Though they may not seem like it, Croatians are actually quite conservative with their culture. They're proud of their heritage and have always acted upon uplifting it even with people from other countries. So when you get to travel to Croatia or even move there, they expect you to follow their own social customs. After all, isn't it rude to inhibit the country of the culture you're visiting or just relocated to? And if you don't want to ruffle some feathers and get on people's bad sides, you'd do well in following these social customs.
First Introductions are Mostly Reserved
Always remember that Europeans differ in more ways than one. Just because the French and the Italians are known for their kiss-filled greetings, that doesn't mean that the Croatians are the same. In fact, first introductions are often quite reserved in this country. When meeting someone new, people in Croatia tend to act more formally. A firm handshake is the only type of skinship involved and direct eye contact is to be maintained. Then, of course, the usual 'dobro jutro
' (good morning), 'dobro dan
' (good day), and 'dobro veèer
' (good evening) greetings. Only when you're already well-acquainted with each other that kisses (mostly on the cheeks) can happen!
Don't Forget To Use Titles
This probably goes without saying, but don't forget to add the necessary titles and honorifics. Croatians are notably particular about that, especially during the first introductions. There's 'Gospodin
' for Mr, 'Gospodice
' for Miss, and 'Gospodja
' for Mrs. And if someone introduces oneself or another as a doctor or professor, you should always address them with such titles until they themselves insist that you don't have to. Also, it's important to note that, in social gatherings, when introducing people, the order often goes that it starts with the women and then the men. As for age, it's the older ones first then onto the younger ones next.
Using First Names Have Significance
The reason why using titles is important is because, for Croatians, first names are quite valuable. Unlike in other Western countries, where people can easily refer to each other by their first names regardless of how close they are, here in Croatia, it's a different matter entirely. Croatians only allow those closest to them to call or refer to them by their first names and expect others to keep that in mind. So unless you've become good friends with the locals here, you should only call or refer to others by their surnames and their appropriate titles.
Bring Gifts When You're Invited To Someone's Home
When you get invited to someone's home in Croatia, bring a gift to give to your host/ess. Even if they may act like they didn't expect you to, it's common courtesy in the country. A box of chocolates (or any other type of sweets for that matter) or a bottle of wine will do. It'd also be better if you can go for a specific gift that you know your host/ess will greatly appreciate. And, of course, flowers never fail as well. When you've given your gifts, don't be surprised if your host/ess will open them right then and there. This is also normal in Croatia.
Be Mindful of Giving Flowers to Croatians
Now, if you do give flowers as a gift to your host/ess for inviting you over, there are certain rules you ought to remember. Firstly, never give chrysanthemums! Although beautiful, this specific flower is more commonly used for funerals and gravestones. Many Croatians also believe that if you give some to another in their homes, it might invite bad luck. Secondly, always make sure that the number of flowers in your bouquet is an odd number. This also reverts back to superstitions about luck. Nevertheless, any plant that will brighten up one's home
will always make the recipient happy.
Always Wait For Your Host
In Croatia, hosts are king! Common courtesy here dictates that you should always wait for your host before settling down. At the dinner table, instead of rushing to your own position, always wait until you're led to your own seat. And in the case where your host/ess does not or forgot to show you to your seat, don't be afraid to ask. When it comes to eating, only start when the host/ess says so. He/she may give a little speech beforehand, be it to mark the occasion or to give thanks to your attendance. Listen to what he/she has to say then eat when told to do so.
Be Careful When Refusing Second Helpings While Eating
Remember when we said that hosts are the kinds of their own homes in Croatia? That includes when you're eating as well. According to the country's social customs, you may refuse a second helping politely for the first time. but if your host/ess continues to insist, then it's common courtesy to eat just a little. At the very least, you have the power to control how much you eat on your second helping. However, it's also common to leave some food left on your plate to signal that you're done eating. And lastly, just be prepared to take a little bit of leftovers home too!
As beautiful and fun as a country Croatia is, you'll enjoy your time more here if you follow their social customs. Always act politely and according to the common courtesies of the country to ensure that you don't make any enemies while you're here!
Be it in your own luxury home
or in someone else's abode, following Croatia's social customs won't get you into trouble!