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Customs and Traditions

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Different countries have different customs and different sets of beliefs. We have grouped the following countries into regions to illustrate to you how the different customs and traditions of some countries affect the type of clothes people wear.

Portugal: Their traditional clothing consists of berets, stocking caps, baggy shirts and trousers for the men. Women wear long dresses and shawls. In other places the people dress entirely in black or another dark colour for their daily activities, but they put on colourful garments on special occasions.

Scotland: The people from the highlands of Scotland wear kilts. It is a knee-length, skirt-like garment that is pleated at the back, but has a plain front. These kilts are made of tartan, a checked cloth. The design of the kilt is usually associated with a particular Scottish clan.

Ireland: The Irish wear kilts of saffron colour, which are made of fine-spun woollen cloth and a sporran (an ornamental pouch) is worn in front of the kilt. The kilt is usually worn with nothing underneath.

China: The Chinese believe that dark-coloured clothing bring bad luck and should be avoided while wearing brighter-coloured clothes, especially red is auspicious as it is believed that red can bring good luck and prosperity.

India: Women: Most Indian women wear saris. This is a garment consisting of a 6-meter long piece of cloth, which is draped around the body as a long dress. The loose end of the cloth is flung over the shoulder or used to cover the head of the woman wearing it.

The sari is usually worn with a blouse. Most unmarried women and young girls in Northern India usually wear long flowing trousers called a shalwar and a long blouse called kameez. The tribal women wear long skirts.

Most Indian men wear a dhoti. This is usually white in colour and is wrapped around the legs forming loose trousers. This can also be wrapped around the lower part of the body forming a skirt and is fastened at the waist. The poor labourers wear loincloth, a piece of cloth wrapped around the hips between the thighs. In cities, western dressing is increasing in popularity.

Malaysia: The traditional wear of Malay women and men in Malaysia is a colourful skirt called a sarong or a kain. The sarong is a long strip of cloth wrapped around the body, while a kain is similar, except it has its ends sewn together. The man usually wears a shirt with a sarong wrapped around his waist.

The woman wears a long-sleeved blouse with a sarong or a kain. The man also wears a special cap for religious purposes and the woman wears a shawl over her shoulders or on her head. They cover their heads so as not to show their hair. This is to prevent the men from treating them as sex objects, and also because their God has told them to do so.

Japan: On special occasions, such as weddings and funerals, the Japanese women wear traditional clothing called a kimono. The kimono is tied around the waist with a sash called obi and worn with zori, or sandals.

Vietnam: In the Northern cities, both men and women wear plain black trousers accompanied with tightly buttoned white or dark-coloured jackets. The people there wear sandals made from tires of worn-out automobile. The dressing in the northern cities is similar to that of the southern cities.

Many women wear the traditional Vietnamese ao dai, which is a long coat-like garment worn over trousers. In rural areas, the women wear loose-fitting shirts and skirts and the men wear coat-like garments that extend to the knees.

Mexico: The men wear cotton shirts and trousers. They also wear leather sandals known as huaraches. Sombreros protect Mexican men from the hot sun. Sombreros are wide-brimmed felt or straw hats. They wear ponchos when it is cold or when it rains. The women wear blouses with long, full skirts. They also wear plastic sandals. The women cover their heads with rebozos (fringed shawls).

Brazil: In Southern Brazil, the cowboys (gauchos) wear baggy trousers called bombachas, and also wide-brimmed felt hats.

Bolivia: The men wear striped ponchos and colourful shawls. The women wear full skirts. They also wear derby hats.

Egypt: The Fellahin men (fellahin means peasant) wear pants and long, full shirt-like garments called a galabiyah; whereas the women wear long flowing gowns either in dark or bright colours.

North Africa: In Northern Africa, the men wear long, loose robes. Many men also wear turbans or skullcaps. The women folk wear long, simple dresses, at times with baggy trousers underneath. The women also wear a dark coloured cloak or shawl in public, while some follow the Islamic tradition of covering their faces with veils. However, people in the cities dress in western-styled clothing.


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