Things to know to make you grow #1: Greetings from around the world

All over the world, there are so many diverse communities, cultures, and societies. Yet all of them have one thing in common, a way of respectfully greeting each other. Let’s explore a few and see how we can learn from one another.

From air kisses in France, Italy, and Spain to nose rubs in New Zealand. Air-kissing can become tricky as the amount and gender rules differ from country to country. You might have seen the indigenous Maori people press their forehead and nose together and the very beautiful translation for the hongi-greeting is “sharing of breath”. It is considered a sacred greeting and can only be given by invitation.

Moving to the kunik in Greenland. This greeting is the sniffing after placing your nose and upper lip against someone else’s, someone with whom you are in a very close relationship, cheek or forehead.

An even more interesting greeting is the Tibettan Buddhist monks who stick out their tongues. According to legend, this is to show they come in peace and are not the reincarnated king from the 9th century. This cruel ruler was known for his black tongue.

Although most of us are aware of shaking hands, any ol’ handshake just won’t suffice. Depending on the country, handshakes will vary in strength, hands used, and adding other gestures. Using thumbs and getting the angle just right are also things to be considered. Cleanliness adds variety as well.

Sticking to the hands we are move to Africa where clapping is involved. In Zimbabwe, the first person to greet claps their hands together once and the response received will be a double clap by the person he is greeting. Won’t your heart just warm up if you are welcomed this way?

For the more formal greetings, Malaysia has a very warm tradition. The other person’s hand is lightly taken and released. Followed by your own hand being placed on your chest accompanied by a slight nod. This symbolizes goodwill and an open heart.

And finally, we come to the most respectful of them all. The bow. Even though many eastern countries bow as a respectful greeting, the bowing differs greatly. Some involve prayer-like hands while others require adding respectful words, such as namaste in India. Taking a 90-degree bow in Japan is the highest level of showing respect.

How beautiful and diverse are the many cultures weaved into one big world, still holding on to core values of respect and dignity.

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