How Do Friends Greet Each Other Around the World?




Unlike in western societies, the handshake was not introduced to China until the beginning of the last century and is still not a very common practice, and hugging is almost never seen.

Traditionally, the acceptable greeting is to bow and cup the right hand over the left while raising both hands together slightly.  But nowadays, raising your hands in this matter is used only rarely in ceremonial greetings. Bowing slightly is an acceptable way to show special respect to the elderly and people of high status. Gift giving is also a very important aspect of any relationship and is expected when visiting or receiving a friend.



swiss hug

In Switzerland the customary greeting between friends is to give three kisses on the cheeks (starting with the left, then the right, and back to the left). However, this only holds true for greetings between male/female and female/female. Two men do not greet each other with kisses, but rather with a hand-shake. Young people may greet each other in a less formal way, giving each other a hug or a big kiss on the left cheek only.



russian hug

In Russia, the typical greeting for men is a firm handshake. Handshakes between men and women are not common unless they are introduced to each other for the first time. If a man shakes a woman’s hand, the handshake is usually softer. It is still considered gallant for a man to kiss a woman’s hand if they are in an informal situation.

Women usually say “Hello” to each other if they are not close or kiss each other once on the cheek if they are close friends. Men can also kiss women on the cheek if they are friends or relatives. Men usually hug each other if they are close friends and haven’t seen each other for a while but they do not kiss. Older men may kiss each other to show respect.

A triple kiss on the cheeks used to be a traditional Russian greeting, but nowadays it is not used as a common greeting anymore and is reserved only for Easter.



friendly brazilian hug

Brazilians are known for being very warm and friendly people, and this is evident in the way they greet one another. People generally hug and kiss each other on the cheeks, even when they are not close to the person they’re greeting. Handshakes are considered more formal and impersonal.

However, the kissing part can be a little tricky. In Rio, and most of Brazil, it is the standard to give two kisses on each cheek. But if you go to the Southern states, most people will greet each other by kissing three times. It can get even more confusing in some states, like Espírito Santo, where they just give one kiss and a hug. So be prepared and research the local greetings before you go to Brazil, otherwise you might leave people hanging, waiting for the next kiss.



greece hug

In Italy people usually greet their friends by hugging them, and if they are close (or a part of their family) they kiss each other on the cheeks twice. Italians always hug and kiss their good friends regardless of whether they are men or women.

Sometimes, especially when parting with a friend or saying goodbye, they will “send” kisses to each other with one or even two hands! This gesture says that they love them and will miss them. It is also a popular custom in Italy (especially in the south) to offer friends a coffee when meeting outside or at home.



itailans hug

Greeks are generally very expressive and friendly, so in Greece the most common way to greet a good friend is to give a big warm hug and then kiss them once on each cheek.  This is the custom for both men and women, and between men and women.

Making time for friends and family is an important part of Greek culture. So the other part of greeting a close friend is to ask if they would like to stop by your house or a local coffee shop (which can be found almost on every corner) to have a coffee together.


How do friends greet each other in your country? If you have any interesting cultural tips please share them in the comments below.

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  1. Sandy Lundy

    I love your Language Connections webzine. Always delightful reading. Thanks for the info and the smiles.

  2. Very interesting post.
    Good to see the difference of greeting manners.

  3. Pingback: How To Non-Awkwardly Greet People From Different Countries | Social Dashboard

    • admin

      Thank you for adding your comment to our blog. One of the most awkward moments in cross-cultural interactions is certainly that of greeting one another. We hope you continue to enjoy reading our blog.

  4. Pegasus

    In South African Afrikaans culture (where I’m from), we kiss family ON THE LIPS.
    Is there any other cultures that do this?

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