Eastern European Customs
Following these rules, may avoid embarrassment
- If invited into a family home, it is traditional to bring a gift. A bottle of wine, a cake, chocolates or a bouquet of flowers is customary. If there is a child in the house, it is appropriate to provide him/her with a small gift as well.
- Do not shake hands across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck.
- When shaking hands, take off your gloves.
- In Ukraine it is not a custom to shake hands with a woman. Kissing her hand will make you very gallant.
- Be prepared to remove your shoes upon entering a home. To keep apartments clean, most hosts will provide you with a pair of slippers.
- On public transportation, give up your seat to mothers with children, the elderly, or the infirm.
- At the entrance of upscale restaurants, expect that your coat, briefcase or baggage will be checked.
- Be sure to have business cards printed in Ukrainian on one side and English on the other.
- When eating dinner at someone's home, casual dress is accepted.
- If you bring flowers, make sure it is an uneven number (even are for funerals) of flowers.
- Be ready to give toasts at dinner, for guests are often asked to do so.
- Offer to share your snacks and cigarettes with those around you.
- Be prepared to accept all food and drink offered you when visiting friends.
- Ukrainians are known for their generosity when it comes to feeding others. Turning down food may be considered rude.
- For business, dress should be conservative. Men should not take off their jackets unless asked to do so.
- In Orthodox churches women wear scarves or hats, and men take off their hats.
- Don't put your thumb between your first two fingers - this is a very rude gesture.
If you bring flowers, make sure it is an uneven number of flowers and also make sure when you send flowers to your lady that they are uneven to. (Yes it is a custom in the Ukraine to send uneven numbers of flowers)
Because in there Culture the even number of flowers is usually given to someone as a sign of your condolence (Most bring such Bouquets to a funeral) and this could upset your lady or she might not like it.
One should be also careful with presenting yellow flowers as this color has falseness meaning.
If you will send just yellow flowers to your lady she can decide about your parting.
Old Dating Customs
One will find that most Ukrainian women, in Odessa and all other cities in Ukraine, are modern thinking, though they do follow some dating customs which may be considered old-fashioned by Western standards.
These cultural differences add a certain amount of charm to these beautiful ladies.
Below are listed some of the more common dating customs that are considered the norm in Ukraine:
- Bring flowers - Flowers play a much more important role in Ukraine than they do in the West. A single rose is appropriate for a first date. If you meet your lady's family, be sure to bring flowers to her mother. Always buy an odd number of flowers (even numbers are used at funerals). Also, never buy yellow roses (can signal a decrease in feelings or the end of a relationship).
- Dress your best - Ukrainian citizens do not share the altruistic "looks aren't important" mentality that has spread through the West. First impressions are very important to them. You will notice that on the street, people will look first at your clothes, then at your face.
- Don't try to shake hands - Women in Ukraine do not consider it feminine to shake hands when they meet. Also, in the winter, make sure you take off your right glove before you shake hands with a man. To fail to do so is considered rude.
- Offer your lady your arm - Usually, men and women do not hold hands in Ukraine when they walk together. Instead, the woman takes the man's arm. Be sure you always offer your arm to your lady when you cross the street. Help your lady onto/off of vehicles. Many Westerners are not accustomed to using public transportation systems and forget this courtesy. When the two of you get onto or off of buses, trams, taxis, etc., always extend your hand to help your lady.
- Always do the pouring - When at dinner or at a bar, always make sure that your lady's glass is full. The man always does the pouring. This is an old custom but very deeply ingrained. If you forget to do this, she may think you have no table manners.
- Don't drink much alcohol - One of the main reasons Ukrainian ladies are interested in Western men is that alcoholism runs as much as 50% among males in this part of the world, which causes them to be less than desirable husbands. Therefore, when it comes to drinking, you should always show moderation and self-control.
