15 International Greeting Rituals Americans Should Adopt

1. Hongi

The traditional welcome greeting of the Maori—the indigenous people of that other place down under, New Zealand—is called the hongi. Loosely translated as “the sharing of breath of life,” the greeting involves two individuals pressing their noses against each other gently.

2. Hand Claps

An evening greeting in Zimbabwe involves hand clapping. Men clap hello and goodbye with their flat hands while women traditionally cup their hands. A few quick claps can also mean “thank you.”

3. Salam

This traditional Malay greeting resembles a simple handshake, but incorporates both hands to initiate the greeting. The two people lightly grasp both hands and then bring both to rest, palms down, on their own chest. The gesture symbolizes goodwill and that you greet the other person with an open heart.

4. Kunik

Inuit cultures greet each other with a “kunik,” which is similar to the hongi in that the greeter presses his or her nose and upper lip against their friend. The ritual greeting comes from the Inuit tradition of sniffing the face of a buddy or family member as a sign of affection.

5. Pressing thumbs

This traditional Zambian greeting foregoes any handshaking whatsoever. Instead, the greeters gently squeeze each other’s thumbs to say hello.

6. 3-part handshake

In Botswana the handshake is the normal greeting ritual, but they take it a few steps further. To begin, take another person’s right hand in yours in the normal handshake position—but only shake up and down one time. The next step involves keeping your thumbs interlocked while raising each right arm upwards to make a right angle, then end that step with a second grasp of the hands. Finally, with thumbs still linked, drop your arm back down for a final regular old shake of the hands.

7. Light Shake

They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it—or in China’s case, just do it without much eye contact. The western-style handshake is accepted in China as a greeting, but the preferred method comes with a couple of minor caveats. The lighter the grip the better, and the greeting should always be done in a constant pumping motion. While doing so, make sure not to make eye contact; staring sternly into someone’s eyes is seen as a sign of disrespect.

8. Bow

The bow is perhaps the most recognizable non-Western greeting tradition, but the act goes past a mere bending at the waist. In Japan, the extent of the bow correlates to the amount of respect shown to the recipient. Casual bows begin with a small nod of the head—a gesture more common among casual youth interactions—and can go all the way to ninety-degree bends at the waist as the most extreme example of the sometimes reverential greeting.

9. Wai

Thailand’s similar version of the bow is called a “wai.” It involves placing both of your own hands together as if in a prayer position, and holding them at chest level. The higher the hand position is on your body, the more respectful the gesture is to the recipient. The hand position is then accompanied by a slight bow to top it off.

10. Sungkem

One variation on bow-type greetings is practiced on the Indonesian island of Java. People clasp both hands at about waist-height while one person bows down towards their joined hands as a sign of deep respect and greetings.

11. Sticking out your tongue

Stick your tongue out just about anywhere else in the world and you’ll get in trouble—if not a few weird looks—but not in Tibet. Sticking one’s tongue out is seen as a customary welcome, and the tradition, in fact, comes from an evil black-tongued 9th century king named Lang Darma. To prove that you weren’t the reincarnated king, people would stick their tongue out to show it wasn’t black.

12. Sogi

Another greeting similar to the hongi and to the kunik is the sogi, the traditional greeting of the small Polynesian island of Tuvalu. The greeting involves firmly pressing your nose against the other person’s nose and inhaling deeply at the same time.

13. Nose Kiss

The men of Oman take the nose-based greeting a step further. They press their noses together, but then repeatedly peck them together over and over as if kissing. Some people who greet like this also make kissing noises while they do it.

14. Hada

Mongolians traditionally welcome unfamiliar guests by presenting them with a “hada,” a strip made of either silk or cotton. To politely accept the greeting gift, one should slightly bow as a sign of mutual friendship.

15. Spitting

Saving perhaps the best for last, the Maasai tribe of Kenya and Tanzania greet friends by spitting on one another. Spitting is still acceptable when greeting elders, but a younger tribesman traditionally spits on his own hand before offering it to older members of the tribe as a sign of respect.

