Euro-Guide • Say No To Cultural Faux Pas
KANGA Loves to travel Europe! We enjoy immersing ourselves in the different cultures and experiences that the European cities have to offer! At the same time, we like to be mindful of the cultural customs of each place we visit.
FAUX PAS- fō 'pä
An embarrassing or tactless act or remark in a social situation.
Synonyms; mistake, blunder, gaffe, indiscretion, barbarism.
Here are some Faux Pas to avoid when in KANGA's favourite cities in Europe!
Spaniards are easy going people with a relaxed nature, however make sure you keep the following faux pas in mind and try to avoid them.
• Not speaking even one word of spanish is a huge no-no, especially when it comes down to relying on a local to help you out with directions or a taxi point. Adding 'por favour' or 'gracias' will encourage locals to help you more!
• Not finishing your meal is another major faux pas in Spain. The host or chef might think you did not like the meal. To avoid this, serve yourself modest portions or order one course at a time.
• Speaking of food, avoid adding salt, spices or even ketchup to your food especially when it is a traditional spanish meal or home cooked meal at a friends place. This is seen as unappreciative of Spanish culture and heritage.
Just eat the meal as it is and even shoot a compliment or two after!
Germans have unique customs that are still very much in play. It would be of good use for you to take these into consideration during your next visit.
• For those who love an alcoholic drink, drinking too much or being intoxicated publicly is a major faux pas! This is seen as distasteful and can lead to heavy fines or arrest. To avoid jail time, drink in moderation or in the comfort of your hotel room.
•When gifting flowers to German friends or family, avoid carnations as these are used for funerals in Germany. Also make sure you are informed of your friends favourite flowers and bring an odd number as even-numbers are seen as unlucky! Or just get a different gift all together! phew
• When eating out do not eat with your hands. Pizza? French fries? Use a fork and knife. Eating with your hands is frowned upon and make sure you place your cutlery side by side, not crossed, when you are done eating.
Italy is always filled with tourists, good shopping and great food! It is such a comfortable environment. Here are some faux pas to avoid when exploring the town.
• Avoid small talk with strangers as Italians are reserved by nature and are often uncomfortable with familiarity. Short greetings are perfectly fine! 'Buongirno' and 'Buone Sera!'
• When out shopping for clothing or food, avoid touching the merchandise or fresh produce. Allow the staff to do that for you and wear plastic gloves at the fruit and veg section, unless you want to be told off by the sales rep! Didn't think so!
• Comfortable? All fine and good, but do not place your feet or shoes on a table or a chair. Why? It is quite self-explanatory, it is just plain rude any where in the world.
There is so much love and light in France! But avoid the following faux pas so you are not put in the dark!
• Hugging strangers or people you are not too familiar with is a major faux pas! Hugs are often reserved for family and can be awkward, embarrassing or uncomfortable for some. How about 'Bisous' instead? Greet friends with cheek kisses. BISOUS!
• Not saying hello or bonjour and goodbye or au revoir when entering and exiting a room is frowned upon. Also add a 'Merci,' a "Sil Vous Plait' and a 'Bonne Journee' any chance you get. Learn some french greetings and socially polite phrases before your visit.
• Ordered a salad? Just don't cut your lettuce with a fork and knife. This is often viewed as an insult to the chef, insinuating they did not prepare the meal properly. Fold your large veggie pieces to fit your bite instead.
The UK is like a second home to KANGA. Here are some faux pas we learnt over the years:
• Flashing the peace sign is seen as rude as it is like pointing the middle finger. Why not hold off on all hand gestures in general to keep the peace! Pun intended! hehe
• A major faux pas that is also tried and true is standing on the wrong side of the escalators, especially at the underground train stations!
Keep to your right if you must wait. Standing on the left obstructs the passageways and you do not want to delay anyone, especially during the rush hour chaos.
• London moves fast! So walking slowly should be avoided! Concentrate on your destination and walk like you actually want to get there. Avoid walking and texting or multitasking and if you simply MUST post that selfie on the go, step to the side and handle your business rather than reduce your walking speed.
Faux Pas, we all make them! Just keep in mind that it is often not that big a deal if you do commit one of them but it is good to avoid them and adopt the cultural preferences of the country you are visiting.
*** This guide does not in anyway represent the overall views of all countries mentioned!