A Dictionary for Learning Different Cultures the Fun Way

How do you stop a HICCUP?

 "How do you stop a HICCUP?"

An individual is not the sole representative of the entire culture from which he comes. This individual is merely one of the representatives from that culture. There will certainly be other examples deriving from that country. Please bear this concept in mind when reading the following. If you have friends from different countries, please make inquiries concerning the topic. And if you should happen to know or hear about other various customs from the respective countries, we would appreciate it if you could share those new views with us. We encourage you to be broadminded.

 Vietnam 1

I asked how they stop hiccups in Vietnam.

Surprise the person with hiccups, drink up water at once were what they told me. Besides these, they gave me this following tips. Why don't you give it a try?

"Have my mother bombard me with a lot of questions when I have the hiccups. I have to answer to them all. My hiccups are gone."
"Men drink water in 9 sips, while women in 7."

How about the neighboring Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand? They might have similar customs, but they might not.
Vietnam, herself, cover a vast area. Please bear in mind that the above custom is not carried on everywhere in that country. This is not an academic research, but aimed merely to have fun with people from all over the world. The mission is accomplished if it puts a smile on your face to find out that they "have their mother bombard them with a lot of questions" or if you become amused with the wisdom of old Vietnamese people.

Some of the examples that will be depicted here may reflect highly personal views and characters, but I shall introduce them anyway. Therefore, another individual from the same country may likely say, "Wait a minute. Really?" There is nothing strange about that, and I would like to welcome such candid opinions even more so, in order to prevent this Multi-Cultural-Pedia from becoming somewhat stereotyped.

Cambodia 1

So, I asked a Cambodian.
"How do you stop a hiccup in Cambodia?"

"If the hiccuping person happens to be a grown-up, you surprise him. But we have more fun with kids," a woman from Cambodia replied laughingly. "We say to this poor kid, 'Did you steal something?'" The desperate child will try hard denying it, but nobody gives him a chance and they question him continuously. He may start crying devastated, but the persistent hiccups will be by then all gone.

Trying desperately to give answers to the allegations may have the same effect as stopping one's breath. They rattle off questions after questions both in Vietnam and in Cambodia.

And surprisingly, I have found out from a Mongolian person that they allege a hiccuping person committed stealing there as well.

The story by the Cambodian woman continues.
"We put a small piece of straw atop a hiccuping baby's head."
Frankly, I cannot figure out the significance in this, but probably any baby will become so surprised that perhaps the hiccups stop.
The above episode has common features with a Mexican custom. In either case, the customs indicate the grown-ups' concern for the babies' well-being and makes you want to smile.

No matter how apart we are and seem to carry out completely different lifestyles, our spirits and lives may have bonding deep inside.

I spoke to my students from various countries at a cafe in Omote-Sando.
These people are not representing their whole culture. They represent a portion of each respective culture. There certainly must exist other various customs. If you can candidly share with us those other various options, it will immensely help us from overlooking such diversities and prevent us from stereotyping and generalizing various nationalities.

Israel 1

I asked an Israeli student at the cafe how he would stop a hiccup.

"I put two spoonfuls of sugar in a glass of water and chug it up."
"Oh, really?" in various languages flew back and forth. Why put sugar?

"Another way is to stop breathing for a minute or two."
"That will kill me if I stop my breath for 2 minutes." "No, it won't." "Yes, it will."

"Or, burp."
"Oh, come on. I don't believe it."

Korea 1

 I asked a Korean.

"You either surprise the hiccuping person, the hiccuping person drinks up the water without taking a breath, or stop breathing as long as you can."

Mexico 1

"If it is a hiccuping baby, we paste something red in between the baby's eyebrows."
"Like what?"
"Red thread, red tape, red button, and etc."

A button! Perhaps it can surprise a baby. How clever!

United States 1

"You drink from the rim of the glass that is not closer to your mouth but farther away."
"Like this? You drink while bowing? Are you sure? Somebody from the U.S. could protest you…"
"Seriously, we do!"

Well, it may do you good.

France 1

"We swallow our saliva over and over."
"We drink water with sugar."

Mongolia 1

I asked a Mongolian person how he would stop hiccuping.

They surprise the person, or have the person drink hot water. And they also pat on the person hiccuping. This should surely surprise him.

And I found the following episode quite amusing.

