With 196 countries dotting the globe — each possessing their own unique cultures, customs and constitutions — some regions are bound to foster a few quirky local traditions.
Here are 10 of the most bizarre things found in countries around the world:
1. In Japan, you can hire a handsome man to watch sappy movies with you and wipe away your tears.
A Tokyo-based company called “Ikemeso Danshi,” which means, “Handsome Weeping Boys,” according to Quartz, offers an unusual service.
The company provides handsome suitors, and for about $65, a man of your choice will watch a saccharine film with you and brush away your tears.
The concept was born out of the idea that crying can be therapeutic and that misery loves company, according to Hiroki Terai, the company’s founder.
2. In Bhutan, most of the buildings are adorned with erect penises.
The small country nestled in the Himalayans is not for the prudish — fly to Bhutan and you’ll be surrounded by murals of floating phalluses.
To the predominantly Buddhist population, the male organ is a symbol of fertility and wards off evil spirits, the Washington Post reported.
Phallic worship originated from a 15th century Buddhist teacher, who claimed he fought demons with his “member.”
Today, the penis portraits have become more of a cultural symbol than a spiritual one, and their prevalence attracts throngs of tourists.
3. In Russia, authorities proposed to ban all things “emo” because they were declared a threat to national stability.
Black eyeliner and bad hairdos, be gone!
In 2008, authorities proposed laws to ban “emo” culture.
The anti-emo legislation was based on the presumption that the trend promotes depression, social withdrawal and suicide, according to The Guardian.
The bill described “emos” as teens clad in black and pink clothing with studded belts, painted fingernails, piercings and black hair that “covers half the face,” The Guardian reported.
If Russian lawmakers have their way, teens will have to hang up their studded belts by 2020.
4. In China, any TV shows and films featuring time travel are censored.
Sorry, Chinese “Back to the Future” fans.
In 2011, the State Administration for Radio, Film and Television in China began phasing out any form of entertainment depicting time travel because they “lack positive thoughts and meaning,” according to the New York Times.
The decision was based on the assumption that time travel provides a false impression of history and that Chinese television needs to stop appropriating “Western products” and generate content that is “intrinsically Chinese,” the Telegraph reported.
5. In Niue, an island nation in the South Pacific, its coins feature Disney and “Star Wars” characters.
This tiny island may have a meager population of about 1,200 — but it’s renowned for having Mickey Mouse on its money.
The South Pacific nation began producing quirky coins — featuring “Pokémon” characters, Disney Princesses and “Star Wars” personalities — in a bid to boost its economy and put the petite peninsula on the map.
The coins are legal tender on the Polynesian atoll, but around the world, they are being traded as collector’s items.
In 2014, the most expensive coins were made from 7.1 grams of gold, featured Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Pluto, and retailed for $625, although their denomination in Niue dollars was just $25.
6. Ethiopia follows a calendar that is seven years behind the rest of the world.
Ethiopia lives seven years behind the rest of the world based on its alternate calculations of when Jesus Christ was born, according to The Africa Report.
The Ethiopian calendar follows the beliefs of the country’s Christian Orthodox Church and is rooted in the Coptic or Egyptian calendar, which is about seven to eight years behind the mainstream Gregorian calendar, the BBC reported.
September 12 marks the start of the New Year for the African country — so their new millennium began on what we consider Sept. 12, 2007.
7. In Denmark, citizens have to select baby names from a list of 7,000 government-approved names.
Eccentric celebrity spawn names like Apple and Saint probably wouldn’t fly in this Scandinavian country.
Denmark’s Law on Personal Names was put in place to protect children from being laden with outlandish monikers that are likely to incite future ridicule, the New York Times reported.
And for parents who wish to diverge from the list, they must seek approval from the government.
About 1,100 novel names are assessed every year and 15% to 20% of them are rejected, according to the Times.
8. In Malaysia, authorities prohibited its people from wearing yellow clothing.
Yellow is typically associated with sunshine and friendship — but that didn’t stop one Southeast Asian country from banning the brilliant hue.
In August, amid demands that Prime Minister Najib Razak resign after corruption allegations surfaced, authorities decided to disallow people from sporting the sunny shade because it was the color worn by protest organizers, the Mirror reported.
The directive declared that the “printing, importation, production, reproduction, publishing, sale, issue, circulation, distribution, or possession” of yellow t-shirts are “likely prejudicial to public order,” according to The Malaysian Insider.
9. In Singapore, selling, importing or spitting out chewing gum is illegal.
In 1992, in an attempt to establish Singapore as an idyllic enclave, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew introduced a set of stringent laws — like banning chewing gum, according to the BBC.
The leader believed gum would sully the country’s pavement and subway carts.
As of 2004, pharmacists and dentists are allowed to sell “therapeutic” gum to patients with medical prescriptions for it.
Today, it is legal to transport a small amount of gum to the country for personal use, but the vending of it remains illicit, and leaving masticated gum as litter results in a hefty fine.
10. In France, you can marry a dead person.
Postmortem matrimony has been legal in France since the reign of Napoleon, but it was only enacted in 1959, when a dam burst, killing 420 people, and a bereaved woman who lost her beau in the incident pleaded to marry him, according to Atlas Obscura.
There are, however, some caveats.
The living person is required to prove that the couple intended to marry prior to his or her loved one’s death and must obtain permission from the family of the departed, according to Atlas Obscura.
What’s more, the living person does not acquire the deceased’s assets following the union, so as to inhibit opportunistic gold diggers from exploiting the law.
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