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Etiquette in Ukraine

Ukrainians are very hospitable. As their guest, you will receive red-carpet treatment. This includes heavily-laden tables, gifts, and many toasts.

These rules of etiquette may be useful:

  • Men in Ukraine will always shake hands when they greet for the first time during the day. However, it is taboo to shake hands with your gloves on. Ukraine is one of the many countries where this handshake tradition is rigorously upheld.
  • In Ukraine it is not a custom to shake hands with a woman. Kissing her hand will make you very gallant.
  • If invited into a family home, it is traditional to bring a gift. A bot­tle of wine, a cake, or a bouquet of flowers are customary.
  • If there is a child in the house, it is appropriate to provide him/her with a small gift as well.
  • If you bring flowers, make sure the number of flowers is uneven (3, 5, etc.), because even numbers are brought to funerals.
  • Do not whistle; some believe it will “blow your money away”.
  • Do not shake hands or give things across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck.
  • It is impolite to point with your finger. But if you must point, it’s better to use your entire hand instead of your finger.
  • Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering a home.
  • On public transportation, give up your seat to mothers with children, the elderly, or the infirm.
  • When eating dinner at someone’s home, casual dress is accepted unless otherwise specified.
  • It is traditional to always propose some kind of toast when drink­ing. Refusing to drink alcohol on certain occasions or to a certain toast may sometimes be considered rude. Your glass cannot touch the table from the time a toast is proposed to the time you drink. Your glass should remain on the table when it is being refilled.
  • Offer to share your snacks and cigarettes with those around you. Be prepared to accept all food and drink offered when visiting friends. Turning down food may be considered rude. (If you find you cannot eat it all, keep something on your plate to avoid having it replenished!)
  • For business, dress should be conservative. Men should not take off their jackets unless asked.
  • In Orthodox churches, women should wear scarves or hats, and men should take off their hats.
  • Be careful when complimenting a host’s belongings, he or she may offer them to you.

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