Planning a vacation in Greece? The following customs and etiquette rules will acclimate you to this beautiful and ancient country.
An Ancient Legacy
Greeks are proud of their cultural heritage and their profound contribution to world civilization.
The Greeks’ pride in their heritage surpasses most, if not all, European countries.
To this day, plays continue to be staged in the theatres where they were originally performed.
Greek literature includes poetry, drama, philosophy, history, and travelogues.
The Greek Orthodox Church is the national religion and is practiced by the majority of the population.
The Church plays a greater role in political, civic, and governmental affairs than in more secular countries.
Greeks are warm, friendly, and courteous.
When meeting someone for the first time, they shake hands firmly, smile, and maintain direct eye contact. Good friends often embrace and may also kiss each other on each cheek.
Male friends often slap each other’s arm at the shoulder.
If you are invited to a Greek home:
Arriving even 30 minutes late is actually considered on time.
Dress well to show respect for your hosts.
Compliment the home and the host and/or hostess.
Offer to help the host or hostess with the preparation or clearing up after a meal is served. While your offer may not be accepted, it certainly will be appreciated.
Expect to be treated extremely well. You may not want to say goodnight!
Promptly send a thank you card to show your appreciation for the host and/or hostess’s hospitality.
Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat.
Table manners are Continental — the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
The oldest person is generally served first.
Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
Keep your elbows off the table and your hands above the table when eating.
Accepting a second helping compliments the host.
Expect a great deal of discussion. Meals are a time for socializing.
It is considered polite to soak up gravy or sauce with a piece of bread.
People often share food from their plate.
Finishing everything on your plate demonstrates that you truly enjoyed the meal.
Put your napkin next to your plate when you have finished eating.
Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate with the handles facing to the right.
The host gives the first toast.
An honored guest should return the toast later in the meal.
The most common toast is “to your health”, which is “stinygiasou” in informal situations and “eis igían sas” at formal functions.