CULTURAL NORMS AND ETIQUETTE
Ukrainians are very hospitable. As their guest, you will receive red-carpet treatment. This includes heavily-laden tables, gifts, and many toasts. While it is sometimes uncomfortable for Americans, who have so much, to accept gifts from those who have so little, they will be very insulted if you turn them down.
These rules of etiquette may be useful:
- 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.).
- Do not whistle; some believe it will "blow your money away."
- Do not shake hands across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck.
- Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering a home. To keep apartments clean, most hosts will provide you with a pair of slippers.
- On public transportation, give up your seat to mothers with children, the elderly, or the infirm.
- At the entrance of upscale restaurants and theaters, expect that your coat, briefcase, or baggage will be checked.
- If it is possible, have business cards printed in Ukrainian on one side and English on the other.
- When eating dinner at someone's home, casual dress is accepted unless otherwise specified.
- Be ready to give toasts at dinner, for guests are often asked to do so.
- 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.
- Don't put your thumb between your first two fingers; this is a very rude gesture.
An eight-hour day is considered a normal work day, Monday through Friday. A lunch break is taken between the hours of 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Most banks are open without breaks, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-1p.m.
It is always a good idea to have a packet of tissues on hand because public restrooms rarely supply toilet paper. Public restaurants also may charge a small fee (approx. $.20-.30). While any public restroom can be unsanitary, relatively clean toilets can be found in most modern restaurants and hotels. Please note that public toilets are often of the squat variety, and when there are toilet bowls there is often not a toilet seat.
Restaurant bills normally include a 5 percent service charge. You will often find, however, that a few extra hryvnias can make your dining experience a lot more pleasurable.
Holidays are often celebrated for several days, depending on when the holiday falls. For example, if a holiday falls on Thursday, then Friday and Saturday may also be holidays. If a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday, then Monday is considered a holiday as well.
January 1 New Year’s Day
January 7 Orthodox Christmas
March 8 Women’s Day
Easter is celebrated on a Sunday and Monday in the spring, according to the calendar; after Passover.
May 1,2 Labor Days
May 9 Victory Day
June 7 Trinity Day
June 28 Contitution Day
August 24 Ukrainian Independence Day