Greetings in Poland

A shot of me dancing with my FIL, courtesy of TH

Visiting Poland is always fun, but I admit there is one part that I find myself… feeling nervous about. In Poland when you greet someone, you kiss them on alternating cheeks three times (well since both of you are doing the kissing it’s more like blowing air kisses while your cheeks are touching).

I have no idea why but this completely freaks me out! I make things really awkward by going straight in for the hug, when everyone else does the cheek kissing. Sometimes I stuck out my hand, which probably came off as a bit cold and standoff-ish. Not my intention, but I’m always incredibly nervous that I’m going to choose to go in for the wrong cheek and the head of the person will be turned in such a way that we will kiss on the lips. No way jose do I want that happening.

Everyone in Poland does it though, which certainly gives greeting time a more personal twist, but makes things take a bit longer since often people both kiss and hug. TH’s mom kisses him on the lips (a bit weird for me, but only because we don’t do kissing on the lips in my family). TH’s dad does this insanely awesome combo of take my hand and kiss the top (like a knight on bended knee kissing the hand of the princess he just rescued from a dragon), three kisses, and then maybe one more kiss on the hand. Apparently I forgot exactly what happens, which might be why I always get so nervous that I’m going to mess things up).

I’d love to hear some stories from others who have a tough time with the greeting styles of other cultures. I can’t be the only one making a fool of herself. Right!??!

I feel like I should clarify that I don’t think the kissing is gross or weird. I actually think it’s wonderful, and I enjoy being introduced to another culture, but it’s foreign to me and will take some getting used to!

73 thoughts on “Greetings in Poland

  1. When I lived in Paris, everyone did the kissy-thing (bisous), generally 2 cheeks. I thought it seemed normal, but only with French people. I find it strange when completely non-european people do it in the states. It just seems unnatural, kind of ‘trying to hard to be fancy’.

    Austyn Reply:

    I’ve noticed that a lot of people in NYC do this, and I find it funny to see my midwestern raised friends doing this as if its always been they’re habit. Although, I certainly do not mind doing it when abroad.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It is definitely a New Jersey thing too! My husband ocassionally forgets that it is unusual in most areas to kiss when you are saying hello to people and gave one of my aunts quite the surprise! It took me a while to get used to, but it is such a splendid display of affection!

    Austyn Reply:

    Wow. I never make that error. Their. I must have been really tired.

    Evan Schulte Reply:

    I think lots of people in the United States try to do it to seem worldly. but in the US we generally have a different view of personal space than much of the world

  2. My husband is Haitian and they kiss on both cheeks. Sometimes I forget which they probably think “Dumb American.” and I feel bad when I realize that I forgot. It made me incredibly uncomfortable when I first started dating him. You have to greet everyone with two kisses (one on each cheek) no matter where they are in the house (I have literally greeted everyone on the first floor of a house, gone to the second floor to greet them, and then the basement). Then if you leave you have to say goodbye the same way (no matter where they are in the house or location). It’s very time consuming. But it is also one of the things I love about his culture.

    Funny story: I was at the church my husband grew up in and he was introducing me to a group of elderly ladies that knew him since he was a baby. I had to kiss each one on both cheeks as they sat in a circle. It wouldn’t have been so bad if there were (literally) 15 of them sitting in that circle. By the time I was finished I felt dizzy.

    Meg Reply:

    Jenna- I saw your reply to my comment in email but not on here..Weird.

    And yes, kissing everyone at a wedding does apply….and Haitian weddings are huge.

  3. This is a constant stressor for me after living in Mexico for more than three years! Here it’s just one cheek air-kiss, but if you don’t grow up with that, it’s hard to just sense when and who should get a cheek kiss. Some older, more formal people just shake hands. But it’s always like, when I go to a meeting at work, do I have to kiss everyone? When I leave a party where I only talked to three people, do I have to kiss all the other people? I depend on my husband as much as possible to take the lead and then I do whatever he does. At work I just try to observe other people.

  4. totally second Logan, I just don’t get it when Americans do it. I also grew up in the Midwest where nobody did that – it was hug if you knew someone and shake hands if you didn’t. period! different strokes for different folks and all but I can’t get used to doing it, it always makes me nervous when I know it’s coming. which makes it even more awkward!

    phruphru Reply:

    I grew up in NY and so many New Yorkers do it, even the priests at our local (Catholic) church. My sister’s inlaws are Italian American and at her baby shower two weekends ago, it was kissyface central (just one kiss on the cheek, though).

