Even though the westernization of customs and traditions has led most of us to retort to the classic handshake, it isn’t the only way to greet people. Different parts of the world have their own way of meeting-and-greeting, and it is customary to know these friendly gestures and words if we want to hold a compassionate conversation with natives and leave a lasting impression. Travel the world with us and get introduced to our seven favourite greetings that are sure to have your back when you’re travelling!
Hand on your heart
Malaysia has a greeting filled with love and benevolence. When you meet someone, gently take their hands in yours. Kindly let go of their hands and place yours on your chest. This affectionate greeting symbolises an open heart and friendship.
If you’re a man, don’t be too quick to grab a woman’s hands. Wait for her to offer them, and if she doesn’t, gently place your own hands over your heart.
You’ve probably heard of this one, but what’s the idea behind it? This ardent greeting is called the hongi and is practiced by the Maori of New Zealand.
Place your forehead against the person you’re meeting, touch your noses and gently rub them with each other. This intimate greeting signifies the ‘sharing of breath’ and welcomes you to the Maori culture.
Stick out your tongue
Do you see sticking out of the tongue as teasing? Tibetans are here to tell you that this greeting signifies peace.
There used to be a cruel king named Lang Darma. He ruled in the 9th century and the people hated him. Here’s the spoiler – he had a black tongue!
So, to prove that they weren’t an incarnation of Mr. Evil, and came in peace, monks started sticking their tongue out. Whatever the reason, this greeting sure caught on!
How exciting it is to clap! And Zimbabweans and Mozambicans understand this perfectly.
In Zimbabwe, two people meeting first shake it off, and then the first person claps once, the second twice!In Mozambique, people clap thrice and then say the native greeting, moni.
Join your hands and bow
The classic Indian and Nepalese greeting of a reverent bow is ancient and signifies respect. Join your hands in a prayer position, being them in front of your chest, and bow your head towards your heart. Often, you’ll find that the bow is accompanied by the word Namaste. The originally Sanskrit word translates to “my soul honours your soul. I honour the love, knowledge, kindness and light you have within, because it is also within me. Because of this sharing, there is no distance between us. We are the same, we are one.”
Beautiful, isn’t it?
Sniff the companion
Greenland has its own way of showing love. The Eskimo greeting is a popular way of showing trust and good will. Meet your companion, put your lips on their cheeks or forehead, and inhale in their scent. You just did a classic Greenland greeting!
A kiss on the cheek
Ever wish you lived in the Jane Austen era of chivalrous men kissing cheeks of female companions? Or staying at a respectful distance, perhaps? Go to Ukraine to have a first hand experience of this fervent greeting!
Men in Ukraine take off their gloves before shaking hands with their male guests. And with women, a gentle kiss on the cheek does the trick. If the woman is a stranger, or a touch-me-not, men do not touch them, only slightly bow in acknowledgement.
Which of these greetings are you going to try with your friends? Share with us!
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