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Ukraine Customs & Etiquettes
 
 
 

General

Approximately 40% of the population in the Ukraine describe themselves as atheist. Of those that do adhere to some form of religion, 37% belong to one of the three major orthodox denominations present in the country. There are also a significant and growing number of Jews, Protestants and Muslims.

Despite the large numbers describing themselves are atheist, Ukrainians are extremely superstitious. If you do something that they believe can cause harm such as sitting on stone steps, someone will undoubtedly tell you that you risk doing great harm to yourself as a result of your actions. Superstitions are derived from folk wisdom in rural communities.

Ukrainians live in a country where everyday life is often unpredictable and unstable and they have learned to adapt to constantly changing rules and laws. The influences of the Russian Orthodox Church plus a long history of turbulent economic times, unstable governments, and adverse climatic conditions produce a rather fatalistic approach towards life.

Ukrainians are extremely generous and hospitable. All social occasions include food. Visitors are always offered something to eat as well as a beverage. It is considered the height of rudeness to eat in front of another person and not offer them something.

Respect the fact that Ukraine is an independent nation and is no longer part of Russia. You may find that people are sensitive about being grouped as Russians. Ukraine is by no means a conservative country with respect to clothing and behaviour. It is very different from our western perspective in some of these cases.
Also, some Ukrainian women wear risque clothes but this doesn't mean that the woman is a prostitute.

Meeting & Greeting

The typical greeting is a warm, firm handshake, maintaining direct eye contact, and repeating your name. When female friends meet, they kiss on the cheek three times, starting with the left and then alternating, while close male friends may pat each other on the back and hug.

Ukrainian names are comprised of:

• first name, which is the person’s given name;
• middle name, which is a patronymic or a version of the father’s first name formed by adding "-vich" or "-ovich" for a male and "-avna", "-ovna", or "ivna" for a female. The son of Alexi would have a patronymic of Alexivich while the daughter’s patronymic would be Alexivina;
• last name, which is the family or surname.

In formal situations, people use all three names. Friends and close acquaintances may refer to each other by their first name and patronymic.


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