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Iranian Hospitality

Iranians are known for their warmness toward strangers and friends alike. Should one have the pleasure of being invited into someone’s home, they would surely be in for a treat. It is important to the host of a house that their guests are well taken care of and that their home reflects a comfortable atmosphere. Before one even enters the home to which they are invited, the hospitality of the host may already be evident. For example, if one is having trouble finding their host’s home, the host may meet their guests halfway to ensure they make it to the right place. Upon entering your host’s home, one might expect to be introduced to the family and offered food and drink. Hosts may also express attentiveness to their guests by asking, “Are you comfortable?” this question may be followed by offering more comfortable seating or pillows to make the guest feel more at home. Indeed, one is treated, for the moment, like a part of the family.

If you are invited to someones home, it is customary and perhaps even expected, to bring a small gift. After all, you are being invited into someone’s home, which is an honorable opportunity in almost any culture. Proper gifts in any case don’t have to be much; sweets, cookies, flowers, etc. Just a token of appreciation in one of these ways should suffice. The only taboo gift would be alcohol. One can indeed give back in other ways too, such as sharing aspects of one’s own culture or life. One could bring family pictures, flags or one could bring his or her own talents to entertain.

As a westerner, it may be overwhelmed at first to be so warmly greeted and cared for. What’s more, the types of questions one might be asked may seem personal, but not at all rude in Iranian culture. So, one should be prepared if asked whether one has kids or not. Lastly, visiting someone’s home is generally not quick. One should expect to say for several hours and should therefor plan accordingly or make it clear to the host that one can not stay long.

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