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Fortællinger fra Kreta | 26

Tales from Crete | 26

Cheek kisses and gestures.

As in all other countries, the Greeks have their tradition of how to greet each other and, like other southern European countries, body language and the gestures that are part of the language are also very pronounced in Greece.

You can always give a good firm handshake when greeting Greeks. But if they are people you have become a little closer to and perhaps even have some kind of friendship with, it is also appropriate to kiss on the cheek. But you have to know the rules so you don't get off on the wrong foot.

Men only kiss other men on the cheek if they are very close family.

Women kiss other women on the cheek if they have met 1-2 times before or if it is a first meeting if it is a close acquaintance of one's friend.

Women rarely take the initiative to kiss a man on the cheek unless they know each other very well.

Men, on the other hand, like to take the initiative to kiss women on the cheek (though not one's own wife or girlfriend) if they have met 1-2 times before, but never on the first meeting.

If 2 men know each other well, they may decide to hug, but this is rare. It is more normal with a firm handshake or other handshake, possibly supplemented with one or more pats on the back.

And when you kiss on the cheek, the question is often which cheek you kiss first. It is always the right cheek first and then the left. Very practical so that the noses don't collide J. It's not an actual kiss, but more of a kind of kissing sound you make with your cheeks lightly touching each other and always only one kiss on each cheek. In the better society, however, you see that both men kiss men and women in a similar way, but then it is only with one kiss on the right cheek. (In Russia and some other countries you kiss up to many times on each cheek, but it is not well regarded in Greece.

A completely different thing is the gestures that the Greeks use as an extension of the language or even a replacement, and here I have gathered some information from ExploreCrete, which very simply tells a little about what the different gestures mean. The picture for this article probably doesn't require further translation, but shows with all clarity that the dear Greek here is completely resigned to the fact that no one understood what he meant when I caught him with my camera lens a few years ago, in the middle of rush hour , where he would try to direct other drivers around his own car that had stalled, and then finally just give up and let the car be a car.

Greek gestures

by Birgit Smidt and Bo Transbøl

Greeks are known as the best at gesturing and using gestures in the entire Mediterranean area. Their hands, bodies and faces are rarely still, and at times it is possible to get the gist of a conversation, even from 50 meters away.

Here are some gestures and "translations":


Instead of shaking our heads like we do, they have another indescribable way of saying "no". This is done with a backwards movement of the whole head, at the same time as they "click" once with the tongue. Sometimes these movements are too quick and subtle, and you can't be quite sure if you even got a response. You can repeat the question over and over and find that the answer has been "no" all the time.


A slow downward movement of the head (for example, from the right and down to the left while turning the head slightly), all while closing the eyes slightly.

"Come here "

This is done by waving the hand with the palm facing outwards, which to anyone but Greeks looks like either waving goodbye or asking you to step back a few steps.
This can be confusing, because the more you step back, the crazier the gesturing gets.

"I will tell you something"

The lower lip is lightly touched or patted, and the situation can easily be misunderstood, as it looks as if you are being silenced with a finger over your mouth. This gesture often takes place immediately after the gesture "Come here" - and put together it simply means "Come here, I want to tell you something".

"What do you want/what do you mean?"

With a mocking expression in his eyes, the Greek will shake his head from side to side a few times. This usually means that the Greek has either not understood what you have asked and is asking you to repeat it, or is simply being asked what you want.

"Thanks a lot my friend "

The "Yes gesture" is followed by the right hand being placed on the heart. If you stand directly in front of the person, the gesture is naturally followed by a verbal thank you. But the subject can also be used remotely.

Have a good weekend and have fun practicing both cheek kisses and gestures.

Tales from Crete | Elena's - The taste of Greece

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