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Sep 29, 2014

19 Mind-Blowing Facts About Life In Other Countries

Find out which country lets boys whip girls on Easter. (Inspired by these answers on Quora.)

1. In the Netherlands, school finishes at midday on Wednesdays.

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It's intended so parents can spend more time with their primary school-aged children. Many employers allow parents to go home at midday on Wednesdays.

2. A widely believed urban legend in South Korea is "fan death," i.e., that sleeping in a closed room containing a running electric fan will kill you.

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Believers attribute fan death to hypothermia or asphyxiation, allegedly caused by the fan.

3. In Bhutan, wearing seatbelts in a car is considered dangerous.

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Residents fear belts will trap them in their vehicles if their cars fall off one of the country's plentiful 20,000-plus mountains.

4. In Slovakia, it's custom for boys to pour water over girls and whip them on Easter.

View this video on YouTube

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On Easter Monday in Slovakia, it's tradition for boys to pour water over girls and whip them lightly with braided willow branches that have ribbons attached, in an event called šibačka. (The whipping is usually done lightly and symbolically.)

According to Czech Mate Diary: "If you were one of the first houses the mob visited, you were lucky: The guys are still kind of sober, kind of polite and kind of mellow. You let them into the living room – or better – just a hallway, give them some refreshments, offer them more vodka and let them “spank” you. If they still have their egg baskets, you would also stuff couple of eggs in them and if you are lucky they leave afterwards."

5. Nodding means "no" in Bulgaria.

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Shaking your head means yes.

6. In Norway, graduating high school students attend a russefeiring where they wear colored overalls, rent buses or vans, and party for 17 days straight.

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The partying starts on April 20 and ends on May 17, which is Norwegian Constitution Day. People spend HUGE amounts of money on busses for the event. Here's a Reddit AMA about it.

7. Blood type is a huge deal in Japan.

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In Japanese culture, your blood type supposedly determines much about your personality. (Read more about the history of this belief here.) Articles about celebrities will list their blood types, and you can buy condoms tailored to your blood type. Dating someone with a complementary blood type is considered an efficient way to find your match.

8. A sizeable number of New Zealanders go out in public barefoot.

9. You have to pay for a license to watch TV in Britain.

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Since April 1, 2010, the annual license fee for households has been £145.50 for color TVs. Revenue from it funds the BBC.

10. Most people don't drink the tap water in Hong Kong.

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It's safe to drink, but residents consume over 1 million bottles of bottled water per day.

11. You have to pay for every ketchup and mayonnaise packet at McDonald's in Italy.

12. Voting is mandatory in Brazil.

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Voting is compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old. (Non-voters are subject to small fines.)

13. Many Icelanders believe in the existence of elves.

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A 2007 study found that 37% of Icelanders said elves possibly exist, 17% found their existence likely, and 8% found it definite. Recently, plans to build a new road in Iceland had to be diverted due to elves "living" in its path.

14. Canada sells milk in bags.

15. At a Dutch birthday party, you congratulate all of the guests, except the person who's having the birthday.

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So you would shake the hand of the boyfriend at a birthday party for his girlfriend and say, "Gefeliciteerd!" ("Congrats!") on your girlfriend's birthday.

16. Swedes put kebab on their pizza.

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17. In India, the car horn is as important as the gas pedal.

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Most drivers don't have or check side mirrors, and just honk when they want to make a turn.

18. Switzerland has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world.

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This is in part due to the country's conscripted militia, as men between 20 and 30 keep government-issued weapons in their homes. But according to NPR, firearm deaths in Switzerland are just one-seventh the rate of that in the United States.

19. In the U.S., over 1 million people flock to Times Square each year to stand in the freezing cold for eight hours just to watch a ball slowly descend.

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People who go often wear diapers, because there are no bathrooms available. The rest of the country regards them as "idiots."

"What is commonly known (or believed) in one country, which would be mind-blowing to foreigners?" originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

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