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Lithuania Customs & Etiquettes


Lithuanians are Baltic nation, however, it's common for tourists to think that they are somehow connected with Russians.

Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union from the end of World War II until 1991. You should also try to remember that the Lithuanian capital is Vilnius, not Riga, which is the capital of neighbouring Latvia, a common mistake for travellers and an annoyance to locals.

Because of war time occupations by Tsarist Russia in the 19th century, the Soviet Union in the 20th century and the territorial disputes with Poland in the early 20th century, conversations revolving around disputes with neighbouring countries are not a good idea for those not from the region. It's better to avoid criticise Soviet Union or Russia because a lot of people, especially older, have some nostalgia for these times.

Lithuanians may appear at times nationalistic, however it is with good reason that they are a proud nation as they have fought to maintain their cultural identity through dark times, and this has kept them a unique and in general a warm and charming race. Although most Lithuanians officially are Christians native Lithuanian religion is still alive in traditions, ethno-culture, festivals, music.

Lithuanians may appear sad, depressive, a little bit rude and suspicious so talking about your good health, wealth, happiness could be sometimes take negatively. Smile at a Lithuanian in the street and most likely they will not respond in kind. Smiling in Lithuania is traditionally reserved for friends; smile at a stranger and they will either think you're making fun of them and there's something wrong with their clothes or hairdo, or that you must be an idiot. Furthermore, an automatic Western smile is widely regarded as insincere.

Women in the entire former USSR area are traditionally treated with utmost respect. Female travellers should not act surprised or indignant when their Lithuanian male friends pay their bills at restaurants, open every door in front of them, offer their hand to help them climb down that little step or help them carry anything heavier than a handbag - this is not sexual harassment or being condescending to the weaker sex. Male travellers should understand that this is exactly the sort of behaviour that most Lithuanian girls and women will expect from them, too.

The family is the centre of the social structure. The obligation to family is a person's first priority. Together with religion, the family forms the basis around which all other parts of life revolve.

Meeting & Greeting

The most common greeting is the handshake, with direct eye contact, and a smile. Once a relationship has been established, greetings may become more unreserved and include a hug. Wait for your Lithuanian friends to determine when your friendship has reached this level of intimacy. People are addressed by their honorific title and their surname. Wait until invited before moving to a first name basis.

Gift Giving Etiquette

If invited to a Lithuanian's home, bring wine, flowers, or sweets to the hostess. Give an odd number of flowers. Do not give chrysanthemums as they are used in funerals. Also do not give white flowers as they are reserved for weddings. Gifts are generally opened when received.

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