  5. My family is from Italy and Jordan (I’m a 1st generation American). My husband’s family is from Armenia (although he is 3rd generation American).

    We kiss everyone on two cheeks to say hello and goodbye- even if we just chat for 5 minutes! When we leave a party, we must go and kiss every person goodbye- even if we don’t know some of them. It is just the way we do things, and it feels natural.

    My best tip to you is next time you visit Poland just go for the kiss every time- it will make it easier to feel comfortable doing it over time. Also, ask TH if they usually kiss on one side first- in my family it is always done on the same side for the first kiss, so there are rarely awkward kissing moments!

  6. I am a very personal space person. I don’t mind hugs and the hand shake.

    Sean’s grandma is European and she kisses my cheeks all the time. Then we went to Croatia and it was so weird for me. I thought by the end of the trip I would feel more okay with it, and I was “more” comfortable but it’s still weird for me.

    I don’t even kiss my own family on the cheeks!!

  7. Oh my gosh Jenna – the kissing thing is SO AWKWARD! I came from a small Western town in the U.S. where no one kissed. Then I went to college on the East Coast where EVERYONE seems to kiss. And that’s just one kiss on the cheek! I always lean the wrong way… Or end up kissing an ear… Or stepping on someone’s foot… Or doing an awkward half hug.

    I have known my in-laws – who are cheek-kiss greeters – for over eight years and I STILL feel all awkward about the kissing thing. LAME.

  8. R’s great aunt does this (twice, not three times.) It freaks me out to no end. I am just so AWKWARD about it. I can never figure out who is supposed to instigate, or what to do with my arms/hands. And she wears bright pink lipstick, so I’m never sure if it’s PC to wipe my cheek afterwards!

    I also feel awkward with excessive hugging. For some reason, I feel more comfortable hugging certain people (my hair dresser, friends, etc) than aunts and uncles that I only see every once in awhile. Maybe it’s because usually when you hug someone you don’t know as well you do that half hug, you know?

  9. I went to Argentina in August for our anniversary and everyone kisses on the checks! My husband is used to it because he travels there for business 10-12 times a year. I couldn’t believe that they do it for business….strange! I was so nervous before meeting his co-workers that I practiced with him! Also, when I was waiting at the airport I was people watching and was just amazed at how comfortable everyone was with eachothers personal space. Male and female co-worker greeting eachother of the same sex with a kiss on each check before work…and so comfortable with it. I was actually a bit jealous that we can’t be more comfortable with it in the US.

  10. It’s weird- I don’t kiss my immediate family on the lips, but I kiss my grandmother on the lips and I’m pretty sure she kisses my mother on the lips.

  11. I’d be nervous too. Though I figure they don’t think you’re cold or stand-off-ish, just that you are American and we don’t do that. Hopefully that’s what they think anyway.

    What I really hate is when American’s do the kissy kissy thing HERE like they’re so European or something. Hello weirdo!

    phruphru Reply:

    Read some of the responses above. A lot of Americans have roots somewhere else (Europe, Latin America, etc.) where it’s totally normal to greet people with kisses. Many of these Americans, including several of my friends/family, continue the practice here in the States. Not weird, just how people were raised :)

    Sarah for Real Reply:

    Yes that’s true. I guess I wasn’t being fair. I was thinking of the born and raised Americans with no history of kissing who suddenly decided to start it up just for funzies.

    FM Reply:

    I disagree. I live in NYC and went to college in Boston and know tons of Americans who kiss on the cheek no matter how many generations back their family goes in the U.S., because it is really common in NYC and other parts of the east coast. I also used to think it was just for hoity-toity Americans or non-American folks when I was growing up on the west coast, but now I see how common it is in some regions of the U.S.!

  12. English people do just a kiss on the cheek. Whenever I meet a new member of Mark’s family, I get a kiss on the cheek instead of a handshake. On the one hand, it’s welcoming, on the other, its unnerving. I’ve finally got the hang of kissing his parents hello.
    Our Egyptian friends kiss hello as well, but they do two cheeks – except sometimes they totally fake me out and I go for the other cheek and it’s awkward! Don’t worry, you are not alone.

