Lip touches worldwide: Not everyone kisses

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Not everyone kisses

Kissing is a sign of love, affection, romance – at least in the western world. In some regions of the world, on the other hand, people don’t kiss at all, researchers have found. But where and why is that?

At a crossroads in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, two people kiss and miss their traffic light phase. The other pedestrians don’t even notice them – people have kissed since time immemorial. However, this is not necessarily the case in other regions of the world. For International Kissing Day, a look at the (non)distribution of passionate kisses.

Central America: The ethnologist and gender researcher Catherine Whittaker from the Goethe University in Frankfurt once observed people’s kissing behavior in Mexico. At that time, according to her own statements, she met shamans who saw something spiritual in kissing instead of just something erotic. “A shaman there spoke about how the face connects to cosmic lines. And by working with the face, you can tap into those lines and release energies.” Other scientific observations, for example of the indigenous population of Central America, indicate that the people there do not kiss each other romantically.

North Africa: Observations by the indigenous people of Sudan show that kissing is unimaginable for them. The mouth is the gateway to the soul – too great is the fear that death could gain access this way or that her soul could be stolen. Whittaker also points to the Bedouins who live in parts of the Sahara, among other places. There, a direct question from researchers was denied, whether the nomads practice romance. But Whittaker emphasizes: “In fact, there is also love poetry, for example, but it’s just kept very secret.” In some regions of the world it is taboo to talk about romance – and thus also about kissing. In addition, in some parts of the world people do not show their affection by kissing mouth-to-mouth, but in a comparably intimate way.

Oceania: In 2015, love researchers at the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University examined a total of 168 cultures worldwide for the spread of romantic-sexual kissing. They looked at where it is and where it isn’t really an issue. In the study, they define a romantic kiss as an intimate touch between the lips of two people. However, the authors also count the oceanic kiss. According to this, the type of kiss is associated with smelling, because people rub their faces together. In parts of Oceania, this kiss occurs between lovers.

North America: Of course people kiss in the USA – whether in Hollywood films, on the street or privately. This is sometimes different in another country on the continent: the Inuit from northern Canada, for example, practice the well-known kiss on the nose. The natives of New Zealand also kiss similarly – but not passionately. The kiss on the nose is a welcome ritual there, with which high-ranking diplomats also greeted one another in the past.

South America: According to the Goethe-Institut, couples in Colombia kiss romantically, but not necessarily in public. A Colombian woman is quoted as saying in a report by the institute: “The people here are just incredible gossips and moralists.” A passionate kiss on the street therefore rarely goes uncommented.

The authors of the US study from 2015 came to the conclusion that very few people worldwide kiss romantically and sexually – of the 168 cultures examined, it was 46 percent. The ethnologist Whittaker questions the study in one aspect. While she agrees that romantic kissing is not universal. “But I find it problematic that you can quantify exactly where it’s happening.” According to the researcher, in a globalized world, it is generally difficult not to know kissing at all – “that is, never having seen a Hollywood film or something similar.”



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