Kiss and Culture : Kissing
Kiss and Culture
Kiss, kiss, kiss and kiss. What is it about kiss? I used to teach Social Science subjects to college students and every time we are discussing about culture and different customs, the act of kissing is one topic which never fails to amuse students. I don’t teach them how to do the art of kissing, but I introduced to them different traditions and behavior around the world pertaining to it. This in a way help the students to appreciate other culture and understand them in a lighter way. When you understand the behavior of people in other culture, you will respect them and you will not resort to a certain disease in Anthropology (study of culture), we call it ethnocentrism, where other people look at the culture of others as inferior to them.
What is a Kiss?
Kiss is defined as touching somebody or something (could be an object like a book) with the lips, either gently or passionately. There is also one thing we call flying kiss or the gesture of it, where you blow your kiss using hand. It is from the word Old English “cyssan” -- to kiss -.
The Uses of Kiss
- Kiss is used for appreciating other people, sign of respect, greeting, passion, love, affection, friendship etc. It is not universal as some culture don’t even practice it like some tribes in Africa.
- According to recent researches, kissing lowers cholesterol, reduce stress, stimulates cardiovascular activity and lowers high blood pressure as well.
Where did the first kiss originated?
In Ancient Greece as evidenced in the writings of Homer, they kissed the lips, hands, sun, moon, stars etc. You are also very fortunate during those times if you can kiss the rulers. In our present time, Roman Catholics kiss the ring of the Pope as a sign of respect and for "His Holiness".
Anthropologists have also suggested that India is actually the birthplace of kissing that we know of today. When you see Indian sculptures -- they the are the first human cultural artifact that involve kissing--the theory is that the idea of "exchanging breath" led to kissing and locking your lips together. They also (anthropologists) assumed that kiss must be made between the mother and the child in ancient times, as they pass the food from their mouth, (this sounds so unhealthy) but before their time of course they don’t know germs etc yet.
Kiss in different Cultures
- Kissing in every culture is different, some do it with the cheeks, lips between noses, hands or in the forehead. It is also done among friends, with the wife/husband/lover or just as a form of respect etc. It is also used as a form of greetings or in Judas case, kiss of betrayal as they say. In Western culture, kiss is a form of greetings or when you meet closed friends or relatives. You greet them either with a kiss or a hug or a combination of both. You kiss because you love somebody or because of affection too.
- Air kiss or flying kiss -- the gesture is not touching but just using the hands and blowing in the air, for example the Hollywood artists always do this in front of audiences if they cant kiss everybody and they are separated in a short distance from them.
- Culture plays an important role in terms of privacy of kissing. In some restrictive society kissing is relegated only to the bedroom, while in other more permissive culture they show affection everywhere.
Eskimo kissing -- the term is called “kunik” -- form of affection usually between lovers, close friends, members of the family where they pressing the upper lip and nose towards the skin (forehead or cheeks) and then slowly breathing .
Kissing among men -- In some parts of the world like Mediterranean and Italy, close friends greet each other by kissing each other in the mouth. This is both for men and women. Arab men kiss on their cheek when they see each other. In France they usually kiss each other on the cheek while the Dutch throw in a good one for a good luck.
French kiss -- usually involves romantic and is sexual in nature, in which the others tongue touches the others tongues, interlocking movement.
Kiss and Religion -- Usually in Catholicism, the people kiss the Popes ring, or in some denomination they kiss the bible etc.
Wedding Kiss-- after the ceremony is done, the groom and the bride usually kiss each other to seal the agreement.
Kiss among close family members-- this is for affection specially among parent to children or vice versa.
Controversial kisses -- A kiss can be controversial if the culture you are into is not used to that type of kiss, like when Adam Lambert kiss another member of the band in front of many audiences or between Britney Spears and Madonna.
Kiss an object - usually people kiss an object they like very much as a sign of appreciation to it like the bible, wine or their pillows if they have nobody to kiss.
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