Kissing in Portugal

February 14, 2013 § 4 Comments

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Historians trace the costume of kissing on the cheeks to the French Revolution when it was used to show solidarity. Since then, the French made greeting into an art form. Depending on location and circumstance, they might kiss twice, thrice, four times, or not at all.

The Portuguese are quite formal, but greeting norms are relatively simple. Men greet each other by shaking hands. Women greet man or other women with two kisses, the first on the right cheek and the second on the left.

There is, however, one tricky exception: in Lisbon close friends kiss only once, on the right cheek. So, as you start making friends in Portugal, you might go through a period of hesitation: should I greet them with one or two kisses? It’s a price well worth paying for the joy of having Portuguese friends.

Drawing by Ana Lebasi, ink on paper, 2013.

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§ 4 Responses to Kissing in Portugal

  • The more kisses the better today on St Valentines day I say! Did you all know that we have a relic of the saint in the Sao Roque museum next to the church of the same name. It’s encased in a fab gold reliquary ordered up by our Serious Spender King John V of Portugal, a contemporary of Louis XIV. Lisbon always surprising you!

  • yona eichenbaum says:

    Eureka! What a relief — all this time I thought that the “single” kiss scenario meant I had not yet graduated to “double kiss” friend status. This, like many of Portugal’s lovely mysteries are only known by its citizens and never found in any guide book….

  • Nicolas Vincent says:

    Darn, this makes me realize that I really should focus on male Portuguese friends, there is way less ambiguity with them!

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