Etiquette and Customs in Portugal
Meeting & Greeting
. Initial greetings are reserved, yet polite and gracious.
. The handshake accompanied by direct eye contact and the appropriate greeting for the time of day.
. Once a personal relationship has developed, greetings become more personal: men may greet each other with a hug and a handshake and women kiss each other twice on the cheek starting with the right.
. The proper form of address is the honorific title ‘senhor’ and ‘senhora’ with the surname.
. Anyone with a university degree is referred to with the honorific title, plus ‘doutour’ or ‘doutoura’ (‘doctor’) with or without their surname.
. Wait until invited before moving to a first-name basis.
. Use the formal rather than the informal case until your Portuguese friend suggests otherwise.
Gift Giving Etiquette
. If you are invited to a Portuguese home for dinner, bring flowers, good quality chocolates or candy to the hostess.
. Do not bring wine unless you know which wines your hosts prefer.
. Do not give 13 flowers. The number is considered unlucky.
. Do not give lilies or chrysanthemums since they are used at funerals.
. Do not give red flowers since red is the symbol of the revolution.
. Gifts are usually opened when received.
. If invited to a dinner arrive no more than 15 minutes after the stipulated time.
. You may arrive between 30 minutes and one hour later than the stipulated time when invited to a party or other large social gathering.
. Dress conservatively. There is little difference between business and social attire.
. Do not discuss business in social situations.
. If you did not bring a gift to the hostess, send flowers the next day.
. Table manners are formal.
. Remain standing until invited to sit down. You may be shown to a particular seat.
. Table manners are Continental — the fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.
. Do not begin eating until the hostess says “bom appetito”.
. Do not rest your elbows on the table, although your hands should be visible at all times.
. Most food is eaten with utensils, including fruit and cheese.
. Keep your napkin to the left of your plate while eating. Do not place the napkin in your lap. When you have finished eating, move your napkin to the right of your plate.
. If you have not finished eating, cross your knife and fork on your plate with the fork over the knife.
. Leave some food on your plate when you have finished eating.
. Indicate you have finished eating by laying your knife and fork parallel on your plate, tines facing up, with the handles facing to the right.