Mexican Culture - Greetings (2024)

Greetings

Primary Author

Nina Evason,
  • A firm handshake with eye contact and a smile is the appropriate greeting in most situations. In more casual settings, people may simply give one another a nod of the head.
  • Once people become acquainted, greetings become a lot warmer and Mexicans often prefer to embrace (abrazo). This involves a loose embrace accompanied with a kiss on the right cheek.
  • The common verbal greeting is “Buenos dias” (Good day), “Buenas tardes” (Good afternoon) or “Buenas noches” (Good evening/night) depending on the time of day.
  • A more casual greeting is “Hola” (Hello), “¿Qué tal?” (What’s up?) or “¿Cómo estás?” (How are you?).
  • Be aware that greetings may differ in predominantly Indigenous towns. For instance, in many towns in the state of Oaxaca, the expected greeting is a loose handshake (never a kiss or embrace) as close physical contact with people outside of one's family is less common.
  • It is generally polite to show personal interest in the person you are greeting, such as enquiring about their family and health.
  • The formal title used to greet people is ‘Señor’ (Mr) for men and ‘Señora’ (Ms) for women. This is followed by one’s surname.
  • Elders may be addressed as ‘Don’ (Sir) or Doña (Ma’am) followed by their first name to show more respect.
  • It is common for people to briefly interrupt a conversation in order to greet somebody who has just arrived or who is passing by. This is generally not considered rude.

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