Sometimes students ask me why the Czech so often say hello – „Dobrý den“. They wonder how often they can hear this and I wonder their questions. So what do you know about Czech culture and greetings?
My student R. and his wife went for a trip by train. They got on the train and entered a compartmentpe where a man sat reading. They didn´t know the man so they didin´t say hello as i tis not characteristic in their culture. The man closed his book and said in Czech: „Don´t you know how to say Dobrý den?“ The student and his wife were wondering and didn´t understand what was wrong. Next lesson R. was telling met his story asking: „Why do you greet foreign, unknown people? Where should I say hello when I want to respect Czech tradition?“
Yes, Czech culture and tradition „says“ people say hello when they share a space even if just for a while. When you are travelling in a compartment with someone you say Dobrý den and when you are getting off – Na shledanou. It is not necessary to keep any conversation your greeting is enough. The same situation happens in a lift although we spend there only a few seconds. Even though we live in a big building and don´t know each neighbour we greet people we meet in a corridor because they probably are our neighbours. Similarly to this we behave at work. When we come to a small shop (pharmacy etc.) we say Dobrý den or answer the shop assistent. In a supermarket the cashier usually greets us – we are his/her respectful client jsme jeho zákazníkand we are in a contact for a while. We greet in an office, at the doctor etc.
A man greets a woman first, an employee greets his/her boss, a younger man greets the older one, who comes greets people being there first. Remember the difference between formal conversation (Dobrý den, Na shledanou) and informal (Ahoj, Čau).
Saing hello is door open to people and other communication. When I was a child my grandmother told me: „Better to say hello twice than not at all.“ I follow her advise and I recommend it to you too. If it is not typical for your culture keep a close eye on the Czech how they behave. You will see where we say Dobrý den and then just copy us. It is not difficult and you may be awarded with a smile from the Czech 😊.
Read also other articles about Czehc culture and history:
29th May 2018