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Kissing Etiquette In Europe
October 14, 2003 4:13 AM   Subscribe

So, How Often Do You Do It? And is it true the French do it more? Even, as Joni Mitchell testifies, on Main Street? And how the hell should Kullyfornia start preparing itself for Arnie's Austrian style? (Main link via Bifurcated Rivets.)
posted by MiguelCardoso (23 comments total)

 
And then, of course, there's the employment-based version of kissing...
posted by davidmsc at 4:22 AM on October 14, 2003


how are you ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:48 AM on October 14, 2003


a glasgow kiss (according to google)
posted by sgt.serenity at 4:52 AM on October 14, 2003


Whenever I am in Europe I am always struck by the double edged sword of the "greeting kiss." Sure, it is great when you are introduced to a beautiful European woman and you get to kiss her cheeks as she kisses yours, but meeting an octogenarian and being expected to perform the same task always freaks me out.
posted by shoepal at 6:35 AM on October 14, 2003


I had to get used to the greeting kiss real fast during graduation when all of my girlfriend's Colombian and Nicaraguan family members came. I'm still pretty shitty at it, especially with her grandmother who's about 3' 6" and has about 8 teeth left.
posted by Ufez Jones at 7:30 AM on October 14, 2003


In Portugal, there's a class element to kissing: the upper class and wannabe social climbers kiss only one cheek; the rest of us twice. The lower down the social scale you go, the peachier the kisses and the greater the chance you'll be closely embraced as well.

A recent phenomenon amongst upper class girls when there's a large crowd (it takes time to work through a roomful of thirty people) is to airkiss like mad and haughtily proclaim "Consider yourselves all kissed."

Me I love kissing anyone. I enjoy pulling back the aristos for that second kiss, much to their discomfort.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:34 AM on October 14, 2003


I actully hate kissing. Even my husband. But in his case it's because his mustache hairs go up my nose.
posted by konolia at 8:01 AM on October 14, 2003


how are you ? posted by sgt.serenity

Oy...this back of mine....that trouble with the circus, trapeze laden dwarves in the pantry...oh, sorry...you didn't really want to know, did you?

;)
posted by dejah420 at 8:04 AM on October 14, 2003


Me I love kissing anyone.

Aha, you have finally revealed yourself!
posted by rushmc at 8:26 AM on October 14, 2003


In my partner's family (Belgian), we kiss 3 times. Not sure if which cheek first is important, never noticed. This goes both for parents and sister. Friends aren't kissing, but they may be Americanized. My partner's father offers his hand instead of his cheek (whether for my sake or his, who knows? I'm gay, he's stra8, we're friends)

My partner gets a kick when Americans react when he greets a French colleague with kisses. This happened a lot a couple projects ago.

Personally, I miss American hugs.
posted by Goofyy at 8:37 AM on October 14, 2003


Shame on BlistexR for categorically ignoring all of Eastern Europe in their so-called "European" guide to kissing etiquette. As if western Europeans, with their "excuse-me-while-I-kiss-the-sky" smooches can compare with the full-on French kissing of, say, Leonid Brezhnev. I spurn BlistexR as I would spurn a rabid dog.

Kissing in the Balkans is also an interesting can of worms. Serbians generally kiss three times, and often follow-up with a powerful bear hug, in which the goal is to squeeze as much oxygen as possible out of you. Croatians, in their ever-crazier attempts to distance themselves from anything Serbian, have recently adopted the two-kiss rule, just to spite their former opponents.
posted by Ljubljana at 9:09 AM on October 14, 2003


I always find that a good slap on the arse does the trick...
posted by i_cola at 9:27 AM on October 14, 2003


Some yanks here may recall the rise of the "corporate hug" some time in the early 90s. Revolting doppelganger of human affection, this maneuver: stand with your toes at least three feet from your target's toes, bend forward at the waist so that your shoulders meet his, avoiding any contact below the collar bone. Pat his back with brisk condescension.

