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How (Not) to kiss a Spaniard

By Mr Grumpy - Fri 28th Jan 2011

I'm an Englishman. And one that likes his own personal space at that, so it is usually only begrudgingly when I kiss a Spaniard on both cheeks whenever I meet them (the Spanish ladies that it - and ones that I know too. I'm not in the habit of accosting random strangers to kiss - that caused me no end of trouble last time).


It's part of the Spanish culture that female/female and male/female kiss each other twice - once on each cheek when they meet or are introduced for the first time, and although it is less popular for men to do this, it is by no means unusual. As an English bloke it sometimes makes me feel at bit awkward, but like most others I go along with the whole 'when in Rome' thing, and after a while doing it seems almost second nature.


If we've been out for an evening with friends I'm used to telling the mrs that we have to go home about 20 mins before the Taxi arrives just so we can go through the whole communal slobbering procedure.


However, as a Blue-Kneed Yorkshireman who went to a Dickensian all boys Grammar school, I was brought up to give a stern nod to acquaintances when and where appropriate and maybe a firm handshake to close friends and family members - but only if I were feeling particularly gushing, or attending weddings and parties. A quick peck on the cheek should be reserved for the Mrs on birthdays and anniversaries etc...


So I don't give it too much thought when giving a Spanish (female) acquaintance 'dos besitos', I just go with the flow as, naturally, I don't wish to offend them by acting differently to what is expected of me, or out of the ordinary and I want to follow the correct etiquette and customs on these occasions. But it feels odd whenever I'm meeting any British female acquaintance here in Spain - should I kiss them, or not ? - I wouldn't kiss them in a similar situation in the UK, so why would I here in Spain ? - Would it be pretentious of me to continue the charade, or am I just being difficult in observing and practising two different sets of social customs ? - Am I over analysing things perhaps ?


Normally, I play it safe and do the 'double mwah' thing, but then again, sometimes I have found that the Brit women get all defensive about their personal space too, and a skinhead lunging at them aggressively with beer breath and slobbering for a peck on both cheeks isn't exactly welcoming and conducive to making the best impression.


Whatever I do, you can normally guarantee it will be incorrect and usually totally inappropriate. The Mrs will vouch for that.

Comment on this Blog

It can be worse. In the Middle Age, in Spain, a male used to osculate (kissing on the lips) another male as a greeting. Nowadays you can osculate all you want in Arab countries or in Russia. Enjoy it! (by the way, your nick can be translated in classical spanish as "Maese Gruñon").
Sareb El Malo - Fri, 14th Dec 2012
Consistancy is the key here. Go for it - both cheeks full on - , close your eyes and pretend eveyone is Katherine Jenkins so you dont show any favouritism. You could soon enjoy the reputation as the amerous Yorkshireman from Lliber and who knows the mrs might give you a reward rather than a repremand ! A word of caution, avoid tall women as a mistake could see you in a wooden box as cabin baggage on a flight to the UK with the daggers intact.Personally I find a hot curry before socialising avoids the problem entirely.
Tony Green - Thu, 3rd Feb 2011

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