Yesterday, I saw this story on CNN about the French tradition of kissing when greeting and how it may suddenly be discouraged because of Swine Flu/H1N1. The French, and to an extent the Italians, are the first nationalities I think of when I think of greeting someone with a kiss. Yet they’re amateurs in comparison to the Dutch.
The French and Italians might give one kiss or two, but the Dutch — sometimes considered thrifty — are quite generous with their kisses, giving three when greeting or taking their leave of a good friend. The mechanics of it consist of alternating cheeks, usually starting from the left (from the giver’s perspective). It’s usually only woman-to-woman and woman-to-man; man-to-man is rare, although not unheard of.
Interestingly, considering the story about the possibility of the French backing off from kissing, some people suggest that the kiss on the cheek may actually be less of an illness-spreading risk than shaking hands.
About a week or two ago, I had a cold sore and I had to go to a family function. I was much more extreme than usual, giving them the far side of my cheek, rather than the part I usually offer up, which is closer to my mouth. I hated it. I would have preferred to shake hands, but they automatically zoomed in for the kisses. Or just one, like in NYC, but they can’t stop – because I am so irresistible. So awkward. I’ve kissed lots of other guys when greeting and leaving – but only one straight guy. The kisses are one of those customs that I just love. I didn’t even think about the flu.
I love this photo!