Hungarian Culture

Etiquette

Basic Etiquette

  • Hungarians often pride themselves on using proper etiquette and expect others to do the same.
  • Calling someone by their first name before being invited to do so is considered rude.
  • Many Hungarians find whistling, humming or singing in public impolite.
  • Always cover your mouth when yawning.


Visiting

  • Most visits are arranged in advance. Sometimes, close friends, relatives or neighbours may make a short unannounced visit.
  • Hungarians enjoy socialising in the home but also often meet at restaurants, coffee houses and tea rooms.
  • Hungarians consider punctuality to be important. Thus, arrive on time if you are invited for a dinner.
  • If invited to a party or larger gathering, arrive no later than 30 minutes after the designated time.


Eating

  • Food is very important to many Hungarians. Many take great pride in their delicacies and cuisine.
  • Families will often come together to eat a three-course meal.
  • Breakfast tends to be a light meal, while lunch is often the main meal. In urban areas, dinner is becoming the main meal of the day.
  • It is considered to be impolite to leave food on the plate. This is interpreted as an indication that you are dissatisfied with the food that was served.
  • Discussions during mealtime should be formal. Talking about things that are dirty or irreverent (such as animals) may offend your Hungarian counterpart.
  • To indicate that you have finished eating, place your knife and fork parallel across the plate.
  • The host will often wish their guests a hearty appetite at the start of each course and encourage their guests to eat more throughout the meal.
  • The host will often refill an empty glass. Thus, if you do not want more to drink, leave your glass half full.
  • Some Hungarians may be offended if you season your food with salt/pepper.
  • A very common alcohol in Hungary is a fruit brandy known as pálinka. For many Hungarians, pálinka is a drink that should be shared.
  • During a toast or before a meal, Hungarians will not clink glasses if the beverage is beer. With wine or pálinka, Hungarians will look others in the eye, clink glasses and say “Egészségedre” (“Cheers”).
  • Avoid making negative comments about the wine, especially if it is from the same region as your Hungarian counterpart.


Gift Giving

  • If invited to a Hungarian home for a meal, good gifts include high-quality chocolates, flowers or liquor.
  • Generally, flowers should be given in odd numbers, excluding the number 13 (which is considered to be an unlucky number).
  • Gifts are usually opened when received.

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