Give Me Some Sugar! And Your Name Was.... ?

“Greet one another with a kiss of love.  Peace to all of you who are in Christ.” 1 Peter 5:13-14

You probably already know that many Latinos say hello and good-bye with a kiss on the cheek.  Therefore, joining this world has translated into kissing a lot of strangers. 
This… as you might imagine… has been an adjustment for me. 

At first, I was characteristically awkward.  It’s hard for me to make lip to skin contact coming from a parallel angle.  Do I simply kiss the air by your ear?  Do I wait until after you kiss me and then turn to kiss you?  Or do we kiss simultaneously?

It was all a little too much for me.  

I have grown accustomed to the practice and our recent four month stay in Argentina helped turn it into a habit.  One that I have decided I quite like.

Once I moved past my ridiculous awkwardness, I have realized that this is such a nice way to welcome people.  When I meet Billy’s friends, I never have to give a small wave after he says, “This is my wife Sarah.”  Instead, I am hugged and kissed by everyone simply by approaching the group.  The introduction is a natural follow-up to the welcome.

I wrote earlier this week about the practice of greeting everyone in a social setting.  When the kiss becomes part of that interaction, I think the sense of welcome and inclusion grows stronger.  How can someone be overlooked or feel invisible in the crowd when everyone in the room took a moment to kiss them?  I didn’t realize you were here… oh wait, are you wearing strawberry scented lotion?  I DO remember meeting you. 

When we returned to the States from Buenos Aires, we discussed with our interns the stark transition we were all experiencing with the greetings.  A quick smile and a “hi” suddenly felt so cold.  Sometimes I wonder if it would be too shocking if I started greeted everyone with a kiss.  Hmmm...

Do you think American culture should make room for more kissing?  Do you, like me, find the practice a bit intimidating or welcoming or both? 


  1. :) Great post!! I miss the kissin too!

  2. To be honest I don't try to kiss or hug anyone unless they make the first move to me. Sometimes all I want to do is give a big huge hug and a kiss to random strangers but that might come out as slighty desperate and weird haha.

  3. So beautiful to hear from you both. And Meroe, I definitely think you could get away with hugging and kissing strangers... let me know how it works out! :)

  4. Wow Sarah, I totally agree on the welcoming and intimateness of it. It can be awkward and uncomfortable (think drunk, cigarette breath hispanic men who want to get a little too close) but mostly it's a way to turn acquaintances into close friends and make folks feel welcomed and accepted. I love it and wish that we in North America were a little more liberal with our greetings :)

    1. I definitely don't relish the uncomfortable encounters you are describing! :) But I agree with you that little more warmness in our North American welcome of friends could be a good thing. Thanks for your comment, Nadine!


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