What are some of the Etiquettes and Customs in Ethiopia?

Ethiopian greetings are courteous and somewhat formal.

The most common form of greeting is a handshake with direct eye contact.

The handshake is generally much lighter than in Western cultures.

After a close personal relationship has been established people of the same sex may kiss three times on the cheeks.

Across genders, men should wait to see if a woman extends her hand.

Greetings should never be rushed. Take time to inquire about the person’s family, health, job, etc.

People are addressed with their honorific title and their first name.

“Ato", "Woizero", and "Woizrity" are used to address a man, married woman, and unmarried woman respectively.

Elders should be greeted first.

It is customary to bow when introduced to someone who is obviously older or has a more senior position. Children will often be seen doing so.


Gift Giving Etiquette

Gifts may be given to celebrate events of significance or religious occasions.

Since Ethiopia is an extremely poor country, expensive gifts are not the norm.

In fact, giving a gift that is too expensive may be viewed negatively. It may be seen as an attempt to garner influence or it may embarrass the recipient as they will not be able to match it in kind.

If you are invited to an Ethiopian’s home, bring pastries, fruit, or flowers to the host.

A small gift for the children is always appreciated.

Do not bring alcohol unless you know that your host drinks. Most Muslims and Amharic people do not.

Gifts are not opened when received.

Gifts are given with two hands or the right hand only; never the left hand.


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Etiquettes and Customs in Ethiopia, Culture


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