Invitations to somebody’s home can be tricky, especially when you are not overly familiar with the social and cultural ins and outs of the local community. So, here’s 7 things you ought (not) to do in Luxembourg when you’ve been invited to somebody’s home for a dinner.
If you have recently moved to Luxembourg, and haven’t been invited yet, do not despair. Luxembourgers are very friendly and welcoming to outsiders, but it might take some time for them to warm up to you and invite you over for dinner. If they do, consider it an honour.
Luxembourgers are easygoing, especially at informal get-togethers, . So, here's our list of the top thing to (not) do when you've been invited for dinner.
Lunch is usually served at noon, for evening dinners it will be around 8 p.m. In any case, be punctual, as turning up late may brand you as unreliable, not to speak of the hosts’ carefully laid-out plans that you just ruined. Arriving up to a quarter of an hour late will be judged acceptable (the famous quart d’heure académique), but arriving any later than that without having called in advance will be considered – well, inconsiderate.
Bring a gift
It is usual for invitees to bring a gift for the hosts, usually a flower arrangement or a bottle of alcohol. You can adapt the expenses to the occasion: a rule of thumb is to spend more or less what your share of the evening is going to cost your hosts. If you bring a bottle of wine or spirits, make sure to bring something of a decent quality.
If your gift is set aside for the time being, don’t be offended. Gifts are never opened in the presence of the guests, especially when many are present. Instead, the host(s) will take great pleasure to open them after the guests are gone.
The 3-kisses rule
If you are invited to a private get-together at someone’s house, the 3 cheek-kisses are customary between women, and between women and men. Men greet each other with a firm handshake – although make sure you get the difference between ‘firm’ and ‘crushing’. The latter is seen as extremely impolite. Always greet the hostess first. These rules are of course to be ignored during a pandemic.
Nobody likes people nosing around, especially Luxembourgers, who value their privacy. Making comments about stylish dining room furniture is going to make your hosts beam. Making the same kind of comments about the bedroom furniture is not. Housewarming parties might be the exception to the rule here.
Show good table manners
Mind your table manners! Luxembourgers are very sensitive when it comes to bad table manners. So, keep your elbows off the table and don’t gulp that wine down in one go, never mind how good it is.
Plan lots of time
Dinner usually start with a glass of Crémant and some hors d’oeuvres, followed by the actual meal, which can be anything from a main course and dessert meal to a 5-course traditional Luxembourgish Kiermes-meal. In any event, plan enough time. Luxembourgers like to catch up over a good meal, and it is not unknown for even a small informal meal to last several hours. Not because the food would take that long, but because nobody wants to leave the table.
Don't overdo the drinking
In all probability, your hosts will have put quite a bit of thought into which drinks to serve, from the Crémant at the apéritif, via the wine(s) and up to the spirits at the digestif. Politely refusing alcohol will lead to you being offered alternatives. Indeed, because of the strict DUI laws, many invitees will stick to one glass of wine over dinner, and spirits are only occasionally served these days. If they are, Luxembourgish Drëppen (fruit brandies) are just as popular as Cognac, Whisky, Limoncello or a Grappa. The country's oppennes translates into the choice of spirits.
In any way, don’t overdo the drinking – you might get away with being tipsy, but being stone drunk is going to seriously ruin your reputation.
So, this is our advice to a successful evening at a Luxembourgish dinner. As for the food, rest assured that Luxembourgers love good food and if an actual dinner is being prepared, most will go to great lenghts to treat you to something special.