Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Kiss a Catalan

I come from two cultures of kissers. On my mom's Chilean side of the family, we greet each other by kissing once on the cheek. On  my dad's Persian side of the family, we greet each other by kissing each cheek once and sometimes we kiss the same cheek twice for a total of three kisses. Growing up in a mixed family made for some awkward and confusing social situations at times as you can imagine. Whenever my sisters and I would meet someone, we would have to instantly decide where this person was from and how many kisses to give them and just as quickly we had to decide which direction to lean in. If you leaned in to the right and the person leaned into the left, one of you will have to backtrack to avoid your heads banging into each other. If you gave only one kiss but the person was a two-kisser, you had to quickly get back in there so you didn´t leave that person hanging. Then there's the dreaded, oops-we-accidentally kissed on the mouth thing. Awkward.

When we moved to Barcelona, I was surprised to discover that here they kiss on each cheek too. After you've been living here awhile it just becomes instinctual and even all of our American and British expat friends have adopted the kissing custom, temporarily suspending the Western rules about personal space. BUT even though many European countries have the two kisses rule, did you know that which cheek you kiss first depends on where you are? We did not. It's only after living here for more than a year and being in social situations where we meet people from all over Europe that we realized this. From our observations, we have deduced that in France and Italy you kiss the left cheek first, then the right. But if you´re greeting a Spaniard or a Catalan, you kiss the right cheek first and then the left. Fascinating, no?

These social customs are pretty important to know when you´re traveling, so now I´m curious: What´s the greeting custom where you live? A kiss, a handshake, a hug?

(Photo: via Kiana1002 on Pinterest)

1 comment:

  1. The US? Avoid eye contact.

    jk... you and I have the same story. =)