The kiss is a form of expressing affection but long before it became this, it was the custom in many parts of the world to use kiss as an expression of homage. In many African tribes, people kiss the ground over which a chief has walked. Kissing the hand and foot has been has been a mark of respect and homage from the earliest times. The early Romans kissed the mouth or eyes to express dignified greeting.
Perhaps, the kiss as a form of affection goes back to primitive times when a mother would fondle her child, just as a mother does today. It not only remained for society to accept this as a custom for expressing affection between adults. There is evidence that this was already there by the time of sixth century, but we can assume that it was practiced long before that.
The first country to accept the kiss in courtship and love was France. When dancing became popular, almost every time it ended with a kiss. From France the kiss spread rapidly all over Europe. In Russia, it was adopted through all the upper classes. A kiss from the Tsar became one of the highest forms of recognition from the crown.
In time, the kiss became a part of courtship. As marriage customs developed, the kiss became a part of the wedding ceremony. Today, we regard this kiss as an expression of love and tenderness. But there are still many places in the world where the kiss is a part of formal ceremonies and is intended to convey respect and homage.
But here in our country, the custom of kiss is a ‘taboo’. We see people hugging and exchanging kiss but this custom of kiss has been assimilated into our society, our way of life. What one culture accepts a tradition as their way of life can be a taboo for other cultures.
PS# the above piece has been inspired by the program ‘taboo’ from the National Geographic Channel. Although, the same program did not highlight on the custom of kiss, it is my personal curiosity that led to some insights from the internet. Happy reading!