  13. You know, bisous (kisses on the cheeks) is one of my favorite things about being in France. I actually miss it! It feels sweet and friendly and intimate to me.

    I also had a longterm boyfriend from Lebanon and before we started dating he always said hello to me by kissing cheeks three times (Lebanon’s number of choice). Now that we aren’t together anymore, that’s still how we say hello.

    But, as much as I appreciate it and am comfortable with it now, the first time I spent in France in High School the kisses threw me off for the first little while. I think the key to reducing/eliminating the awkward is to fully commit to the action. If you are hesitating and faltering that only makes it worse and makes it more likely that the two of you will end of dodging back and forth for a bit. Don’t worry about accidentally landing on the lips either, that’s basically impossible even when one of you messes up. Plus, if you initiate you can be obvious enough in your body language about what side you are starting with (most everyone leans left first) that the other person can’t miss it.

  14. I live in Belgium and we do the kissy-thing too. It’s kind of complicated to explain, but for us it comes natural. We always start on the left cheek. Relatives get 3 kisses (Although, in my specific town it’s actually custom to kiss 4 times). Friends or friends/acquaintances of friends get 1 kiss. Men don’t kiss cheeks, but shake each other’s hands! However, my boyfriend lives in the french part of belgium and there it is sometimes custom for men to kiss on the cheek also. I do get the feeling that this is dying out.

    Hugs would TOTALLY freak me out. I cannot imagine hugging my hairdresser or even my friends at school. Now thàt would be uncomfortable to me! I only give hugs to my family and boyfriend. ;)

    sofie Reply:

    Forgot to mention I met 2 Americans my age this summer via a friend. I went in to kiss them on the cheek and noticed too late that one of them had reached out his hand while we kissed. I would never shake hands with people my age, even if I don’t know them. It would just feel way too formal. I felt so awkward after that, but I could notice the boy in question felt that way too. I can imagine it must have felt weird to them getting kissed by so many people.

    Sloane Reply:

    I hear you on this – kisses can actually be much more distant than a hug!

  15. What I really want to know is… why does it seem so weird to most Americans? Where did this style of greeting fall through the cracks, because I’m sure there are a ton of Americans with kiss-greeting in their heritage. Ya know?

  16. When I was on my exchange to Germany in High School, we met up with my former German teacher, who had moved from Canada to Germany to teach earlier in the year. When I met her, I went to give her a hug and she totally did the kisses on the cheeks thing. I don’t know why, but it creeped me out a bit, so you’re totally not alone in the awkwardness.

    It totally reminds me of the scene in Love Actually where the Colin Firth character goes to Portugal to propose to this girl and after she accepts, her father comes and kisses him on the lips. Poor guy.

  17. I feel like I make a complete fool of myself around people in other cultures.
    I’m shuddering remembering a time when I was in South Africa with a mission team. I was so antsy and on edge because I was afraid I was going to do something wrong/offensive all night! A girl was explaining the game in what sounded like another language and I couldn’t understand anything. Then, because I was trying to be understanding and learn something new, I asked her which language she was speaking.
    She look at me incredulously and said “English?”
    I was completely humiliated.

    I can only imagine what it would be like to accidentally kiss a family member or friend of TH’s on the lips-I don’t blame you.

  18. I’ve never been to Europe, so I haven’t experienced this first hand, as it isn’t something that we do in the western united states (as you know), but I do recall when our French Teacher made us have “authentic” conversations in 7th grade french class. We had to great with the air kiss…and stand really close to eachother during conversations….it ensued in much giggling and red facedness. :)

  19. They do this in Brazil! I was nervous about it, but I’d heard it was super rude to not do it, so I went along with it. i think people appreciate that you try, even if you’re a little awkward.

    I’m going to China in January for school and totally freaked out about what to do there, especially business-wise. I’ve heard it is a lot different.

  20. My husband is Latino and grew up in Miami. The first time I visited his family there, he hadn’t warned me about the air kiss. Everyone does it there. It still catches me a bit off guard, but I’ve learned to love it and have gotten used to it. Sometimes, I’m a bit too enthusiastic though and our cheeks hit too hard. Ha!

  21. It’s a little weird for me too. I only hug close family and close friends, much less kiss. My mother in law (who is French) does kiss and it is typically weird, especially when I pull away after one kiss. I’ll be visiting the rest of the in-laws in Italy soon and will probably feel very much like you do.

