Kissing Customs



Tags: kissing tips, how to kiss, travel etiquette, travel customs, travel manners, etiquette questions, different customs around the world

Ms. Behaving at Royal Ascot

MS. BEHAVING is aware that romance is in the air this week. Let’s talk about kissing customs, mes amis!

A READER WRITES: I was in Monaco recently and saw a gentleman actually kissing a woman’s hand upon meeting her. Was this an illusion?

MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: How wonderful! Ms. Behaving loves having her hand kissed properly, and is pleased to hear that, while rare, this charming custom is somewhat alive and well. In diplomatic circles and more formal gatherings in Monaco, France, and some Latin countries (hola, Spain!) if a lady extends her hand a knowledgeable gent will do the following: take her hand, bend over to bring said hand halfway to his chest level and either air-kiss it or briefly make lip/hand contact.

The last time Ms. Behaving was in Monte Carlo, an attache to the Prince made an even bigger impression by gently clicking his heels together before air-kissing her glove. Even without a heel-click, this is a lovely custom that should be encouraged. Let’s start a trend, dear readers. Won’t practicing be fun?


A READER WRITES: Why do the French greet everyone with kisses on the cheeks? And what’s the protocol?

MS. BEHAVING REPLIES: Why shouldn’t they? They’re French! Actually, there is a protocol, and it’s simple. First of all, the double-kiss is usually done in social situations and not in business ones, and you should not assume that kissing is in the mix unless others lean in first. When introduced to French friends or friends of friends – including the kids - let them first buss your right cheek, then the left. (These are air kisses, not lipstick-leaving smooches, BTW.) Let them take the lead – Ms. Behaving had some early frights when she leaned in on the wrong side and ended up crashing noses, but her amis were understanding – and follow suit gracefully. There is also a third kiss – back to the right side again! – that is usually given to close friends as an extra measure of affection. Lucky you to get one!



WHAT’S YOUR QUANDARY? Have questions about etiquette, local or global travel customs or awkward moments on the road? Fear not! Ms. Behaving is ready to answer. Send your queries (putting "Ms. Behaving" in the subject line) HERE.


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