Learn About the Fascinating Kissing Traditions From Around the World

Kissing, a universally recognized gesture, varies widely in its meaning and execution across different cultures. From a symbol of romantic affection to a formal greeting, the act of kissing reflects a rich tapestry of cultural norms, social etiquette, and personal expression. Let’s take a tour around the world to explore the diverse traditions and practices associated with kissing.

1. The French “Bise” Cheek Kiss

In France, the “bise” is a form of greeting that involves cheek kissing. The number of kisses and which cheek to start with can vary regionally. It’s a customary way to say hello and goodbye among friends and family and is a sign of camaraderie and affection.

French Bise Cheek Kiss

2. The Eskimo Kiss

The so-called “Eskimo kiss” is a Western-coined term for a traditional Inuit greeting called the “kunik,” which is a sign of affection, usually between family members and loved ones. It involves rubbing noses and breathing in the scent of the other, rather than actual lip-to-nose contact.

3. Maori Hongi

In New Zealand, the Maori practice of “hongi” serves as a greeting and symbolizes the sharing of one’s breath and soul. Two people press their noses and foreheads together, conveying a deep sign of respect and welcome.

4. The Air Kiss

Air kissing, where the lips are puckered and kissed into the air near someone’s cheek, is a common greeting in various parts of the world, including parts of Europe and Latin America. It’s often a social gesture, used in formal settings or among acquaintances rather than close friends and family.

5. Kisses of Respect

In some cultures, such as in the Philippines or Italy, a younger person may show respect to an elder by taking the elder’s hand and pressing it to their own forehead, lips, or cheek. While not a kiss in the traditional sense, it bears similar sentiments of reverence and honor.

6. The Hand Kiss

Once a gesture of chivalry, the hand kiss, where a person’s hand is lightly kissed, is a traditional act of politeness and respect that has largely fallen out of everyday use but can still be seen in some formal or ceremonial occasions.

7. The Middle Eastern Nose Kiss

In some Middle Eastern countries, close friends and relatives may greet each other with a series of nose kisses. This can be a way to show warmth and affection within a culturally accepted boundary.

8. Kissing the Blarney Stone

In Ireland, kissing the Blarney Stone is a tradition that is said to bestow the gift of eloquence. Visitors to Blarney Castle often partake in this ritual, which involves bending over backward to kiss a stone high up on the castle’s wall.


9. The Sacred Kiss in India

In Hindu culture, kissing is not traditionally used as a public greeting, but it does hold religious significance. Devotees may kiss holy objects, the ground, or the feet of a deity’s statue as a mark of devotion and respect.

10. The Russian Bear Hug and Kiss

In Russia and other Slavic countries, it’s not uncommon for male friends to greet each other with a hearty bear hug and kisses on the cheek. This robust form of greeting signifies strong friendship and trust.

11. Public Versus Private

In some Asian countries, public displays of affection, including kissing, are considered inappropriate. Kissing is a private affair, reserved for intimate situations rather than public greetings.

12. Kissing in Brazilian Culture

Brazilians often combine verbal greetings with kisses on the cheek, usually one or two, but sometimes even three, depending on the region. It’s a warm, friendly gesture that reflects the country’s affectionate nature.

13. African Tribes Show Respect to Their Chief by Kissing the Ground Where He Has Walked

In some African cultures, showing reverence and respect to a chieftain or a person of high status is an integral part of social behavior and protocol. One of the ways respect can be demonstrated is through the act of kissing the ground where a chief has walked. This gesture is symbolic, signifying not only respect for the person but also for their position and the land they govern.

The act itself involves individuals stooping or bowing down to press their lips against the earth trodden by the chief. It’s a traditional practice that is deeply rooted in the acknowledgment of the chief’s power, authority, and spiritual significance within the community.

14.  Kissing Under the Mistletoe

Kissing under the mistletoe is a well-known holiday tradition in Western cultures, particularly associated with Christmas. The custom is that if two people are caught standing under a sprig of mistletoe, they are obliged to kiss. This tradition has its roots in ancient times and has been associated with various cultural and historical significances.

The act of kissing under the mistletoe is not just a playful holiday custom; it carries deeper meanings. It’s a symbolic gesture that can signify the wish for a deep connection, the hope for future happiness, or simply as a fun tradition that brings people together during the festive season.

In contemporary times, mistletoe is commonly used as a decorative Christmas ornament, hung in doorways or in festive arrangements. The tradition of kissing under the mistletoe remains popular, often seen in holiday movies and television specials, which has helped to perpetuate the custom in the popular imagination.

Kissing under the mistletoe is a tradition

15.  New Year’s Kiss

The New Year’s kiss is a tradition that is observed in many Western cultures, where people share a kiss at the stroke of midnight to welcome the new year. This kiss, which often occurs between friends, family, and lovers, is laden with symbolism and carries a variety of meanings and origins.

Today, the New Year’s kiss is often featured in popular culture, including movies and television shows, which has helped to promote and sustain the tradition. It’s a moment of celebration and has become a staple at many New Year’s Eve parties around the globe. However, the significance of the kiss can vary greatly from person to person — for some, it’s a deeply meaningful tradition, while for others, it’s simply a fun way to celebrate.

16.  Wedding Kiss

The wedding kiss is one of the most enduring and iconic elements of marriage ceremonies across many cultures. While the styles and customs of weddings vary greatly around the world, the kiss that seals the union is a near-universal symbol. It represents the culmination of the ceremony and the beginning of the couple’s life together. Here’s a deeper look into the tradition of the wedding kiss and its significance.

The wedding kiss can be traced back to ancient Rome, where a kiss was used as a legal bond to seal contracts. In this context, the wedding ceremony was seen as a legal agreement between the bride and groom, and the kiss served as a symbolic, yet legally binding, conclusion to the proceedings.

Today, the wedding kiss is often a much-anticipated moment, not only for the couple but also for the guests. It is a photogenic instant, capturing the joy and romance of the occasion. While the kiss is a tradition, how it is performed is deeply personal. Some couples opt for a modest peck, while others may share a more passionate embrace.


Kissing traditions around the world are as varied as the cultures they come from. They can be indicators of social hierarchy, expressions of love, symbols of friendship, or even acts of spirituality. While the customs may differ, the underlying themes often revolve around connection, affection, and respect. As globalization increases, these practices may evolve, but the essence of what kissing represents in each culture is likely to remain a significant part of human social behavior for generations to come.