International Kissing Day

July 5, 2022

July 6 is International Kissing Day, but how will people around the world be celebrating?

Here’s a few interesting facts on how other cultures see the kiss:

In Italy and Greece, friends, both men and women, commonly kiss each other on the lips when greeting each other, whereas in France two air kisses, one on each cheek, is a customary greeting (la bise). La bise is a traditional way to greet family, friends and even co-workers (depending on your workplace of course). It’s the equivalent of both a handshake and a hug. People from the Netherlands sometimes opt for three kisses as a form of greeting.

Modern anthropologists believe that kissing developed from ‘eskimo kissing’ which is the practice of rubbing noses to take in each other’s breath. This greeting is also observed among Pacific Islanders, which may be a way of testing another person’s scent to measure compatibility.

In Vietnam, kissing between spouses is only done in private, with China and Japan adopting a similar attitude.

Alternative Description

Andy Scott, the author of One Kiss or Two? In Search of the Perfect Greeting, says: Over the last two years, COVID has expunged virtually all physical contact. However, for many British people, social distancing may have been a blessing in disguise. It was the perfect excuse to neither shake hands nor hug. For some people it was a relief because the physical intimacy was taken out of greetings, and that’s something many struggle with, particularly when confronted with somebody where the relationship is not fully developed, or where you’re not quite sure what the social expectations are.

History suggests we will gradually return to our old ways. Indeed, after the plagues of the Middle Ages, and Spanish Flu in the early 20th Century, humans gradually learned to kiss and hug again.

During the Middle Ages before it was common for people to be able to write, an X would be signed on envelopes, notes and at the bottom of letters. Then the signer would kiss the X as a display of their sworn oath in a pledge to honour the signature – perhaps this is where the X symbol came from to represent a kiss?

However, even before the COVID pandemic, British forms of salutation were evolving, affected by multiple factors ranging from age, social class, geography, to changing social attitudes in light of movements such as #MeToo.

However you plan to celebrate, Babel wishes you all a happy International Kissing Day!


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