Skip to Content

19 Bizarre American Traditions That Leave Foreigners Scratching Their Heads!

19 Bizarre American Traditions That Leave Foreigners Scratching Their Heads!

America’s culture is rich with unique traditions that often appear peculiar to those from other parts of the world. From the frenzied shopping of Black Friday to the elaborate rites of college fraternities and sororities, these customs can be as bewildering as they are fascinating. In this guide, we explore 19 such American traditions, shedding light on everything from the lavish celebration of Prom Night to the peculiar practice of presidential turkey pardoning. These customs, steeped in history and local culture, offer a snapshot of the varied and sometimes mystifying ways in which Americans celebrate, commemorate, and come together.

1. Black Friday Madness

Image Credit: Shutterstock / DC Studio

The day after Thanksgiving sees Americans lining up before dawn to score discounted goods, often leading to chaotic scenes of shopping frenzy.

2. Super Bowl Sunday

Image Credit: Shutterstock /

Beyond just a football game, this day is marked by extravagant parties, over-the-top commercials, and the infamous halftime show, making it a uniquely American spectacle.

3. College Fraternities and Sororities

Image Credit: Shutterstock / fitzcrittle

Greek life on college campuses involves elaborate initiation rituals, strict hierarchies, and a strong sense of brotherhood or sisterhood, which can seem strange to those outside the system.

4. Tailgating

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Pre-game parties in stadium parking lots involve grilling, drinking, and socializing, creating a unique sports-watching experience that’s hard to replicate elsewhere.

5. Tipping Culture

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Kamil Zajaczkowski

Americans often tip service workers, from waitstaff to baristas, as a way to supplement their income, a practice that can be confusing or even offensive in other countries where service charges are included.

6. Fourth of July Celebrations

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Sal Augruso

Independence Day festivities include fireworks, barbecues, and parades, all centered around commemorating America’s birth as a nation.

7. Prom Night

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Roman Samborskyi

A rite of passage for American teenagers, prom involves elaborate formalwear, corsages, and dancing, with some schools even electing prom kings and queens.

8. Halloween Trick-Or-Treating

Image Credit: Shutterstock /

Children dress up in costumes and go door-to-door collecting candy, a tradition that can seem strange to those unfamiliar with the holiday’s origins.

9. Thanksgiving Turkeys

Image Credit: Shutterstock / LightField Studios

The centerpiece of the Thanksgiving meal, roasted turkeys are often so large that they boggle the minds of non-Americans, who may wonder how anyone could eat such a massive bird.

10. Pledge of Allegiance

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Dennis MacDonald

Reciting this pledge in schools is a daily ritual for many American children, instilling a sense of patriotism that can seem excessive to outsiders.

11. State Fairs`

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ronnie Chua

These annual events feature bizarre attractions like butter sculptures and deep-fried foods, showcasing a unique blend of Americana and eccentricity.

12. Presidential Pardoning of Turkeys

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Tory Kallman

Each year, the president ceremoniously spares a turkey from the Thanksgiving dinner table, a tradition that has its roots in folklore but can seem odd to those outside the U.S.

13. Baby Showers

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Larysa Vasylenko

Expectant mothers are showered with gifts and well-wishes at these celebratory events, which can seem overly extravagant to those from cultures with different traditions around childbirth.

14. Homecoming

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ruth Peterkin

High school and college students celebrate the return of alumni with spirited events like pep rallies, football games, and dances, showcasing a strong sense of school pride.

15. Groundhog Day

Image Credit: Shutterstock / marekuliasz

Every February 2nd, Americans eagerly await the prediction of Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog said to forecast the arrival of spring, a tradition that might leave non-Americans scratching their heads.

16. Sweet Sixteen Parties

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alexmegapixel

Lavish celebrations to mark a girl’s 16th birthday, complete with extravagant gifts and elaborate parties, can seem excessive to those from cultures with different coming-of-age traditions.

17. County Fairs

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ground Picture

These rural gatherings feature contests like pie-eating and pig races, offering a glimpse into Americana that can be puzzling to outsiders.

18. High School Graduation Ceremonies

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Prostock-studio

With caps, gowns, and diplomas, these ceremonies often involve speeches, processions, and pomp and circumstance, symbolizing the culmination of years of academic achievement.

19. Ingrained in American Culture

Image Credit: Shutterstock /

These traditions, while deeply ingrained in American culture, can be perplexing to those from outside the country, highlighting the unique quirks and customs that make America what it is.

More From The Green Voyage

Top 10 Trending Travel Destinations 2024

6 Essential Banking Apps for International Travel – Managing Your Finances on the Go

Traveling With Kids – 10 Tips to Create Memorable Family Holidays

The post 19 Bizarre American Traditions That Leave Foreigners Scratching Their Heads! first appeared on The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Hamara.

For transparency, this content was partly developed with AI assistance and carefully curated by an experienced editor to be informative and ensure accuracy.

Related posts:

18 Places in the World That Are Most LGBTQ-Friendly
Travel Insurance Secrets They Don't Want You to Know
18 Reasons Why Splurging Isn't Always Splendid - Luxury Travel Letdowns
Essential Global Woke Vocabulary – 21 Things You Need to Know 
Self-Improvement Tips for Travelers - Game Changers
How American Tourists Disrespect Local Cultures
21 Ways Immigration Has Reshaped America's Tourism Industry
20 Best International Cities for American Street Performers
Is Your Wallet Ready for This? The Ultimate Guide to America's Priciest Places to Visit
How Transgender Travelers Are Revolutionizing the Tourism Industry
17 Deepest Lakes in the US: A Descent to the Depths
Try Something Different: 21 Undiscovered US Places to Vacation
Why You Should Rethink That Trip to Mexico
Top 20 Serene Yoga Retreats Across the USA
Dream Retirement Spots for Americans
21 Reasons Why Camping Sucks
25 U.S. Rip-Offs Driving Americans to Canada and Mexico
How to Deal with Jerks While Traveling
US Travel Trouble - Navigating the Rising Costs of Travel
Why Is France the Most Visited Country in the World?
21 Ways LGBTQ+ Rights Are Under Threat in America – A Traveler's Guide to Understanding
Best Hunting Trails Across the U.S.
15 Weird Texan Traditions
The Rise of State Abortion Trips: 15 Dark Journeys - A Grim New ‘Vacation’ Trend
Health CRISIS Hotspots: Navigating the 10 U.S. States Confronting Major Health Challenges
25 Most Dangerous Places on Earth
21 Snobberies Only Seattleites Will Understand
21 Idyllic Reasons to Idle in Idaho
17 Countries Female Americans Travel to Escape Sexism - Empowerment!
Remote Work Revolution: Expanding Travel Horizons for American Digital Nomads