Since I’ve been back I noticed that every time I’m introduced to a girl the accepted move is to shake her hand. After cheek kissing a thousand girls in South America, I find our custom to be quite distant and unnatural. I wondered if this was only an American thing, so I contacted some people to see what the custom was for other countries.
Argentina: One cheek kiss
Brazil: One cheek kiss, but two in Rio de Janeiro
Chile: One cheek kiss
Greece: Two cheek kisses
India: You put your hands together and say “Namaste”
Iran: Absolutely no touching
Italy: Two cheek kisses
Turkey: Two cheek kisses
photo credit: ravenmaven
And then there is France. I’ll let my French buddy Gregorie explain:
It really depends on the region but it is basically a 2 to 4 cheeck kiss. Most common is two. Four in Paris suburbs or Britany (very stupid, it is a waste of time). Three in some areas but not very common. Bourgeois give only two, lower class three or four (Argentina Mendoza was one kiss…. that was kind of sexy.)
Men usually shake hands, except for V. Good friends tend to cheek kiss but they have to be above 16 to do it. Family, cousins, and uncles kiss each other. When you are introduced to a girl if you are same age and under 30s you can kiss her hello, after it is quite complex there is no rule at all.
It is science & the secret of french love.
I was more than ready to conclude with “Western countries are more distant in their introductions,” but I cannot make such a conclusion, though I do find it is ironic that this culture is perhaps the most germophobic in the world but we continue the practice of hand-germ exchange every chance we get. I’ve started to teach girls I meet about the Argentine introduction, which I find to be most agreeable, but I don’t think it’s catching on.