Just for fun: Unusual cultural habits in Colombia and around the world

In this Just for fun thread, we would like to highlight unconventional customs which make Colombia stand out. This is a chance, at the same time, to learn about other countries’ equally interesting traditions.

1. Which country considers cats to be lucky? How about Colombia?
2. In which country should you not write in red ink?
3. Is there anything like a 15-minute grace period in Colombia or is showing up on time or earlier a common practice?
4. In which country do people greet each other by rubbing noses?
5. What is one custom associated with Colombian culture that you have found to be quite unusual?

Thanks for participating,
Diksha

Hi Diksha! Thank you for providing this opportunity to myself and others.

I will be spending 2 weeks in Colombia late Jan/early Feb 2020; a week in Santa Marta & a week in Medelline. I've been to Ecuador twice and to Nicaragua. I know it will be beautiful and I will love it. I'm actually thinking I might relocate there from the states.

My question is this: why is the dress code so meaningful to Colombians? Is it just Medelline and Bogata? I'm not a slob, but I do prefer comfort over looking like everybody else!

Thanks!
Julie

Desgner :

My question is this: why is the dress code so meaningful to Colombians?

There's a dress code in Colombia?

Generally both the women and men there do like to look nice and take some pains with their appearance, to be pleasing to the eye, and they dress appropriately both for fashion and climate, when and where possible.  Many do not have that luxury and their dress is more utilitarian.  Many in the employ of a company may be required to wear a uniform of some sort.  But there's no dress code per se...

Ok. Thanks for your reply! I may have used the term incorrectly.😂 I have talked to some people that live in Medellin and read online that shorts are a strict "NO". That mostly Jean's must be worn most of the time and no flip flops. I take pride in my appearance also, so even my flip flops are rather dressy. I just wanted to fit in and not have Colombians think I am an uncaring gringo. In my region, even in the 70's or cooler, we wear shorts.

Shorts and flip-flops are fine for the coast.

Bring a variety of clothes to suit the different climates then just take note of what the locals are wearing then try to dress in a similar fashion.

Whether or not you want to stick to the 'code' depends on who you are mixing with and who you want to impress. It's common sense really.

I've lived here for over 13 years and have lived in several other foreign countries.  The one thing that strikes me is the enormous quantities of booze consumed and the incredibly loud music.  I guess that's a cultural thing.

Americans are famous in Colombia for being bad dressers,  you can always spot them on the street from the crappy clothes they wear.  Colombians are good dressers, even if they don't have a lot of money, they dress well.  Also Colombians do like their whiskey and music.

Guaro far more than whiskey.  Cheap and effective.

Thank you, and yes, I agree it's common sense🤣. My original question was in regard to WHY there is such uniformity in dressing, particularly in Medelline. It is seen in business attire and groups, such as high school students, here; but not in the general population? I will just accept it is a "cultural" thing and not seek an answer!

Desgner :

Thank you, and yes, I agree it's common sense🤣. My original question was in regard to WHY there is such uniformity in dressing, particularly in Medelline. It is seen in business attire and groups, such as high school students, here; but not in the general population? I will just accept it is a "cultural" thing and not seek an answer!

Yes it's a cultural thing - it's a different culture!  Many businesses have their employees wear an actual uniform.  Many "white collar" workers are expected to adhere to strict dress codes at work.  Many schools have the students wear uniforms as well, especially Catholic schools.  This is commonplace in all parts of Colombia.  It hasn't been so long - well within living memory - that the USA was quite similar.  It is only within the last few decades in the USA that dress codes have been relaxed compared to what they were.

A culture that is coherent will naturally have similarities in the way people dress and behave, even without explicit enforcement - that is exactly what the essence of a culture is.  One definition:  "Culture is the characteristics and knowledge of a particular group of people, encompassing language, religion, cuisine, social habits, music and arts."  Even by that incomplete definition, Colombia definitely has its own national culture that makes it a unique place where people have a character that makes them recognizably Colombian as individuals, to their Latin neighbors and all over the world.

I have been going to and lived in Colombia for many years.  One of the things that bothers me the most is the requirement in going to fancy parties with no air conditioning to wear long sleeve shirts and jackets.  I tend to sweat a lot and there is nothing worse than having to wear a jacket and long sleeve shirt in a place where there is no air conditioning and the temperature and humidity are both over eighty.

If you are like me and don’t care what people think you should dress however you feel comfortable. If you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb then you should dress nicely.

My wife obligates me to dress nicely and there have been times when I was thankful to her during a social event. 

Colombians look at appearance a lot and they are very very quick to judge a book by its cover, that is until they find out you are a “gringo” then they let their guard down a little.

Bottom line, I have been here for 7 years and when we spot a gringo from a mile away ( and yes I am a gringo”, it is usually because we see a Hawaiian shirt, red shorts, and flip flops. I shake my head in embarrassment and wonder how in the world no one helps them “fit in”. But like I said, if you are comfortable in how you dress then who cares what anyone thinks. Hope this helps.

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