Customs

Etiquette and Customs in Georgia
Meeting and Greeting
  • When meeting someone for the first time, shake hands while saying “gamarjoba” (“hello”). Once a relationship warms up some, but not all, Georgians will quickly move to a kiss on the cheek.
  • When addressing people only close friends or family will usually use first names.
  • First names may also be used with the word “Batono” (“Sir”) or “Kalbatono” (“Madam”) immediately afterwards, which brings a sense of formality.
  • Most people would expect to be addressed with their appropriate title followed by the surname.
Gift Giving Etiquette
  • As with most European and North American nations, gifts are usually given at birthdays and at Christmas.
  • However in Georgia they also have “name days” – these are the birth dates of Saints whom people are named after.
  • Gifts do not need to be expensive and it is more about the thought and intent behind the gift.
  • If invited to a Georgian home, bring flowers, imported sweets or chocolates to the hosts.
  • Give an odd number of flowers. Even numbers are given for funerals.
  • Gifts do not need to be elaborately wrapped.
  • A small gift for the children is always appreciated.
  • Gifts are not necessarily opened when received.
Dining Etiquette
  • Table manners are generally unfussy and relaxed.
  • Meals are above all a time to get together and enjoy.
  • Your Georgian host will want to make sure you are comfortable, well-fed and happy.
  • If in doubt over etiquette then either watch what others do or simply ask.
  • Table manners are Continental, i.e. the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • Keep your hands visible when eating and try not to rest your elbows on the table.
  • The oldest (or most honoured) guest is usually served first.
  • Try all the dishes if you can.
  • You will be offered second and third helpings and accepting them will please the host. Try therefore to take smaller first portions.
  • Finish everything on your plate.
  • Expect lively conversation during the meal.
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