Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Mon 8 March - Belgian Kissing

I met up for a coffee with a fellow blogger today and found out that, shock horror, her husband had also been cut by the same barbers who cut me. It's a scandal. A local scandal I tell you. Confirmed my pressing need to pluck up the courage and find a new barbers in Mons. It's only been a few weeks but my hair already looks a mess. And they can't cut for toffee either!

As mentioned in an earlier post Belgians greet each other with one kiss only (again, 3 for special occasions). This also applies when men see each other. Now, I know this happens all over Europe, in France, Italy etc, and you only notice it when you come from a country where the only time (heterosexual) men kiss each other is usually when they're pissed out of their minds and falling all over the place.

I guess it's the novelty factor that still makes me aware of it. You can spot the butchest, bulkiest characters walking towards one another and then greet the other with a single, delicate kiss on the cheek, as if it's the most natural thing in the world. Which in Belgium it is. Whenever I see it I always wonder whether it could ever take off in Britain. What a threat to so many mens' masculinity. We're so used to the usual firm shake of the hands, or playful punch on the arm or shoulder, or even a pat on the back. I wonder if it'd make us less angry.

I think it'd make us British men all less awkward. A shake of the hand is such a cold and dismissive way of greeting your friends. Maybe I'll rebel when I next see them. Still, I'm on kissing terms with all the men I've met in Belgium so far. Nothing wrong with it. Quite nice actually!


  1. I think that should be your first act in Parliament - mandatory man-kissing . . .

  2. I was amused by the men kissing when I first moved here as well. In particular, two guys were walking toward one another, one with a mohawk, both dressed in leather and chains and covered in tatoos. It became obvious that they knew one another and then, instead of a handshake or high-five, they gave the kisses! It was then that I knew how ingrained in Belgian culture the "bisou" is.

  3. My family is from Belgium and I grew up as a boy giving and receiving kisses as the most natural thing. I think that when you give a kiss to another man as they do in Belgium you give a very clear signal of acceptance to the other man: there is o threat!