If you are looking for a non-stereotypical but fantastic vacation location in Europe, the island nation of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean sea has a lot to offer. Although, like so many other countries and cultures in the world, before visiting Cyprus, it might be wise to learn about proper social etiquette first. Cyprus is a country that is composed of people of various cultures and is dominated by people of both Christian and Muslim faith. The cultural and social atmosphere is very calm and friendly. However, some cultural differences should be expected and learned so as not to offend the locals when you come to visit the country and its many beautiful destinations.
Traditional Patriarchy and Respect for Elders
As mentioned previously on the people of Cyprus, the country’s population is still very much connected and influenced by their religious beliefs, the majority of whom being raised as devout Muslims or Greek Orthodox Christians. The residents could be said to be more conservative, traditional, or reserved in comparison to other Europeans or Northern Americans. The patriarchs or the male members of the family are the ones who lead the family and are in a position of authority. In connection to this, their traditional and conservative nature, elders are also to be treated with the utmost respect by the younger people in society, an unspoken rule in their society. To address an older person, tourists must always address them as Mister Kyrie or Missus Kyria followed by their first name.
Communication and Gift-Giving
All over the world, mobile gadgets, the internet, social media, and instant messaging, have taken over the communication format of most people, especially the younger generation. It is becoming more and more reasonable to text or message people or in the same household. This is discouraged when you come to visit the country as a guest. Cypriots still value the more traditional form of communication, which is a personal face-to-face conversation. This is also encouraged with regards to the business transaction as personal; one-on-one interaction builds more trust and respect.
In Cyprus, gift-giving is not only for birthdays, holidays, or special occasions. If you are staying as a guest in your host’s home, it is expected that you present them with a display of your gratitude. Traditional options include flowers, small pastries, or boxes of sweets. It works the same way when the host of the home offer you a gift or an offering. Citizens of Cyprus value hospitality very much, which is why a small portion of food and drink, at the very least, should always be accepted.
Greetings and Time-Keeping
In Cyprus, similar to other European countries, the primary mode of friendly greeting is by kissing each other on the cheeks. The only exception is male friends who instead of kissing, must shake each other’s hands. It is also the norm for young female children can also be seen holding hands while going around the village or city.
However, unlike many strict countries in Europe and North America, the citizens of Cyprus are not stressed out by time. They are on what they call as island time where it is normal for a guest to arrive 45 minutes late from the agreed upon time. When invited to attend social gatherings like parties or dinners, it is advisable to come an hour later than the specified time.