As token acts of affection that express distaste for human contact, you can't beat this one. The technique has slowly worked its way into casual use, thus allowing us to alienate friends and relatives as we would our co-workers.

I try to reserve physical contact beyond a handshake for those with whom I share a meaningful bond. As the corporate hug demonstrates, sometimes more is less.
posted by squirrel at 9:42 AM on October 14, 2003


I have to laugh at your description of the corporate hug, squirrel. I've had a few of those given to me and wanted to immediately vomit afterwards. However, it reminded me of the hugs my girlfriend and I tried to give each other when we were both pregnant. Two pot-bellied pigs would have had an easier time giving a squeeze. Our arms barely reached each other's shoulders.

We do a ton of hugs with my group of friends. A select few get a single, left cheek kiss. My favorite hugs from friends are the ones where I get lifted off the ground and nearly had my ribs crunched. Only a couple of my male friends do those and they're cherished.
posted by onhazier at 10:14 AM on October 14, 2003


In Holland I grew quite tired of the three-times kiss at each greeting, (left cheek first I think it was) just as I hate when people have to slam their wine glasses together for a toast (even when the table has more than 5 people). In Sweden we hug, right arm extended in a relaxed fist to indicate that the hug is coming. Close friends hug, acquaintances do not. Denmark seems to follow the same rule, but real close friends do a kiss and hug.
posted by dabitch at 10:22 AM on October 14, 2003


Is it just me, or does it all seem to lose something once the spontaneity is abandoned for a calculated "approach"?
posted by rushmc at 10:34 AM on October 14, 2003


Ha! You think these customs are complicated and sometimes over-intimate?
Hey, at least we're not Bonobo chimps!
posted by reality at 11:11 AM on October 14, 2003


in Strasbourg, Alsace, we do..

1 kiss: for very personal relationships: your wife/husband, your lover
2 kisses: friends, family
3 kisses: for those that insist
4 kisses: for the parisians
anything 5 and above is a joke.
posted by ruelle at 11:53 AM on October 14, 2003


I live in the northern US, where it's considered impolite to transgress within the "bad breath zone*," even for family members. Physical contact is overrated. If people were made to be kissed, they wouldn't be so ugly.

*stolen from Scott Adams
posted by Veritron at 12:18 PM on October 14, 2003


Far, far worse than the "corporate hug" is the more intimate hug/cheek kiss solicited at client meetings. It's usually initiated by males towards women, but I have seen the opposite. Totally unprofessional.
posted by mkultra at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2003


Here in the crunchy liberal enclave of Asheville, NC, all of us hug and I kiss my close female friends and my best friend (male). Not that we're touchy-feely types per se, but it's an efficient way of passing patchouli from person to person. A joke, sorta.
posted by moonbird at 1:33 PM on October 14, 2003


Step 1: Stand approximately two feet from the target, offset to the left such that your right leg is in line with the center position of the stance of the target.
Step 2: With elbows slightly bent, pull right arm in from right side until right hands clasp, interlocking thumbs and wrapping fingers around the top of the hand.
Step 3: Maintaining grip and stepping in with the left foot, pull right hand in towards right side of the chest, until arm is folded flat against the body and head is aligned with the right shoulder of the person opposite you.
Step 4: Pound the back of the person opposite you 1-3 times with top of closed left fist (as with a croquet mallet).
Step 5: Step back with the left foot until again standing approximately two feet from the target, offset to the left such that your right leg is in line with the center position of the stance of the target.
posted by eddydamascene at 2:54 PM on October 14, 2003


In my partner's family (Belgian), we kiss 3 times. Not sure if which cheek first is important, never noticed.

It's the left in Belgium. I remember well as I alway knock heads when visting friends there as the right side is more favoured here in Italy. Also much head butting awkwardness ensues when I forget that Belgium & the Netherands do three pecks on the cheeks as opposed to the Italian two.

And you don't even want to know what happens when I go back to the US for a visit.... :-p
posted by romakimmy at 8:56 PM on October 14, 2003


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