Sunday, July 03, 2011

Kissing in Lithuania: not the most common thing!

So, I'm back with my remarks about cheek-kissing all around Europe.
I was in Lithuania from 8 to 22 June. I visited the "biggest" (or, better, "the least small") cities and was hosted for free by fellow members of the CouchSurfing community. It was a great experience and, although this has nothing to do with my blog, I'd like to advise everyone who like travelling and meeting people from other cultures to join CouchSurfing.
As far as our topic is concerned, well... Lithuania isn't France! There is quite little to say about cheek-kissing in this small country.
As a general rule, people don't kiss on the cheek. Greetings consist either in a handshake or just in verbal greetings (like "Labas" or "sveiki" - hello - or "Laba diena" - good day).
When I met my first host - a 24-year-old girl - we shook hands and, later, I shook hands with her mom and her best friend (a girl). When I departed from them, I just said good-bye to the mom, while the girl hugged me and planted a kiss on my cheek (not the usual good-bye kiss, but more of an affectionate kiss).
Afterwards, I met a couple of fiances I had previously hosted in Italy. No kisses here, just hugs/handshakes upon meeting and departing.
Meeting and departing from my third host - a girl - was awkwardly "cold". Just a handshake both times...
Then I was hosted by a family with a baby. When I met them, I shook hands with the adults and said hello to the child. Upon leaving, I shook the child's hand and he hugged me; the husband shook my hand and the wife did the same... but she added a quick peck in the end. I wanted to give her a kiss back, but by the time I had turned my head, she had disappeared! :(
My last host family was the same from where I started. When I arrived, I was greeted only verbally and, when I left to go to the airport and fly back home, I shook the mom's hand and hugged and kissed the girl.
So, Lithuania is a Nordic country from the point of view of greetings. Only-verbal greeting comes first. Then, handshake. Hugs are the normal way to greet friends you haven't met or won't meet for a while. Kisses are not the norm but are slowly getting popular.
I sometimes saw friends exchange one or, more rarely, two kisses on the cheeks and, on one occasion, I even saw a girl kiss her friends (of both genders) on the lips to say hello. I had read about this on a guidebook, but it still looked awkward to me!
I hope you have enjoyed this post. More will hopefully follow!
Viso gero (Lithuanian for "good bye", always pronounced like "segara"!),


Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hey, yesterday I celebrated the new year's eve with Lithunaian girls (I'm Hungarian boy) and when we toasted and we told each other 'happy new year' one of them wanted to kiss our lips. I didn't object :)) but I thought it could be a tradition. Was I correct, or it was just because of they were drunk?

Michele said...

Thanks for your post. I can't answer your question, because I only spent two weeks in Lithuania, but I would say that girl wanted to kiss you in a friendly way, as I wrote at the end of my post. It would be interesting if a local could comment, or maybe you could ask that girl!
Happy new year!