Greece Gift Giving Customs
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Greece is a country known for it's ancient culture and architectural treasures, the beautiful beaches and it's food. Greeks are very warm and hospitable and very proud of their contributions to the world in both past and present times. The quality of life is an important consideration in the Greek lifestyle. They are excellent host and will put on some great parties.
If you will be visiting Greece for business or pleasure here are some helpful tips to make your trip enjoyable...
- Learn some basic Greek; hello, thank you, etc.
- Know some basic Greek history
- Understand that the Greek typically do not stick to an agenda
- Don't become impatient, it takes time to get things done in Greece
- Be prepared to socialize
- Don't shy away from building personal relationships
Greek Gift Giving Etiquette
- Gifts are generally exchanged with family and friends on Christmas and "namedays". Namedays are the birth date of the saint you were named after.
- Gifts should not be expensive. In Greece, gifts are usually given in return and the recipient would feel obligated to give a gift of equal value.
- Gifts should be wrapped.
- A small gift should be taken when invited to someone's home.
- Gifts should be opened immediately.
- As in many countries, gifts of knives or scissors should be avoided as they signify the severance of a relationship.
Christmas Traditions in Greece
- The Greek Christmas season last 12 days, from Christmas to the Epiphany which is January 6.
- Traditionally there is a fasting period 40 days before Christmas. The faithful would not eat animal or related products.
- On Christmas Eve children go from house to house singing carols called kalanda.
- The Christmas feast is looked forward to after 40 days of fasting. Loaves of christopsomo (Christ Bread) are prepared for the feast. This bread is made in large sweet loaves of different shapes and the crusts are decorated in some way that reflects the family's profession.
- Cookies, melomakarona and kourabiedes, are made during the Christmas and New Year holidays.
- Many homes in Greece will keep a fire burning during the 12 days of Christmas in order to keep the sprites from entering the home.
- Father Christmas is Ayios Vasilis or St. Basil.
- January 1st, St. Basil Day, is when gifts are exchanged.
Greek Social Etiquette
- A firm handshake for both men and women is the standard.
- After the first meeting, a hug and kiss on each cheek for women and a pat on the shoulder or back for men is the typical greeting.
- When meeting a family, children should also be greeted in the same manners.
- Making the "ok" signal with your fingers is a vulgar gesture.
- Arriving one half hour late to a party is considered being punctual.
- Dancing is typically a part of many gatherings entertainment, do join in.
- Eat everything on your plate.
- International Gift Customs
- How to Avoid Controversial or Inappropriate Gifts
- Etiquette for Office / Business Gift Giving
- Host/Hostess Gifts