Drinking alcohol, tea, or beer are part of many cultures around the world. People love to drink and love even more the rituals that surround drinking. We tend to have drinks at social events, when we celebrate, and even when we mourn.
There are different customs that accompany drinking various beverages in most countries. Some of the customs are about respecting tradition while others are downright weird and fun! Here we will share with you some of the world’s most strange and interesting drinking customs.
Koreans consume the most amount of alcohol in the world, much of it during after work-outings with supervisors and co-workers called Hoesik. It should not be surprising that they have very strict drinking “rules” to respect during these times. For example, it is considered extremely rude to refuse a drink from your boss. Also, the youngest in the group, whether by age or “rank” pours drinks for their boss or elders.
Have you imagined drinking out of a shoe? Well, in Ukraine they don’t just imagine it, they literally do it. It is a drinking custom at weddings. If a guest can steal one of the bride’s shoes, they can demand that other guests drink from it. Australians also have a custom of drinking from shoes. It is called a “shoey.” Usually, an entire can of beer is poured into the shoe and then someone chugs it all.
Clinking beer glasses is a big “no-no” in Hungary. Why? Legend has it that this non-tradition began when Hungary lost the revolution to Austria in 1848. The Austrians celebrated in Vienna by toasting each other with glasses of beer. From then on, the people of Hungary vowed to never clink their glasses of beer again.
In most homes and decent restaurants in Italy, you only have two options to drink at lunch or dinner: wine or water. Your choices of wine are red, white, rose or prosecco. For water you get the choice of fizzy or natural (still). That’s it! Italians believe that any other drinks interfere with the taste of the food you are trying to enjoy.
In Dawson City, Canada you can get any alcoholic cocktail with a mummified human toe floating in it. This bizarre tradition was the invention of Captain Dick Stevenson. Stevenson was the captain of a Yukon riverboat when in 1973 he and some friends discovered a preserved toe in abandoned cabin.
To satisfy the challenge of the “Sourtoe Cocktail,” and become a member of the elite club of people who have, you have to satisfy one rule: drink it fast, drink it slow but your lips have got to touch the toe!
This drinking challenge is apparently near and dear to many. The hotel has received donations of 10 mummified toes to ensure the sourtoe cocktail lives on. Allegedly, in 2013, someone intentionally swallowed the original toe.
In France, it is considered extremely rude to allow a woman to pour her own wine. The proper etiquette is always for a man to pour a drink for a woman who has an empty glass.
Of course, if a woman is with other women, they can pour their own wine – it is not forbidden. But, if a man is present, it is up to him to ensure that the glasses of the women are filled, lest he be considered ungentlemanly.
Always remember this while travelling In Spain, you should never ever toast with a non-alcoholic drink. It is said that doing so will give you misfortune for seven years. More specifically, you will have 7 years of bad luck with sex!
In Germany, it is tradition for friends to “kidnap” a bride before the wedding. The kidnappers take the bride to a bar for the afternoon and the groom has to pay “ransom” to get her back. The ransom? Buying drinks for all of the kidnappers!
Different countries have different versions of what Americans call the “Boilermaker.” Traditionally, the boilermaker is a shot of whiskey poured into a beer. When the two drinks are separate it might be called a “shot with a beer chaser,” a “two-step” or some other variation.
In the Netherlands, there is a local variation of this type of drink called a Kopstootje or “little headbutt.” This custom involves a tulip glass with a shot of Genever, a Dutch gin, and a beer. The traditional way to drink this is to first complete the head butt by placing your mouth on the tulip glass and drinking some of it hands-free. Once this is done, you can enjoy a toast, and sip or shoot the gin or alternate it with the beer as you please.
Making a toast in the Czech Republic might be the most exhausting one you will ever experience. You must make sure to do it the right way or you and your friends will face seven years of bad luck (bad sex).
You should always toast to the health of whoever you are drinking with. You must make eye contact with the person with whom you are toasting even if there are several people at your table. You must look each person directly in the eye while clinking classes. You must also be sure not to spill a single drop of beer from your glass and that no one crosses arms with anyone else. When arms cross those people will have bad luck in the bedroom. The person who makes the toast must wait until everyone else to finish their drink before drinking theirs. Luckily, this is only for the first drink of the night!
Iceland has a long and storied history with alcohol. It was banned in some form or another for most of the 1900s! Beer did not become legal in Iceland until March 1 1989, which is now the day Icelandic people celebrate Beer Day. It is now Iceland’s most popular alcoholic drink.
This Russian custom started when people were persecuted for drinking vodka after the Battle of Paris. The Russian Cossacks observed that the severity of the punishment was often based on how many bottles were on the drinkers’ tables. The Cossacks took to removing some bottles to avoid the worst of the punishments.
Russians still do not like to have bottles on the table – it is customary to remove empty ones and put them underneath and out of sight.
A “penalty shot” might sound like a hockey tradition to some people but this one involves alcohol. If you are late to a party or gathering in Russia, expect your friends to make you do a “penalty” shot the moment you arrive as punishment for your tardiness.
In Kazakhstan, there are many customs that people follow when they are drinking. Younger people should never drink in front of the elders. When drinking alcohol, you can expect a lot of toasting. Also, if you are offered a drink of Kumis, fermented milk, you must take at least a sip to show gratitude toward your host. It is considered very rude to refuse.
Like Korea, China also has a custom of hierarchy when it comes to drinking customs. In China, be sure to follow these drinking rules:
- Keep your glass lower from your seniors.
- Never initiate a toast with your seniors.
- Never turn down a senior’s toast.
In Nigerian village weddings, there is a ritual that the couple should drink from the same cup. The bride is given a cup and sent to try to find her husband; she must go from guest to guest until she finds her partner. The marriage isn’t deemed complete until the couple drinks together.
When Swedes go out drinking, the night will likely start with singing their traditional drinking song. At the end of the song, you can expect a loud shout of “skai” or “cheers!” Make sure to look your drinking pals in the eye when you shout skai!
Peruvians create a strong bonds with their friends while drinking. When they gather to drink beer, they do it one shot at a time all using the same glass! A bottle arrives and then one at a time, each person pours some into a small glass, drinks it, and passes the bottle and glass to the next person who does the same. Whoever ends up finishing the bottle buys the next!
Fun fact: the national drink of Peru is the Pisco Sour which you can have in your own glass
Bolivian Miners drink spirits before heading out to work. They believe that by drinking before work the spirit who roams the mountains, El Tio, will provide them good luck and safety in their mining.
Hungarian Gypsies have many “quirks” when consuming palinka- a traditional fruit spirit or brandy. It is usually made from apricots, plums, or pears. Roma people follow strict rules before they can consume palinka. They drink it in three situations: when they wake up in the morning- first thing! when a woman is about to go out scavenging, and at wakes. At wakes, however, only the men may drink it.
There are also special glasses used to drink it that Hungarians say affects the taste of the beverage. According to locals, palinka should always be consumed at room temperature.