Kissing in Different Cultures
Kissing is considered to be an ancient human interaction, as old
as humanity itself. Some scientists have theorised that it was originally
inspired by mothers passing food to their babies with their mouths,
and subsequently affection became associated with touching lips.
Yet there are some cultures that do not engage in kissing at all.
Kissing is apparently unknown among the Somalians, the Lepcha of
Sikkim and the Sirono of Bolivia. The people of Mangia Island in
the South Pacific did not do it until Europeans arrived in the 1700s.
When the Thongi of South Africa saw whites kissing, they apparently
said "Look at them - they eat each others saliva and dirt".
Adults in some Amazonian tribes did not kiss, though the children
Still other cultures kiss without using their lips. The Inuit practice
the "Eskimo Kiss" by rubbing noses, or putting noses together
and inhaling each other's breath. This kiss is also performed by
numerous Pacific Islander cultures, including the Maori of New Zealand,
where it is a ritual greeting.
In ancient India, sanskrit writings describe a similar method of
kissing, and anthropologists have suggested that India is actually
the birthplace of kissing as we know it today. Indian sculptures
are the first human cultural artifact to depict kissing, and the
theory is that the idea of "exchanging breath" led to
Interesting, Indian films today do not show kissing at all.
In ancient China, kissing was considered to be on a par with coitus,
and thus was confined to the bedroom. This led European explorers
to conclude that the Chinese did not kiss at all.
In strict Muslim countries public kissing does not occur, and in
some cases people have been arrested for kissing outside the home.
In Vietnam, spouses do not kiss outside the home, and not in front
of the children. And parents rarely kiss children, except when they
are small babies.
In some areas of Italy and other Mediterranean countries, friends
greet each other by kissing on the mouth, men and women both. Arab
men kiss each other on the cheek in greeting. In France, protocol
demands a kiss on each cheek, while the Dutch throw in a third one
for good luck.
In the animal world, the highly sexed Bonobo chimpanzees are known
to kiss each other passionately. And orangutans in Borneo have learnt
to kiss each other by observing humans.