extremely confused and grossed out by people eating rare and medium rare steaks.
Image credits: punkterminator
#25 Tipping Is A Must In CanadaComing to Vancouver, Canada and learning not only that I _had_ to tip, but that the nicer the place (meaning the pricier the food), the higher the expected tip up to the “standard” 20%.
I remember being new around 8 years ago. I went to a kinda nice restaurant downtown and treated a few folks, left a 5% tip for service I thought was bare minimum. The server came up to me as we were leaving - she must have been having a bad day or something, because she was literally on the verge of tears asking what she did wrong. I caved of course, and gave her the missing 15% in cash. Still, that was bizarre.
Image credits: mufflednoise
#26 In Denmark, People Often Leave Strollers With Their Kids OutsideDanish people leave their children outside of stores when they go shopping.
Being from the USA, you would be arrested for that 100%. Immigrants have been in the past, probably more than I would ever have thought.
Image credits: I_N_C_O_M_I_N_G
#27 Some Americans Have Garbage Disposals In Their Sinkswetlettuce42 said:
That Americans have garbage disposals in their sinks.
I'm American and they might as well be a myth to me. I've only ever seen them in horror films, so as far as I know they're just a thing that you accidentally drop something down, then reach into to provide Dramatic Tension and/or get all your fingers cut off.
Image credits: wetlettuce42
#28 Public Sex Education In MarrakeshPublic sex education in Marrakech, Morocco. A circle of people pops up on Djemaa El Fna. A guy in his 50/60’s gathers people of all ages. He used sign language and talks and jokes around. Like a stand up street performing sex educator. In a Muslim country. They were basically standing next to their mosque. Post bias adjusted.
Image credits: Pappkrus
#29 An Untranslatable Word In Russian That Roughly Means A Feeling Of Intense Mental Anguish, Often With No Explainable CauseStudying the Russian language, I came across this really interesting word, тоска (toska) and its verb form, тосковать (toskovat’). Its meaning is very difficult to translate into English because it has such a deep cultural context, but it essentially can mean, depending on context, a sort of heart-wrenching, painful longing, or a sense of nostalgic wistfulness, sometimes for something you don’t even know. From the Russian-language wikipedia article for this word:
>No English noun conveys all the shades of the word. On the deepest and most painful level, it is a feeling of intense mental anguish, often with no explainable cause. In less severe cases, it can be aching heartache, a desire for incomprehensible what, painful languor, vague anxiety, torment of the mind, an unclear craving. In specific cases, it means striving for someone or something, nostalgia, love and suffering. At the lowest level - despondency, boredom.
What’s interesting about this word is just how much this feeling absolutely permeates Russian literature and music. For instance, there’s this one piece I absolutely love where one part of it always gave me the sense of reaching towards something desperately, but never quite grasping it. I never knew how to describe it, but this word encompasses it perfectly.
Edit: Because a few people asked, the piece I had in mind was the Passacaglia from Shostakovich's Violin Concerto no. 1
Image credits: TchaikenNugget
#30 Swedish, Norweigan And Danish Are Different Languages, Yet Its Speakers Can Understand Each OtherSwedish, Norweigan and Danish.
Three totally different languages with very similar structures and grammar. Not wholly unlike Spanish, French and Italian, only closer. We can understand each other pretty well but not actually speak in any other language than our own (and English ofc). So it's not unusual to find danes, swedes and norwegians hanging out, speaking, and communicating through their respective languages, with each other.
#31 Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian—Essentially The Same LanguageKodiak-Marmoset said:
Croatian, Bosnian, Serbian: essentially the same language.
Same people too, but don't even try to tell them that. If you would suddenly remove religion, I have no idea what would they find to argue about, but they would find something.
Source: I'm one of them. Won't tell you which, but as you see, it doesn't matter.
Image credits: Kodiak-Marmoset
#32 Bobbing One's Head In IndiaIn India, they don't just have head nods for "yes" and head shakes for "no"... there's another one where the head does this side-to-side wobble. I can't remember what it means, since from what I could understand, it has a few different meanings depending on the situation.
Image credits: TightPinkBunghole
#33 Everyone Shakes Hands For Almost Anything In HungaryAs an American living in Hungary (and as I’ve said elsewhere on Reddit) it STILL gets me sometimes how much Hungarians shake hands. Meet someone on the street? Shake. Finish talking to them and walking away? Shake. Walked into the office in the morning? Shake everyone’s hand near you, and the people you meet at the coffee machine, and possibly the security guards if you’re friendly with them. About to leave said office for the day? You bet your a*s you’re shaking hands.
I’ve been here 17 years now and this one still manages to surprise me sometimes.
#34 Jain Monks, Nuns, And Some Followers Avoid Root Vegetables So As To Not Disturb The MicrofaunaIn Jainism, Jain monks, nuns, and some followers avoid root vegetables such as potatoes, onions, and garlic because tiny organisms are injured when the plant is pulled up, and because a bulb or tuber's ability to sprout is seen as characteristic of a higher living being.
Image credits: deadchap
#35 The Way They Tie Towels Around The Waist In IndiaThe way they tie towels around the waist in India.
I've always done that thing where you wrap the towel around your waist, then tuck it in so that it's held closed by the towel pressing against your abdomen. However moving around with it like this can cause it to come lose.
In India, they instead [fold it a completely different way, they fold it outwardly], apparently it's their "standard" way of doing it, which makes a hell of a lot more sense.
#36 There Are Several Versions Of The Bible Depending On The Christian DenominationI had no idea that Catholics had more books to the Bible than Protestants had until I was a young adult.
