Etiquette in Greece

The majority of Greece is mountainous, but there 1,400 islands that belong to Greece. Only 10 percent of the whole population occupy the islands. Thirty percent of the population live in the capital, Athens.

Greece is society full of ethnically homogenous people. Only a small percentage of the population is of true Greek descent, but the remainder of the population being of Turkish, Albanian, Armenian, Bulgarian, and Macedonian origin.

The official language is Greek, which is spoken by a majority of the population, however, English and French are spoken as well.

Most of the population practices Greek Orthodox with the rest practicing Judaism, Islam, or Roman Catholi0cism.

The Greek currency is the drachma.

Greece is 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time.

Dining Etiquette

The drinking age in Greece is 16.

Greece is a very open and friendly country, especially when it comes to dining.  In a neighborhood restaurant after you meet the owner, you may be encouraged to visit the kitchen and choose your meal from what you see being prepared.  You can also just say, “bring what you think I might like” to your waiter.

If you dine in a group you would order many different dishes to share.  If you decide you want something additional, you can order it during the meal as you think of it – not just at the beginning when you first sit.  The wait staff is not going to hover over you. They will leave you to your group and your meal.  It’s up to you to attract the waiter’s attention if you want something.  They will however be very friendly.  In many restaurants the tip will be automatically added to the check (the menu will have a statement to that effect).  If not, the standard is 15% – for really bad service you should still leave 5%.

Smoking during meals may be seen, although you should ask permission of the management before you smoke even if others are smoking.  Always ask permission of your fellow diners before lighting up.

If you are lucky enough to be asked to dine in someone’s home, you will be offered seconds and thirds at the meal.  Eating well is a compliment to the host.   If you are dining out, your host will pay the whole bill.

The most common toast is “Kalymata” which means Good Health.

Coffee is never rushed by Greeks.  Expect to savor yours for at least a half hour.  Chlled coffee (Frappe) is very popular.

Gift Giving Etiquette

The Greeks are very generous and hospitable. When invited to a Greek home, be prepared for the possibility of a gift and bring one in return. Appropriate gifts include a good bottle of wine or liquor, an item for the person’s office, or something meaningful from your homeland.

Make it a point to speak to the children. Greece is very child-orientated, so be sure not to exclude the children when talking to the host. You should even bring a gift for the children.

Also, do not make a big display of admiring an object or an ornament because the host will feel obliged to give it to you.