Unravelling Europe’s Quirks: Unique Customs To Understand Before Relocating
Congratulations on making the huge decision to relocate to Europe. This exciting and life-changing experience can offer a multitude of opportunities and adventures. However, with so many unique and diverse European countries to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to make your new home.
Making the move to a new country can be daunting, particularly when it involves shifting to a completely new culture and way of living. Europe is home to a vast array of traditions and customs that you may be unfamiliar with, making it essential to take the time to research and learn more about the locations on your shortlist.
To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of the lesser-known customs and traditions that will expand your knowledge and help you to make your final decision:
Danube Cross Swimming, Romania
A unique and captivating tradition observed in Romania, this event typically involves a wooden cross being thrown into the Daube River by a priest, following which swimmers dive into the water to retrieve it. It’s not just a test of physical endurance but also a display of faith and devotion.
This tradition is particularly significant during the Epiphany celebrations in Făcăeni, Romania. Besides religious significance, the event also draws attention due to feats like that of Avram Iancu, a Romanian librarian who swam the entire length of the Danube, showcasing incredible determination and skill.
This expansive wetland, known as the Danube Delta, spans over 1,500,000 acres and is incredibly rich in biodiversity. It’s a geographical marvel and a crucial habitat for over 5,500 species of flora and fauna, making it a significant ecological treasure.
Sausage Tossing Tradition, Switzerland
Is Switzerland on your shortlist? One of the country’s most quirky and unique traditions is the sausage tossing festival or the ‘Eis-zwei-Geissebei’ which takes place annually on the 6th of January.
This lively historical event dates back to the Middle Ages and involves throwing sausages, gingerbread and bread rolls out of the window to children that gather below. This may seem bizarre and slightly messy, but it symbolises feeding hungry children during the siege.
Please be aware that there are enforced quiet hours as part of the Swiss strict laws, and these must be adhered to.
11 am Curfew for Milky Coffee, Italy
Italy’s coffee culture is rich with traditions and unwritten rules, one of which may surprise you if you decide to settle in Italy.
Drinking milky coffee after 11 am is frowned upon, so if you’re dreaming of an afternoon latte in a quaint Italian café, you might want to reconsider and opt for an espresso instead.
I’m sure you’re wondering why this tradition exists. It’s believed that coffee with milk added is heavy and best suited to the morning hours, making it more of a popular choice for breakfast.
Another thing to note is that “coffee to go” is virtually non-existent in Italian culture. They much prefer to savour their coffee in a relaxed manner by sitting at a table and using it as a prime time to socialise and unwind.
After work, Germany
Also known as “Feierabend”, this is a term which literally translates to “celebration evening”, encapsulating the German value of work-life balance. It’s a time cherished by Germans, dedicated completely to relaxation and hobbies, and free from professional responsibilities.
Whether it’s enjoying a leisurely meal with family, meeting friends for drinks or just simply indulging in a quiet evening at home, “Feierabend” is a testament to the German culture’s emphasis on creating a clear distinction between work and personal time.
This serves as a daily reminder that while work is of course important, so too is taking time to unwind and enjoy life’s simple pleasures.
Saying ‘Bonjour’ to everyone, France
In France, saying hello and goodbye is an all-important element of their cultural etiquette, deeply ingrained in their social norm. A friendly and polite ‘Bonjour’ to everyone present at one time, including other customers or diners when visiting any shop or dining establishment is customary.
This practise is followed by saying ‘Au revoir’ to each person when leaving. This action showcases good manners and respect and serves as an agreeable way to acknowledge everyone in the space around you.
‘La bise’ or the French double kiss is one of the most distinguished features of French greetings. When you see someone you know, brace yourself to lean in for a quick peck on each cheek
The Spanish Siesta
A Spanish workday will usually consist of two separate shifts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon with a long break between, this may slightly different approach than you’re used to, especially when it comes to working later into the evening.
During the afternoon break, usually between 2-5 pm, most shops and businesses will close while their employees head back home for a ‘siesta’ or nap. This custom isn’t just unique to Spain and is prevalent in many Mediterranean countries due to the intense midday heat.
Although this may take some getting used to initially, this nap caters to a healthier work-life balance promoting productivity and employee wellness.
‘Siesta’ is derived from the Latin phrase “hora sexta’” meaning “sixth hour” which refers to the period roughly six hours after dawn break.
Embracing change is a fundamental aspect of transitioning to a new county, especially when it comes to adjusting to new cultures and traditions. To ensure a smooth integration, it’s essential to be well-prepared beforehand. There are several factors to consider when choosing to reside in a European country, such as unique business and societal practises. Familiarising yourself with this beforehand will prove invaluable in making a successful transition into your new life.
Moving to a new country can be daunting, but with the right mindset and adequate preparation, it can be equally as fulfilling.