People Describe The Things They Learned About A Different Culture Or Religion That Shocked Them
Sergei Solo on Unsplash

It's okay if you don't understand something about another culture. That's fine, just ask. Be polite, keep an open mind, and be willing to learn. Someone from that culture will be more than happy to explain it to you.

What you shouldn't do is assume something you saw in a forty-year old cartoon is indicative of an entire race of people. It's always good to try and learn new things, so start with these culture shocks that people already woke up to.

Reddit user, yahyahashash, wanted to know what you now know when they asked:

"What is something you discovered about a different culture or religion that completely blew your mind?"

Language, arguably, might be the single greatest defining trait of a culture. Speak Spanish? Then you're from Spain.

Or Mexico.

Or Chile. Peru? Columbia?

Never mind.

Heard It From A Friend Who Heard It From A Friend

"In Turkish, there's a so-called "gossip tense." A specific kind of past tense that indicates that someone else told you this."


"This is also true in Quechua (language spoken by natives in the Andes) and the Spanish spoken in the Andes also has a hearsay tense (wasn’t that originally but bilinguals morphed it)."


A Culture Made Up Of Hundreds Of Cultures

"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."


"In India 270* languages are identified by govt. as main languages. But there are more than 1600 dialects that r spoken in different communities. India is like a continent in itself."


Same, But Different

"Chinese 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"


"I learned this in Hong Kong from a friend who is from there and speaks Cantonese and English. He said his Mandarin is very poor but that’s ok because he can still read everything he gets sent at work."


What we worship, and how we celebrate, varies throughout the world, and you'll never find something so obviously demonstrating the differences in a culture than how we celebrate a birthday.

Also, temple fights.

A Birthday Tax

"Some 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."


"Filipino culture says the latter. It gets annoying when people know it’s your birthday and everyone you run into that day will ask for their “treat”, even jokingly."


"We Indonesians jokingly call it "pajak ultah" (Birthday taxes)"


Say A Prayer. Start A Brawl.

"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."


Party All Night, Rock n' Roll Every Day

"the 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"


"Some of that comes from the fact that Spain is in the "wrong" time zone. They're in the Central European time zone, along with countries as far east as Poland (instead of countries like Portugal and the UK which have more comparable longitudes) so the sun sets super late for them. Though even compensating for that, their dinners are still pretty late."


The world is big and different and beautiful. Be willing to learn more.

Born This Way

"There’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."


"There's a community in the Dominican Republic where 5 alpha reductase deficiency is (relatively) extremely common, to the point where it's just generally accepted that sometimes girls turn into boys at puberty."


Senses Of Scale Are Completely Off

"How much which country you grew up in fucks 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"."


The United States Is A Baby Country For Babies

"This is really true and funny, I experienced this the other way round."

"Coming from Sri Lanka where you can literally drive from coast to coast the same day to see sunrise and sunset and have time to rest in between, I was blown away by the distances in the US. I had never in my life had driven more than 300 miles at a stretch before that."

"On the other hand, I was chatting with a bunch of American friends one day and mentioned that I was surprised to find that the inclusion of chilli into Sri Lankan food - which is such an integral part of it - was rather a recent thing that happened around 1,600s after the Portuguese visited us back then. My friends thought it was hilarious I think 1,600s is "recent" given that the US didn't even exist at the time. But for us who have a 2,500+ year history it is rather recent."


There's a lot more out there than could fit in the space above, so keep that mind and heart open and be willing to accept when you might have a blind spot about a people. It's okay. Growth is good.

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