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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.
- 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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