There is a lot of kissing in Spain. From young people passionately making out in the streets, to kissing new and old friends hello, to signing off emails with “besos” (that’s kisses in Spanish), kisses here are everywhere. There is no sense in resisting.
Every walk in the park reveals intertwined couples rolling around in the grass; on every Metro platform there are teenagers tonguing and groping against the tiled walls; it seems the preferred way to pass the time at crosswalks is making out. Several Spaniards have explained to me that there are so many passionate couples on the streets because many young people live with their parents until they get married, and hooking up at mom and dad’s house isn’t much of an option. So, like everything else in Spain: Making out is also done out on the streets.
Aside from romantic kisses, there’s the ever-present double cheek air kiss hello and goodbye and it’s an important part of Spanish culture. It’s not a full-fledged kiss, rather you lightly touch cheeks (first the right, the left) while kissing the air. Females cheek kiss their female and male friends hello, as well as new people to whom they’ve just been introduced. Among men, it’s more common to give a handshake or a hug hello.
I’ve grown to like the cheek kiss (it’s just so delightfully European) and can even participate in this custom with only a small amount of awkwardness. Usually when I’m introduced to a new American we’re never really sure what to do — shake hands or kiss cheeks. Sometimes this results in a terrible combination of the two that makes both parties wish we possessed the easy affection of the Spaniards.
It’s also extremely common in Spain to end a phone call, text, letter, email, or even a face-to-face conversation with some form of “besos” (kisses) or “abrazos” (hugs). It’s affectionate, familiar, and actually not as casual as you’d think. Examples:
Un beso (a kiss)
Besitos (little kisses)
Un basazo (a big kiss)
Un abrazo (a hug)
Un fuerte abrazo (a big hug)
While this might seem similar to ending a text message or email with “xoxo,” my Spanish teacher (and adviser for much of this blog post) tells me this would be a hilarious no-no, because “xoxo” would be pronounced chocho, which is slang for vagina. Only in the rarest of instances would I sign off with “Vagina, The Dame in Spain.”
A better closing would be:
The Dame in Spain