-> Church Etiquette

"Greetings and Salutations"

Introduction to Byzantine Church Life
A Guide to Divine Liturgy
A Guide to Great Vespers
Who's Who? in Church Services
Coming into Church
"Greetings and Salutations"
Greeting a Priest
The Sign of the Cross

a Rough Guide to saying "Hello"in Church

By now, you will have noticed that during Divine Services, we don't say the greetings prevalent in our socio-cultural time-space continuum. Generally e.g. we do not say:

"Hello, Howdy-do"

"G'day, how'zit goin', eh?"

"Peace and Prosperity"


"Hey, 'Zup m'man"

or even "Gimme Five, Jive" (cum corresponding palm slapping ritual)

-- hitherto ubiquitous in such areas as well-to-do neighbourhoods as Rosedale, Shaughnessy, Hampstead, or Wellington Crescent!

Instead, in our Christian Tradition, it is customary to greeting each other with Salutations of Faith.

The standard greeting is:

Glory to Jesus Christ.

Rx: Glory for ever.

E.g. sermons will begin with "Glory to Jesus Christ", rather than the colloquial "Good Morning" (or "Listen Up!") found more commonly in some churches.

People will often greet each other in the streets with "Glory to Jesus Christ" rather supra.

In Ukrainian:

"Slava EEsoosoo Khrïstoo"
(stressed thusly: SLAva eeSOOsoo khrisTOO)

Rx: "Slava ee na veekï."
(stressed as capitalised: SLAva ee na VEEki)

(N.B.: in Ukrainian, "a", "o", "i" are short vowels, e.g. ö = got, ï = fit, etc.)


During Paskha (a.k.a. "Easter" in the Latin Church) [Paskha to Ascension] we say:

Christ is Risen!

Rx: Truly He is Risen!

In Ukrainian:

"Khristos vosskress"
(stressed as follows: khrisTOS vossKRESS)

Rx: "vo eestinnu vosskress"
(vo EEStinnu vossKRESS)


During Theophany (January 6th onward) we say:

Christ is Baptized!

Rx: In the Jordan!

In Ukrainian:

"Khristos khristyayetsya"
(stressed as follows: khrisTOS khristYAyetsya)

Rx: v Yordahnyee
(stressed as follows: v yorDAHnyee)


During the Christmas season (Dec. 25/Jan. 7 - Feb. 2/Feb. 15), we say:

Christ is born.

Rx. Glorify Him.

In Ukrainian:

"Khristos razhdayetsya"
(stress as follows: khrisTOS razhDAyetsya)

"Slaveetï Yoho"
(slaVEEti YOho - remember the "o"s are short as in "Lot")

N.B.: "The Christmas season" begins only upon the celebraton of the Nativity. So this greeting is only used ON and AFTER Christmas. It is NEVER used before Christmas, is is the Penitential 40 days of the Fast of St. Philip [in Ukrainian, "Pylypivka"]

Feast Days

On Feast Days, we greet each other with:

"With the Feast" or "Upon the Feast"

Rx: just repeat back what is said to you: "With the Feast" or "Upon the Feast"

The phrase is a short form for: "I congratulate [greet you festively] upon the Feast of X, or Y, or Z".

In Church, e.g. at the Vigil Service, the Priest will usually use this phrase to greet the Faithful as they come for anointing or blessing.

For example: at the "Myrovannya" Anointing at Vigil Services or Matins, the Priest will anoint the Faithful and greet them with "z Praznikom".

In Ukrainian:

"z Praznikom"
(stressed as follows: z PRAZnikom)

Rx: "z Praznikom"

The Kiss of Peace
(during Divine Liturgy)

The ancient tradition in the Orthodox Churches is to exchange with one another the Kiss of Peace before we together proclaim the Symbol of Faith (the Nicean Creed). This is why the Deacon proclaims: "Let us love one another, so that with one mind we may confess..."

The standard greeting for the Kiss of Peace is:

Christ is amongst us. or Christ is in our midst.

Rx: He is and will be.

In Ukrainian:

"Khristos po sered nahss."
(stressed thusly: khrisTOS po SERed nahss)

Rx: "yest ee boode."
(YEST ee BOO-de, reminder "-de" as in "decalogue")

The meaning of this greeting is clear, that we find the Presence of the Christ, not just in Holy Communion, but also really in the each Christian, in the Body of Christ - the Church. Also, we are enjoined to make peace with our sisters and brothers ere we approach the holy Altar.

"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift." (Matthew 5:23-24)

Although, technically the Kiss of Peace is proper and legitimate for every celebration of the Divine Liturgy, it has for the most part fallen out of use in most parishes, except for perhaps High Feasts days like Pascha.

Interestingly, it is still standard practice for the clergy, who will exchange amongst their various ranks the Kiss of Peace (i.e. priests with priests, deacons with deacons).
(n.b. -- watch the deacons if they are outside the Altar on the solea) or if there is a cleric not serving, but worshipping out amongst the Faithful standing, one of serving clergy will be delegated from the Altar to go and give him the Kiss of Peace.

In our Churches, the Kiss of Peace is exchanged within the various orders, e.g.: the priests exchange the Kiss of Peace amongst themselves, the deacons exchange the Kiss of Peace amongst themselves, and the Faithful exchange the Kiss of Peace amongst themselves. It is not something that must perforce descend from the clergy. (In the Latin Church, the custom apparently is that the Sign of Peace descends from the priest to the lower clergy and thence to the laity.)

The Holy Father enjoins and commands our Churches to faithfully and strictly observe the Orthodox Tradition.

In the Orthodox Tradition the Kiss of Peace is still practised as a "Kiss" - and not the rather antiseptic handshake nor cursory nod cum "V" gesture. We continue the ancient Tradition because that is what the Rubrics and regulations prescribe. And more importantly, it is what the Bible enjoins:

1 Peter 5:14 , "Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ."

We kiss each other on the cheeks or shoulders (as per the rubrics) - their left shoulder (or cheek), right, then again left.

During Feast Periods, the standard Greeting of the Kiss of Peace is replaced by the Festive Greetings: during Pascha, "Christ is Risen", during Theophany, "Christ is Baptized, during Christmas, "Christ is born", etc.

Greeting a Priest or Bishop

To Greet a Priest or Bishop:

Instead of the colloquial "Howdy Fadda" common in some churches, the standard greeting for Priests and Bishops in our Churches is to ask for a Blessing. We hold out our hands, right palm on left and say:

"Father, Bless"

In Ukrainian:

" Blahoslovï "
(stressed thusly: blahoslo-Vi )

If Greeting a Bishop:

If we meet a Bishop (anyone looking something the guy in this photo - who happens to be His Grace, Basil, Exarch of Vyshhorod), have the right as the People of God to receive God's blessing from him.

If greeting a bishop, we say: "Master, Bless"

In Ukrainian:

"Blahoslovï, Vladïko"
(stressed thusly: blahoslo-Vi , vla-Di -ko)

And after receive the Blessing, we kiss the hand that he will place in our palms - as a sign of reverence to God, who is the origin of all our blessings.

For more info greeting a Priest or Bishop

Bottom Line: Don't Worry.
But if you do happen to panic...
and forget what to say
Relax, just smile, and maybe bow (...slightly).

We're just happy to have you with us!

(I was going to suggest "nod" but that could look a bit dismissive to the person at the receiving end.)

Matthew 28:8-9
" So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. "

Ukrainian version
Українська версія


Fr. Roman Galadza