January 2, 2009

Turkish Kiss Greeting Starts on Right Cheek
Istanbul, Turkey

Turkey sports a culture where men are touchy-feely with each other, and generally standoffish with women. Extended handshakes for the females, embraces and cheek-kisses for the fellas.

Of course, this generally changes with Turkish women given their age and history with the person. It certainly seems commonplace for university friends (of mixed genders) to greet each other with a kiss on each cheek.

But cheek-kiss greetings aren't anything new for me here—that's a very familiar part of international cultures that I'm very comfortable with (and sometimes actually miss when I'm transiting back though the U.S.). The harder part of a new culture that cheek-kisses is knowing when to use it, and how many times to kiss.

Sometimes it's done for greetings, sometimes for goodbyes, sometimes for both. Some places do a single kiss, a kiss on each cheek, or three (or more kisses). Only giving a person a single cheek-kiss when they typically do more (like in Brazil) might lead to a person making motions that results in an awkward dance of head-bobbing or slighting them a kiss when it's expected.

In Turkey, I've been having some difficulty rewiring my brain for the cultural cheek-kisses that start on the right side of the recipients face (to my right, on their left). This is the opposite of every other cheek-kissing culture that I've encountered, and have had the pleasure of more than a few weird head-bobbing sessions since our arrival.

Comments:

Malaysia

Lynn

August 26th, 2010

One guy I like wrote that he had a "turchish" kiss… um… I kind of guessed it for turkish… so it's just a cheek thing? With guys no less? Whew… thanks a lot for this post… it put my mind to ease.

Peru

Craig | travelvice.com

August 26th, 2010

It's indeed quite standard for men to 'kiss' each other on the cheeks in Turkey (just as it is in some parts of Latin America — Argentina, in particular).

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