    Good advice from RhodeyGirl to see if there is one side that everyone typically goes to first to avoid accidental lip contact. The last time I visited my grandfather (who would be close enough for a cheek kiss), well, it landed on the lips because we went opposite directions. Awkward!

  22. Well, when in Poland… haha

    My culture is decidedly UNtouchy feely. My sisters and I, having been born in the states tend to be fine giving out hugs and kisses (single kiss in the general direction of the cheek). I haven’t been in a country where multiple kisses is the norm. I’d probably be find with it though…and think it’s awkwardly funny if I mess up, rather than stressful. :P

  23. Jenna I totally understand! It seems every country I travel to does a different number a different way. Brazil it was three times, sometimes two depending on the city I was in. Mozambique it was two, sometimes one depending on the generation (older ladies always did two, kids our age only one). France was two, Mexico it was one, and I usually would forget and go for two hahaha…and my husbands family is from Germany and his grandparents always go in for kisses too. Regardless, people were always so kind and loved that I was getting my feet wet in their culture so to speak. And after almost 10 years of traveling to all these places I have never had the lip kiss situation happen, thank goodness!

  24. I’m in Mexico now and while I’ve kind-of gotten used to the one air kiss, I still find myself cringing when meeting strangers that are sweaty/bearded men. :/
    With my close friends in the US it’s usually a one kiss leaning into a hug but that feels a lot more “normal” because I’m not expected to kiss a person I just met for 3 minutes.

  25. Since I moved out, my mom has joined an Orthodox synogogue and now a lot of our “family friends” are ultra-religious Jews. I am used to shaking hands when I meet someone, but I have to always remind myself that men can’t touch me when I meet my parents’ friends. I ALWAYS start to put my hand out before I remember. I technically could shake a woman’s hand or greet with a hug, but they can be somewhat stand-offish, too, and often don’t, so I never initiate. But it’s really, REALLY awkward for me; I never know what to do with myself!

    Emmie Reply:

    I know exactly what you mean. The worst is when I don’t know because most people I know are reform, but my one friend has friends that are more orthodox and I just never know how to react so I do nothing.

  26. I am not an overly affectionate person. I don’t do hugs and certainly not kisses for that matter. It’s the way I was raised. My boyfriend’s family, on the other hand, is full of huggers. I hate it! I feel so uncomfortable even though I know these people very well. I tend to keep my hands busy or wave a quick hello and divert the attention when we come and go. It may seem rude to some, but I just don’t care to interact like that. Luckily his immediate family who we see often understands my aversion. They often make a joke about it but that s fine by me.

  27. I just got a letter from my brother who is serving a LDS mission in Argentina. They do the same type of kisses and it totally throws him for a loop (especially since as a missionary he isn’t supposed to participate). His first experience he said was with an older man and then later that day with a grandmother who “reeked of smoke”. A young girl tried to kiss him and he pulled away saying “we don’t do that in America” (apparently they are all quite shocked that we don’t!). The young lady looked at him, thought for a moment, then responded with “Yes, but we are in Argentina!” I about died laughing when I read of his experience!!

    Sophia Reply:

    That’s a good point though, and I’m curious- are there exceptions for cultural norms for missionaries? Because I mean, random American girl trying to hug/kiss a missionary might mean one thing, but random Argentinian girl trying to kiss a missionary is far from sexual, it’s just cultural. How do missionaries deal with that?

    Cristin Reply:

    Ohhh – I love Sophia’s questions. How do missionaries adapt to local cultural norms that would be forbidden or frowned on at home? Hoping Jenna will have time to answer!

    Hayley Marie Reply:

    Missionaries actually take lessons at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) before leaving that specifically deal with culture. I know my brother had many lessons on Argentine culture and specifically on things that they might do unknowingly that could offend the people. Sometimes missionaries are told that they can’t participate in certain behaviors that can make it difficult for the missionaries. My brother has a hard time with the rule that missionaries aren’t supposed to hold children because so many of the little kids down there love the missionaries and want to climb all over them. They have to work to create a balance.

    Then there are the cultural norms from America they get to break that I think are a bit fun for them! My brother loves that many of his families eat with their hands :) Mission presidents have some power over rules for missionaries and it has been interesting to see how some of the rules in his mission have changed now that he has a mission president who is Argentine.

