Friday, October 12, 2012
Salutations and general good manners
The concept of saying “hello”, “good morning” or anything else to someone that you do not know is almost redundant in the UK. In fact (and it pains me more than you can imagine to admit this) the only group of people who still seem to adopt these values in Britain are the Asians (not oriental) and primarily those of the Islamic faith!
For me this indicates how far British manners have fallen and how a nation, once renowned for its courtesy and good manners the world over, could actually learn something from a culture that I personally detest and loathe. Very sad, but also very true.
In Spain however, good manners are generally alive and well and in Galicia they certainly prosper.
Not surprisingly, those who initiate salutations tend to be the older adults (i.e. over 30), but this has more to do with an acknowledgement and respect based on age than any lack of intention to do so by those in their teens. Equally, initiating a conversation with anyone of any age is also likely to be greeted with interest and enthusiasm rather than the distain that greets most things in England. The Spanish and the Galicians are talkers and they do so actively.
Handshaking and of course kisses on both cheeks for the ladies, are also a part of any greeting with friends, or people to whom you are introduced. As an Anglo Saxon, I still find the latter slightly uncomfortable, but it is of course eased if the lady in question is young and attractive! Regrettably this tends not to be the case!
What all of these traditional greetings show is that acknowledging others is a big part of the Galician way of life. These greeting are as common between those in their teens as they are between those of advanced years, so good manners is not confined to a single age group.
It seems to me that in the UK we spend time ignoring people and even go to great lengths to do so. In other parts of the world however, the opposite is true and people actively look for the chance to say “hello” and start a conversation.
Interesting too that whilst owned by a massive proportion of the Galician population, mobile phones are rarely seen being used in public. Hopefully the superseding of conversation by texting is still some way off.