Slovenian People, Society and Culture
The Role of Religion
Over half the population is Roman Catholic, although there are approximately 38 religious groups or sects officially registered within Slovenia. The Office for Religious Communities maintains a list of active religious communities. There are a large number of Evangelical Lutherans residing near the Hungarian border. Those who call themselves Catholic are very heterogeneous, with very few adhering to all the precepts of the church. In fact, the majority are quite selective in what aspects they follow and often combine their religious beliefs with secular beliefs.
Despite the secularism of many people, many public holidays are also religious in nature.
The family is at the centre of the social structure. However, over time this is changing. Only a decade ago, one could find several generations living together; nowadays not only are young people moving away but families are splitting due to a move to urban centres. Nonetheless, the family itself remains strong.
Slovenians sense of “home” is also very strong. As a rule, when they are not working, they embark on home based activities such as gardening projects (a visitor will notice that having flowers around the house is something of an art form in cities) or renovation. They see their home and its surroundings as an extension of themselves. People take care to sweep their paths and ensure that the streets remain free of litter and parks are well-maintained.
A Polycentric Culture
Slovenia has a polycentric culture. This means people will go out of their way to change their natural behaviour to mirror that of the person with whom they are interacting. So for example, Slovenians are naturally indirect communicators but can moderate their behaviour when dealing with people who come from cultures where more direct communication is the norm.
This ease of adaptation makes Slovenes easy to work with, although it also makes it somewhat difficult to know exactly what to expect when dealing with people since some may be more adept at moderating their behaviour than others.
Culture, Customs and Etiquette
Meeting and Greeting
•Greetings are initially quote formal and reserved.
•When meeting someone for the first time the most common greeting a handshake and a welcoming smile.
•It is customary to maintain eye contact during the greeting process.
•Close friends and family may kiss twice on the cheek.
•First names are only used among close friends and family.
•Others are addressed using the honorific titles “Gospa” (Madam), “Gospodièna” (Miss), or “Gospod” (Sir).
•Do not use a person’s first name until invited to do so as this is considered rude and presumptuous.
Gift Giving Etiquette
•Slovenians exchange gifts with family and close friends at Christmas and birthdays.
•Members of the Orthodox Church may also celebrate their name day (birth date of the saint after whom they are named).
•This is a culture where it is the thought that counts so thecost of the gift is not important.
•If invited to dinner at a Slovene’s house, it is considered good manners to bring flowers to the hostess and a bottle of wine to the host.
•Gifts should be nicely wrapped; there are no real colour prohibitions.
•Gifts are usually opened when received.
If you are invited to a Slovenian’s house:
•Arrive on time or within 5 minutes of the stipulated time as this demonstrates respect for your hosts.
•Dress conservatively and in clothes you might wear to the office.
•It is common to remove your shoes at the door. Most hosts will offer slippers to guests to wear.
•Slovenians tend to separate their business and personal lives. Therefore, it is a good idea to refrain from initiating business discussions in social situations.
•Expect to be offered some form of refreshments, even if you have not been specifically invited to a meal.
•It is common for the host to accompany guests to their car when they leave.