What are some etiquette rules in Bulgaria

European etiquette / the candidate countries ...

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Etiquette for



"Knigge" for Estonia

The Estonians are generally considered to be cool and closed. It also fits that you rarely shake hands when greeting. Estonians are not people who put their feelings on their sleeves. Accordingly, one should behave cautiously and not bother the other person with intimate details. They can't do anything with German friendliness. If Estonians do not immediately talk or laugh with foreigners, that is by no means a sign of unfriendliness: they rather enjoy being silent with one another. Wanting to talk to Estonians for an evening can sometimes be difficult - the foreign conversation partners then have to take on the active part.

People meet in the sauna

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for guests to be invited to a sauna session together. Unlike in our country, there is no mixed sauna in Estonia. Such an offer should always be accepted, since in Estonia it is easier to discuss many topics in the sauna than on an "official" level.

Estonians are proud of their nation and do not like to be confused with Latvians or Lithuanians. Estonians do not like to hear the term "Balts" either. Caution is also advised on historical topics. Most Estonians refer to the time when they belonged to the Soviet Union as the "occupation time" and rate this period of history extremely negatively. As unpopular as the Russians are, the Germans are viewed positively, even if as a German one sometimes finds this strange (Crusades, World War II).

Many, especially older Estonians, have no knowledge of foreign languages. It is therefore an advantage as a visitor to familiarize yourself with the most important expressions in Estonian. The younger people mostly speak English or German.

When negotiating, Estonians usually get straight to the point and expect the same from their interlocutor. Foreigners generally praise the reliability of their Estonian partners, who otherwise strictly separate private and business matters.

"Knigge" for Latvia

Anyone who travels to Latvia and thinks they will find fiery hosts there is mistaken. Like their Baltic neighbors, the Latvians prefer a more discreet approach. So you shouldn't be surprised if, as a stranger, you are not invited into the house straight away, as is often the case in southern Europe. Nevertheless, Latvians are no less hospitable, just in a different way. Etiquette is capitalized and if you stick to the manners that are common in this country you can't really go wrong. You shake hands in greeting. The usual forms of courtesy also apply here, and the hostess is happy to receive a bouquet of flowers.

Sensitive topic Russia

History is also a sensitive issue in Latvia. As a German one should refrain from giving careless assessments of the national independence of Latvians or the relatively low standard of living. As a Western European, you run the risk of appearing ostentatious: Therefore, do not wear too thick on your clothes and favors. The topic of "Russia" should also be avoided, as many Latvians do not have the most friendly associations with their eastern neighbors.

When visiting the restaurant, please note that the tip is already included in the price. Nevertheless, the protests of the service staff will be limited by a small financial acknowledgment. A tip of 10 to 15 percent is common for taxi rides.

"Knigge" for Lithuania

Visitors to Lithuania should already pay attention to the correct rules when greeting them. While it is common to shake hands, this only applies to men. Lithuanian women are more likely to be embarrassed with the hand held out in greeting. In general, however, the customs do not differ from those in Germany.

Russian faux pas

Many Lithuanians do not like being spoken to in Russian. Russia has a bad reputation due to the historical events in the Baltic States. Only if communication in English or German absolutely fails does Russian remain a makeshift. The Lithuanians are also not popularly referred to as Balts, as they are proud of their more than 1000-year history and long state sovereignty. This also includes dealing sensitively with issues related to the Second World War, in particular the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

Fake church criticism

Since the Catholic Church in Lithuania has a similarly strong influence as in Poland or Ireland, a considerable number of possible faux pas are waiting in this area. It is therefore an advantage to refrain from criticizing the Church or the papacy when discussing discussions.

Café as a meeting point

When visiting home, it is customary to bring a small gift for the host. Young people prefer to meet in a cafe or restaurant. Since the service is not included in hotel and restaurant bills in Lithuania, a small tip should be paid. Foreigners are expected to be around 10 percent, especially in tourist areas.

"Knigge" for Poland

Poland is an old European cultural nation and sees itself as part of the Western European community - one should therefore avoid the term "East". Since the Poles are a very patriotic people, one should refrain from making disparaging remarks about their economic backwardness or the crime rate, for example. If you are one of those people who has become popular at the regulars' table with an extensive collection of Polish jokes, you should consider the possibility that this method may not have the desired effect in Poland.

Catholicism and Patriotism

The pillars of the Polish state are Catholicism and national pride. Therefore, one should also avoid all statements that could come across as blasphemous or anti-Catholic. At least the older generation is sensitive in this regard. There are big differences between urban and rural life and the rural population is very religious and their lifestyle is more traditional.

It is advantageous for visitors from Germany to use the Polish place names for once German cities. Often you will also find that many Poles have no problems with the German name.

