We love travelling – whether to distant places or to one of our neighbouring European countries. An undeniable part of that is, of course, the little thrill when you are confronted with foreign languages and customs, with which you have no experience! Haven’t we all had that slightly awkward moment when meeting new people…but not knowing to properly greet them? Do we lean in for the cheek kissing, shake their hand, keep it at a simple hello – or do something completely different?
In such a diverse place as Europe, there are various linguistic as well as cultural differences. In order to spare you a few unpleasant moments, here is a short overview over some European greeting rituals!
Hallo in Germany
The most common way to greet someone in Germany is the handshake. Depending on how well you know someone, this might be accompanied by a one-armed hug. Notice that you won’t necessarily be introduced you meet as newcomers are often expected to introduce themselves in a group situation. In that case, you will probably be greeted with just a wave if the group is larger.
Hello in the UK
In the Uk too, the handshake is very common as a formal greeting, among friends hugs are also popular. You rarely kiss each other on the cheek – and if you do, no more than one. Newbies, however, are usually introduced to the whole group.
Hej in Denmark
Friends and relatives are greeted with a hug in Denmark, strangers or acquaintances with a strong handshake. In the Scandinavian countries it is common to introduce oneself when joining a group of people.
Hola in Spain
In Spain, there are big differences in greeting depending on the situation. In a formal context, the hand is given, but in informal situations, the women just like to welcome with kisses on each cheek.
Bonjour in France
In France, kisses on the cheek are very popular. However, the number of appropriate kisses is very dependent on the region – in Paris, for example, it is usually only one kiss while in other regions this number rises even up to as many as four kisses. Hugs, on the other hand, are rare.
Hallo in the Netherlands
Shaking hands is a common way to greet each other in the Netherlands, even between friends. Welcome hugs are reserved for close friends and the family is sometimes greeted with three kisses.
Hallo or Bonjour in Belgium
In Belgium, it is very common to greet each other with a peck to the cheek. However, new people are often welcomed with only a ‘hi’ or a (slightly timid) handshake.
Although we can now give our warmest welcome in our favourite languages, this list is of course only a very small beginning. How to learn more cultural habits and regional customs? Well, that’s quite simple – by traveling! For some travel inspiration, check out our category #awalkthrough!