Only a Kiss Away!

This post  about ‘ Kissing” is a contribution from Allison Heidrich. Allison studies International Communication Management at The Hague University of Applied Sciences. She’s been supporting the project with the external communication and social media about our participation in Work in Progress  during Dutch Design Week. 

Thank you Allison!


Only a Kiss Away!

When we meet someone new, the first greeting could turn into a quite awkward situation. If the other is from another culture, we start questioning our own habits. A handshake, a hug, a kiss on the cheek or even two or three? What is the appropriate way to say hello?

There is no universal rule for greeting as every country has developed their own traditions. Traveling around the world, you will see people showing affection by kissing, hugging, or simply by sharing a smile with their loved ones.

Let’s start a little tour of greetings from Europe, around the world, all the way to Asia:


As you enjoy a nice coffee on an outside terrace of a buzzing city such as Den Haag, you will see it at every corner: kiss, kiss, kiss! The Dutch people greet their friends and family with three kisses on the cheeks. With a country so crazy about kissing, it is no surprise the Dutch kissing couple is one of the most popular souvenirs.


Italy – A country known for its romantic cities and friendly people, greeting you with a smile and a loud ‘Buongiorno!’ from the other side of the street. Of course this is a place where people like to kiss their friends and family. A kiss on the right, one on the left, and ‘basta’. Only two kisses for the Italians.


Walking through the streets of a Moroccan city, you will see many people casually saying ‘hi!’ to greet each other. Handshakes are mostly exchanged among good friends and working colleagues. When it comes to kisses on the cheeks, you will most probably only see women with women or men with men do it. To be respectful in Morocco, go for a safe handshake to greet in public.

Northern Canada

Way up north, where the Inuit live, a kiss is different from what we know. Their way of expressing affection when greeting friends and family, is by touching their noses against one another’s.


Two big ‘beijos’ from this Latin American country. In Brazil, you will meet friends, family, new acquaintances and they will all do the same thing: One big kiss on the right, another big one on the left. Not just ‘hello’, but also a ‘goodbye’ comes with two kisses and a big hug.


The place where a kiss is not just a kiss. Traditions still influence Chinese culture in many aspects. Kisses in public are not usual and often seen as disrespectful, especially by the elderly. A greeting often consists of only a friendly smile and a nod. Kisses are most commonly saved for the loved one behind closed doors.

To kiss or not to kiss, how to kiss and how often to kiss – these questions will come up whenever you travel or meet people from places far away.

Here’s the key to greet anyone, from anywhere:

Inform yourself in advance about their culture and greeting habits. If you don’t have that possibility, just put on a big smile.

As Max Eastman once said: ‘A smile is the universal welcome.’