Romanian manners are not that out of the ordinary, but we do have some quirks of our own. Romanians are not easily offended, but it does put a big smile on our faces when a foreign traveler greets us in our language or knows proper table etiquette.
So if a trip to Romania is on your mind, here is a small interaction guide and the most common Romanian manner you should know:
Romanian manners – greetings
There are several types of greetings in Romania, each used depending on the person, their age or place. Most common is “buna ziua” which literally translates to good day. It is most often used when greeting older people, or people you have respect for. You use it when entering a small place such as a bank, a shop, a doctors office. The short “buna” corresponds to hello and is often used by young people and is much more informal. It can easily be swapped with “salut” (borrowed from French).
To say goodbye you either say “la reveredere” (see you again), “buna ziua” (aprox have a good day) or simply “pa” if it’s a close friend.
Man use to shake hands when meeting, but is also common for young women to do the same when being introduced to someone new. It’s not so common for older people, so just to be safe, say hello and wait for the other one to make a move.
Although in big cities such as Bucharest or Brașov people don’t greet one another on the street unless they are acquaintances, in rural Romania, it is quite the opposite. In small villages where the traditional way of life is still preserved people greet each other on the street even if they haven’t seen them before. Travelers are welcomed with a head nod or a loud “bună ziua!”.
Here, in small communities, you’ll often hear “sarut mana”, literally translates as kiss your hand. It is most often used for greeting old ladies but also a form of saying thank you to them. It’s also used by children to greet their parents and works both as hello and goodbye.
Romanians find it polite to greet when interacting with one another and if you can’t remember the exact word, a head nod and a genuine smile will be enough.
Romanian table manners
May it be our background as a communist country when food was scarce or our latin descent, Romanians love big dinners and gathering around the table. With so many delicious dishes it’s hard to resist a traditional Romanian meal.
There is not a big fuss around table manners, but two things you should remember. The first one is about drinking because Romanians love a good glass of local tuica or palinca (an alcoholic beverage made out of fermented fruits) before a good meal. Once your glass is filled do not drink it before saying cheers. It can be either “noroc” (good luck) or “sanatate” (be healthy).
It is almost always followed by a bumping of the glasses with everybody at the table or at least raising the glass and acknowledging everyone. After that, you should take at least a sip of the beverage and not lower your glass on the table without drinking.
The other thing you should know is saying thanks for the meal at the end of it. Usually said to the host, it is “sarumana pentru masa”, so basically, you say kiss your hand for the dinner. This lets them know you appreciate the food and atmosphere.
Other common Romanian manners
Just like in other parts of the world, we say “noroc” or “sanatate” when someone sneezes. Burping is not considered polite, but if it happens just say “scuze” (sorry) and move on. Romanians have a sense of humor and don’t get caught up in such minor details.
As I mentioned previously, Romanians are Latins which mean we are related to the Italians, French and Spanish people. That means we’re quite friendly, talkative and quite enjoy small talk. It’s not uncommon to start a conversation in a store or in line for a check up. The public means of transportation are also a fertile place for getting to know people.
And when I say getting to know, I mean it. Romanians don’t cit chat only about the weather or sports. Mostly older people will tell you all their lives, their beliefs and most probably, question your marital status and everything you do. They’re not nosey, just in the mood for talking and if you understand the language it’s a great opportunity to get a better insight into the Romanian history and way of life from a local’s point of view.
Lastly, if there is only one thing you will remember from this article, then that should be “multumesc“. It means thank you and this will not only make you a polite traveler but will bring smiles, open doors and make your staying in Romania so much more enjoyable.
Let a local guide you
Romania is a magical place and no one knows it better than its locals. That is why our small team of certified tourist guides is always happy to share stories about Romania and guide you every step of the way. Furthermore, our aim is to make sure you have the vacation of your dreams. Just see what other travelers are saying about us.
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