What do you think of when someone says, “cross your fingers?” It typically means you’re hoping that something will happen, and it’s a symbolic gesture that kind of throws your thoughts and intentions out into the universe. Of course, there’s also crossing your fingers behind your back when having a conversation, which can signal lying.
Unfortunately, doing the sign-in some other cultures can be incredibly offensive. Take Vietnam, where crossed fingers are the symbol of a woman’s private parts.
Devil Horn Hand Signal
While KISS frontman Gene Simmons has tried to trademark the famous “devil horns” hand sign, other countries use it to signal marital infidelity. Yep, in Brazil, Portugal, Spain, and Columbia, the hand signal means that someone’s wife has been sleeping with someone outside of the marriage. Yikes.
Yeah, you don’t want to be on the wrong end of that misunderstanding. Of course, the sign has its own controversy in the US and elsewhere, as well, by those who are religious and believe it to be an actual sign of the devil.
Showing the Palm of Your Hand
Just like showing the bottom of your feet can be rude in many other cultures, so can showing someone the palm of your hand. In Greece, showing the palm, coupled with five spread fingers creates a hand sign known as the “Moutza,” which means pretty much the same thing as a middle finger in the US. Similar signs are used in Iranian, African, and Caribbean cultures.
In Iraq, quickly pushing your palm towards someone means they are worthy of shame.
Using Your Hand to Beckon Someone
It’s not uncommon for friends, family members, and other familiar groups of people in the US to use their hands to signal for one another across loud or crowded rooms and other areas. But in some countries, like many places in Asia, doing so is seen as disrespectful. They believe beckoning is for non-human animals only and will refuse to respond and/or ignore you entirely.
In some cases, it depends on how exactly the signal is done. On the Caribbean Islands, using one finger for the motion says you see the person as a dog.
This is probably pretty basic knowledge, in many places it can be seen as offensive to show off certain parts of the body. While it can be tempting on vacation in tropical areas to throw on a bikini and coverup and head to the beach, it’s actually banned in some countries. Take the UAE, where many beaches have banned swimwear for both men and women.
The same is true in Hvar, Croatia, a popular destination for the mega-rich and famous. In Uganda, women are arrested on a regular basis for wearing skirts that hit above the knee.