How Many Cheek Kisses? 1, 2, 3, or 4

How many kisses we should give away is depending on country we are in. The more kisses we plant doesn’t mean the more positive impression we get from others. So far I’ve been experiencing four different cheek-kissing cultures ranging from one to four times.

Photo by Simon Bottomley

Travelers are frequently faced with awkward situation when they have to share cheek kisses with local people. Pushing the other cheek for a second kiss will result in blushing face because the opponent practices only-one-time kiss. On the other hand, pulling our face away after a kiss can be regarded as rejecting warm greeting when the opponent offers more. Research prior to trips is suggested to prevent such clumsy situation.

Who do give the least kiss? British people do. Once cheek kissing is more than enough. That’s better than no touch at all though. It’s only practiced commonly between men and women or among women while cheek kissing among men is kept discreet. The gesture is given for a greeting when people meet up or for a goodbye wish.

My original culture in Indonesia practices two-time cheek-kissing between men and women or among women. Men usually share hugs indicating close friendship. A bit different from those in Britain, Indonesian people interact involving more body contacts among either different or same sexes. Hand shakings are common. They usually take place before a cheek-kissing involving the four hands altogether. Don’t be surprised to see women holding hands in public places. They are not necessarily lesbian.

Three-time cheek-kissing is practiced by, among others, Dutch people. I knew it for the first time when I was learning Dutch language back home. Conversations between men and women in the course book often ended up with “kus…kus…kus…” which means drie kussen alias three kisses. The Time mentions that three kisses are a sign of respect for those at least 10 years older than you.

It’s true that Indonesia was colonized by Dutch people, but the kissing tradition isn’t inherited by indigenous people.

Touchable society

And the most touchable-society award goes to Moroccan people based on my observation so far. I was confronted with a totally-different culture minutes after I landed in Morocco from the don’t-touch city, London. Four-time cheek-kissing, twice for each cheek, is a universal form of greeting among old or young men, a gesture may be seen in different way by Londoners. Handshakes and hugs usually take place before both persons lean forward and either touch cheek with cheek or lip with cheek.

On the other hand, kisses between men and women are quite rare regarding religion restrictions.

The practice is common in the rest of Mediterranean and Middle East countries including France and Spain by which Morocco was once controlled.

As quoted from Wikipedia, it is an alleged excuse in France to steal a few more kisses to a girl to say something like “Chez nous, c’est quatre (Where I come from, we kiss four times)” after having already kissed twice. Some girls will even push the joke by answering “Mais chez nous c’est huit! (And where I come from, we kiss eight times!).”


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