If it’s your dream to travel around the world, from country to country, then it’s a good idea to know how the locals greet each other. Many awkward situations can be evaded if you read up about a culture before plunging in and so, from the bow in Japan to sticking your tongue out in Tibet, here is a list of 15 different ways in which people around the world greet each other.
Namaste is a typical greeting in India. You need to put your palms together, just like you would if you were praying, slightly bow and say “Namaste”.
Besides Namaste, to show respect in India it is common to touch the feet of an elder in a greeting gesture called the Pranama.
You have probably heard about this one – the common greeting is a kiss on both cheeks, but the number of kisses can vary depending on the part of France you’re visiting.
A bow is the traditional greeting in Japan, especially among business associates.
Ukraine, Russia, and Serbia
A kiss on each cheek just isn’t enough for these cultures, no, they kiss 3 times. So you go about it like this – left cheek, right cheek and then the left cheek again.
Members of the Kanouri tribe in Niger greet by raising their fists close to their heads and saying the phrase “Wooshay”.
To prove you’re not the incarnation of the black-tongued evil ruler of Tibet, sticking your tongue out is a common greeting in Tibet. This originates from the 9th century and the evil king in question is Lang Darmu who was known for his evil methods and black tongue.
Just like the British have their “How do you do?” so do Malaysians have their “Where are you going?” It’s a greeting and not a real question, but a polite reply would be “nowhere important” or “just for a walk”.
Another widely used greeting in Malaysia is the salame gesture. It’s actually quite meaningful – you stretch out both your hands and slightly touch the hands of your companion after which you bring your hands back towards your heart.
The Sahara Desert
Bedouin men often rub their noses together as a sign of respect and, of course, to great each other. If you ever find yourself in the Sahara Desert just hope your Bedouin friend isn’t covered in sweat.
Their traditional greeting is called the Wai and you perform it by placing your palms together at your chest and then bowing your head, so that your thumbs slightly touch your chin and your fingertips reach your forehead.
In Micronesia the traditional greeting would be raising your eyebrows, which is a polite way of acknowledging another person’s presence.
When greeting seniors, young people often bow down, take the older person’s hand and press the knuckles on their own forehead as a sign of respect. This greeting is called the Mano.
Yes, fist bumps are now used as a greeting around the globe, but in the 1940s it was only used in the US, where it originated among motorcycle gang members.
In Zambia, they friendly greet each other by clapping and gently squeezing each other’s thumbs.
You’ve all probably heard about Eskimo “kissing”, the act of touching your companion’s nose with your own. Well, that is more of a Western interpretation of the Kunik, the traditional greeting of Inuit. The people of Greenland greet each other by placing their nose and top lip on the cheek or forehead of their companion and breathe in.
There are 12 different Shona tribes living across Southern Africa, many of which greet each other with rhythmic clapping.