A handshake is universally accepted as a greeting, both formally and informally. An exchange of “hello” or “hi” is usually enough as a casual greeting among peers. Other cultures kiss each other on the cheek, once, twice or thrice together with a handshake or a brief hug. For the younger generation, a wave of the hand, fist bump, give me five or high five gestures will suffice.
However, have you ever wondered how people in other countries greet each other? The world is made up of different cultures, most of them unique, and the people were able to preserve their traditions that set them apart from other races. Isn’t it about time you learn of some of these fascinating traditions that have worked for generations?
The traditional Maori custom of welcoming someone is called hongi. It involves touching or rubbing noses when they meet, a symbolic greeting akin to giving you “a breath of life.”
You might be surprised but in Tibet, they welcome someone by putting out their tongues accompanied by placing their palms on their chest.
You better be smelling nice and clean all the time when in Tuvalu. Their welcome greeting is to press their face to a person’s cheek and inhale deeply, sniffing the person.
Mongolians welcome unfamiliar guests into their homes by presenting the person with a strip of cotton or silk called hada. Take it gently in your hands and make a slight bow.
Perhaps this is the longest welcoming greeting you’ll ever receive. The Maasai tribe of Kenya dances the adamu, the jumping dance of warriors. It starts with the telling of a story before the dancers form a circle and start jumping, often trying to make the highest jump. Sometimes a mix of cow’s blood and milk is offered to visitors.
You might have heard of the Eskimo kiss. In Greenland and most parts of the Arctic region where Eskimos reside, the kunik is performed among loved ones and family members by pressing their nose and upper lip against the other person’s skin before breathing deeply.
Thais welcome visitors with a wai. This involves pressing the palms together as if in prayer and saying “Sawaddee” before bowing the head and body slightly.
Young people in the Philippines greet their elders by making a slight bow while taking the older person’s right hand. They bring it up to until the older person’s knuckles brush the young person’s forehead.
The members of the Mende tribe of Sierra Leone rub each other’s chin as their way of greeting.
The Kanuri people greet each other by shaking their fist at head level while calling out “Wooshay” (hello) twice.
The Shona people greet and show respect by clapping in a rhythmic pattern, their hands cupped, one over the other, instead of in the usual position for clapping.
Isn’t it a good thing to learn something new every day? If you are planning a trip to any of these places any time soon, at least you know how to greet a local and what to expect from them by way of their traditional greeting.