Halloween party ideas 2015

More Brits than ever have given up their lives in the U.K. in order to establish a new life overseas. And whether you are relocating permanently, enjoying a working holiday abroad, or plan to experience a gap year travelling, it always helps to learn a few local customs before you head off. This way you can avoid embarrassing faux-pas and give yourself crucial local insight and knowledge to help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls. Here are some of the oddest and weirdest local customs from around the world.

Polterabend, Germany

If you thought Greek weddings were bad, with all the loud smashing of plates, then just wait till you attend the pre-wedding ceremonies they have in Germany. It's not just plates, but vases, ceramics and pots that they break up. In fact everything including the kitchen sink is smashed to smithereens by wedding guests. Why? Who knows, but after the whole party has made an almighty mess of broken kitchenware, the bride and groom are tasked with cleaning the whole thing up. This is said to prepare the love birds for a life of overcoming hurdles and working together as a pair. And they say the Germans lack a sense of humour.

Spitting, Greece

In most countries spitting is considered rude and unhygienic, but in the Hellenic Republic casting a ball of spittle onto the pavement is not only accepted, but actively encouraged! So if you are thinking of emigrating to Athens or an idyllic Greek isle don't be surprised to see young and old covering the ground in wet saliva, as the act of spitting is thought to cast away demons and bad omens.

Queuing, Britain

Of course you do not have to travel half way around the globe to experience strict customs and unspoken etiquette, you can do so right on our doorstep. For there is nothing so unique in the world as the British love of queuing. Gather a bunch of Brits together and, sooner or later, they will naturally form a queue, for there is nothing we like better than standing in line waiting for, well, anything. So if you are a foreigner arriving in the U.K. for the first time, aghast at the size of the snaking line to get through customs at Heathrow, do not be tempted to duck under the rope and barge your way forward, for queue jumping is well and truly the last taboo remaining on this sceptred Isle.

Phra Phum, Thailand

Thailand is one of the most popular destinations on the planet for volunteer work abroad positions, yet many foreigners travel to this enchanting Asian country without the first idea about its culture. A very basic piece of common courtesy in Thailand is to seek permission from ghosts before you stay on any property. Ghosts are widely thought to populate every nook and cranny of this beautiful nation, and it is considered only polite to curry favour with them before you sleep on their patch. Failure to do so may result in an army of dead spirits haunting you for the rest of your life.

Chopsticks, Japan

Okay, chopsticks are no longer alien to most of us, and anyone who has enjoyed a fancy Chinese meal or sampled the delights of Sushi will be pretty adept at handling these. But there are still one or two key pieces of etiquette you should pay attention to when eating with chopsticks. First, never point your sticks at anyone else, as it is said to bring back luck. And more importantly, do not even think about sticking your chopsticks into your food. This is widely considered to be a symbol of impending death in Japan, and is a sure fire way to get yourself ejected from a restaurant for causing unspeakable offence to the other patrons. So if you are planning on a gap year in Japan, think about asking for a knife and fork, instead.

About the author: John is a travel writer who has covered gap year destinations as far afield as South Africa and Australia.

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