Many societies have traditions which involve kissing. Kissing can indicate joy or used as part of a greeting. Kissing involves the touching of one’s lips to the lips or other body part, such as the cheek, head, hand, of another person.
Denis Thatcher, husband of former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Margaret Thatcher, greets former American First Lady Nancy Reagan by kissing her hand.
A kiss is a common gesture of greeting, and at times a kiss is expected.
While cheek kissing is a common greeting in many cultures, each country has a unique way of kissing. In Russia, Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro the Netherlands and Egypt it is customary to “kiss three times, on alternate cheeks.” Italians usually kiss twice in a greeting and in Mexico and Belgium only one kiss is necessary. In the Galapagos women kiss on the right cheek onlyand in Oman it is not unusual for men to kiss one another on the
nose after a handshake. French culture accepts a number of ways to greet depending on the region. Two kisses are most common throughout all of France but in Provence three kisses are given and in Nantes four are exchanged
New Year’s kiss
In some Western cultures, it is a custom for people to kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. At midnight, couples embrace for a kiss to celebrate the new year and to set the tone for the new year. Some hold the superstition that failing to kiss someone ensures a year of loneliness. Whether this is true or not, most people kiss their significant other in joyous celebration of the beginning of a new year.
When celebrating at a Scottish Hogmanay party, it is custom to try and give a kiss to everyone in the room after the stroke of midnight “the bells”.
Married couple’s first kiss
It is a Western custom for a newly married couple to exchange a kiss at the conclusion of their wedding ceremony. Some Christians hold the belief that the kiss symbolizes the exchange of souls between the bride and the groom, fulfilling the scripture that “the two shall become one flesh.” However, some trace the tradition to an ancient Roman tradition, whereby the exchange of a kiss signified the completion of a contract. Although the kiss is not a formal requirement of the ceremony, most regard the gesture as a joyful start of the marriage. The most traditional way guests entice the new couple to kiss is by clinking their glasses. An ancient Christian tradition explains that the clinking sound scares the devil away and the couple kisses in his absence. Another tradition is to ring bells placed at the tables by the wedding party. A ring of the bell signals the bride and groom to kiss. Today, most people uphold these traditions as a fun excuse to get the couple to smooch.
Youth and kissing
Child and teenage culture includes a number of simple songs about kissing, love and romance, with some revolving around heartbreak and others focussing on enduring love. One of the most famous songs is a children’s song often used to tease other children who are thought to feel affection toward each other:
[girl’s name] and [boy’s name] sitting in a tree
First comes love, then comes marriage
Then comes a baby in the baby carriage