Customs & Traditions in Albania

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General Etiquette

- If you see two Albanians speaking loudly, don’t think that they are arguing. They are just talking about important topics, especially politics.

- It’s considered polite to dress modestly when traveling around Albania, both men and women should avoid wearing clothing that is too revealing.

- When shaking hands, it’s important to use your right hand only.

- Some of the most important Albanian cultural beliefs include the belief in the power of magic, the importance of family, and the respect for elders.

- Albanians also have a great deal of respect for their elders.

- Elderly members of the community are often seen as wise and experienced, and they are treated with deference.

- Young people are expected to listen to the advice of their elders and to show them respect.

- Smile and have fun with Albanians, they know really the meaning of life. Try to enjoy every part of your trip to Albania. You will discover great people, with great hearts and have a very unique experience. Not to mention the beauty of nature which is a gift from God.



Family

- One of the most significant aspects of Albanian culture is the importance placed on family life.

- Family relationships are strong, and most families live near to one another, offering support and assistance when needed.

- They often live in close-knit extended families, and they value loyalty and support within the community.

- There are still lots of regulations concerning the dating scene. Most Albanian families are very traditional about a man and woman being engaged before they can spend any time together alone.

- Arrange marriages are still common in Albanian cultures, however, it is increasingly up to young men and women to choose who they want to marry.

- Dating is becoming more and more acceptable by Albanians.

- Women are the caretakers of the home and their families. They are expected to serve their husbands, raise their sons, and welcome and serve any guests that come into their homes.

- Women are increasingly becoming employed and while many of the men remain unemployed, women don't seem to have as tough a time finding work.

- In the larger Albanian cities, it is becoming increasingly acceptable for women to both drink alcohol and smoke. Smoking used to be very unacceptable for women, but that is changing more and more.



Meeting & Greetings

- Albanians are very hospitable and appreciate good manners.

- Greet people with a smile, say please and thank you, and offer compliments when appropriate.

- Albanians also take great pride in their appearance, so it is important to dress well when meeting new people.


- Albanians like to grab and hold hands if they meet a friend in the street, especially older women with others.

- It is considered respectful when you meet an Albanian and shake hands with them.

- Albanian used to kiss each other on the cheeks. Even men do this when they meet their friends or relatives.

- Women greet women with a normal handshake for colleagues and first meetings, a kiss on each cheek for friends, and two kisses on each cheek if they are really close to each other or haven't seen each other in a long time.

- When a man greets a woman it depends on the relationship; for relatives, a kiss on each cheek (or two per cheek) is common. With friends or colleagues, normally a light handshake will do.

- Touching another person's arm, shoulder and hands is pretty common if you know each other. But you would not do this to a stranger.

- Direct eye contact is very acceptable and an appropriate part of conversing. It doesn't change depending on whom one is speaking with.

- Usually, when you have a meeting with an Albanian be sure to wait at least 10 minutes, they are not on time.

- If an Albanian is offering you a coffee, is just an offer for friendship or to respect you, not other intentions, and it is considered rude to refuse an offer of food or drink.

- In terms of personal space, Albanians tend to sit close and speak to others in close proximity. A little less than arm's length is the norm. This space is greater with strangers.



Visiting a home

- If you are a guest in an Albanian house, they will offer everything they have, they will cook the best food they have, even borrowing items from neighbors or at the shop nearby.

The desire to satisfy the guest is so strong among Albanians. What they want to hear in the end is a big thank you, or spread good words about their hospitality.

- Remember to take your shoes off before entering any Albanian home. This is a sign of respect for the owner’s property.

- Albanians are known for their hospitality, and they often go out of their way to welcome visitors to their country.

- You should also always enter a room before anyone else unless you are following someone of a higher rank.

- When seated, men should always cross their legs at the ankle, while women should keep their knees together.



Giving gifts

- Don’t refuse if Albanians are giving you a gift, even if you don’t like it. It can be offensive for them.

-If you get a present, it is customary to give one in return.

- Money is never a nice present since it suggests that you expect a bribe or other unethical behavior from the recipient.

- Flowers are generally not given as gifts.

- Gifts like small paintings, sculptures, and other memorabilia are good gifts for Albanian people.

- If you are visiting a family with children, you must bring presents for the kids.


Dining & Food

- Don’t insist when someone is offering you to pay for the coffee, because Albanians respect their guest.

- Generally, don’t order meat at the seaside or fish in the mountain. Just to be sure, eat what the restaurant is offering you as their specialty.

- It’s considered rude to refuse an offer of food or drink.

- It is considered impolite to rest your elbows on the table during a meal. Instead, you should keep your hands in your lap.




Communication style

- Albanians can be very direct with some things and very indirect with other subjects/issues/topics.

- Albanian like to uphold the most positive image possible, especially regarding their family.

- Albanians tend to hide anything shameful or any bad news they have.

- It’s important to be aware of Albanian body language. Avoid pointing or making direct eye contact with someone you don’t know, as this can be considered rude.

- Albanians are very enthusiastic and expressive with their hands.

- Waving with the pointer finger back and forth and making a sound with the mouth means that you don't want something that is being offered.

- In certain areas, if you shake your head from side to side you are indicating “yes” and an up and down movement means “no.” One way to avoid confusion is to speak your answers/questions, 'po' (yes) or 'jo' (no).

- People call out to one another by extending an arm and making a scratching motion with their fingers.





Other consideration

- Albanians believe that magic is a real and powerful force. They believe that certain people can harness this power and use it for good or evil purposes.

- Magic is often used as a way to protect oneself from harm or to bring good luck.

- Many Albanians carry lucky charms or wear special amulets to ward off evil spirits.

- Wagging your finger is commonly understood as “I’m done with you, move on.” Or “Enough already, move on with your life.”

- In Albania, saying please and thank you isn’t as common as it is in other cultures. This can be confusing for foreigners who are used to using these phrases all the time.

- In Albania, it’s not considered rude to cut in line, it’s perfectly acceptable to go ahead of someone if you need to. Just be aware that the person you’ve cut in front of may not be too happy about it.



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