Portuguese Culture

Greetings

  • The most common and appropriate greeting for anyone is a handshake. In Portugal, handshakes are usually firm, although some Portuguese may prefer lighter handshakes.
  • Among friends and relatives, women and men usually give other women ‘beijinhos’ (‘little kisses’) on each cheek, beginning with one’s right side. Sometimes people will simply brush cheeks and kiss the air.
  • It is common for friends to greet each other with a hug.
  • Among men who are close to one another, they will often shake hands and engage in a light hug or a light pat on the back.
  • Men greeting women usually wait for the woman to offer her hand before engaging in a handshake.
  • In a group or social setting, the person arriving is expected to greet everyone first. 
  • One is also expected to bid farewell to everyone when they are leaving.
  • Children are expected to offer a kiss on the cheek to adults in the extended family when greeting.
  • People will usually use first names to address their friends, teenagers or children. Otherwise, one is expected to address an adult by their title and surname. It’s common to hear people use one’s title combined with the first name rather than the last. However, this depends on the personal preference and the relationship between speakers.
  • Greeting strangers in passing is usually done in small villages or areas but not in the larger towns or cities. 
  • When addressing an adult, it is common practice to call them ‘Senhor’ (‘Mister’) or ‘Senhora’ (‘Miss’). As a general rule, use the formal address for people you are unfamiliar with as well as those who are older than you.
  • Common verbal greetings include ‘olá’ (‘hello’), ‘bom dia’ (‘good day’), ‘boa tarde’ (‘good afternoon’) and ‘boa noite’ (‘good evening’ or ‘good night’).
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