Hand kiss and bouquet of flowers

A special feature of the Polish welcoming ceremonies is the kiss on the hand, whereby the back of the hand of the lady must not be touched with the lips. Rather, it is just a hint of a kiss that women are greeted with. Shake hands among men. The form of address Pani (woman) or Pan (man) plus first name is common. The last name is not mentioned. In the case of leading personalities, the title is used instead of the first name, for example Prezes (board member) or Dyrektor (director). The title is also used alone in formal conversations or in business.

Unannounced visits are common among friends and relatives, especially in the countryside. Formal or extended visits are planned. Poles often invite friends over for dinner or simply for cake and tea and like to party on special occasions. Shaking hands over the doorstep is considered a bad omen in Poland. So come in first and then, if at all, shake hands in greeting. For invitations of any kind, it is common to bring an odd number of flowers, which are unpacked before handing over. You appear a little later, by no means too early.

Beware of Easter

Visitors should be especially careful at Easter. Because Easter Monday in Poland is the "day of pouring water" ("Smigus Dyngus"): Everywhere in the streets you are mainly splashed with water by young people, and the amount can sometimes be measured in buckets. The wet custom goes back to ancient pre-Christian rites, and a girl who has not been properly wetted is not handsome and desirable.

"Knigge" for the Czech Republic

Before that, a tip. When you go to our south-eastern neighbor, you don't travel to the Czech Republic, but to the Czech Republic. A small but crucial difference if you don't want to annoy our neighbors. Although the name Czech Republic did not come from the Nazis, as is often falsely claimed, it was precisely during this time that it was used frequently and often derogatory. Therefore it has a somewhat unpleasant overtone for many Czechs.

Sailor's greeting and Easter bats

You shouldn't be surprised if you are greeted in the Czech Republic with the maritime greeting "Ahoi". Although the Czechs do not belong to the great seafaring nations of this world, this greeting is absolutely common, especially among young people. When two strangers meet, or when a young person greets an older person, this is usually done by tilting their head slightly and shaking hands. Men wait until the woman extends her hand to greet them.

Perhaps it is because the Czechs are still strongly influenced by their time in the KuK, that they have such great respect for official titles. Therefore, one should always address a person by their academic title (engineer, doctor, professor) and their last name. It is also common to use Pan ("Mr.") or Paní ("Ms.") in front of the name and any title. For example, you greet a doctor with the words "Dobrý den, Paní Doktorko" and her family name. Salutation by first name is only common if you have known each other for a while.

There are also a few rules you should follow when visiting your home. So it is common to announce your visit in advance by telephone. If you are invited to dinner, you usually bring a little present for the host. In addition, one likes to see it when the children are given a little something. In general, appointments are not kept as strictly in the Czech Republic as in Germany. With a lot of things you are a little more relaxed and have a certain tendency to improvise. However, delays of over ten minutes are considered impolite. When you stand in front of the host's apartment, it is customary to take off your shoes in front of the door. A custom that many East Germans should be more familiar with than their compatriots in the West.

Caution is advised at Easter time. There, on Easter Monday, all female beings (including foreign visitors) are upset. They are pursued by the boys and beaten with self-made rods. Today hardly anyone knows where this tradition, which the Czechs call "Pomlazka" (after the willow branch) comes from. However, like many other Easter customs, the whole thing probably goes back to a pre-Christian, ancient, pagan custom. According to this, the growth forces of the tree, which the branch represents, are transferred to the people through the touch, whereby some "touches" can also become more violent.

Boy scouts and outdoor freaks

One preference of the Czechs should not go unmentioned. If you suddenly encounter many uniformed and otherwise very military-looking figures on a hike in the forest, it does not have to be an exercise by the Czech Army. Rather, many Czechs have an affinity to roam the woods of their homeland with like-minded people on weekends and spend the night outdoors. "Proper" equipment seems to be the first requirement.

"Knigge" for Slovakia

Slovakia and Germany are not separated by too many kilometers and not very different in their dealings with one another. If you stick to the norms of behavior that are common in Germany, nothing can actually go wrong.

The Slovaks are very open to foreign visitors and are known for their hospitality. Shake hands to greet them. In a familiar or friendly environment, it is common for men and women to kiss goodbye on both cheeks. Before entering the apartment of your Slovak host, it is advisable to take off your shoes. Slippers are then ready. Wine or sparkling wine or flowers for women are appropriate as gifts for private invitations.

Hospitality is very important

With a visit you can be sure to be full. Visits that only serve chips or pretzel sticks are unthinkable in Slovakia. The minimum is sandwiches, usually white bread with sausage, cheese and decorations. Sometimes warm dishes are also served. The guest is always offered the best. This also includes the typical Slovak schnapps Slivovica (plum brandy) and Borovička (juniper brandy). It should be noted here that refills are immediately given when you have finished your glass. When you have had enough, you should therefore leave a good rest of the drink in the glass. The greatest gift for the host is being satisfied and extensively praising the housewife's arts.

