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Hungarian Etiquette

Meeting Etiquette

  • Both men and women greet by shaking hands, although a man should usually wait for the women to extend her hand.
  • The older generation may still bow to women.
  • Close friends kiss one another lightly on both cheeks, starting with the left cheek.
  • In the business context is safest to address people by their titles and surnames.

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Gift Giving Etiquette

  • When visiting a company it is not necessary to bring gifts.
  • If invited to a Hungarian's home for a meal, bring a box of good chocolates, flowers or Western liquor.
  • Do not bring wine as the Hungarians are proud of the wines they produce.
  • Flowers should be given in odd numbers, but not 13, which is considered an unlucky number.
  • Do not give lilies, chrysanthemums or red roses.
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

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Dining Etiquette

If in the rare case you invited to a Hungarian's house:

  • Arrive on time if invited for dinner, although a 5-minute grace period is granted.
  • If invited to a party or other large gathering, arrive no more than 30 minutes later than invited.
  • You may be asked to remove your outdoor shoes before entering the house.
  • Do not ask for a tour of the house.

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Table manners are formal in Hungary.

  • Table manners are Continental -- the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
  • The hostess will wish the guests a hearty appetite at the start of each course.
  • Do not begin eating until the hostess starts.
  • Do not rest your elbows on the table, although your hands should be visible at all times.
  • Hospitality is measured by the amount and variety of food served. Try everything.
  • If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork across your plate.
  • Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel across the right side of your plate.
  • The guest of honour usually proposes the first toast which generally salutes the health of the individuals present.
  • At the end of the meal, someone toasts the hosts in appreciation of their hospitality.
  • An empty glass is immediately refilled so if you do not want more to drink, leave your glass ½ full.
  • Never clink glasses if drinking beer.

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