18 US Traditions That Totally Baffle People From Other Countries

America attracts millions of tourists annually who are drawn to its unique culture, beautiful landscapes, and sheer size. Tourists are also often puzzled by its traditions, like the Pledge of Allegiance in schools and tipping culture. Here are 18 American traditions that baffle people from other countries. 

College Sports Fanaticism

Photo Credit: aceshot1/Shutterstock.

Americans love college sports. They show intense loyalty and support for their local college sports teams and have tailgating parties in stadium car parks before football games. In other countries, college sports aren’t significant at all, and many people won’t even know the names of their local teams. 

Sweet 16 Celebrations

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

This coming-of-age party celebrates a girl’s sixteenth birthday and is a big event in a teenage girl’s life. Sweet 16 traditions include a candle ceremony, a shoe ceremony, and a father-daughter dance. A similar celebration in Latin America, the quinceañera, is celebrated on girls’ fifteenth birthdays. 

Tipping Culture

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Tipping culture in America often baffles tourists. Americans are expected to tip 20% for a meal and at least $1 per drink at bars. A report from the Pew Research Center reveals that Americans believe they are expected to tip in more places than five years ago and that “for most people, tipping is first and foremost about service.”

The Pledge of Allegiance in Schools

Photo Credit: DJ_Images/Shutterstock.

Public schools in America often start their day with a recital of the Pledge of Allegiance. Most states have laws requiring public schools to recite the pledge, which some criticize as infringing on Americans’ right to freedom of expression. 

Black Friday Shopping

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

The day after Thanksgiving in America is the unofficial start of the Christmas shopping season. Americans will line up waiting for stores to open to grab the deals on offer, sometimes leading to chaotic scenes. 

Thanksgiving Day Parades

Photo Credit: Hoover Tung/Shutterstock.

Thanksgiving Day parades are an annual event in America, with large-scale parades like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City attracting thousands of visitors. Huge balloon figures of pop-culture characters like Sonic parade the streets along with marching bands and musical performances. 

Political Campaign Ads

Photo Credit: Wileydoc/Shutterstock.

American political campaigns spend billions on trying to get their presidential candidates elected. Other countries spend far less. In the UK, £460,000 was spent on Rishi Sunak’s 2022 leadership bid. Reuters reported in January that political advertising for this election year will likely be a third higher than in 2020, and TV media will again take a “lion’s share of the dollars.” 

Supersized Portions

Photo Credit: Hannamariah/Shutterstock.

America is infamous for its large food servings in restaurants, particularly in fast-food outlets like McDonald’s. Tourists from other countries are often shocked by these supersized portions, which dwarf those in European and Asian nations. 

Sales Tax Not Included in Prices

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Prices in grocery stores are displayed without tax, which is added at the checkout in America. Sales rate tax varies by state and locality, which confuses tourists from regions like Europe, which have tax-inclusive pricing. 

Prescription Drug Advertisements

Photo Credit: Adul10/Shutterstock.

Prescription drug advertisements are legal in America, which often shocks tourists who have never seen TV ads for drugs. Pharmaceutical companies spend billions on TV ads annually, promoting drugs including Dupixent, Rinvoq and Skyrizi. The National Library of Medicine explains that the FDA has some rules about prescription drug ads, including providing the drug’s generic name and sharing all its adverse effects. 

Halloween Celebrations

Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.

Halloween is celebrated in the UK, Canada, and a few European countries, but it is a huge event in America. Extensive home decorations, costume wearing, and trick-or-treating are a nationwide event every year on October 31st. 

24-Hour Stores and Services

Photo Credit: S and S Imaging/Shutterstock.

In America, convenience stores, gas stations, and some diners are open 24/7. Stores like 7-Eleven are always open, offering customers much greater flexibility than chains that close in the evenings. 

The Homecoming Tradition

Photo Credit: Brocreative/Shutterstock.

Homecoming is an annual tradition in high schools and colleges. It is built around an event like football matches or, occasionally, basketball and ice hockey games. The homecoming dance also features a king and queen crowned by their fellow students. 

Baby Showers

Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock.

Americans celebrate the upcoming birth of a child with gifts that will be useful in its upbringing at baby showers. SheKnows points out the phenomenon isn’t celebrated in the UK, Japan, or Russia, and religions like Judaism “avoid pre-birth festivities for fear it will jinx the pregnancy.” 

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Peanut butter and jelly, or PB&J sandwiches, are a staple of American childhood cuisine. Americans enjoy these sandwiches’ simplicity and interesting blend of sweet and savory tastes, which many tourists find unusual. 

Drive-Thru Everything

Photo Credit: ArmadilloPhotograp/Shutterstock.

The car is king in America, and drive-thru services permeate the country in food, banking, pharmacies, and more. They symbolize the convenience and efficiency prized by so many Americans, but most tourists have only seen them in their local McDonald’s. 

Over-the-Top Wedding Proposals

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.

Some Americans propose in extremely elaborate and often public fashions. Getting down on one knee at a football game is not uncommon, where the event is captured on camera in front of thousands of attendees. 

Sprawling Suburbs

Photo Credit: romakoma/Shutterstock.

Suburbs are massive in America. Working from home has become more common since the COVID-19 pandemic, and millions of Americans are choosing to live in detached houses in the sprawling suburbs.

Read More: 18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand

Photo Credit: michaeljung/Shutterstock.

American expressions are a vital part of its culture, reflecting the nation’s history and values. However, these sayings can sometimes puzzle people from other countries because they often carry context, colloquialisms, and historical references that can lose their intended meaning when crossing borders. Let’s look at 18 of such American sayings.

18 American Phrases That Non-Americans Struggle to Understand

18 Reasons Why No One Is Interested in Working Anymore

Photo Credit: PeopleImages.com – Yuri A/Shutterstock.

The concept of traditional employment has taken a back seat in recent times with changes in economic and social factors, as well as individual preferences. Traditional jobs have also evolved, and many people don’t feel the need to take this route anymore. These are 18 reasons why no one is interested in working anymore.

18 Reasons Why No One Is Interested in Working Anymore

17 States Americans No Longer Want to Live In

Photo Credit: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock.

America is constantly changing, and within it, so are its states. Some have new laws that residents don’t agree with, while others have increasing rates of unemployment or areas of extreme poverty. These aspects make it difficult for a person to stay in their home state. Here are 17 states that Americans are deciding to reconsider.

17 States Americans No Longer Want to Live In

17 Things That Are Sadly Disappearing From Everyday Life

Photo Credit: Creative House/Shutterstock.

Life in modern times seems to evolve at an unprecedented pace. Certain things we couldn’t live without a few years ago are rapidly becoming redundant. Let’s take a peek at 17 such victims of modernization and why they’re slowly but surely disappearing.

17 Things That Are Sadly Disappearing From Everyday Life

15 Ways To Tell If Someone Is Not a Good Person

Photo Credit: Pheelings media/Shutterstock.

While it’s important to avoid quick judgments, certain behaviors can be strong indicators of a person’s character. Here are 15 ways to discern if someone might be a bad influence or possess harmful traits.

15 Ways To Tell If Someone Is Not a Good Person