Every country and culture has things that are important to their inhabitants but meaningless or indeed baffling to everyone else. They have evolved over decades, centuries, millennia and in some cases people don’t even know why the ritual exits. They just do it because, well, it’s what they’ve always done. It’s what everyone does and quite right too. Yet history might have played some cruel tricks. It could be that had one thing happened, or not happened, or had someone in the tradition of time travel fiction gone one way instead of another, things might now be entirely different. Just imagine some of the odd traditions we could have now.
National Anthem Moves: It is the case that in every country people stand still in sober reflection when their national anthem is playing. Even at the Olympics, winners strain to maintain their composure when all they really want to do is jump up and down and yell “I won!” Maintaining your composure is essential. However imagine if things had got jumbled; imagine if when their anthem played their people were obliged to perform their national dance. Every country has a national dance but it is performed to music other than their anthem. If the two were combined though...
The Royal Circus: Many members of the British Royal Family traditionally enter the armed forces as a sort of job but what it tradition dictated they had to join the Circus? Thus the heir to the throne would fly through the air without the aide of a plane.
Plateless: Perhaps by some strange temporal twist nobody had ever invented plates? Food would be eaten with your hands, resting on whatever you could find. Spills would be common place and expected even in the poshest eateries and a team of food overspillers would race to the table to scoop up the items that had. Instead of spilling food being an embarrassing faux pas, nobody would even bother about it. Some diners might gain enough skill to catch their potato wedge as it flew into the air. Like the super speedy tongue of a lizard they would be able to shoot their hand out, gather the wedge and place it back on the table before anyone even noticed.
Everybody’s Famous: Celebrities live their lives in a fish bowl, watched by the rest of us. What if it became the norm for interviewers and paparazzi to follow everyone? If you think about it, this is the logical physical extension of Twitter. You’d leave work, hurrying to your car as camera flashes burst in the air about you. On arriving home, you’d find your kids being interviewed on the doorstep about their exams today. Once inside, a documentary crew would film you changing your shoes.
Queue Riot: Queuing is almost a national pastime in the UK. Can you imagine a world where the tradition had never happened?. It probably hasn’t always been like this anyway. Did Vikings queue to pillage? Someone somewhere must have decided on this ultra civilised method of waiting your turn. Supposing though, nobody had? Supposing we all still wanted our turn to be first and were prepared to fight for it. Of course, this does happen today in limited circumstances at the start of sales.
Left or Right? It’s long been tradition to drive on one side of the road or the other. Yet in some alternative timeline, it isn’t. People drive on whichever side they want, in fact some of them just drive down the middle. Yet the roads are not full of crashes and burnt out vehicles. Why? Because people adapt. Drivers in this time line would have fearsome sonar like ability to swerve and miss oncoming cars. Less talented ones would probably just follow in their wake.