Tips are common in restaurants, although not as lavish as in western countries. Paying separately is unusual and should be announced in advance.

"Knigge" for Hungary

The fact that women in Hungary are not only greeted verbally with "kezét csókolom" (I kiss your hand), but also kissed on the hand, may be due to the K.-u.-K. past. Men use this greeting to show their respect. In a familiar circle, the greeting is far less formal. Friends greet each other with "Szervusz" or "Szia" ("See you then").

A Hungarian lady expects to be treated as such. Opening the passenger door, helping in the coat, opening the door and letting go, frowned upon as antiquated in Germany, are good form in Hungary.

Tolerant and humorous

Clothing is also traditional. The conventional suit with tie in muted colors has a firm place in business and social life. Quality, especially when it comes to shoes, is seen in the land of the "Budapesters" as an indication of solid financial circumstances.

Hungarians are generous and expect generosity. Skimpy business lunches or favors is one of two ways to make yourself lastingly unpopular. The second is to show superiority or even condescension. The Hungarians are known for their humor, but this humor is special and mostly refers to the ironization of social or political grievances ("the funniest barracks in the socialist camp"). It is harder to laugh at yourself, especially when a foreigner impales Hungarian customs, Hungarian politics or exaggerated Hungarians.

Be careful with the language

Great importance is attached to academic and other titles in Hungary. Therefore, you should always use the title when addressing people. Another special feature is that the family name is always placed in front of the first name. You really appreciate it when the stranger tries a little to speak Hungarian. But caution is advised. Because small phonetic changes can totally change the sense. For example, you can easily turn the toast "egészségedre" (read: "ä-go-schee-ge-dre" - to your health) into a "whole ass" (egész = whole; segg (read schegg) = ass).

For business appointments, it is advisable to plan more time than in Germany. It's just rude to get to the heart of the matter right away. First you approach on a personal level (wife, children, sport, infirmity), then the generally good weather in Hungary is appreciated and only after all other world-political issues have been resolved does the real issue come up.

"Knigge" for Slovenia

The Slovenes see themselves more as Central Europeans than as members of the Balkans. So they don't like to hear it when you associate them with this region. Nevertheless, in retrospect, they see their earlier common past with Yugoslavia in a rather relaxed manner.

The Slovenes are proud of the political and economic successes they have achieved since independence. Show that you recognize the achievements of this small country and appreciate the commitment of the Slovenes.

The Slovenes were formerly known as the "Prussians of Yugoslavia". So everything has already been said in terms of punctuality and correct demeanor. Overall, there are no other rules of behavior than in Germany.

Nevertheless, the Slovenes often and happily celebrate. In these moments, the Mediterranean-Mediterranean element seems to get the upper hand. This is partly in contradiction to the melancholy that is also said of the Slovenes, which also has statistical effects. Slovenia has the second highest suicide rate in the world after Hungary.

"Knigge" for Malta

Even years after the end of British rule over Malta, you can still discover clear traces of this time on the small Mediterranean island. On Malta, English discipline is paired with Mediterranean charm and a sense of time. So you should take into account small delays.

The Maltese are 99 percent Catholic and conservative. The importance of the family and children is correspondingly high. You will always find an open ear for questions on these topics. Incidentally, the usual European manners prevail on Malta.

Celebratory and catholic

The Maltese are known to be open-minded, cosmopolitan and enterprising. There is often a celebration and guests are welcome. Religious festivals, carnivals, commemorations - the Maltese find many opportunities to celebrate. From June to September in particular, there is hardly a weekend that goes by without an appropriate occasion. As southerners, the Maltese are spirited and proud of their homeland. As a good guest, you should therefore refrain from criticism.

As a result of the strong religious ties of the Maltese, there are a few things to consider. So one should always enter the many worth seeing and culturally and historically interesting churches in appropriate clothing. Shorts and revealing tops are taboo. This also fits in with the fact that nude bathing is officially prohibited. "Topless" has at least established itself in the tourist centers - in the country, however, it is not appropriate. Smoking is prohibited in public transport and cinemas. Tips are paid like in Germany. At least ten percent is appropriate in restaurants and on taxi rides.

And another tip, so as not to turn the islanders against you: there is left-hand traffic in Malta.

"Knigge" for Cyprus

The Cypriots are rightly proud of their more than 8000 years of history with a multitude of historical testimonies. There are currently almost 20 archaeological sites on the Mediterranean island.

Typical Cypriot behavior includes hospitality, which you can still find in the age of mass tourism. The Cypriots like to give and like to invite you to dinner or a glass of wine. Family, tradition and religion are very important to the predominantly Greek Orthodox population. Above all, the name days of the innumerable saints are extensively celebrated. "Panigira", a kind of parish fair in honor of the respective patron saint, is mainly celebrated in the country. If you happen to be there, you should definitely celebrate.

