4 Amazing Greetings from Around the World

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by Laura Turner Garrison

Use these tips to say hello like a local.

1. Tibet

Though a simple kowtow should suffice, you can impress Tibetans with your mastery of a more traditional greeting: sticking out your tongue. Upon first meeting someone, quickly extend and retract your tongue. But make sure it’s pink—a black tongue indicates you have an evil spirit.

Advanced Technique: While brandishing your tongue, you can enhance the gesture by placing your hands on your chest or sticking out your thumb.

2. Niger

In the southeast region of Niger, you may encounter the Kanouri people. To greet them properly, shake your fist at eye level and exclaim “Wooshay, wooshay,” a greeting that translates as “Hi, hi!”

Advanced Technique: French is Niger’s official language, so a simple Bonjour! and a handshake will often do the trick. After the shake, touch your heart with your fingertips for emphasis.

3. The Arctic

Inaccurately nicknamed the “Eskimo kiss,” the common greeting among Inuit people from Greenland to Canada is actually called a “kunik,” and it doesn’t involve any nose-on-nose action. Place your beak and upper lip against the other person’s cheek and slowly inhale his or her scent.

Advanced Technique: The cheek is the most common destination because it contains scent glands, but the forehead is also an acceptable point of contact.

4. Saudi Arabia

Men, be prepared to shake hands every time you meet someone— even if you already know the person. Begin the greeting with a hand-shake, but use only the right hand. The left hand is considered unclean, so extending it is highly offensive.

Advanced Technique: Between men, a hand-shake often leads into an embrace, an elbow clasp, or up to three kisses on the cheek—let your Saudi companion take the lead.

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April 26, 2015 - 1:00am
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