Greeting in Europe: To Kiss, Hug or Shake Hands?

Photo by Shvets Anna

The greeting culture in Europe is very confusing. When we travel to meet our Spotters, this often leads to (funny) confusion. Should we kiss, hug or shake hands with him/her? To get an idea of the different greeting customs in our cities, and to avoid issues in the future, we did a bit of research. We asked Spotters in a few European countries two questions:
1. How do you greet somebody you’re meeting for the first time, but who’s a friend of a friend?
2. How do you say goodbye to your good friends after a night out?

After receiving the answers I’m even more confused then I was before. You almost need an instruction manual to find out what to do! ┬áIn general, you could say that the more South you go, the more hugs and kisses than handshakes are exchanged. Other than that, we don’t see the logic…Below are the answers from locals from 8 European capitals:

Belgium (Brussels)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: One kiss
Female to Female – Friend of friend: One kiss
Female to Male – Good friend: One kiss
Female to Female – Good friend: One kiss
Male to Male – Friend of friend: One kiss
Male to Female – Friend of friend: One kiss
Male to Male – Good friend: One kiss
Male to Female – Good friend: One kiss

Czech Republic (Prague)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

Denmark (Copenhagen)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug
Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Male – Good friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Good friend: Hug

Germany (Berlin)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

Italy (Rome)

Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Male to Male – Good friend: Hug
Male to Female – Good friend: 2 kisses

Spain (Madrid)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Female to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
Female to Male – Good friend: 2 kisses
Female to Female – Good friend: 2 kisses
Male to Male – Friend of friend: handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: 2 kisses
ale to Male – Good friend: handshake
Male to Female – Good friend: hugs

The Netherlands (Amsterdam)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: 3 kisses or one
Female to Female – Good friend: Big kiss and hug
Male to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Male to Male – Good friend: Handshake or hug
Male to Female – Good friend: 3 kisses

Norway (Oslo)

Female to Male – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Female – Friend of friend: Handshake
Female to Male – Good friend: Hug
Female to Female – Good friend: Hug

PS: While drifting off from my research we also really enjoyed this Wikipedia article about greeting gestures like the Roman Salute, Eskimo kissing, hat-raising, and the Wai. Very amusing!

Last Changed Date: 2016-05-19 11:45:13 +0200 (Thu, 19 May 2016)