How Old Is the Kiss?

In ancient times, kissing was more often an act of respect or homage than of affection.

In Persia, a man showed his respect for another man by kissing him on the lips if they were social equals, or on the cheek if they were not. The Greeks and Romans also used to kiss as a sign of reverence or as a greeting, kissing the mouth, eyes, hand, or even the knee or feet.

Among early Christians, the “holy kiss” was a sign of fellowship. The social custom of kissing continued, and the kiss became part of courtship and love, first in France, then in all other countries in Europe.

But the older use of the kiss, to show respect or welcome, is still common. National leaders often kiss each other on the cheek in greeting when they meet.

The record for nonstop kissing was set in 1978, a couple kissed continually for more than 130 hours!

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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