Greeting customs differ around the world, it can be easy to make a faux pas in different countries if you aren’t aware of the correct etiquette. Meeting new people in different countries can leave you facing dilemmas over how to greet them, every culture has their own customs but depending on where you are, the occasion and the relationship, it differs. A greeting can take the form of a hug, handshake, kiss on the cheek or even a bow.
To celebrate International Kissing Day 2020 on Monday 6th July and to save you making any social mistakes, the experts at Absolute Translations have explored the different kissing customs from around the world alongside the translations. So, next time you go on holiday, you will know exactly how to pucker up!
Common greeting: “Hi, how are you?”
In the United Kingdom, a handshake is the most common greeting and is portrayed as polite, especially when meeting someone new. When you’re meeting friends that you haven’t seen in a while, one kiss on the cheek is common but it depends on the relationship of the two people, a hug is preferred if people are comfortable with each other.
Common greeting: “Bonjour! Ca va?”
The French shake hands with everyone present when arriving and leaving, this is most common in a workplace. Greeting anyone familiar, or a friend of a friend, is met with the ‘Faire la bise’ which is a kiss on both cheeks. The Faire la bise consists of placing one’s cheek against another whilst making a kiss noise, then repeating it on the other side. The French generally kiss twice during a la bise, but it does vary in each region so let your French friend take the lead if you are unsure. If you’re a woman, you would kiss close friends and family but if you’re man you only kiss people of the opposite sex.
Common greeting: “Buenos Dias/Buenas Tardes”
If you’re meeting someone for the first time, shaking hands is a normal greeting. For friends, men tend to hug and women kiss on both cheeks starting with the left, men are more likely to kiss women hello and goodbye rather than shake their hands.
Common greeting: “Guten Tag!”
Greetings differ in the formality depending on the relationship of the people. Close friends greet each other with a kiss, both the left and right cheek, but this is not appropriate in a business setting. When entering a room, Germans shake hands with everyone individually, even children. A quick but firm handshake with direct eye contact is the traditional greeting.
Common greeting: “Hoe gaat het?”
The common greeting in the Netherlands is a handshake alongside a nod of the head. With loved ones, it is common to kiss on alternating cheeks a total of three times. It is rude to keep hands in your pocket when you shake someone’s hand, so ensure both hands are visible.
Common greeting: “Bom dia”
Shaking hands is common but you can also greet someone by kissing on the cheek. The number of times differs in regions, once in Sao Paulo but twice in Rio, so let your counterpart take the lead. Men do not kiss but instead greet with an open hug, one hand shakes the hand and the other grabs the man by the shoulder. Women kiss twice, once on each cheek if they are married and three times if they are single. These greetings seem personal, but they are used by both by loved ones and business acquaintances.
- Middle East
Common greeting: “As-salaam alaykum”
Soft handshakes are polite greetings in the Middle East, you will often find the handshake to last longer than normal, this is a sign of welcome and respect. If you are a woman greeting a Muslim man, it is acceptable to place your hand over your heart and say hello. If you are a man, close Arab friends might embrace you as it’s common for men to hug and kiss on the cheeks but don’t attempt to shake the hand of a Muslim women. It is deemed unpolite to end the handshake before your counterpart does.
Common greeting: “Namaste”
In the majority of India, people greet with the traditional Hindu greeting ‘Namaste’ accompanied with a head nod or a bow, depending on the status of the recipient. A common gesture is pressing the palm together with the fingers placing upwards (prayer). Avoid greeting someone with a kiss or a hug unless you know the person well.
Common greeting: “Konnichiwa!”
In Japan, the most common form of greeting is by bowing. A bow can range from a small nod of the head to a deep bend at the waist. A deeper and longer bow translates into respect whereas a small nod is casual. Shaking hands is uncommon but some exceptions are made such as in international business.
Common greeting: “Hey, how are you?”
Greetings are informal in Australia; a handshake is the most common. different physical greetings are dependent on the relationship and people’s comfort with each other. Close friends may hug, friendly backslap or kiss one another on the cheek. Woman are known to be more physically affectionate during greetings. Avoid saying ‘G’day mate’ when first meeting someone as it may come across patronising from a foreigner.