Wednesday, September 9, 2009

International Etiquette

I was in the library yesterday picking up my weekly round up of books when I stumbled upon a book called, 'Behave Yourself! The Essential Guide to International Etiquette'. I quickly flipped though it and knew I had to check it out. It lists 45 major countries and what each of their individual customs and traditions are for greetings, dress, eating & drinking and conversation.

As someone who loves to travel, I thought this book would be handy for myself and my world-traveler hubby and also entertaining and informative for you too!

Interesting Facts:


  • In Italy, chewing gum is considered vulgar however smoking is widespread, even in nonsmoking sections in restaurants.

  • When answering the phone, say "Pronto", which means "ready", not "Buon giorno."

  • Sitting down for coffee is much more expensive than standing at the bar, which is why you will often see a crowd of Italians crowded at the bar drinking espresso.

  • It is polite to stay at the table until the meal is finished, rather than visiting the bathroom during the meal.


  • Bread and bread sticks are an accompaniment to the main meal, so don't start nibbling until the food arrives!

  • Don't use the OK sign, it means 'zero' in France.

  • Good posture is very important and a sign of class. Keep your hands out of your pockets, don't slouch or chew gum.

  • Only use first names when invited. It is customary to address your elders with Monsieur or Madame.


  • It is normal for people of the same sex to walk hand in hand as a sign of friendship.

  • Carry Identification with you at all times-it is required by law.

  • Don't cross your arms while facing someone, it is considered rude.

  • Shaking your head means "I don't understand"; it doesn't mean no. To say 'NO', raise your eyebrows and make a "tsk' sound, or tilt your head backward slightly. Nod to say yes.

  • On public transportation, women should not sit next to male strangers.


  • The drinking age in Greece is 16.

  • In many restaurants you are allowed (and even encouraged) to visit the kitchen to see how the food id being prepared and to decide what you would like to order.

  • Raising an open palm at face level is insulting. The OK sign is considered a rude gesture with obscene connotations.

  • When you are invited to a Greek home, make a big fuss over the children. Greece is a very child-oriented culture, so don't exclude them when talking to adults.

  • In a Greek home, expect to be offered many seconds and thirds at meals. Eating well is a compliment to your hosts. If you are dining out, your host will usually pay the whole bill.
I thought I'd share with you the last four countries in Europe that I recently visited. They were all so lovely. The photo at the top of this post was taken on our trip in Santorini, Greece which in my opinion is heavenly!

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Thanks for stopping by, your comments make my day! I read every single one and will answer any questions you have. I hope you'll visit again soon! :)


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