Habits & Customs
Breakfast isn’t a big meal here, but for all other mealtimes, Armenians love to sit, drink and eat for hours. Menus are becoming more common, but the custom is to discuss options and prices with the waiter if there’s no menu, and often even if there is. Some say it’s rude to eat with your left hand, others say that’s a Muslim custom and not Armenian. The drinking culture is highly developed, but it needn’t be crippling. As one host said, it’s my duty to keep your glass full, it’s up to you how you drink it. Women drink wine or brandy rather than vodka. Drunkenness is unacceptable, especially for women. If you want to propose a toast it’s polite to ask the permission of the tamada (main toastmaker). There’s a custom in clinking glasses of holding your glass lower than the next person’s, as a sign of deference. This can develop into a game until the glasses are at table level. If you empty a bottle into someone’s glass, it obliges them to buy the next bottle – it’s polite to put the last drops into your own glass.
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