Two Kisses

TM is an accountant who was born in Sunnyside, WA and now is currently living in Bothell, WA. He descends from a heavy Irish and Italian background which have influenced much of his culture growing up. His grandparents were the ones to teach him the most about his culture through their traditions and common sayings.

You haven’t commented about your Italian background as much, is there anything significant you could tell me about that?

TM: That is because the only person who actively practiced Italian culture or spoke the language was my great grandmother and my grandmother a little bit. It seemed to be heritage that has disappeared a bit since. And most of our Italian side was very friendly and loud. Being Italian is all about the greetings and being very loving towards each other.

What are some greetings that stood out to you?

TM: Well my grandmother used to always kiss me on both cheeks and squeeze my face even when I got older it was common for her to always see me as her little grandbaby. But kissing someone twice on the cheek is something I have seen in common in many European countries as a greeting. It is not very common in the US unless you have those roots already. We just don’t get as friendly as they do I guess.

Do you think there was any significance that it was both cheeks?

TM:  Not that I know of, I’m sure there is but I was never told what the significance of it was… hmmm, well I wonder whether it could have been that two is better than one? I’m really not sure but I can tell you it was significant who you kissed and where. Sometimes my great grandmother would kiss me right on the mouth! I would wipe it off and feel like it was a bit gross when I was really little, but I am sure she just did it cause she wanted to show her affection that way. She didn’t speak the best English to begin with.


The culture and meaning of cheek kissing varies in many parts of the world. The US is friendly to it but most of these traditions started in Europe. In countries in Asia physical contact happens less so it is less likely that cheek-kissing would be used on a day to day basis. Now it is not as commonly used in non-European countries but cheek kissing remains a significant greeting and has many variations added with a hug or the kissing of both cheeks one, two three or four times. The affection dates back to 1602 in art and practice.