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Puerto Rico Customs & Etiquettes
 
 
 

Puerto Ricans consider family life a core cultural value; family and kin are viewed as the most enduring and reliable support network. Despite a high divorce rate and an increase in serial monogamy, most people prefer marriage to living together, although female virginity is not as important as it was in the past. Today courting is based on group or individual dating rather than chaperoned outings. Wedding ceremonies may be religious or secular but preferably include receptions for relatives and friends. Although remaining single is increasingly acceptable, marriage is an important marker of adulthood.

The nuclear family is prevalent, but relatives socialise often. Having children is preferable to childlessness, but it is increasingly the couple's choice. Working spouses who share household chores are becoming common, but socialising children is still predominantly a female role even among family-oriented men. Male authority is invoked and appealed to, but women's authority over many domains and activities is recognised.

Relatives are expected to support each other materially and emotionally. Support is legally prescribed and required along descent, ascent, and collateral lines. Elders are respected. Kinship is bilateral, and people commonly use both the father's and the mother's family name as surnames.

Respeto and educación are indispensable components of social interaction. Indirection is also an important strategy. People believe that directness is rude and use a variety of euphemisms and hedges to avoid it. Close friends are allowed directness but maintain the boundaries of respect. Puerto Ricans prefer people who are publicly expressive but not excessively so. Friends customarily greet by kissing each other, and engaging in animated conversation is viewed as a social asset. Although social drinking is approved, drunkenness is not.

Relajo is a joking form of indirection that is similar to teasing. It is used to criticise others indirectly, convey problematic aspects of their behaviour, stress absurdities, and impart potentially negative information.

Appearing at your best is important, women take pride in femininity and flaunt their womanhood, while young men will dress in flashy styles and older men will dress as mature gentlemen. Going out at night is an especially important time to dress your best and trendy. Simple jeans and t-shirt, khaki shorts, are considered tacky.

People's hygiene habits are scrutinized, especially in the tropical climate of Puerto Rico itself. People are expected to take one or more baths or showers daily. Body odour, unshaven legs and underarms in women, bare feet, or wrinkled clothing are considered disgusting. Many men wear cologne.

Salsa, merengue and even reggaetón may seem like "sexy dancing", but there are unspoken rules. It is rude for a man to dance too close to a woman who is not his wife or girlfriend, even if others seem to be doing it.

It is considered vulgar and ostentatious to open gifts in public. Gifts are never opened in front of a group of people to avoid people comparing the merits of different gifts.

Women in Puerto Rico are very independent and many of them dislike to feel patronised or bound to traditional roles. While talking to a woman in informal situations avoid calling them "Señorita" (Miss) or "Señora" (Mrs), as they could interpret those titles as 'inexperienced'/'ignorant' or 'old'.

Spanish and American manners and conventions exist side by side on the island. Some hotels require formal dress. Casual dress is acceptable, but shorts should not be worn in hotel dining rooms or casinos, where formal dress is required after 2000.

 

 
 

 



 


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