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Social Customs & Etiquettes in St Lucia


St Lucians are friendly and hospitable and encourage visitors to relax and enjoy their leisurely lifestyle. The traditional dress of the madras and foulards are not often seen in towns, but are sometimes worn at festivals such as the Feast of St Rose of Lima in August. Casual wear is acceptable, although some hotels and restaurants encourage guests to dress for dinner. Beachwear should not be worn in towns. It is an offence for anyone, including children, to dress in camouflage clothing.

Everything occurs on “island time”. Regardless of if a situation is casual or formal, most people will arrive late. If a person running a meeting sets a strong standard, people will perhaps arrive promptly, but it is uncommon. Time is given freely and willingly. Buses do not run on an official time schedule and can come earlier or later each day depending on situations. Do not be in a hurry to reach anywhere or do anything if your time frame is dependant on someone else. Treat people with respect and they will treat you the same.

Gender Issues

Women often times run their households and raise their children with little to no assistance from men. Most women work, shop, etc. and there is little that is seen as unacceptable for them to do. From a young age, girls are encouraged far more than boys to be active in school, which continues into college. Increasingly women are taking over the professional role while men continue in labour jobs (construction, bus drivers, farming). Yet, men still expect to be the sole breadwinners despite a changing professional class of women. Foreign women are usually not expected to adhere to any strong standards of genders roles.

Meeting & Greeting

In an informal setting, men often “jam fists” and then tap their chest (over their heart) with one another. This acts as a hand-shake. In a more formal setting, men will shake hands.

Women usually greet each other with a “hello”, and depending on the level of familiarity will sometimes kiss each other on the cheeks but more often they will hug one another.

In a casual setting, if the man and woman are friends with one another, they will sometimes “jam fists”. Most often men and women still shake hands or if in a casual situation and they know one another well, they may hug. If a man thinks that a woman is attractive, he may attempt to get her attention by making a “pssst” noise. For the most part, greetings of all types are conducted with a “hello”.

Communication Style

People tend to be very direct. Honesty is appreciated. Sarcasm is essentially unused and unrecognised. Patois is the local language and most commonly spoken everywhere except Castries. As a tourist you may be regularly addressed in English but expect St Lucians to speak amongst themselves in Patois.

St Lucians are known to be quite friendly. Expect to say “hello” and strike up conversations with strangers. Expect them also to not adhere to the racial sensitivities many areas are accustomed to, which is not intended to be offensive but curious.

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