Hello World- Interesting ways people greet each other
A greeting can signify several different things – a way to say hello or to welcome and acknowledge people or to express gratitude and goodwill or to show respect. There are innumerable greetings around the world, which differ in their expression, and in many places, these traditional greetings have become an integral part of the native culture. A typical greeting is generally a gesture accompanied by a few words in the local language. Namaste in India, bowing in Japan and kissing on the cheeks in many European countries are just some of the many greetings that symbolize their respective cultures and traditions. In this article, we look at some of these interesting greetings in different countries and what they signify. If you are travelling to any of them, it’ll be quite helpful to know them and create a favorable impression.
“May we greet each other with a smile, hug and speak kind words.”
– Lailah Gifty Akita, Think Great: Be Great!
How people traditionally greet each other around the world | Hello World
Stick out your tongue, Tibet
As a child, were you told not to stick out your tongue because it is rude? Well, in Tibet, it is a greeting people as well as a mark of respect. As the story goes, in the 9th century there was a cruel Tibetan king, Lang Darma, who had a black tongue. After his death, people stuck their tongues out to demonstrate that they are not reincarnations of the cruel king. It subsequently became a part of Tibetan custom and began to be used as a greeting.
Greeting from the heart, Malaysia
While many people love someone from the bottom of their hearts, many Malays also greet you from the bottom of their hearts. They lightly touch a person’s hand and return their hands to their hearts to signify “I greet you from the bottom of my heart”. This gesture is generally used to symbolize thanks and acceptance.
Mano, also called Pagmamano, is a gesture in the Filipino culture performed as a sign of respect to elders and to receive blessings from them. The person greeting an elder bows towards the offered hand (usually right) of the elder and presses it to his/her forehead. Sometimes to initiate the gesture, the person showing respect may ask “Mano po” (translating to ‘Your hand please’) to seek permission from the elder.
Hongi, Maori (New Zealand)
Hongi is a traditional greeting among Maori people in New Zealand. In this, two people rub their noses and foreheads simultaneously as a way to exchange the “breath of life”. Its purpose is similar to the formal handshake in Western culture. Through this physical greeting, one is no longer considered a visitor but one of the people of the land. Hence, for the rest of one’s stay, they are obliged to share the duties and responsibilities of the native people.
Bow, Japan & China
The Japanese way of greeting by bowing is quite well-known. However, it’s not as simple as it looks. Bows can range from a small nod of the head to a deep bend at the waist depending on the purpose. A small nod of the head is generally casual and informal while a deeper, longer bow is used to convey respect. Additionally, there’s a different bow for business (keirei), for apologies or gratitude (saikerei) and for making a request or asking favors. In China, bowing as a greeting is primarily used to show respect.
Namaste (India) & Wai (Thailand)
Namaste is a respectful form of greeting in India used for salutation, welcoming people, thanking and saying farewell among many others. Namaste is usually spoken with a slight bow and pressing your hands together with fingers pointing upwards (in a prayer fashion). It originated in the Hindu custom and the gesture (Anjali Mudra) has the meaning “I bow to the divine in you”. The gesture is also used as a greeting in several other Asian countries such as Wai in Thailand (spoken with the word sawatdi) and in Sri Lanka (spoken with the word Ayubowan, meaning “may you live longer”).
Raised eyebrows, Micronesia
Micronesia is a group of thousands of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, each with its own rituals and customs. When it comes to greeting, one island in particular- Marshall Islands has a unique way to greet people. They raise their eyebrows to acknowledge someone’s presence and to show their agreement or approval. So if you are on a trip to Micronesia, don’t be surprised or offended if someone raises an eyebrow at you- it’s just their way of greeting you.
Handshake and Kiss, Saudi Arabia
In Saudi Arabia and other Middle East countries, the common way of greeting is by saying As-Salaam-Alaikum (meaning “Peace be upon you”) to which the reply is Walaikum As-Salaam (meaning “Peace be upon you too”). Among men, the words are accompanied by a handshake (with the right hand) followed by a kiss on each cheek and placing the left hand on each other’s right shoulder.
Kiss on cheek, Europe
Kissing on the cheek is a gesture to greet people, indicate friendship, show respect, confer congratulations and many others in several parts of Europe and the Mediterranean. More common in personal settings than professional, the number of kisses and gender dynamics differ across countries. In Spain, Italy and France, 2 kisses on the cheek or in the air are exchanged. In Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Russia, 3 kisses are exchanged on the cheek or in the air. Also, it is more common for women to exchange kisses with both men and women while greeting and men to exchange kisses with women while greeting but not with other men unless they are good friends or acquaintances.