Pucker up – it’s the culture of kissing

by Charlotte.Barnes on July 5, 2010

red lips isolated in whiteWith National Kissing Day – July 6th – on the horizon and the World Cup going on we thought it might be interesting to take a look at the different kissing cultures across the world.

It is said that kissing, as we know it today, originated in India, where ancient sculptures show kissing. The theory is that the act of touching lips evolved from the act of inhaling another’s breath. Interestingly, Indian films today do not show kissing of any sort.


young loving kissing coupleFor us kissing is a greeting, a sign of affection and widely accepted. It’s a big part of romance, often paired with romantic gifts, roses and touching. But that isn’t the case in every culture.

In the western world, kissing is relatively new and is barely mentioned in Greek literature. In the middle ages kissing was considered a sign of refinement and was usually left to the upper classes. Other cultures have a different take on kissing. In China, for example, a similar show of affection is to rub your nose against the cheek of another person.

iStock_000003092203XSmallThe Inuit people also have a similar way of kissing called the Eskimo kiss, when they rub noses with another or they touch noses and inhale one another’s breath. The Maori of New Zealand also do this, as a ritual greeting.

In Slavic cultures, until recent times, it was not uncommon for two men to kiss on the lips as a greeting and for it to not be considered sexual.

Young pretty girl blowing kissIn Europe a kiss is a widely used form of greeting, for the French it is a kiss on each cheek. While for the Dutch it is three kisses, right, then left, then right.

In Vietnam spouses do not kiss outside the home and certainly not in front of their children. Parents also rarely kiss their children unless they are very small babies.

In India a blown kiss – done by kissing the fingertips and blowing that kiss to a loved one – is called a flying kiss.

In some African, Polynesian, Asiatic and even Native American cultures kissing was rarely done and was considered unimportant until the European colonisations of those areas.

Kissing in traditional Islamic countries is prohibited between men and women unless they are married or very closely related by blood. But kisses on the cheek among members of the same sex are a common form of greeting. A kiss on the cheek is a greeting also used by members of the same sex in Mediterranean countries.

endless  loveIn Sri Lanka authorities have arrested people for kissing, as it is an act deemed unacceptable by the conservative public.

In France it is illegal to kiss on railways. In Dubai in 2007 a couple were detained after kissing and hugging in public. In 2008 a Singapore cable firm was fined for showing an advertisement showing two women kissing.

Railway kissingIn some places kissing is the ultimate show of affection but in other cultures it isn’t really bothered with. Some even keep it reserved for the bedroom and frown on those kissing in public.

National Kissing day takes place on July 6th and is a time to celebrate the kiss and what it means across the world. Maybe find your special someone and shower him or her with romantic gifts before going in for that perfect kiss.


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Charlotte Barnes

Post category: Knowledge, Occasions, Other Occasions  

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