"If a child has persistent hiccups, the mother will say to the child, 'You must have stolen something.' The child will most likely reply, 'Nothing, Mom! Why do you say something like that?' and will desperately defend his innocence quite astonished at the mother's remark crying. By then, the child's hiccup has ceased."

Yugoslavia 1

A woman from Yugoslavia shared the following with me.

Like the examples from other countries, they surprise the hiccuping person, the person drinks water, or stop breathing. But then her additional remark amused me.

"When a person has the hiccups, we tell this person, 'Somebody is rumoring (and probably a good rumor) about you now.'"
"Well the hiccups go on for quite a while, so don't you mean when a person sneezes, he is being rumored?"
"No, definitely with the hiccups. We have a different cliche for sneezes."

And she filled me in on the cliche when sneezing.

Hungary 1

Students from a Japanese language class at the Vienna University in Austria contributed to the following.

In Hungary, they raise their hand straight above and drink a glass of water with the other hand.

Bulgaria 1

The students at Vienna University also contributed to the following.

They sip or slurp the water in the glass looking downwards in Bulgaria.

Slovenia 1

Another contribution from the Vienna University Students.

They drink water with sugar in Slovenia.

Japanl 1-5

The general custom in stopping hiccups in Japan are:
  • To chug up water, or drink it without breathing
  • To surprise the person with hiccups
These are the ways that other people from other countries around the world seem to carry out.

Other Japanese procedures are:

  • Imagine a cormorant bird.
  • Chant "What color is a cucumber flower? Turmeric." ('Kyuuri no hana wa nani-iro? Ukon.'
  • Drink a cup of infusion of a persimmon calyx.
  • Drink water from the four corners of the rim of a teacup with chopsticks placed across cross-shaped. (It is effective in that the body is bent forward in order to drink from the farther side of the rim.)
~ from "Soko ga Shiri-tai Mei-shin no Nazo('What I Want to Know about the Wonders of Superstitions')" (Yukei-sha)

The fourth example may have something in common with the American version above.

The following e-mail was sent to and received by the Multi-Cultural-Pedia:

"A Tip in Stopping a Hiccup"
How do you do?
My friend gave me the following tip.

 The person should be asked, "What is tofu (bean curd) made of?"
Then of course the reply would be "Daizu (soy beans)?" And that is it. Nothing more to it. It may sound incredible, though…
I tried this on myself all alone, asking and replying to myself, and it worked!

Well, we might as well try it. It does sound promising. Thank you for sharing your amazing episode.

An e-mail from Chiezo-san to the Multi-Cultural-Pedia:

Hello and how do you do? My name is Chiezo.

I had a hard time trying to stop the hiccups, and so while searching for any clues on the net, I came about this homepage. Is it true that if you have 100 hiccups, you are going to die?

No, it's not true at all! I had 100+ hiccups today, but I am still alive (laughter).
This is a way I know how to stop the hiccups:

"What color is a giraffe?" "Yellow (or 'ki-iro')."
"What color are rape blossoms?" "Yellow (or 'ki-iro')."

Have other people question you about anything and everything with a yellow color, and you just keep on replying "Yellow".
There are various ways, aren't there? In fact, while reading the homepage, my hiccups stopped (laughter). Thank you and good-bye.

The pronunciation of 'ki-iro' perhaps stimulates the diaphragm. Or perhaps being bombarded with questions has the same effect as when stopping your breath. On a side-note, the background color of this "How do you stop a HICCUP?" just so happens to be yellow. Maybe, that is what stopped Chiezo-san's hiccup. In any event, We are glad that your hiccups are gone and sincerely appreciate your sharing this episode with us. Thank you.


United States 2

This is my fist time here. I relly like it . IT FUN!!!!!!!!!!!!! You stop hiccup. You blow air into a paper bag.
Will Frank-san New hebron, MS U.S.A - Wednesday, March 31, 1999 (JST)

United States 3

A hiccup is a spasm of the diaphragm. Just like one can concentrate on any other muscle cramp and learn to relax the cramped muscle, concentrate on the diaphragm. Take deliberate breathes. Control each one. The hiccups will 'come under control'.

Tommy & Becky Massingill-san Alabama, USA

Austria 1

If somebody has a hiccup in Austria he has fortunately several options to get rid of this nuisance:

  1. He/she can drink water
  2. Somebody should really shock the person with the hiccup.
  3. He/she should hold her breath until the hiccup has gone.
  4. He/she should think of three bald man.
My favourite is number 3 and it really works.

2001 August 9th Austria Thomas-san

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