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise stated. 

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Jack Taylor, Getty Images
8 Arresting Facts About Scotland Yard
Jack Taylor, Getty Images
Jack Taylor, Getty Images

Depicted in fiction for well over a century as the world's premier police force, Scotland Yard might be the most famous banner for law enforcement in history. Though the name itself is officially a term for the location of the London Metropolitan Police headquarters, it’s taken on a colloquial use to describe the collective brain trust of that station’s patrolmen and detectives. Here’s what we’ve deduced about the past, present, and future of this historic—and sometimes controversial—institution.

1. IT GOT ITS NAME FROM A TRICKY BIT OF GEOGRAPHY.

London didn’t have a formal police force until 1829, when Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel arranged for a squad to replace the fractured system of watchmen, street patrols, and the River Police. Colonel Charles Rowan and Richard Mayne were tasked with organizing the force: Mayne’s house at 4 Whitehall Place opened to an adjacent courtyard that had once been a medieval palace that hosted Scottish royalty while they were in London. This “Great Scotland Yard,” which was also reportedly the name of the street behind the building, became synonymous with Rowan and Mayne’s efforts to create a new era in law enforcement.

2. CHARLES DICKENS TAGGED ALONG ON PATROLS.

Author Charles Dickens poses for a photo
London Stereoscopic Company/Getty Images

The renowned author of Great Expectations and other literary classics wasn’t a policeman, but he did perform the 19th-century equivalent of a ride-along. Dickens was friends with Charles Frederick Field, a Scotland Yard inspector, and their relationship led to Dickens occasionally accompanying patrolmen on their nightly rounds. He even based a character in his novel Bleak House on Fields.

3. THERE WERE DIRTY COPS AMONG THE RANKS IN THOSE EARLY DAYS.

For all of the public acceptance of Scotland Yard—Londoners were initially wary of the plainclothes cops walking among them—the squad suffered a sensational blow to its image in 1877. Known as the “Turf Fraud Scandal” or the “Trial of the Detectives,” the controversy erupted after a Parisian socialite named Madame de Goncourt was conned by two men named Harry Benson and William Kurr. Scotland Yard inspector Nathaniel Druscovich was dispatched to Amsterdam to capture a fleeing Benson while others pursued Kurr. The men proved surprisingly elusive, which prompted suspicion among Scotland Yard officials. When the two con men were finally arrested, they explained that an inspector named John Meiklejohn was taking bribes in exchange for tipping off Kurr to police activity. Two other policemen were implicated; the three each received two years in prison. The high-profile breach led to a reorganization, with the Yard inserting detectives into a new Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to help minimize misconduct.

4. THEY HELPED PIONEER FINGERPRINTING.

A Scotland Yard employee examines fingerprints
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

At one time, the science of fingerprinting was more of a theory than anything that could be put into practice. Most police forces instead relied on anthropometry, a system created by French police officer Alphonse Bertillon, which used 11 body measurements taken by calipers to provide a unique physical identity for an individual. While fingerprinting was beginning to take off in India in the late 1800s, the English-speaking world didn’t adopt the forensic technique of lifting and matching prints until 1901, when Sir Edward Henry, then the assistant commissioner of Scotland Yard, instituted the Metropolitan Police Fingerprint Bureau. In 1902, a billiard ball thief was convicted based on a fingerprint he left on a windowsill. In 1904, a Yard detective demonstrated the efficacy of fingerprinting at the St. Louis World’s Fair, helping spread the new science to American law enforcement officials.

