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Home » Country Etiquette » Greece

Greek Etiquette Tips

Expect to eat a lot in Greece! Not only will you be expected to eat everything off your plate, but you should also compliment the chef by asking for seconds - even if you're stuffed!

You will find that Greece is a friendly place, very hospitable to guests, but it is still important to learn about their traditions and customs in order to blend in and respect Greece's heritage. Below are some more etiquette tips for your trip to Greece.

1. Dress Attire

  1. DO dress conservatively for business functions. Men may wear a nice, dark-colored suit, while women may wear a dark-colored dress or suit.

2. Table Manners

  1. DON'T sit down until told where to sit before eating.
  2. DON'T begin eating until the host starts.
  3. DON'T put your elbows on the table, but do keep your hands above the table.
  4. DO compliment the chef by asking for seconds.
  5. DO finish everything on your plate.
  6. DO give a toast if you are the host or the guest of honor. The host gives the first toast, and the guest of honor returns the toast later.
  7. DO put your fork and knife parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right to indicate that you are done eating.
  8. DO share your food with your dining partners. They will likely do the same.
  9. DO keep your wine glass at least half full when you no longer want anymore wine.

3. Tipping

  1. DO check the bill to see if the tip is included at a restaurant. Usually there is a 15% gratuity included. You may also wish to leave an additional tip on the table for those who bus the tables.

4. Gift Giving and Accepting Gifts

  1. DON'T spend a lot of money on a gift, because then the recipient might feel the need to spend a lot of money on you in return.
  2. DO wrap the present nicely.
  3. DO open your gift immediately.
  4. DON'T give knives as a gift.

5. Body Gestures

  1. DON'T make the "OK" sign with your hand. It's a vulgar gesture in Greece.
  2. DO be aware of how to indicate "yes" or "no" with body language, as it's different in Greece than in the U.S. "Yes" is a slight downward nod of the head, and "No" is a slight upward nod of the head.

6. Greetings

  1. DO shake hands upon meeting someone. Shake hands with children, too!
  2. DO exchange hugs and kisses with women you are familiar with. Men will usually pat each other on the back or shoulder.

7. Visitors Etiquette

  1. DO bring a gift for your host. A nice host gift would be brandy, flowers, cakes, fruit, etc. If you want to give flowers, you may also have them sent in advance.
  2. DO take your shoes off upon entering a home.

8. Business Meeting

  1. DO understand that nepotism is acceptable and common in Greek business. You may do business with many different members of the same family.
  2. DO try to schedule a meeting 1 to 2 weeks in advance, and confirm the meeting by phone the day before.
  3. DON'T expect business to be conducted immediately. Sometimes it takes several meetings before any business is conducted at all. Your Greek business associates will want to get to know you first.
  4. DO have your information and business cards printed in Greek, and consider hiring an interpreter.
  5. DON'T be aloof, irritable, or angry at meetings.
  6. DO be patient. Business happens at a much slower pace in Greece.

9. Dance Etiquette

  1. DO join in with Greek dances! There are over a thousand types of folk dances in Greece, and many times at tourist restaurants and festivals people may invite you to join in. Many Greek dances are line dances.
  2. DO join at the back of the line, not the front, if you are a beginner.
  3. DO go behind the leader to learn the steps before joining the line if you're having trouble grasping the steps.
  4. DON'T worry about dance steps if you're doing the Zembekiko, which is "The Drunkard's Dance" or the Tsifteteli, which is a belly dance. Those aren't line dances, like many Greek dances are, so just hop on the dance floor and boogie!

Greeks tends to be very accommodating to visitors, but definitely keep in mind the above etiquette to respect your hosts. Have a safe and happy trip to Greece!

 
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