Hospitality is very important

Shaking hands in greeting is less common, at least in the southern, Greek part of the island. In the north, however, this gesture is a matter of course.

The Cypriots like to eat and as a guest you are served all kinds of exotic dishes. Refusing a Greek coffee or soft drink is perceived as impolite. Even if you might not be a big fan of traditionally prepared squid, you should still bravely try a small piece. With this gesture you show the host that you accept and appreciate his hospitality. You should first wait for an invitation to a joint meal and only then issue a return invitation. A tip of 10 to 15 percent is common in restaurants and other services. Guest gifts for mutual visits are welcome.

Respect for past and present

Due to the British history of the island (Cyprus was a member of the Commonwealth until 1960), the influence of the English way of life is still widely felt today. The Cypriots are said to be hardworking and reserved, relaxed friendliness. Despite the proximity to the Orient, it is not common to haggle while shopping.

Although the island is visited by thousands of tourists every year, there are still no nudist beaches. Therefore, one should be considerate of the religious feelings of the locals and adhere to the ban on nude bathing. In hotel pools, on the other hand, "topless" has already taken hold here and there.

When visiting the many historically valuable churches, men should wear long trousers and women should not wear open-hearted tops. In the ancient sites it is forbidden to take stones or other objects with you and to eat your sandwiches.

"Knigge" for Romania

The very name of the country reflects the fact that it belongs to the Romance language family. The Romanians are accordingly proud of their Latin ancestors. In the more educated classes, people are Francophile. It is therefore of some advantage if you can speak French as a foreigner. But even with some basic knowledge of Italian or Latin, you can understand many Romanian words.

Pathos and hugs

When greeting, it is customary to shake hands. In Romania, too, women are greeted with a kiss on the hand. As in other Romanic countries, hugs, cheek kisses and pats on the back are standard among friends.

If you are invited to a Romanian home, you should bring flowers to the housewife. In the case of formal invitations, greetings are appreciated. Exuberance is also not a shortcoming: People praise each other extensively, invitations are garnished with fervent, pathetic speeches - so it doesn't hurt to have one up your sleeve. There you have the opportunity to praise the beauty of the hostess, the country and the house as well as the good reception by the family.

You shouldn't be surprised if you are greeted as a guest with a schnapps in the morning. Good self-distilled, here called Ţuica, is served to the visitor at any time of the day. The same applies here: as long as the glass is drunk, it is automatically refilled.

"Knigge" for Bulgaria

Even if you are welcomed very warmly as a tourist in Bulgaria, you should keep in mind that you are a guest and not a king. Therefore, it is good form to observe the culture and customs of your hosts. Since the standard of living in Bulgaria is comparatively low and the monthly income is between 100 and 150 euros, guests should not brag about large sums of money.

On official occasions people greet each other with "Kak ste?" ("How are you?") Or "Zdravaite" ("Hello"). Friends tend to say "Kak si?" and "Zdrasti" common. Women kiss each other on the cheeks when they are good friends. The first name for salutation is only used in informal meetings. Otherwise one uses the professional title or Gospodin ("Herr"), Gospozha ("Frau") or Gospozhitsa ("Fräulein") together with the surname.

Gestures that can be confusing

What should not go unmentioned here is that in Bulgaria the non-verbal answer to a question works differently than in our country. In contrast to western conventions, you show your consent (ie "yes") by shaking your head. "No" is expressed by nodding the head twice. Moving the index finger back and forth can actually reinforce the "no". The simultaneous pronouncement of "tsk" means displeasure.

Incidentally, however, the Bulgarians are aware that their gestures are in the minority, and that is why they (mostly) adjust to the shaking / nodding habits of the non-Bulgarian.

Who goes too early ...

Bulgarians pride themselves on their hospitality and love to chat. Social contact at home or in cafes is an important part of everyday life in Bulgaria. Friends and neighbors often come to visit without notice, and Bulgarians like to invite friends over for dinner. With the latter, it should be noted that it is less hot than in Germany. And a Bulgarian does not bite into the obligatory slice of bread, but breaks something bite-sized.

In the evenings, people usually visit each other from 8 p.m. and on certain occasions stay until late at night. It is considered rude to leave early. Presents for the host are not necessarily common, but as a foreigner you should have the usual classics (flowers, wine, chocolates) ready.

When taking photos, caution is advised, especially in regions with a Muslim population. Photography is generally allowed in mosques, but you should definitely ask beforehand. In museums and churches there is usually a strict ban on photography. As everywhere, military installations are not allowed to be photographed.

Tipping is common in the entire service area (restaurant, hotel, taxi). 5 to 10 percent of the invoice amount is appropriate.