Why Do We Kiss?


Just think of being in front of a warm crackling fire with you partner in your hands, with a kiss and a cuddle. But have you ever thought about why people kiss? It could be a greeting or a sign of affection, but we all kiss.

Origin of the kiss

The strangest theory on the history of the kiss that I have heard finds its roots in the age of the cave man. It is thought that in primitive times that a mother pre-chewed the food for her baby and transferred it 'in a kiss'. Although this could never be proved, it would explain why the kiss is a sign of affection, between mother and child and later, adults.

The second theory that I found was that the kiss was reflected in the Ziller Valley of Central Europe, where the exchange of pre-chewed tobacco between a male and a female was common. The young man would let a tip of the piece of tobacco, or spruce resin, etc rest between his closed teeth and invite the girl to grasp it with her teeth -- which of course obliged her to press her mouth firmly on that of the young man -- and pull it out. If a girl accepted the wad of pre-chewed tobacco, it meant she returned the boy's love.

The third theory that I found was from a religious or sacred origin. There have been examples from around the world, as early as 2000 BC, which show that people could have brought their faces together to symbolise spiritual union. Even in the Indians culture, it was believed that the exhaled breath was part of the soul, and by two people bringing their mouths together, showed the joining of their souls. (Another variation on this believed that kissing evolved from the smelling of a companion's face as an act of greeting.)

Kiss through history

Even without fully knowing where the kiss came from, it is well known that the kiss has been with us for a long time.

  • In the sixth century in France, dancing was one way to display affection, and every dance was ended in a kiss.
  • Apparently, Russia was the first to incorporate the kiss into the marriage ceremony, where a promise was sealed with a kiss.
  • The Romans kissed to greet each other. One Roman emperor showed a persons importance by what part of his body they were allowed to kiss, from the cheek to the foot.
  • In 16th century England, the clove-studded apple originated. An apple was prepared by piercing it with as many cloves as the fruit could hold and then a maid carried the apple through the fair until she spied a lad she thought worth kissing. She would offer him the apple, and once he'd selected and chewed one of the cloves, they would share a kiss. After that, the apple passed into the man's possession, and he would venture off in search of another lass to continue the game with.
  • At one stage it was even thought that people found kissing pleasurable because when the two lips met during kissing, an electric current was generated.

A kiss is a kiss

Now days, kisses range from small pecks on the cheeks as a greeting, to the use of the lips and tongue as a sign of passion. It is that action that causes hormones to be released into the blood stream when two people embrace, inducing a sense of euphoria that you feed (or feel?) in the sweetness of your lovers mouth.

 It's a kiss that brings every fibre of your being alive, turns your stomach over and sends Goosebumps up your spine. It's a kiss that forgives your misdemeanours and smiles at your mistakes. Ingrid Bergman puts it together in that "a kiss is a lovely trick designed by nature to stop speech when words become superfluous".

Published: 7 January 2005

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