Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Air Kiss

In Europe it is common to greet people with a kiss on the cheek - the air kiss.  At times it can be a bit confusing.  Especially if you are from the USA where it is not such an everyday thing.  What can really make things complicated is that the standard air kiss is different depending on where you go. 

First a few general rules... 
1.  Don't kiss people you don't know.  Unless you are introduced to them in a social environment.
2.  Shake hands prior to the kiss.  It is also common to put your left arm on the other person's arm or shoulder as you go in for the kiss.
3.  Move your head to the left so that you kiss the right cheek first, then the left cheek.  Most of the time, sometimes it is the left cheek first.
4.  You don't actually kiss.  Your cheeks may touch but your lips should never actually touch the other person's cheek.  Hence the term "air kiss."  Otherwise you could mess up a lady's makeup or her lipstick could leave evidence of a kiss on your cheek. 
5.  Play it safe and always follow the other person's lead!

It is very common for women to kiss women and for men to kiss women.  Depending on the country, and the context, you may see two men kiss but it is less common.  When two men do kiss it isn't a gay thing.

The number of kisses by region in France
Normally it is two kisses.  Sometimes three.  Sometimes more.  I go for the traditional two kisses.  Once, on my birthday, a colleague from Romania said that three kisses are traditional for birthday wishes.    

In France it is called la bise.  You can tell what part of France someone is from by how many kisses you receive and it is very common for men to kiss each other. 

In Czechland and most of Europe two kisses are the standard.  In Serbia, Russia, Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland you generally exchange three kisses.

The air kiss is a standard greeting between friends and acquaintances.  The only time I still get a bit uneasy about it is when it is at the office.  Then it seems a bit odd.  But I just go with rule #5 and follow the other person's lead.

Here's a video I found out on YouTube.  It is a Good Morning America segment trying to explain things to Americans.

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