5. THEIR PATROL OFFICERS DIDN’T CARRY GUNS UNTIL 1994.

The uniformed police officers who wander London’s streets with an eye on keeping the peace were unarmed for most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until 1994 that select patrol officers were permitted to carry guns, a policy shift that stemmed from increased assaults on police. The addition of firearms was limited to armed response cars intended to be dispatched to high-risk calls; previously, officers were instructed to keep their weapons in a lockbox inside their vehicles. Today, 90 percent of Metropolitan police officers go on duty without a gun, a policy largely maintained in response to a relatively low number of guns carried by civilians. Less than four in 100 British citizens own a firearm.

6. THEY HAVE A SQUAD OF “SUPER RECOGNIZERS.”

A surveillance camera is posted in London
Leon Neal, AFP/Getty Images

With surveillance cameras dotting London, facial recognition for identifying criminal suspects is in high demand. But no software can outperform Scotland Yard’s team of “super recognizers,” who are recruited for their ability to match a face to a name based on their own memory. These officers are hired by administering a facial recognition test first implemented by Harvard in 2009. Those in the top percentile have an uncanny ability to retain facial feature details and are often dispatched to cull out known criminals like pickpockets at public gatherings. One such specialist, Constable Gary Collins, identified 180 people out of 4000 while examining footage of the 2011 London riots. Software was able to identify exactly one.

7. THEY KEEP A SECRET CRIME MUSEUM HIDDEN FROM THE PUBLIC.

Housed across two floors at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police in London is the Black Museum, a macabre cavalcade of evidence from nearly 150 years of investigative work. Established in 1875, the collection houses body parts (gallstones that failed to dissolve in acid along with the rest of a murder victim) and seemingly innocuous items that take on sinister connotations: A set of pots and pans that once belonged to Scottish serial killer Dennis Nilsen and were used to boil human flesh. It’s closed to the public, though visiting law enforcement and sometimes celebrities can secure an invite: Laurel and Hardy and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have toured its inventory. A sample of the collection went on display at the Museum of London in 2015.  

8. YOU COULD LIVE THERE ONE DAY.

The former New Scotland Yard building at 10 Broadway
Jack Taylor, AFP/Getty Images

The Metropolitan Police have changed locations several times over the years. It was situated at its original location of 4 Whitehall Place from 1829 to 1890, then housed in a large Victorian building on the Victoria Embankment from 1890 until 1967. That’s when the operation was moved to a 600,000 square-foot building at 10 Broadway in Westminster: a famous revolving sign announced a New Scotland Yard was taking up residence. In 2014, the building was sold to investors from Abu Dhabi for $580 million: London cited operating expenses and budget cuts as the reasons for the sale. The buyers plan to mount a residential housing project in the spot. Scotland Yard staff moved to a trimmed-down facility at the Curtis Green Building in Westminster and within walking distance of the Houses of Parliament.   

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iStock
Are You Eco-Conscious? You Could Win a Trip to the Dominican Republic
iStock
iStock

Do you love lounging on the beach but also want to take action to save the planet? You'll be able to do both if you're chosen to serve as a "sustainability advisor" for a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic, Lonely Planet reports.

The worldwide contest is sponsored by Eden Roc at Cap Cana in Punta Cana. The winner and one friend will receive a five-night stay at the Relais & Châteaux hotel, where they'll partake in specially curated activities like a food-sourcing trip with the hotel's chef. (One caveat, though: Airfare isn't included.)

You don't need a degree in conservation to enter, but you will need an Instagram account. Give the resort's Instagram page (@edenroccapcana) a follow and post a photo of you carrying out an eco-friendly activity on your own page. Be sure to tag the resort and use the official hashtag, #EcoEdenRoc.

The only requirement is that the winner meet with hotel staff at the end of his or her trip to suggest some steps that the hotel can take to reduce its environmental impact. The hotel has already banned plastic straws and reduced its usage of plastic bottles, and the sole mode of transport used on site is the electric golf cart.

Beyond the resort, though, the Dominican Republic struggles with deforestation and soil erosion, and the nation scored poorly on the 2018 Environmental Performance Index for the agricultural category.

Entries to the contest will be accepted until August 31, and you can read the full terms and conditions here.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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