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10 Cool European Drinking Customs To Learn About Before Traveling

While Americans typically drink for relaxation - or for just the sake of getting drunk - Europeans have other reasons to imbibe. Though customs vary from country to country, there are sacred drinking traditions for pretty much every country in Europe. Sure, some Europeans drink for the same reasons Americans do, but others consider their drinking habits as a classy part of their culture that pays homage to the customs invented by their ancestors. If you're traveling to a European country anytime soon, check out these drinking customs so you'll be prepared for a night out or fancy dinner!

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10 Spain, France, Germany - Maintain Eye Contact During A Toast

Toasting - the act of raising your glass and celebrating your blessings, or wishing for things like health and wealth - isn't exactly a completely new concept for the Western world. What's different about toasting in many European countries, however, is the insistence upon eye contact. In various countries - most notably Spain, France, and Germany - not maintaining eye contact with the person giving the toast throughout the entire speech will result in seven years of bad sex! The people you're with might not necessarily admonish you for being "rude," but they will certainly think you're crazy for cursing yourself like that!

9 Russia - No Mixers

Russia is pretty passionate about vodka. Seriously, they toss it back like Americans would a beer! There are actually multiple studies out there saying that Russians, on average, consume 18 liters of pure alcohol each!

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The keyword here is "pure" - mixing your vodka with soda or juice is a big no-no. It's not exactly offensive to do so, but it will definitely brand you as a bit of weirdo! Prepare yourself to drink just straight-up liquor, as intense as it might seem! Not to mention, it's also considered kind of different for someone not to finish the entire bottle in Russia. Buckle up!

8 France - Small Sips Only

The people of France don't drink alcohol for the effect it has -- or if they do, they won't admit it! Instead, French people prefer to drink alcohol for the sole purpose of complementing their meals. They really like to observe the flavors and aromas of their drink, which is more often than not a glass of wine. While it's definitely fun to learn about what drinks taste better with certain foods, the custom comes with the condition that you can't grab a drink to simply get buzzed fast. Giant sips or even worse, chugging, is not a thing in France. Tiny sips only!

7 Greece - Say Cheers

Sure, people clink their glasses together and say "Cheers!" all over the world, but it's almost a requirement in Greece! Did you ever wonder how the tradition started? In Ancient times, prisoners in Greece were executed via poisoning. (Remember learning about how the philosopher Socrates was forced to drink hemlock?) During these times, a tradition of clinking glasses began so that the chances your drink would slosh into the other person's glass would be higher. That way, no one can poison you unless they potentially want to be poisoned themselves! Greek people still insist upon doing it to this day.

6 Hungary - Don't Toast

While pretty much every other European country has a tradition involving toasting, Hungarians actually prefer you don't do it! According to legend, the Austrians celebrated defeating the Hungarian revolution in the 1800s by toasting and clinking their glasses together. During this time, Hungarians vowed to never toast or say cheers for the next 150 years. Those 150 years have long since come and gone, yet many people in Hungary still like to uphold the tradition even hundreds of years later. A toast is generally recommended no matter where you are in Europe -- unless it's Hungary.

5 Italy - Wine Only

Are you a fan of milk or juice? That's too bad. If you're sitting down to a meal in Italy, it's wine or water only. No matter if it's a sit-down meal at home or you're dining out at a restaurant, those will typically be your only options. You're out of luck if you'd rather have a nice cold soda, but you can always try and substitute it with sparkling water so you get the same bubbly texture. Oh, and make sure you're okay with a room-temperature beverage. Putting ice in both water or wine is against tradition.

4 The Netherlands - Don't Use Your Hands

Fortunately for you, this rule is part of a specific game rather than a tradition. You will not be admonished for not abiding by this rule! But if you plan on taking a shot of the Dutch liquor Genever, prepare to play the game "Kopstootje!" That word translates to "little head-butt," which is pretty fitting. Traditionally, a shot of Genever is served in a tulip-shaped glass filled to the brim. To play Kopstootje, you must drink from this glass and knock back the shot -- without using your hands! After, it's customary to chase the liquor down with beer.

3 England and Ireland - Go Out For A "Session"

If you're in England or Ireland, you might be invited out for a "session." A session is basically just a social gathering where you plan to have some drinks, but not get too inebriated. It's still customary to drink a large amount of beer during a session, but the trick is to only drink a "session beer," a.k.a a beer with low alcohol content.

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The Brits often call a session a "sesh." The Irish sometimes plan a "pub session," meaning they plan to play or listen to music at a pub.

2 Scandanavia and Denmark - Say Skål

In Scandanavia and Denmark, the people still have toasts, but they shout "skål!" (pronounced "skoal") instead of "cheers!" The word translates to "bowl," but dive deeper into the origin of the tradition and it gets a little creepy! Legend has it that their Viking ancestors would shout this phrase will drinking wine...out of the skulls of their enemies. How resourceful of the Vikings to use human skulls as a bowl! Needless to say, drinking out of a skull is no longer customary. Shouting the word still is though! Skål!

1 Italy - Keep Your Eye Out For Hidden Pubs

While wine is typically the more socially acceptable drink in Italy, some Italians still can't resist a nice pint of beer! Throughout the country, there are "holes in the wall" -- discreet places to grab a beer. Many workers will take a break, sneakily order a beer, and drink it quickly before leaving and returning to work. And this is often done multiple times a day! Apparently, a Hole in the Wall is something everyone pretty much knows about, but just doesn't talk about. If you're in Italy, keep your eyes peeled and see if you can pick up on if there's one near you!

NEXT: Top 10 Tips For Visiting Eastern Europe

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