    Hayley Marie Reply:

    I know that they try to be very sensitive to the people and don’t want to cause offense. In one of his areas the mission president told them not to worry about it too much when they were meeting new people but asked them to explain it to the people once they had gotten to know them a bit better and could explain their reasoning behind it. I know that my brother has had to do this a couple of times and he said that people are very respectful of it when he tells them that as a missionary they aren’t supposed to.

    His new mission president is Argentine and surprisingly he has been even more strict than his former mission president (who was American). They have had some issues with girls in the wards wanting to marry the American missionaries (seriously, I’ve lost track of how many parents have asked my brother to marry their daughter) and so he just feels it is better to keep them a bit more distant. They do encourage the missionaries to find other ways to be involved in local culture though.

    Sophia Reply:

    Thanks for the response Hayley! I don’t envy them the social intricacies of navigating through such situations- I’m sure, as you said, it is a balance of respecting the local culture but also respecting the standards they are expected to meet.

    Hayley Marie Reply:

    Anytime! I’m sorry I can’t give a better response (since I haven’t been in that situation) but I will try and see if I can get a better response from him with details about their efforts to find balance :)

  28. This is actually kind of interesting… I’m from a divorced family, so since my parents remarried when I was really young, I was essentially raised in 4 very distinct families. Mom’s family, everyone gives/gets big bear hugs for “hello,” “goodbye,” and “thank you.” Step-dad’s is from New York City originally, so there’s ALWAYS 2 air kisses for the aunts & grandma, hugs for grandpa, the uncles and cousins. Step-mom’s is totally more stand-offish– awkward hugs all around, usually with me and my sisters instigating bc we’re used to hugging but they’re not big huggers. Dad’s– well, just depends bc some are huggers and some aren’t and you just have to know who is what. Thank goodness my MIL and FIL are quick hug families, because learning 2 more systems of greetings would be nutty! It’s not that each family is strange— just that each family is different.

    This is kind of interesting too in light of the 5 Love Languages if you think about it. The love language you understand best probably colors the way you perceive greetings within yours or your husband’s families. And vice versa— if you’re a hugger, but your in-laws are not, but they are gift-givers (and you are not) in can make for some mixed signals!

  29. I love cheek kissing! It makes me feel cultured. :) I’m from the Midwest where no one does it, but my dad is Dutch, so all his family cheek kisses. I also have many friends from South America and they cheek kiss.

    The problem I have with it is that I can never remember who does it and how many kisses they do. Some people I know do two, some do 3, some just don’t do it. And sometimes I just plain forget which is awkward too.

  30. My company is based in Switzerland. All of our Swiss visitors do the 3 kisses… even in a business setting. I’m so used to it now I hardly notice. I just let them go in first and choose the cheek.

  31. My family is very touchy/feely affectionate kissy people. My close immidiate family we kiss on the lips or very big bear hugs that’s just the way we were raised. But anyone else friends or not very close people either get a quick hug( like the side hug) or nothing.

  32. Growing up on the west coast, there was no cheek kissing, after moving to NYC I discovered the one cheek (always right cheek) kiss. Now I have a British husband and when I go to England I have to remember it’s 2 kisses, one on each cheek, right then left and when I went to Greece last year for a baptism I discovered it’s 2 kisses, one on each cheek, but LEFT and then right. So confusing! There were several awkward moments there as the Brits and the Greeks tried to exchange cheek kissing and going for opposite cheeks!

  33. I feel you! My husband is Italian and I’m not very touchy-feely and all the kissing used to really freak me out. Seriously, I’d be sitting on the plane planning out in my head which cheek I was supposed to kiss first when I greeted his parents. I just got back from my third trip to Italy and I’m proud to announce that I’m now a kissing pro! I was even going in for a smooch before some of the Italians. It’s like learning the language… it just gets more comfortable with practice.

    This is a huge improvement since we got married a year ago in Italy. It’s customary for everyone to kiss the bride and I bet I kissed 200 people. It was a blur of awkwardness.

  34. It’s not quite the same, but in Japan it was always awkward because when I would meet a new Japanese student I would try and bow, and they would try and shake my hand, because we were both trying to be deferential to the others’ culture :) So I’m bending over and their hand in is my face, lol, then I try and switch to hand shake and then they bend over, and we’re right back where we started. I would probably never try and shake hands at all in a “kiss” culture, and just let them go in for it first and I’d follow their lead.

