The treasure trove of cultural and religious practices that humankind has fostered over the centuries is nothing less than mindblowing.
There is so much about this world of ours that many of us go our entire life without knowing. The treasure trove of cultural and religious practices, artifacts and literature that humankind has fostered over the centuries—as well as the stories and reasoning behind them—is nothing less than mindblowing. While it might take us forever to even begin to study all of them, Reddit user u/yahyahashash shone a light on some of the most fascinating facts about different cultures and religions that people have come across when they posed this question to the r/AskReddit community: "What is something you discovered about a different culture or religion that completely blew your mind?"
Here are the top 25 answers to this Reddit prompt:
"How much which country you grew up in fu**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.'" — darkknight109
"In 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." — senpalpi
"So 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 when 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 meters 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." — darkknight109
"In Ethiopia, a woman's "womanliness" was determined by her ability to take a live chicken and turn it into a meal ready to eat. This includes killing, de-feathering, gutting, cutting meat off, cooking, seasoning, making everything that goes along with it, and then serving it. The women who could serve it the fastest with the best taste were favored.
Source: Ethiopian neighbor that told me about the custom because I smelled his food and asked if I could try some. It was amazing!!" — madprofessor8
"In 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." — Radioman_70
"In Zoroastrianism, one of the burial practices they use is to just throw your body up on a mountain for it to bake in the sun, get picked apart by buzzards, and all that jazz. They even have special structures for it.
Obviously 'just throw me to the buzzards' isn't a unique concept, but it's pretty cool for a religion to practice. Actually, just about everything about Zoroastrianism is downright fascinating." — ScenicAndrew
"In 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." — deadchap
"In middle eastern culture, complimenting someone’s stuff may result 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..." — guitar_collector