Friday, April 21, 2006

Kissing Guide in Lebanon

Greeting standards in Lebanon can be very confusing for unexperienced visitors. For example , if you hug and kiss someone who greets you with a hand on their chest (like someone I know did), you will have a traumatizing experience that will stick with you for life(7 years and counting).
So here are some guidelines to help you with the different situations, but beware even the experienced and savvy mess up with this complex system.

1.No kiss, No Handshake (and preferably no eye contact)

When meeting an ultra-religious Muslim (Hezbollahian, Your Saudi friend's wife, etc...) of the opposite sex.

2.Handshake with No kiss.

When being introduced to someone for first time (same or opposite sex), or when greeting some you know of the opposite sex who is a practicing Muslim.

3. One Kiss (One cheek)

Casual friends of opposite sex that you see often.

4. Two kisses (Both Cheeks)

When you're pulling back from what you think is a One kiss situation and you realize the other person thought it was a 3 kisser, it is immediately understood that a compromise is reached at 2.

5. Three Kisses (Right Cheek, Left Cheek, Right Cheek)

When greeting a friend or a relative that you haven't seen in a while. "A while" ranges between 3-4 days for an opposite sex friend and 3-4 months for a same sex friend.

6. Four Kisses (Right, Left, Right, Left)

When greeting someone you genuinely like, someone you really dislike, or you're a politician during a photo-op.

7. Twenty Seven to Over a hundred Kisses (9-35 kisses in quick succession on right, left, then right cheek again)

Grandmas, Aunts, and random old ladies in the village. They might look weak and fragile but once they get a hold of you there is no escaping until they are done with their barrage.


laila said...

oh my God..that's hilarious..i hate it, and most people just touch cheek to cheek anyway and press their lips to make the weird kissing sound

vox said...

You forgot 2 cases.

when you`re in france: french kiss (obviouly)

when you`re with you`re sweetheart in private: no limits apply. Be creative!!

Ecce Libanus said...

Jamal, your forgot the deep whiff-"shammé" that is often a given with the "Grandmas, Aunts, and random old ladies in the village" rapid-fire 35-per-cheek kisses.

Eve said...

and when you're in direct contact with foreigners, you have to remember each one's country rule: 2, 3 or 4 kisses? I generally prefer to stay on a safe distance and shake hands, unless someone annoyingly insists...

Bashir said...


Bashir said...

you deserve a 37 kisser (from my 98 yr old grandma) for this kiss-worth post. :)

[you also have the "kiss-me again" 'polite' insult]

hashem said...

I agree...with the grandma....there is no escape of the kisses and kisses, akisses...
and then eat.

the sixth sense said...

Jamal, i like the idea of ur post,i've always thought about it but never expected some1 to write such a post,10x 4 doing so.
I like the last part about grandmas,hehehe

أمل said...

Very funny :D

linalone said...

Eh, in northern France with old people it's 4 kisses, in Belgium a maximum of too and usually one. In kuwait it's two but with old ladies, i forget the rules and do as in lebanon 3 kisses. And i can't keep washing my face sometimes after being kissed by some old ladies or uncles of my parents with their mouah... Maj2a metel ma bi2oulo bi lougeton.
Nice post idea...

Laila said...

This is from Iran. I got to your blog just by chance.
Such a great post this is about kissing. I laughed my chest off. We have the same 'tradition' here in Iran, just to say a slight difference is that as here Hizbollah is in power, the first option (no kiss, no handshake) works most of the time. I mean, in public you have to be very cautious not to corss red lines. Sometimes I shake hands with some men (I'm female) whose hand I feel like a dead fish in my hand. Ah, disgusting:it shows that for some reason the guy has been reluctant to shake hands.