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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 did.

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 locking lips.

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.

Recommended DVD

Kissing Jessica Stein (2003)
This is a nice comedy about a Jewish girl who, despairing of ever finding Mr Right, decides to give lesbianism a red hot go. It's heartwarming and funny, and not explicit - if that kind of thing worries you.

 

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