The culture and customs of Armenians have formed for centuries. A bit hot-tempered but open-hearted and good-natured at the same time, Armenians are famous for their kindness and hospitality, respect for adults, strong family values and gentle attitude to children. Almost all the tourists travelling around Armenia mention these remarkable features and for a long time keep in memory the warm communication with locals.
Of course, as in any other country Armenia has its own nuances of the right behavior which should be taken into account by foreigners to feel as comfortable as possible. You don’t need to be very concerned about that as Armenians are friendly towards the tourists and even if you accidently break some traditional rules they will kindly correct you and show the Armenian version of tackling the situation. However, to help you avoid awkward situations we offer some common Armenian traditions and customs you’ll need to know during your trip to Armenia.
Armenian Customs: Greeting and farewell
Undoubtedly, the question of greeting and farewell traditions always interests tourists. In Armenia, everything is quite simple. At the first meeting with a new acquaintance Armenians always shake hands – this is the most common way to salute. However, in case of real closeness and friendship male friends kiss each other while greeting or leave-taking. The same concerns to female friends. It may seem very strange to foreigners, but kissing is a symbol of the friendship and long acquaintance for Armenians.
Armenian Customs: The culture of tipping
The next important question is the culture of tipping. In general, in recent years the majority of cafes and restaurants tend to add to the bill 8-10% of the total cost of the order as a tip for the waiter. Although, in spite of this, visitors often leave some more tips in case they are very satisfied with the service. If the bill is not specified by the amount of the tip, then you should leave 5-10% or more, in case you are very pleased with the service.
Armenians are well-known for their hospitality and respect for foreigners. They are so glad to meet their foreign guests and try to do everything for making them feel as comfortable as possible and fall in love with Armenia. Many tourists after their visit remain impressed by this sincere attentiveness of the locals. For example, it won’t be surprising at all, if complete strangers invite you to their apartment for treating delicious Armenian dishes or volunteer to show you the city and the sights. In this case you don’t need to be afraid of the selfish intentions, it is just a sign of hospitality.
Armenian Customs: The culture of communication
In communication Armenians are simple and open-hearted, and sometimes it may even seem that there is no any personal space in Armenia: people here like to speak face to face looking straight in one’s eyes without losing contact and space between them. Sometimes they may even ask detailed and personal questions that is rather common. In spite of this, Armenians are very polite and compassionate and take to heart other people’s hardships and problems. If anyone needs any help in the street or in public transport hardly any Armenian will remain indifferent.
Here you will often hear the word “merci”, which is borrowed from French and is often used instead of the long Armenian “shnorakalutsyun,” which also means “thank you.” And the endearment word “jan” is out of the question, you will hear it all the time! It can hardly be translated and it shows tender attitude to the interlocutor, so do not be surprised if you hear your name in conjunction with “jan”. Another very colorful expression of tenderness, and sometimes compassion, is the phrase “tsavt tanem”, which literally translates as “I will take your pain on myself.”
So these are Armenians sometimes direct, but kind, tender and attentive. Come to Armenia and you will be able to learn about these and many others interesting and unique traditions of the locals!