Well, that all depends on the time, the place, your culture – and even your species. According to New Scientist magazine, no one really knows how or why kissing started – and it doesn’t always mean the same thing. For example, Danish scholar Christopher Nyrop traced the kiss’ origins to what he called the primitive “taste-kiss,” similar to the way a cow licks her calf or a dog licks his master’s hand – out of recognition and affection. Then there’s the kiss of reconciliation chimpanzees use. Within a minute of a fight having ended, two chimps may rush towards each other, kiss and embrace, and then proceed to groom each other. And in early Christianity, Saint Paul told fellow believers to “salute another with a holy kiss.” As they touched mouths and exchanged breath, they also shared the Holy Spirit.
It wasn’t until the 1500’s and early 1600’s, kissing became all the rage in England. Foreigners would often comment on the “forwardness” of women, who would greet even complete strangers with a kiss on the mouth. But moralists thought this was “lascivious” behavior, and by the 18th century, the bow and the handshake became the preferred greeting. And these days, while kissing is mostly an intimate gesture, a social kiss on the cheek is back in vogue. So here are a few tips if you choose to greet with a peck:
- First, if you do the double cheek kiss, start with the right cheek and then kiss the left.
- Avoid kissing people in wide-brimmed hats, or if you’re both wearing glasses.
- Also, if you’re amongst a group of people, you don’t have to kiss EVERYONE – that’ll get tiring after 3 or 4 people. Instead, wave to everyone, or blow a kiss or two to the entire group.
- And finally – no more air-kisses! Manners experts agree that air-kissing appears prudish and is insulting. It should be dry lips to skin only – just remember: no sound effects or saliva traces.
Wanna learn more? check out the book The Kiss In History.