Every country has its own “rituals” and unique ways of behaving. If you are ever in Spain, it will be very helpful to remember these top 5 Spanish customs to avoid any embarrassing situations.
When seeing a friend or being introduced to someone for the first time, two kisses are given on each cheek or into the air to the side of each cheek. Unlike other countries such as Bulgaria, we always start with the right cheek. This ritual is repeated with every person we are saying hello to, and then done again when saying goodbye. Men will normally hug or shake hands when meeting other male friends as opposed to kissing.
LA SOBREMESA (you’ll need to stay a little after lunch):
If you are ever invited to have lunch at a Spaniards house, you can typically expect it to start around 2 to 3 pm. However, the finishing time is not so clear! During family celebrations, appetizers, main courses, and desserts are eaten. After this follows “la sobremesa” (literally meaning “the over-table”). This is the time after lunch for drinking coffee and liquors, divulging in little sweets, talking, joking and laughing for hours. People will start leaving for home any time from 6-8pm. Tired, happy and still quite full!
Another cultural difference is starting and finishing work later than other European countries. Lunch time is later – normally around 2 or 3 pm and dinner is eaten around 10pm or even later. Bedtime is up to the individual, but it is not usual to be asleep before midnight. In fact, this is the time that young adults start going out to party.
In Spain, when a gift is received, it is opened instantly and the receiver comments out loud how beautiful it is and how much they like it. Not opening a gift right away or not giving it praise would be considered very insulting.
If you are invited to somebody’s house, it is custom to bring a bottle of wine, chocolates, pastries or a small plant in appreciation to the invitation.
While holding a conversation in Spain, it is the norm for many people to talk at the same time. This is not considered bad manners but rather shows interest in the conversation topic. So if you are ever interrupted while talking to a Spaniard, the advice is to try to just counterattack and interrupt someone else!