6 Weird Drinking Traditions from Around the World

Vodka. Rum. Absinthe. Beer. Whatever your poison, you’ve probably got a few traditions that you must follow through on whenever you down an alcoholic drink. I mean, no one wants to end up with 7 years of bad sex because they forgot the proper way to toast, right? Alcohol plays a role in nearly every culture around the globe and, no matter how strange you may think your drinking traditions are, there are guaranteed to plenty of customs out there which are a whole lot weirder. So, let’s raise our glasses and toast to these 6 weird drinking traditions from around the globe!

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1. Tanzania

Your average tourist probably won’t get to hang with a tribe of Masaai warriors in Tanzania, but if you are ever lucky enough to do so, there’s a few things you should know. The drink of choice for your typical Masaai warrior is honey wine, or honey mead. Doesn’t sound weird enough to you? Well, this honey wine comes with a twist. As in, they mix it with cow’s blood. That’s right, a live cow is injured with an arrow, and the blood that squirts out is mixed with the wine. Don’t worry, the cow is patched up, and usually goes on to live a decent cow’s life. And luckily for the cow, this beverage is only reserved for celebrations and special occasions.

2. Thailand

Apparently in Thailand there is no such thing as ‘bottoms up’! In Thai culture it is considered rude to finish your drink. At all times you are supposed to have a glass that is at least half-full. Of course, this can mean that drinking is a long drawn out process where you constantly have a full glass—not something to be taken on by the faint of heart (or the easily imbibed). Fear not, you will get to finish that glass eventually—after the oldest person leaves the table. Which begs the question: Do you inquire everyone’s age before a night out on the town in Thailand? How else would you know you’ve been given the thumbs-up to finally down the rest of your beer?

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3. Sweden

If you’ve got shifty eyes, Sweden is definitely not the place where you want to drink. Why? It’s an old tradition in Sweden that you must maintain eye contact while toasting. Supposedly, this hearkens back to the days of yore when Vikings and other rowdy folks drank together. Maintaining eye contact was one way to avoid being attacked with a weapon; I suppose you’d have to be looking elsewhere to aim that broadsword straight and true. These days, holding eye contact while clinking glasses is a way to show mutual respect for the person/people you’re drinking with.

4. Russia

Russia is one of the most alcohol-dependant nations in the world, and your average Russian will drink roughly 15 litres of pure alcohol every single year! This country is also home to a rather interesting drinking tradition: that of not allowing an empty glass to be seen on the table. How does it work? Well, it’s bad form for empty vessels to be hanging about, so you set them on the floor underneath your table once you’ve finished the drink. Considering how much alcohol you’re bound to consume on an average night out in Russia, expect those glasses to really accumulate down there!

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5. Ukraine

When you attend a traditional Ukrainian wedding, you’ll see that stealing one of the bride’s shoes is a typical custom. The guest who nabs one of the bride’s shoes is allowed to make demands, one of them being that the wedding party must drink from her shoe. Now, before you start speculating on how clean the bride’s feet are and what that whole process is going to smell like, rest assured that no one is really going to be drinking from the shoe itself. Instead, a glass will be strapped to the shoe and guests will make merry with that!

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6. Japan

While most wine connoisseurs would probably baulk at the idea of adding ice-cubes to a glass of wine, it appears to be something of a weird drinking trend in Japan! Major Japanese companies have started marketing cubes of ice in wine as the ‘new’ way to drink the alcoholic beverage. In fact, Denny’s in Japan has jumped on this new tradition by offering both red and white wine on the rocks as a part of their menu!

Do you know any strange drinking traditions? Share some of your favourites with us!