Slovenians are usually open and friendly, so don’t be afraid to approach them; those under 50 speak English and will be ready to assist you. You’ll wow them if you try out some simple Slovenian phrases. Slovenian is a language that few foreigners speak, so your efforts will be recognized and rewarded.
Slovenians will persist when offering anything since “no” does not necessarily mean “no,” and they believe it is acceptable for you to reject and for them to urge. Don’t be concerned unduly, but you should still take some standard measures to examine your host beforehand.
Slovenians are proud of having maintained their national identity (particularly their language) in the face of challenges from surrounding countries throughout the ages. Because of their economic prosperity as well as historical and current cultural ties to Central Europe, they dislike being labeled as part of “Eastern Europe.” Slovenian is linked to Serbian and Croatian, although it is not the same language. Another frequent misunderstanding is that Slovenia was a member of the Soviet Bloc, while in reality it was Yugoslavia’s northernmost republic. You may, however, openly debate these issues; just be aware that you may hear opposing viewpoints depending on who you speak with and his or her political affiliation. There is still a sharp divide between leftists and rightists. Enter into a debate about open territorial disputes with Croatia or the Slovenian civil war during WWII and its aftermath with caution. Consider these contentious issues to be taboo.
Slovenia has a vibrant lesbian and gay community. Homosexuals are usually safe in this area of Europe, but there have been a few recorded assaults in the past. Be particularly careful in the evenings and at night, especially in cities. Holding hands between women/girls is considered natural and a symbol of friendliness.
- Bring a bottle of excellent wine if you are invited to someone’s house for dinner. It is customary to praise a chef. Do that before you’re asked whether you like your dinner!
- Slovenians often wear slippers at home, so remove your shoes before entering. They will either give you slippers or demand that you keep your shoes on. They’ll usually be extremely polite, understanding you’re a tourist and unfamiliar with all of their traditions, but try not to be ignorantly cruel.
- When meeting someone for the first time, it is customary to shake hands. When introduced, don’t attempt to make a kiss, but kissing and embracing amongst friends is popular among the younger age.
- The Slovenian Alps are a national emblem, particularly the tallest peak, Triglav, named for a Slavic deity. Slovenia is the only country with its highest peak shown on its national flag.
- Don’t litter!
- As you meet someone in the highlands, it’s customary to welcome them with Dober dan (Good day), and to say Sreno (Good luck) when you leave. In the mountains, there is a strong sense of community.
- In small towns and villages, it is also courteous to say Dober dan to those passing by.