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Dominican Republic Customs & Etiquettes


In the Dominican Republic, the family forms the basis of stability. The individual derives a social network and assistance in times of need from the extended family, which generally encompasses three generations. When possible, the extended family lives together or within the same vicinity. Loyalty to the family comes before any other social relationship, even business. Nepotism is considered a good thing, since it implies employing people one knows and trusts, which is of primary importance. The oldest male in the extended family makes decisions affecting the balance of the family.

Dominicans pride themselves on their hospitality. When someone visits, Dominicans go out of their way to make guests feel welcome and comfortable. House guests are treated royally and Dominicans attempt to cater to their every desire.

In Dominican society appearance is very important. People are extremely fashion conscious and believe that clothes indicate social standing and success. They take great pride in wearing good fabrics and clothes of the best standard they can afford. Designer labels, particularly those from the USA, are looked upon favourably.

Racial and economic issues determine social stratification in the Dominican Republic. The upper class are descended from the European settlers and have lighter skin than the lower class who are darker skinned and descended from African slaves or Haitians. The middle class is comprised of mulattoes who are of mixed African and European ancestry and form the majority of the population. Social class determines access to power and position, although in the large cities, the lines of demarcation often blur slightly. Status is defined more by family background than by absolute wealth. There is little social mobility.

Meeting & Greeting

A handshake, with direct eye contact and a welcoming smile is standard. Maintaining eye contact is crucial as it indicates interest. When shaking hands, use the appropriate greeting for the time of day – "buenos dias", "buenas noches", or "buenas tardes".

Gift Giving Etiquette

If invited to dinner at a Dominican's home bring a gift such as chocolates or pastries. Avoid gifts that are black or purple. They are considered mourning colours. Gifts are opened when received.

Dining Etiquette

If you are invited to a Dominican's house:

• dress well – Dominicans take pride in their appearance and judge others on their clothing;
• although punctuality is considered a good thing, guests are not expected to arrive on time for social occasions – arriving between 15 and 30 minutes later than the stipulated time is considered on time;
• often several generations live in the same house – show deference to the family elders.

Table Mannerism

Wait for the host or hostess to tell you where to sit. There may be a seating plan. Table manners are Continental – the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right while eating.

Meals are generally served family style or buffet style. Guests are served first. The host says "buen provecho" ("enjoy" or "have a good meal") as an invitation to start eating.

Always keep your hands visible when eating, but do not rest your elbows on the table. You may leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.

When you have finished eating, place your knife and fork across your plate with the prongs facing down and the handles facing to the right.





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