Chilean Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • It is considered rude to talk loudly in public places and restaurants.
  • Yawns are politely concealed with the hand.
  • Remove your hat and sunglasses when entering a church.
  • Chileans will often prioritise people and relationships rather than strict adherence to time frames. Showing up to an event half an hour to an hour after the designated time is quite common.

 

Visiting

  • Guests typically wait outside the door of a home until invited inside.
  • It is polite to greet the head of the family first.
  • Chileans appreciate guests who show a genuine interest in their family
  • It is not considered rude to arrive late. Most people will arrive at a social gathering about half an hour after the designated time.
  • It is expected that you will arrive on time if the person you are visiting is of a higher status or the visit is related to business.
  • In Chile, it is common for people to visit each other without prior warning.
  • Refusing to entertain a visiting relative or missing a family gathering without an acceptable excuse can cause great offence.

 

Eating

  • Dining etiquette can be quite formal in Chile, depending on the company.
  • Chileans typically eat four times a day, with the largest meal being lunch.
  • Before a meal, the host will show guests their seats.
  • People begin their meal once the host invites them to eat.
  • Both hands are kept above the table at nearly all times during a meal.
  • It is impolite to leave directly after eating.
  • Conversing before, during and after a meal is very common.
  • Chileans tend to finish all the food they put on their plate. Taking more food than one can eat and leaving unfinished food on one's plate is considered impolite, suggesting that the person did not enjoy the food.
  • Try to accept a drink that is offered. Refusing a drink may be considered impolite and can negatively impact first impressions.
  • During a toast, people typically raise their glasses, look at the person being toasted and then say “Salud” (“Cheers”).
  • Once’, which translates as ‘eleven', is unique to Chile and is a mix between the traditional Spanish ‘merienda' (light afternoon snack) and English afternoon tea. Once is usually taken between 4 pm and 8 pm. It usually includes tea or coffee with warm bread accompanied with jam, butter, ham, cheese, avocado and tomato.


Gift Giving

  • Gifts are typically opened when received.
  • Gifts that are sharp such as knives or scissors refer to an intention to ‘sever' ties with someone. Thus, avoid giving gifts that may be interpreted as cutting off connections.
  • If invited to a Chilean’s home, bring a gift of chocolate or wine to show your appreciation.
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