Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Learning the Social Customs of the Ukraine


In the Ukraine, the family is very important in the social life. It is common for multiple generations to live in one household, and for the grandparents to assist in raising the kids. Ukrainian grandparents consider their children to be the future. Parents and grandparents may at times seem overprotective.

When you are walking around the Ukrainian streets as an expat, don’t expect people to smile at you, especially in cities. Many foreigners think the Ukraine feels quite cold socially. Nevertheless, Ukrainians do practice a great deal of hospitality. People always get invited to Ukrainian homes for all sorts of celebrations. Guests are treated especially well, and served with special foods.

Parties involve a lot of drinking, especially vodka. Usually, they fill up everyone’s glass, say a toast, and everyone drinks at the same time. They don’t often chase liquor with other beverages, but with food, such as carrot salad. People spend hours and hours at the dinner tables eating, drinking and having conversations.

Elder generations in the Ukraine are traditional with gender roles. The women are meant to cook and clean and the men are meant to take care of the technical duties at home. However, it is becoming more common for both the men and women to do chores around the house in the younger generations.

Ukrainians usually don’t try to stand out amongst the crowd. People speak very quietly in public and don’t try to call attention to themselves. They also don’t speak with much small talk, but use more direct, to-the-point style speech.

Ukrainians have a distrust for authority and don’t have the highest respect for the legal system either. They say many disrespectful things about their government. However, don’t expect to speak this way yourself. Ukrainians are very nationalistic and take much pride in defending the honor of their country and heritage.

If you are invited to a Ukrainian home, you can bring a gift like a bottle of wine, some pastries or some flowers, but it’s not expected. You should dress casually, but remove your shoes before entering someone’s home.

Ukrainians, like Russians, are very superstitious people. Do not kiss or shake hands underneath a door way. Also, remove your gloves before you shake hands. Before embarking on a trip, Ukrainians will often either spit over their shoulder three times or take a seat on their luggage. If you sit between two people who have the same name, that will bring you good luck!


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