THE UKRAINIANS CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Ukrainians are extremely generous and hospitable. All social occasions include food. Visitors are always offered something to eat as well as a beverage. It is considered the height of rudeness to eat in front of another person and not offer them something.
Gift Giving Etiquette
– Ukrainians exchange gifts with family and close friends on birthdays and the Orthodox Christmas.
– ‘Name days’ (birth date of the saint after whom a person was named) are also celebrated rather than birthdays by some.
– Gifts need not be expensive. It is the act of giving the gift that is important, since it symbolises friendship.
– If you are invited to a Ukrainian’s home for a meal it is polite to bring something; cake, flowers, or a bottle of imported liquor.
– Flowers should only be given in odd numbers and avoid yellow flowers.
– Gifts are generally not opened when received.
– Table manners are generally casual.
– The more formal the occasion, the stricter the protocol.
– When in doubt, watch what others are doing and emulate their behaviour.
– Table manners are Continental, i.e. hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
– Always keep your hands visible when eating. Keep your wrists resting on the edge of the table.
– The oldest or most honored guest is served first.
– Try everything. Refusing a dish is considered very rude.
– Toasting is part of the culture and generally occurs whenever three or more people share a meal.
– Ukrainians are suspicious of people who do not drink. Having said that, it is better to offer a medical condition as an excuse rather than starting to drink and failing to keep pace with your Ukrainian counterparts.
Meeting schedules are not very rigid in the Ukraine. There may be an agenda, but it serves as a guideline for the discussion and acts as a springboard to other related business ideas. As relationships are highly important in this culture, there may be some time in the meeting devoted to non-business discussions. Engage in small talk and wait for the other party to change the subject to business.