What is cheek kissing
Cheek kissing is a ritual or social kissing gesture to indicate friendship, family relationship, perform a greeting, to confer congratulations, to comfort someone, to show respect.
Cheek kissing is very common in Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa, Central America and South America. In other countries, including the U.S. and Japan, cheek kissing is common as well at an international meeting between heads of state and First Ladies or members of royal and the Imperial families.
Depending on the local culture, cheek kissing may be considered appropriate among family members as well as friends and acquaintances: a man and a woman, two women, or two men. The last is less socially accepted in many cultures.
In cultures and situations where cheek kissing is the social norm, the failure or refusal to give or accept a kiss is commonly taken as an indicator of antipathy between the people, and to dispel such an implication and avoid giving offense may require an explanation, such as the person has a contagious disease such as a cold. (Wikipedia)
On 13 March 2020, The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Europe as the world's COVID-19 pandemic epicenter, when cases in Italy and other nations on the continental Europe soared.
At the time of WHO's declaration:
Italy has 17,770 cases and 1,255 deaths,
Spain has 4,209 cases and 120 deaths,
France has 3,661 cases and 79 deaths,
Germany has 2,860 cases.
Today on 15 March 2020, the WHO's online COVID-19 dashboard shows the dramatical increase of infected cases in the most affected countries in continental Europe.
Italy: 21157 cases
Spain: 5753 cases
France: 4469 cases
Germany: 3795 cases
Switzerland :1359 cases
Netherlands :959 cases
Sweden :924 cases
Norway :907 cases
Denmark :827 cases
Belgium :689 cases
Austria :655 cases
To view WHO's world situation dashbord, you can click here
Where does the ritual of cheek kissing come from
In his book One Kiss or Two: In Search of the Perfect Greeting, Andy Scott believed that “In his Epistle to the Romans, St. Paul instructed followers to ‘salute one another with a holy kiss.’ And so the ‘holy kiss’ became a common greeting among early Christians and a central part of Catholic ceremony.”
Overtime perhaps the holy kisses on lips evolved into more mild kisses on the cheek, and is still very popular in many Catholic countries like Latin America and continental Europe.
In Latin American countries Argentina, Chile, Columbia or Peru, one kiss on the cheek is enough, where it is more usual to kiss two times on the cheek in countries like Italy, Spain, Germany, or three kisses for Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland, etc.
Will the ritual of cheek kissing be abandoned post Coronavirus?
In France, the country of romance and famous French kisses, the number of cheek kisses practiced by French people can be either two or three depending on the regions they are in.
In early March 2020, French president Emmanuel Macron ordered its citizens to stop kissing each other on the cheek as the coronavirus spreads across Europe rapidly.
And health minister, Olivier Véran sent the same message to ask people to stop participating in the traditional cheek kissing(la bise):
"The reduction in social contacts of a physical nature is advised," Véran said at a media briefing in Paris. "That includes the practice of the bise. The virus is circulating in our territory and we must now slow down its spread."
Monsieur Véran said "These measures are temporary and we will likely have to revise them," But even one day in the near future the spread of virus is finally contained, and the restrictions of cheek kissing do not exist anymore, how many people will restrain from doing that on their own because of fear?