The Swiss are great kissers. Who knew?
Among all the cultural differences and idiosyncrasies I thought I’d encounter (and then blog about), the kissing issue was never high on the list.
Then I went to church on Sunday. And there it was. The kissing!
In Switzerland the custom is to kiss three times on the cheeks, one more than the French, not that the Swiss are known for being excessive about anything, except possibly being on time. Maybe it’s more of a competition. Anyway, with family and close friends (and also church members?), you start on the left, move quickly to the right, and then back to the left. Three times which, for someone who prizes a firm handshake and good eye-contact, is a lot.
My first time was awkward, but exciting. Whose isn’t?
By my third or fourth time I was gold. The Midwesterner in me prefers a little less intimacy – at least at the get-go – but the custom is warm and genuine. I like it. I always thought cheek kissing was for celebrities and those far more glamorous and sophisticated than I am.
Not anymore. I’m ready to go.
Saying good-bye at a social gathering in Switzerland takes a while. It’s rude to walk out without saying good-bye to each person, and kissing everyone multiple times can take a surprising amount of time. I’m used to long coffee hours at church, and so are my children, but in Switzerland the coffee hour after church can be really long.
As for the spiritual significance of the three kisses, I can’t think of any, though I’m sure if I put my mind to it, I could come up with something. I liked the connection I made in my last post between communion and the distribution of chocolate on flights arriving in Switzerland, but was stumped when a reader asked what the spiritual significance might be for the chocolate left on a pillow at night in a fine hotel.
I didn’t know the answer to that one (thanks, Michael). But I plan to keep looking for connections – and keep kissing too, if the job requires it.