  35. In Australia, you kiss once on the cheek with people you are fairly close to, both when meeting and when departing. It took me awhile to get used to it, but now it comes so easily I forget and try to do it to my friends in America! It freaks them out a bit.

  36. I have lived in Europe and the Middle East. and I’ve often been caught in the “woah, wait…how many kisses are we about to do?” I’ve been in places where it’s 2 or 3 of maybe 8 depending on how happy someone is to see me.

    sometimes I’ve countered with a big “Hey! I’m American!!” hug because I’m just not sure what to do.

  37. I’m Orthodox (and we usually kiss 3 times for the Trinity), but when I was living in Montreal, people usually kissed two times, so it was difficult to know at my Montreal church what the other person with thinking and if they were going in for the third.

    Now I live in Korea, and after 5 years, bowing is very normal for me – so normal that when I come back home to Canada (or even to other non-bowing Asian cultures) I start bowing to people and that causes problems.

    Stephanie C Reply:

    I’m converting and I’ve read about the kissing thing, but I am kinda sad my parish doesn’t do this!

    Msleetobe Reply:

    Wow! When are you being received into the Church? I should say that now people don’t kiss in my Korean Orthodox church (we bow), and I miss the kissing!

    Stephanie C Reply:

    I’m not sure yet. I have only had one class with the priest here, but the church is in transition and trying to find two priests – one for the Slavonic service and one for the English service. They have a temporary priest, as well as a retired Bishop but everyone is always busy. I was a little irritated at first, but I just started graduate school so I welcome the slow pace! I assume maybe for Pascha, but.. again not too sure.
    I read the Matthewes-Green article and was all ready with my greeting and never got to do it!
    As I am still new to everything, I wonder if it has to do with the different ethnicities/diocese?

    Msleetobe Reply:

    That’s difficult not knowing when! But..this is Orthodoxy..we don’t do anything quickly :) I think in time you will find that to be a blessing. I do hope that you’ll be able to celebrate Pascha as Orthodox!

    It does depend on the ethnicities in each church community. My Montreal church was dominated by French Canadians and Greeks, so all other groups followed those customs. In other churches, I’ve kissed some people depending on their background, and shaken hands with others. And now, as I said before, even though there are Russians, Americans/Canadians, Romanians, and Middle Easterners at my present church, Korean culture dominates, so it’s strange to kiss.

  38. I LOVED the kiss on the cheek greeting when I was in Argentina and swore I would continue doing it upon my return to the States. However, North Americans seem to have an invisible wall and it just doesn’t feel right! However, when I meet someone from a kissing culture, even if it’s our first meeting and we are total strangers, I have some sort of radar that senses this and I just automatically do the kiss greeting. I love it.

  39. I totally understand this post! I married a man whose parents are Swiss, and he still kisses ALL of them (parents, aunts, uncles, etc) right on the mouth! I can’t tell you how hard I tried to dodge those kisses the first year we were married. But finally I just embraced it and now I go straight in for the kill right off the bat. His family will practically grab your face and force you to smack face whether you like it or not anyway. So if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, I say!

  40. Hi… I’m brazilian and we do the kiss thing here to, but In São Paulo (where I live) we kiss just in one cheek, in Rio de Janeiro is three times as same in Poland. Is normal down here, everybody does that but not in formal places, like a business meeting for exemple.
    I just love your blog… I’ll came to visit more times!

  41. I spent a summer abroad in Spain and I remember how awkward I felt about the whole kissing cheeks with strangers thing! I was really bad at it too!!

    Plus, Matt’s family kisses on the cheek regularly…I did this as a kid with my family, but I always felt awkward and out of place when I didn’t remember to kiss in time! I felt rude!! It’s not intentional, and I honestly doubt they even notice or think about it! Oh well!!

