Social Etiquette in Iran: How to Greet People

  April 10, 2021   Read time 1 min
Social Etiquette in Iran: How to Greet People
Hospitality is the word most tourists use to describe their experience of Iran. Iranian people warmly welcome the strangers and serve the guests as the "one who is loved by God". This is a long tradition that dates back to Ancient Persia. v

Since ancient Silk Days, Iranians have been accustomed to having travellers as guests. Wherever you are, Iranians will come up to you and say “hello,” take pictures with you, and invite you to their home or even offer you a free guided tour of their hometown.

If you’re wondering how to greet people you meet on the streets, start by learning basic Farsi greetings. To say “hello,” you would use “salaam alaykum” (may peace be upon you) or simply “salaam” (peace). If you’re leaving, you can part ways by saying “khoda hafez,” which means, “may God protect you.”

Physical greetings are generally restricted to members of the same gender — men only kiss other men and women kiss other women. If you meet on the street, a handshake is the more common greeting. Even the slightest physical contact with non-family members of the opposite sex, except young children, is forbidden.

Iranians also have a special social system known as ta’arof, which literally means, “meeting together.” It’s a system of politeness that’s expressed in both verbal and non-verbal communications. Iranians tend to protest compliments and belittle their own accomplishments in an attempt to appear humble.

In adherence to ta’arof, whenever you are ever offered something, like a tea or sweet, always first decline it (even if you want it) until the person who offered it insists.

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