A Kiss Is Not Just A Kiss In Other Cultures

Although love is a universal language, a kiss isn’t. While it is alright to show affection by kissing in public in your own country, there are places where it is actually prohibited. Kissing is also a means of communication, and to communicate accurately, one must know the diffirent traditions of other cultures and what kissing means to them.

Some US states have unique laws of kissing. In Logan County, Colorado, it is illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she is asleep. In Iowa, a man with a moustache may never kiss a woman in public and kisses may last for no more than five minutes. In Boston, two people may not kiss in front of a church.

For countries in Asia such as Japan, China, and India, physical contact in public are being frowned upon. Instead, they greet each other by shaking hands in China while bowing is preferred in Japan. But in the Philippines, cheek kissing or ‘beso-beso’ is a common greeting. It is a cheek-to-cheek kiss, and not a lips-to-cheek kiss.

Photo from Tokyo Foreigners

Photo from Tokyo Foreigners

In the cold regions of Alaska and Canada, they show affection by rubbing their noses together or pressing their nose against the cheek or forehead of the other person, instead of kissing. This is called the ‘Eskimo kiss’. Because of very low temperatures in these areas, the possibility of freezing spit on each others lips may be unsafe. This practice is also being done in Vietnam, Mongolia, Cambodia, and the Maori tribe of New Zealand.

In Muslim countries, public kissing between the opposite sex is strictly prohibited. In the Arab world, a hug and a kiss on the cheek or forehead between men is customary. Kissing someone from the opposite gender is inappropriate, unless she is a close friend or relative. In Jordan, it is one to the left cheek and several to the right, depending on how much you like the person.

Photo credit: MSN Lifestyle

Photo credit: MSN Lifestyle

Generally, in Europe, cheek kissing is a standard greeting between the same sex or opposite sex. The ‘Dutch three kiss rule’, as they call it, is done by kissing one another’s cheeks three times alternately – right, left, and right. These European countries include Switzerland, Belgium, Slovenia, Macedonia, and the Netherlands.

For the Italians and French, they believe in two kisses but depending on the city you are in, the number of cheek kisses vary across the county. The French kiss which originated from France is a deep passsionate kiss between lovers.

european greeting

Photo credit: Mail Online


African tribes show reverence to their leader by kissing the ground they recently walked on. The practice of kissing each other is not common.

In Egypt, just like the Muslim country, public kissing between the opposite sex is prohibited, but, people of the same gender kiss each other on the cheeks three times as a greeting.

In Poland, Romania, and Austria, kissing the hand of a lady is a way of showing respect.

Australia’s social greeting is the air kissing, which doesn’t involve actual contact.

In Mexico and Colombia, people are usually greeted with one kiss, while in Brazil, a kiss on each cheek is preferable. In these countries of Latin America, the kiss is often given to close friends as well as new acquaintances; and men are expected to kiss women as a greeting. While in Ecuador, the women are kissed on their right cheek only as a way of greeting.

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