When visiting orthodox churches, women should wear
scarves over their heads (sometimes provided). Men
should take off their hats. Both sexes should not
wear shorts or sleeveless shirts.
Few tourist sites in Odessa are equipped for disabled
visitors. The philharmonic theater has many stairs
and no elevator, and the opera theater's upper floors
are only accessible by staircase.
are often helpful to those that are disabled.
When greeting, relatives and close friends often kiss
cheeks. Ukrainians address each other by first name.
A respectful form of address is using the first name
followed by the patronymic, which is the person's
father's first name with a gender specific suffix.
When you ask a Ukrainian their name, they will often
give their first name and patronymic only.
are uncomfortable by constant eye-contact. Facial
expressions are reserved. Ukrainians rarely smile
at strangers. North Americans will be surprised at
how "unhappy" Ukrainians first appear. In
Ukraine, it is considered dishonest to appear happy
when you are not, whereas in North America it is considered
polite. Ukrainians tend to say thank you and excuse
me less than North Americans. If a person bumps into
a stranger accidentally they will usually not acknowledging
it by saying "excuse me" or "sorry".
Cutting in line/queues is also very common.
men engage in conversation, the distance between the
two is typically about ten inches, well within a North
Americans comfort zone.
chat they frequently touch each other on the hand
or arm, even embracing from time to time during the
is still important in Ukraine. Women expect men to
open doors, take their coats, carry heavy items, and
help them from buses and route taxis. It is such an
expected part of the culture that women rarely say
Ukrainian superstitions and etiquette
- If invited
to someone's home, a small gift is appropriate.
purchase flowers with odd numbers (bad luck if even
numbered) and never yellow (symbolizes goodbye and
the soles of the shoes is sometimes considered rude.
shake hands in doorways (bad luck).
off your gloves before shaking hands
off your shoes when entering a home. Most hosts
provide you with slippers.
whistle in a home (it causes all the money to disappear).
wipe a spill with paper, as it also causes all the
money to disappear (uncommon)
sit at the corner of a table (you will never get
leave an empty bottle on the table, set it on the
- Be prepared
to give toasts at dinner, this is common.
turn down food or drinks, unless you don't drink
alcohol or are a vegetarian. It is considered rude.
should not take off their jackets unless asked
dress very sharp, especially in business situations.
walk with an empty pail across a person's path.
buy a watch for a significant other, as this means
the relationship will soon end.
sometimes will look in the mirror before they leave
if they have forgotten something and had to return.
will sometimes take a brief moment of silence sitting
down before leaving on a trip.
older women will wear bobby pins on their sweaters,
to stop the evil eye. (more on the evil eye: www.luckymojo.com/evileye.html)
devil sits on the left shoulder, an angel on the
right. Sometimes, when a person says something about
a Ukrainian's good fortune, they make a gesture
of spitting over their left shoulder. It is the
same as "knocking on wood" in Western
women hold hands and walk arm in arm in public.
- On Odessa
beaches topless women is common.
life in Ukraine:
are fiercely proud of their gorgeous city. Odessa
was the first city in Russia to celebrate a city
birthday. Odessites have always been Odessites first
and Ukrainians, Soviets, or Russians second.
- If a
person is drunk, wants to drink, or wants to suggest
drinking, they click their thumb and first finger
under their neck.
especially women, have an aversion to sitting on
cold surfaces, feeling that it is unhealthy.
Ukrainians often will not open a window for fear
of a draft
will quickly notice that the majority of people
do not wear watches, and if you wear a watch, annoyingly
you will often be asked you the time.
Odessites have dogs, and they often care less were
the dog uses the bathroom. Some Odessites own huge
dogs that live with them in tiny a one or two apartment.
in many businesses, often only one door is unlocked
if there is more than one door.
It is forbidden to take pictures of army and naval
bases. This law is strictly enforced. One American
volunteer was sent home for taking pictures of a naval
Ukrainian men and women tend to dress in dark European-style
clothing. Ukrainians take pride in their appearances
and despite low incomes by western standards are meticulous
dressers. The easiest way to offend a Ukrainian is
accidentally step on their highly polished shoes.
always dress their best in whatever circumstance.
Young Ukrainians are often very thin. Obesity is rare.
men tend to very have short hair. Ukrainian women
tend to use a lot of cosmetics by Western European
and North American standards. Women wear lavish fur
coats in the winter and very short skirts in the summer.
Older men wear fur hats and all men wear black leather
will often be surprised at how attractive the women
of Odessa are. As the Eastern Economist expresses,
attracts Western men to Ukrainian
women is their more traditional femininity, which
has been lost to a great extent in America"
generation tends to dress more conservatively. Elderly
women usually wear dresses and head scarves.
occasions such as religious holidays, people wear
the national outfit. This includes the vsishivanka--a
white blouse embroidered with many brightly colored