Colombian Customs and Traditions: Why do we Greet so Much?

Welcome to the world of Colombian greetings! If you are here just saying “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (hello, how are you?), it isn’t enough for us...
Colombian greetings

If you have been to Colombia, you’ve probably noticed how charming and friendly people are, just like many Latinos around the world! However, we have very funny ways of greeting friends and family. So, if you are here just saying “Hola, ¿cómo estás?” (hello, how are you?), it isn’t enough for us! Welcome to the world of Colombian greetings!

Greetings are a very important aspect within the Colombian culture and traditions because if you just say “hola” (hello) or “¿cómo estás?” (how are you?), people might think you are not very friendly or you are way too serious.  Once, one student with a really advanced Spanish level told me “I don’t know what to do when greeting people”. He felt that people wanted to invade his privacy with all those questions and also he was so frustrated because he didn’t know how to answer all the greetings that his Colombian friends were saying in less than a minute. 

That’s why I told him to relax. People in Colombia love greeting because is a cultural way to show respect and affection for others. It is very typical that when you meet up with  Colombian friends they will ask you the same question “¿Cómo estás?” in different ways. What you have to do is just smile and say “bien,” “muy bien,” or “todo bien,” and also ask “y tú”. If you just follow this simple rule your friend will understand that you are fine and also that you are interested in what your friend has to say. 

For us, greeting people is just a way to break the ice. It does not mean you have to tell your whole life story or your problems to the other person; it is just a way to show that we care about the way you feel but in a very light manner. Anyhow, if you feel comfortable enough to talk about the situation with that person you can do it without hesitation.  So next time you greet someone in Colombia, try to add more greetings to your list, even if you already know the answer. Now let’s learn about all the greetings that can be used in order to sound more like a native speaker. 

Colombian greetings

© Photograph by Whee Institute on Facebook

Some of the most common greetings in Colombia are:

  • Hola
  • ¿Cómo vas? 
  • ¿Qué tal todo?         
  • ¿Cómo amaneciste?*       
  • ¿Qué mas?
  • ¿Cómo va todo?    
  • ¿Cómo te ha ido?         
  • ¿Qué tal?           
  • ¿Qué hay de nuevo?
  • ¿Cómo va la familia?   
  • ¿Qué tal tu día?     
  • ¿Quihubo?*

The ones with the (*) are unique because “¿Cómo amaneciste?” is just asking if you rested well and “¿Quihubo?” is a way of being very informal with someone.  So the next time you want to be part of the Colombian culture or feel local, try to use some of these greetings not only once, but twice or three times in order to be more “chévere” with your new Colombian friends. In this way, you will not feel like a foreigner. 

If you find more greetings in your cultural exchange do not hesitate and write them on the comments above this article! Also, visit our blog here to know more Spanish tips.

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Written by Andrea, profesora in Whee.

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