  42. I love this custom! I grew up in a very affectionate family, so I am pretty used to it. I kissed both my parents on the cheek, although now I make a concerted effort to kiss them on the cheek.
    My dad is Mexican American and so we always kiss older relatives and I would hug my cousins. I kissed older relatives on the cheek once, but kissed my grandmother’s on the lips.
    I have a friend whose family is from Argentina and they do the kiss too, but I can’t remember if they do two? I remember feeling a bit weird about that at first, because I was only used to it with my family but it feels very welcoming after all these years.
    I think after a while you’ll get used to it. It’s just about pattern. Also your FIL’s kiss ritual sounds SO cute.. like he is treating you like a princess :)

  43. Haha, funny! Yes, in Holland we kiss three times on the cheeck. I hate it and always have. Because it’s more of a habit than expressing something sincerely. As a kid I would kiss 4 times and it would always surprise people… at least now we realized what we were doing. After being in the States I introduced hugging in Holland, at least among my friends and family. I think kissing is very personal and should mean something. Those kisses blown in the air mean nothing and thus I hug. Some think it’s weird but I am always blunt about it… “I don’t like to kiss.” So people can take my hug or hand shake but meaningless kisses are out! And more and more people actually hug in Holland now, I love it!

  44. Usually when I’m in company with notorious kiss-greeters, I let them take the lead. What really gets me though, is that I’m not a touchy person at all, but I married into this creepily over-affectionate family and they always want to hug hello, hug goodbye, touch my arm or put their arm around my shoulders while talking… I need them to stop!!

    Kari Reply:

    My in-laws are the same!! Sometimes I dash out of the house before they can get a hug in! They think I’m crazy, but I’m pretty sure they understand…I hope anyhow.

    Hailey Reply:

    hahahahahaha i always run outside at goodbye time too!! i’m glad to find a kindred spirit. my husband is into public displays of affection and im always like STOP IT hahaha.

  45. In Australia visiting my in-laws and that means we’re doing the cheek kiss everytime we see someone. I feel a bit disingenous sometimes though, because I don’t want to be that close to someone I don’t know very well! I don’t want to be rude, but I also don’t want to be uncomfortable. Admittedly, I do stick out my hand for at least the initial introduction on many new people, and if I’m feeling more relaxed and amenable on departure, I move to the cheek kiss.

    My husband is a hugger and a cheek kisser in both countries (America and Australia), and I do think he often appears much friendlier than I do as a result!

  46. I’m touching averse in every situation. I don’t do hugs, kisses, or even hand shaking. I have a super solid personal bubble. The more that bubble is maintained, the better. My poor husband is the exact opposite and often times I have to remind myself that he DOES like to be touched.

    I’m even put off by fist bumps.

    I’m such an awkward human being when it comes to this stuff!!

    I hug my mom, but pretty much everyone else makes me feel uncomfortable. If a family member kissed my face, I’d probably pass out from bubble rupture!

    *sigh* after writing all of that I totally feel like a big weirdo.

  47. I went to Turkey last spring as part of an ambassador program at my university. We were doing homestays with local families in a more conservative part of the country and were told there would probably be grandparents living in the homes as well. When we met them, we were instructed to take their hand, “air kiss” it, then touch it to our forehead as a sign of respect. Oh, and then we had to do the 2 cheek kiss thing. Talk about being nervous, especially with people we hadn’t ever met.

  48. In the south of France we kiss on both cheeks. Now after living in the US for 4 years I tend to go for the hug now and then kiss people too, at least with family. It always takes me some time to readjust to the cheek kissing. And sometimes I go for the wrong side so you have those few seconds of faces moving to one side but then we always figure it out. I’ve never kissed someone on the lips by accident in my life and trust me I’ve had to kiss a lot of cheeks.
    It’s always weird for me when you go to different regions as kisses go anywhere from 1 to 4. I do two, I joke around that it makes things even. :)
    But I understand the feeling going back and forth between the US and France sometimes I mix things up. But the people you love with always welcome any form of greeting and you can teach them about how you do it too.

  49. After living in Germany for 4 years, I am used to the cheek kissing – 2 starting on the right cheek. When I first moved here, and especially in business situations I was constantly throw off by the kissing. It really does vary between cultures in Europe, i.e. in Brussels it’s 3. I screwed it up constantly. Now, I naturally do it when I am in the US as well. It sometimes works and sometimes I’m the one creating an awkward situation. Luckily my friends are huggers so it’s often not an invasion of personal space but I’m always throwing off my family members who are not very touchy! I do think it is nice but it’s still strange to me with business contacts and men I’ve just met.

Comments are closed.