Kiss on the Cheek Greeting


As many of you know, in Latin America, it’s customary to give a kiss on the cheek when you say hello and goodbye.

But do you always greet everybody like this? Well, no.

First of all, you only greet people with kisses when it’s between women, or between a woman and a man. But not between two men. In very conservative countries, like Mexico, it would look very strange if you, as a man, greeted another man with a kiss. However, there is one Latin American country where men greet each other with kisses: Argentina.

Who do you kiss?

You only kiss hello or goodbye with family, friends, or other close people in your life, like colleagues. You can also greet your boss with a kiss if you’re close to them. Who not to kiss:

In general, when you’ve only recently met someone, it’s more common to greet or say goodbye to them by shaking their hand. But if you’re with a friend and they introduce you to another friend, then it would be normal to give a kiss. The mutual friend provides the close connection between one person and the other—if you didn’t have this friend in common, the norm would be the handshake.

Where to kiss:

Now, do you know where to place this kiss? Keep this in mind: many people say that the kiss is given on the cheek, but how can two people kiss each other’s cheeks at the same time? It’s difficult, right? So, realistically, the kiss isn’t given on the cheek, but in the air. You just place your cheeks together and make the sound of a kiss in the air. This means that your lips don’t have to touch the other person’s cheek.

In Latin America, you usually only kiss once, but in Spain, you kiss two times, one for each cheek.

And if I don’t give a kiss?

What happens if you don’t greet someone with a kiss? Like I mentioned before, if you met somebody a little while ago, it’s normal to give a handshake in place of a kiss. But if it’s a person you know, like your neighbor, for example, and you only give them your hand, then that’s showing that you’re keeping your distance from this person.

But if you’re a foreigner, and you’re not used to kissing people on the cheek yet, don’t worry—Latinos know and understand that people from other countries don’t have this custom.

Well, that’s all our tips for today. Have you had any experiences, bad or good, with greeting Latin Americans? I’d like to hear them! Share them with us in the comments below.

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2 Responses to Kiss on the Cheek Greeting

  1. Anna says:

    Man, I wish someone had explained this to me before I went to Colombia! My experiences involved a lot of me trying to actually kiss people on the cheek and then probably kissing them too much, since it was a real cheek kiss instead of an air kiss, and I kept getting really confused about how that was supposed to work haha.
    There was also one gross old drunk man who wanted to give me a kiss on the cheek to say goodbye, but that was different, that’s not the custom’s fault :-P

  2. esteban says:

    as a “Latino” I find this to be hilarious.

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