Etiquette Tips When Visiting a Ger
Foreign guests remark on Mongolian friendliness. The Mongols are shy by nature. They often hide their confusion or embarrassment behind a smile. Most of the Mongols are taciturn, reticent, tolerant, and some people say, superstitious. Fussiness and inconsistency are considered undignified. At the same time, the Mongol may grow very excited when playing a game, or boil over in anger. The Mongols do not like to talk about unpleasant things. It is believed that such talk may invoke trouble.
Here are some etiquette tips when visiting a ger:
- Upon entering a ger, do not step on the threshold, move in a clockwise direction to the west and north. The east side of the ger for women, and the west side for men.
- Do not present your gift upon entering a ger, the custom is to do it before leaving. However they do not expect to receive gifts from their visitors, but would be happy if candies or gifts are given to the children.
- Do greet the family members and sit down as Mongols show respect by sitting.
- Roll down your sleeves, if it is summer and you (and Mongolians) wear a t-shirt, then pretend to roll down your sleeves symbolically when being offered food and drink, or before being introduced to an older person.
- Women cannot sit on the place of honor (north side of ger) where the men can sit. The Mongols respect men and give them a seat in the place of honor.
- Do not sit with one leg over another, as Mongols will think that you are looking down on them. It is also rude for a woman to sit cross-legged in a ger.
- Do not cross your arm over your chest while sitting as they will think that you not feeling well.
- Do not put your feet or shoes on chairs or tables. To show the bottom of your feet when sitting in close proximity to another is offensive.
- Do not use your fingers to point at anyone as the Mongols believe that will bring them evil.
- It is a tradition for Mongols to offer tea and food to their guests (the Mongolian tea is the first thing to be offered). Hold the cup by the bottom and not by the top rim. Receive the tea with the right hand extended and left hand supporting the right elbow, or with both hands. Never refuse ceremonial offerings of tea!
- When offered vodka or airag, accept it. Drinking it is not necessary, but you should touch it to your lips as if tasting it, and return the cap or bowl to the person who handed it to you.
- Do not pass the place of honor while going out of the house; therefore, you can pass clockwise by the side.
Posted by: pktan
Having spent a few months in the amazing Mongolia for the past few years, PkTan is fascinated with this beautiful, complicated country. He love advising travellers to Mongolia and have developed this site to share all his knowledge of Mongolia with everyone.