A love bite - Be careful

2/11/1982 This Sunday is Valentine’s Day and would you like to do something different? Are you tired of the same old cards and candy? Have your amorous kisses lost their pucker power?

Just for a change this year, reach over and smell your wife’s cheek and kiss the back of her hand. Then bite her! After she has recovered from the pain explain that these are common ways of expressing affection in other countries.

In his book, “Strange Customs of Courtship and Marriage,” William J. Fielding points out that ways of demonstrating affection vary around the world. And while kissing on the lips seems to be the common form of expressing affection in this country, Fielding notes there are many forms of kissing practiced elsewhere.

According to the author, the contact of the lips in a kiss is a discovery and development of the Western world. As strange as it may seem, the kiss was unknown in many parts of the world until Western explorers travelers and missionaries carried the custom to other countries. Kissing of any kind, for instances, was unknown to many South American aborigines, as was the case among the Dyaks of the Malay archipelago.

Even today the kiss, as commonly known in the United States and glorified by Hollywood, is not the preferred form of expressing love or affection. Though lip kissing is a fairly recent innovation to express romantic impulses, Fielding notes that other forms of kissing have existed for centuries in other cultures. He mentions the olfactory or smell kiss, the platonic kiss, and the love-bit kiss.

The olfactory kiss is commonly found among the Laplanders, the Russian Yakuts and is the predominate form of kissing in Asia, Africa and the Polynesian countries. It is also common among many of the Native American tribes in the United States.

In the olfactory kiss, (a) the nose is applied to the face of the person; (b) there is a long nasal inhalation accompanied by the lowering of the eyelids: and (c) there is a slight smacking of the lips without the application of the mouth to the recipient; cheek.

Among the tribes of southeast India who practice the olfactory kiss, instead of saying to a loved on “kiss me”, it is the custom to say the native vernacular  “smell me.” An African male on the Gambia greets a woman by taking her hand and placing it to his nose. Then he smells her hand twice.

In Samoa, kissing is also analogous to smelling. According to Fielding, the North American Eskimos practice only the olfactory kiss as did the Blackfeet and other native American tribes before others moved into their midst.

The platonic kiss is an asexual kiss in the form of a greeting, It may be either casual or formal and given on one check or both. It is often a formal greeting in may instances where eminent dignitaries meet. By itself, the platonic kiss has little more significance than the conventional handshake or kiss on the back of the hand. As such, it is but an added gesture of greeting on affection.

The love-bite kiss is typically found among hardly-living people but is not totally unknown to highly cultivated men and women. Among some people it is also known to have an expression of sexual ardor. The love-bit is common among the Southern Slavs and is said to be a practice, which required a great deal of patience to endure the pain that is often present.

So much for the anthropological approach to kissing. Not as exciting, you might say, as a smack on the lips, and I agree. Perhaps lip kissing as a romantic gesture was developed in the West and perfected in the United Sates during the 20th century.

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