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Let me tell you all about kissing and greeting in Costa Rica. Not that I’m a kissing expert… But I do know that people kiss a lot more in Costa Rica than you might be used to.
The title of this blog should really be “how do people in Costa Rica greet each other”, but I think more people will read this blog with the actual title. Anyway, it IS all about kissing because in Costa Rica we greet people by kissing them, depending on your sex.
Now, don’t be shocked, there is nothing wrong with kissing. I know many North Americans, when they greet someone, they don’t kiss but hug.
In many other countries, family kisses family when greeting and within the family, `men kiss men and women kiss women, some on the cheek, some on the mouth, some in the air. In my home country, Holland, there is even a difference between the different areas. I was born and raised in the west where most people are of the Protestant religion and we kiss people of the other sex once on each cheek. In the southern provinces, where my mom and dad are born and raised and people are mostly Catholic, people kiss when greeting others three times.
In the Maori culture (New Zealand), the traditional greeting involved people touching and lightly rubbing noses together, no matter what their sex is. This is known as the Hongi, a formal Maori event. The above was just meant for those who haven’t traveled much, to explain that not all people hug.
North Americans mostly hug
Latin people are generally raised Catholic and kissing is very common when greeting. That doesn’t mean the kiss is always well-meant. I know a lot of women who don’t kiss the cheek but kiss in the air, kind of. Maybe they are just taking care their lipstick doesn’t rub off. Because Latin people are also jealous people and a painted cheek could easily provoke a divorce.
How do Ticos greet?
Many people customarily kiss on the cheek (or in the air) when greeting
There is a marked difference in Costa Rica between the greeting of people of the same sex and people of the opposite sex. Of course, there are exceptions and there is a difference between a social meeting and a business meeting. Let me explain how Ticos greet formally
- Men greet men with a handshake. Socially they sometimes greet with a handshake, if they have never met. When they know each other well, they greet with a hug, if they like each other.
- Women greet women with a handshake. If they already know each other or when meeting socially, they kiss each other once on the other’s cheek, just once (or in the air).
- Men greet women with a handshake. If they already know each other, depending on the intimacy level, or when meeting socially, they greet with a kiss on the cheek (or in the air), just once.
Millennials often use the dap greet
I hope that when you are ready to move to Costa Rica, you will now know how to greet the locals. Don’t hug, it will be seen as strange, but don’t kiss effusively either. Just follow the rules and you will figure out how easy it is.
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