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Hispanic social customs

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With so many countries making up Latin America, people from every country are obviously different, but there are certain characteristics that many Hispanics share.

Body language

Hispanic cultures greet one another with a firm handshake. A hug and a kiss on the cheek are common greetings between women, and between men and women who are close friends or family.

Hispanics often gesticulate animatedly with their hands and use body language to make their point. They are generally warm and affectionate in their personal relationships.

Formality and candidness

Hispanics are formal in speech and generally speak to the point. Candidness is not considered rude and people will openly ask questions that may be seen as somewhat personal.

Dress codes

Suitable attire is usually worn for attending church and religious celebrations, and people make an effort to dress well for social occasions and work. Hispanics place great value on looks and appearance as a sense of pride and dignity.

Punctuality

Hispanics tend to be somewhat more relaxed about time and punctuality than Americans.

“Mi casa es su casa”

A phrase that is commonly heard amongst Hispanics is “Mi casa es su casa”, or “My home is your home”, which is interpreted as meaning that no invitation is usually needed to turn up at somebody’s home. Unexpected visitors tend to be welcomed warmly and given food and drink.

Respect and honor

Hispanics are brought up to respect authority and the elderly, to be good-mannered and to understand the importance of honor.

Family ties

A Hispanic family is a close-knit group that goes beyond the immediate family and includes extended family. Family members take responsibility for one another, aiding each other in the event of financial problems, health problems and unemployment. It is normal to honor parents and grandparents by naming a new baby after them.

Language

Most Hispanics and Latinos in the US speak both English and Spanish, although many only speak Spanish at home as they live with family members who have not learned English well or because the family wants to keep the culture and heritage alive.

There are formal and non-formal forms of address in Spanish (for example usted vs. tú), and titles of respect (Don or Doña) before people’s first names, especially for people who are older or in a higher social position.

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