Greetings Around the World
The customs and rituals involved in greeting someone are often different from country to country and unfamiliar customs can be confusing.
Greetings get even more confusing when different greeting gestures are required between male and female, female and female, male and male. Travelers in unfamiliar cultures may offend someone when meeting and greeting.
In the United States men and women shake hands when they meet. Greetings are often casual such as a handshake, a smile and a ‘hello.’
The British say ‘hello’ when they meet friends. They usually shake hands when they meet for the first time. Social kissing or a kiss on the cheek is common between men and women and between women who know each other very well.
The Hebrew greeting is ‘Shalom’ The French greeting is ‘Bonjour.’ The Spanish greeting in ‘Hola’ and the Zulu say ‘Sawubona’ when greeting friends.
Namaste is a greeting in Hindi which translates to “I honour the place in you where the entire universe resides, I honour the place in you wherethe entire universe resides, I honour the place in you of light, of love, of truth, of peace, I honour the place in you where if you and I are in that place then there is only one of us.”
In New Zealand people are often greeted by the Maori leaders with the traditional ‘Hongi’ by rubbing noses.
In most countries sticking out your tongue would be considered rude, but in Tibet it is a traditional greeting since the 9th century. The unpopular king called Lang Darma, who was known for his black tongue. People in Tibet thought that the king had been reborn so to prove they weren’t the king, they would stick out their tongue. This traditional greeting is now a form of respect.
When a younger person says hello to an older person in the Philippines, the younger person will bow and hold the right hand of the older person and pressthe knuckles against their forehead. When the knuckles are touching the forehead they say ‘Mano’ (means hand) and ‘Po’ (means respect.)
The French shake hands with their friends and often kiss them on both cheeks upon meeting and departing.
In Japan the common greeting for men and women is to bow when they meet someone. The deeper the bow the greater level of respect in shown.
In Arab countries close male friends or colleagues hug and kiss both cheeks. They shake hands with the right hand only, longer but less firmly than in the western world. Contact and hand shaking between men and women in public is considered rude.
Hungarians use the friendly greeting of kissing each other on the cheeks. The most common way to kiss is from your right to your left. When men meet for the first time they give a firm handshake.
In Belgium people kiss on one cheek when they meet.
When travelling to another country it is a great idea and a courtesy to know their greetings and be receptive to learning more about the people, the culture, the food and the customs.