Commonly, one greets another with a simple “hey”, “hi”, or “hello”. That usually does the trick for a general greeting, but there are some greetings that are culture- or place-specific. Ever thought about what other greetings there are besides saying “hello”? Check out these different greetings around the world, and pick up a tip or two for when you visit!
Bowing is considered as a mark of respect in Japan, and is also used as a form of greeting. However, how deep and how long you stay bowed for depends on the person you’re greeting. A general rule of thumb is to not bow more than 90 degrees – your head doesn’t have to touch your knees or anything like that. Men and women also bow differently; men usually bow with arms at their side, while women bow with their hands on their thighs.
2) Patting On The Back
Country: Greece, Russia, Mexico
Alright, you could do this in plenty of places, especially between “bros” or “dudes”. It is very common to see people slapping each other on the backs in typical dude fashion, or even to put one’s arm around another’s shoulders. Nothing conveys warmth and friendliness than a little arm action!
3) Bumping Noses
Countries: Qatar, Yemen, Oman
Well, come on now, bring your noses in! Why go for just the monotonous handshake when you can bump noses as well in these countries? However, do take note that there should be no sniffing whatsoever, and nose-bumping is usually done between male and male friends. Traditionally, women do not bump noses as any sort of greeting.
In case you didn’t know, Tuvalu is a group of nine islands somewhere between Australia and Hawaii. As a traditional Polynesian greeting, people press their cheeks together and sniff each other’s faces. Yes, this greeting is extended to visitors as well! Over in Greenland, sniffing called kunik is practised too, but kunik is only reserved for those in close relationships, such as family members.
5) Sticking Out Your Tongue
You know, elsewhere, sticking out your tongue may be considered rude, but not in Tibet. This practise originated with Tibetan monks, who stuck out their tongues to show they come in peace. And also to prove that they were not the reincarnation of a cruel king in the 9th century, who apparently was known for having a black tongue. So when in Tibet, stick out your tongue!
The Wai is pretty easy to execute. All you have to do is put your hands together in prayer fashion in front of your chest, and bow your head slightly. Simple, easy, quick and breezy! However, don’t go round wai-ing everyone in Thailand just yet. Generally, return a wai if someone greets you with it, and you don’t have to wai those younger than you. Locals also perform the wai as a sign of giving thanks, apologising, respect, or saying goodbye.
Country: New Zealand
The hongi is a sacred welcome of a visitor into Maori culture, and not every visitor will receive a hongi. A hongi is done by pressing one’s forehead and nose to another’s, also known as a “sharing of breath”. This “shared breath” is symbolic of the Maori people welcoming you among them. When in doubt, don’t hongi, just say hi first.
8) Air Kissing
Countries: A whole lot of them which we will cover below
Right, air kissing can be some tricky business because it can differ even in the same country. Some air kiss once, some twice, and some more than that. Plus, there are gender rules to follow, so you might want to pay close attention to avoid committing an air kiss faux pas, according to cntraveler.com.
One kiss: Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Peru, the Philippines
Two kisses: Spain, Italy, Greece, Germany, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia, Brazil, and some Middle Eastern countries
Three kisses: Belgium, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Egypt, and Russia (usually accompanied by a hug)
Also, number of kisses differ in different parts of France and Brazil, so when in doubt, just prepare for two, and then follow the lead of the other party.
Okay, here’s a fun one. Have you ever been welcomed by an elaborate ceremony? Chances are, probably not. In Kenya, the Masaai, a warrior tribe, first performs a ceremony to welcome visitors, followed by the Adamu. The Adamu is a elaborate jumping dance, where the Masaai chant, shout and have a contest to see who can jump the highest. We’ve never witnessed it personally, but it sounds highly entertaining!
10) Hand On Heart
Last but not least, this is one from our own country, which you may have witnessed before. What you do is take the other person’s hands lightly in your own, release their hands and bring your own hands to your chest and nod. This is symbolic of a greeting from the heart. Also, men should wait for local women to extend their hands. If they do not, a smile and nod would suffice.