With so many international ways of greeting people it’s easy to get lost and end up giving the wrong signal.
Meeting Spanish people for the first time
You have managed to meet your first Spaniard! What did you do? Did you brave the double kiss on the first attempt of did you shove out the hand in a bid to avoid it? Well I did the first. I always thought kissing each other on the cheeks was crappy fashion designers from Changing rooms, slutty socialites and Italians from the familia.
It turns out it isn’t. Now it’s simple
• Boys kiss girls on each cheek
• Boys shake hands
• Girls kiss girls
This is for the informal. Business on the first meeting shake hands although some people will kiss. Not confusing eh? Well the first time I met a Spanish man I shook his hand, but after I met several girls on different occasions, I decided to kiss him the next time we met. I wasn’t meant to do that. He looked a little taken back but forgiving. We then lived together and he was a witness at my wedding, safe to say it didn’t harm.
I only learnt after 4 years that you are meant to kiss right to left, their left, other wise you end up running the risk of kissing on the lips. Ok for some but a bit risky accidentally kissing my wife’s friends in front of her.
When the Spanish meet the English
It’s safe to say they have their fears and reservations about how everyone else greets. The first time my wife was going to meet my family she asked “what do I do?” I replied “wave?” It’s true we were all unsure.
In the first few meetings with Spanish people or years living in Spain, everyone will come across the hand/hug/kiss mix. I’ve observed it and the mistake goes in several stages.
1. Hands out to shake
2. Someone leans in after gripping
3. The other gets worried so they lean forward to hug
4. The other person just wanted to kiss now they are confused
5. Now you are in a tangled mess and no one is sure what to do
When coming across people, from work or other foreigners, in public I’m often unsure and so are many Spanish people about what to do!
They are not used to kissing but they are in Spain. So do guiris kiss other guiris or do only the Spanish kiss the guiris? It can turn into a right head fuck.
My pet peeves
1. Having to kiss old people and kids. I don’t like it and it hurts my back bending
2. Women don’t always like having to kiss men and they shouldn’t feel they need to.
3. Saying goodbye at a party…
Ok saying hello to everyone with a kiss is fine, but when you’re having dinner late anyway, 10:30pm, and people are late as normal in Spain, you don’t want to spend the last 10 minutes kissing people goodbye just a simple wave will do! The bigger the party or dinner the more time it takes. I wanna go home and get the lads bus/train.
4. It feels pretentious at first, like a socialite which I’m obviously not, but in the end it turns out to feel quite normal. Even I have started to get used to it.
5. Not knowing if to hug… this can get very strange too strange
Let the unquestionably funny and strangely awkward times of international greetings continue.
P.s the steroids have gone now