- Take off your shoes in her home - To avoid bringing dirt into their homes, Ukrainian citizens almost never wear their shoes inside. Instead, they wear slippers. They usually have an extra pair or two for guests near the front door. If they don't, simply take off your shoes and remain in your stocking feet (Note: because of this custom, you might want to pay careful attention to the socks you choose to wear).
- Attitudes about sex - You will find that Ukrainian women have the same (i.e., modern) attitudes about sex as Westerners do. Specifically, a few will engage in sex on the first date, a few will not engage in it until they are married, but the vast majority fall somewhere between these two extremes -- they will have sex when they feel that a certain level of mutual caring and trust has developed in the relationship.
- Asking for her hand - It is still an accepted Ukrainian custom to ask the woman's parents for her hand in marriage. If geographic distance is a problem, consider a phone call. Your fiance' may not think this is important or even want you to ask her parents, but at least make the offer. Remember, if the woman still lives with her parents, you do not want to offend them by failing to respect an old Ukrainian custom.
Starting off on the wrong foot could land your leather-shod paw in your mouth.
When in Ukraine, do as well-behaved foreign guests do. If you are a Western man who is visiting Ukraine for the first time to meet his Ukrainian woman friend, you may find the entire experience confusing. A little knowledge of Ukrainian customs and etiquette could go a long way towards impressing that special Ukrainian woman. Below are a few rules of etiquette that could save you a lot of embarrassment and trouble:
When Meeting Your Special Ukrainian Woman
Visiting the home of a Ukrainian woman friend
When you get invited to the home of a Ukrainian woman friend's family, be sure to bring a gift. Sure, you can never go wrong with a bottle of wine or a cake, but a gift that represents your home country would be greatly appreciated by your Ukrainian woman friend's family. Give your presents a little more thought than usual; don't just grab the first thing you see at the duty-free shop. It is customary to bring a bouquet of flowers, and when you do, make sure the flowers are not yellow and the number of stems is odd (uneven).
Greeting a Ukrainian woman
Do not shake hands across the threshold of a door. It is considered bad luck. Ukrainian women and men are a friendly lot, so don't be impatient if they use a lot of time introducing themselves. Ukrainian women consider it unfeminine to shake hands when they meet. In formal situations, shake hands when being introduced or introducing yourself. When shaking hands, remove your gloves.
Take off your shoes upon entering your Ukrainian woman friend's home. To keep their homes clean and free of dirt, Ukraine women and men change into a pair of slippers once inside the house. Most hosts provide their guests slippers, but even if you are not given any, do not insist on walking inside the place of residence with your shoes on.
Dressing up for dinner with a Ukrainian woman friend's family
Dress appropriately. Casual dress is recommended when eating dinner at the home of your special Ukraine woman. Note that "casual" does not mean dressing for a heavy metal concert or a day at the beach. You need not show up in elaborate or showy finery, either, unless the occasion specifically calls for your Sunday best. Classic business casuals like dress slacks and button-down oxfords may get the stamp of approval of your Ukraine woman's parents.
Table manners at the home of a Ukrainian woman friend
Graciously accept all food and drink offered by your Ukrainian hosts. Ukrainian women and men are known for treating their guests like royalty. Turning down food may offend Ukraine women and men's generous hospitality.
Offer to share your snacks and cigarettes with those around you. Remember how your mother used to tell you that it's always good to share? Ukrainewomen and men believe mothers know best, too.
Honoring Ukrainewomen with a toast
As a dinner guest, be prepared to give toasts. Ukraine women and men are earnest toastmasters, and it is acknowledged that the toasting follows a traditional pattern. The hosts gets to make the first toast, usually in honor of the guest. The guest reciprocates the honor by making the second toast. The third toast is given in celebration of Ukrainian women, such as the women in the household, and female friends and colleagues.
Be prepared to be kissed by your host one to three times as you greet and depart. Kissing is a ritual gesture of greeting and well-wishing among Ukraine women and men. Be careful when puckering up, though. Never kiss a Ukraine woman on her forehead. The act of kissing someone on her forehead is reserved for funerals.