France may be slowly emerging from its confinement, but it is not resuming all its old habits. One of them, kiss-the subtle art of kissing everyone on the cheek is definitely not the reopening of stores and schools.
It’s not the first time airborne diseases have stopped kiss
People stopped kiss in the 14th century because of the plague. According to The Local, it wasn’t until after the First World War that the custom started again.
The Romans first presented the kiss to the French – they had three words for different types of kisses; saevium for a loving kiss, osculum for a friendly or religious kiss and basium, for a polite kiss. It’s that last kiss that translated kiss in French.
The bourgeoisie, however, still felt it a little and it was not until the middle of the 20th century that the whole of French society kissed again.
In March 2020, kiss was out of bounds again
French Minister of Health Olivier Véran said at a press conference in March that not only was it a bad idea to shake hands but Kiss was definitely a no go.
In April, in the United States, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said that handshakes were not a good idea. As reported in time, Dr. Fauci said, “I don’t think we should ever shake hands again … Not only would it be good to prevent coronaviruses; it would probably significantly reduce influenza cases in this country. ”
In the UK, the Minister of Health Matt Hancock told the British they should avoid cuddling until a cure is found.
For some, this is good news – the breeze can be confusing
Each region of France has its own custom for the number of kisses to be given on each cheek. The website combiendebises.com (how many kisses) offers a card where people can vote on how much they think is the correct amount.
The most common amount is two kisses, one on each cheek. In the north of France, on the border with Belgium, it is more common to kiss only on one cheek and in the south, closer to the Mediterranean, three kisses are common (except in Marseille where there is no there are only two). In the northwest, some areas are rather partial to four kisses.
It can also be difficult to know where to start. In France, you normally start with the right cheek towards the right cheek, although in Italy it would be from left to left.
For some, the lack of kiss was a welcome relief.
Without the wind, and after?
As the New York Times reported, ” If the handshake is the Ford Durango or the Levi’s 501 introductions, then kiss is as French as a baguette. “It cuts social class, makes everyone equal, and it’s a little hard to imagine that Parisians give themselves non-contact fives.
Only time will tell if many other habits of France will reappear after the reopening of the country. It is very likely that the current low sales of champagne will rebound after the crisis, and the jury is there to see if the huge spike in frozen product sales will stay in place. But what about the French habit of kissing everyone when they arrive in bars, at work, at school doors?
Before the lock, for the disoriented, who did not know how to greet their colleagues, parents of children’s friends, friends of friends on the street France Inter has presented a useful guide for ten other ways to say hello, involving the ebola handshake and the “footshake“.
In early March, the candidate for mayor of Paris, Agnès Buzyn, agreed and suggested that even smiling and shaking would be enough. and was duly ridiculed for imagining such a thing. Ten weeks later, it has become the norm and much faster than anyone in France could have imagined.