Image credits: auntiepink
#37 Newlyweds Tied Up To The Back Of A Trailer In Northern IrelandI visited a friend in Donegal, Northern Ireland about 6 years ago. They showed me lots of different sites in my few days I visited. One evening we went to a local chip shop, we were sat in her car eating our food and a trailer being pulled by a car came up next to us.
This trailer had a man and woman tied up on the back of it, covered in what looked like food and dirt. They were laughing and seemed to be having quite a good time. Right behind the trailer was a convoy of about 8 cars all beeping their horns and cheering, they went around the town and then all drove off. I was super confused as tk what had just happend, my friend told me the man and woman in the trailer were probably soon to be newly weds. That it's tradition for friends to go into their home unplanned and take then out, ties them up and throw things at them and parade them around the town. She actually seemed confused that I didn't have a similar tradition back home or that I had never seem anything so strange.
#38 German Trains Are Remarkably On TimeGerman trains are remarkably on time. Drivers follow the passing lane rule religiously.
Also the New Testament is very different than how it’s practiced and lived for the most part. The disdain of materialism, humility, privacy of prayer and of charity, is missing in a lot of what I’ve seen.
#39 Big Bird Is Different Depending On The CountryThealmightyfug said:
That Big Bird is different colours in different countries.
They’re not actually Big Bird. They’re all Big Bird’s cousins from across the world.
His cousin Abelardo from Mexico has visited Big Bird in the US a few times.
#40 How Cheap Life Is In Some Parts Of The WorldHow cheap life is in some parts of the world.
My Dad was asked to do a speech for the UN in India at one point and brought myself and my mother along for the trip. The UN put us up in a six star hotel (first and only time I've ever been in one - didn't even know they *gave* a sixth star prior to that trip).
Anyways, we had a meeting with a UN rep who went over the pre-travel preparations - what vaccines we would need to get, what documents we would need to have, who to call if something went wrong, so on and so forth. My Dad asked if we should invest in a travel safe for our belongings, worried that things might get pilfered out of our room. At this, the UN rep just laughed and said, "If you even make the *accusation* that something has gone missing from your room, the first thing that management will do is fire everyone who worked on that floor of the hotel, whether they were anywhere near your room or not. There are literally thousands of people who want those jobs and the hotel could replace their entire staff in an afternoon if they so desired. Your stuff will be fine."
And he was right - it was. You got a real sense being there that people (in particular workers) just... weren't valued as much as they are in North America. Everyone was replaceable. It was a weird experience.
Image credits: darkknight109
#41 Chinese Identify Mennonites EasilyWhen I lived in China, I had two different Chinese people on two different occasions come up to me and correctly identify my religion and culture. I am Mennonite and I dress as such. And this is interesting because many Americans don’t know what I am.
#42 Sitting So Your Feet Don't Point At Anyone In The Middle EastIn the middle east sitting on a way where your leg rests on your knee and your foot points at someone is extremely insulting
You just don't sit like that
#43 Actually Responding To "How Are You?"In some countries, when someone asks you, “how are you?” they actually want an answer beyond just, “fine, thanks.”
I was accidentally very rude for following my social custom. If you actually answer that question where I’m from, people will look at you with shock.
#44 In The Middle East, Complimenting Someone's Things Might Lead Them To Gifting Them To YouIn middle eastern culture, complementing someone’s stuff may results in them giving it to you… for example, if you were to tell someone: ‘Nice watch!’, they might give it to you. I am someone who tends to compliment a lot, with 0 intention of it being given to me. Nor do I expect to give my stuff to someone if they compliment it. I have so much trouble wrapping my head around this one…
Image credits: guitar_collector
#45 Shoes On In Homes In AmericaMost americans walk around in shoes in their homes and schools.
#46 Tea With Butter Is A Thing In Asiahauj0bb said:
Tea with butter is a thing in Asia.
This is common in the us too but for coffee, at least the state I’m in. Weed butter is used too sometimes.
#47 "I Recently Discovered Cheese Flavored Ice Cream At A Local Shop And Am Trying To Work Up My Courage To Try It"Culture and the types of food. Take something as simple as Icecream for example the flavors can be significantly different from what the majority in my country would even be comfortable trying. I recently discovered Cheese flavored ice cream at a local shop and am trying to work up my courage to try it.
I've seen ice cream flavors based on vegetables, and bacon, and I'm super curious.
#48 Various Facts About Korean CultureI've been into Korean culture the past year because of KDrama; here are some of the stuff I've read up on that kinda blew my mind:
- The concept of Korean age which is 1 or 2 years older than what they call "international age". Koreans consider the time you spent in the womb as your first year of life and each Korean gains an additional year on the new year.
- Speech levels are everything in Korean and you are supposed to speak more formally to someone who's older than you. That's why when strangers meet one of the first things they ask each other is their age so they know if they should speak formally to each other.
- There are only a limited number of surnames in Korea because of the concept of clanship. Each name corresponds to a regional clan. And some names are rarer than others.
- Patrilineality (who your birth father is) is a big deal in Korea. Because of this until 1997 it was illegal to marry someone with the same last name as you if you had an uncommon last name because that most probably meant you were from the same clan and therefore your marriage was incestuous. Exceptions were usually for people with very common surnames like Kim and Park. For this same reason Koreans also used to look down on double in-laws (ex. Your sister marries a guy and and then you marry that guy's brother) because it is also seen as incestuous.
- Patrilineality also extends to adoption and having children out of wedlock. To this day many Koreans refuse to adopt because there is a stigma around taking care of another person's child. And if they do adopt, they would prefer to adopt a girl rather than a boy because the boy would not be able to carry on the foster family's bloodline. This is why many more foreigners tend to adopt Korean orphans. Likewise, having a child out of wedlock and being a single mother are also frowned upon in Korea due to this culture.
Image credits: astarisaslave