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All about kissing in Costa Rica


All about kissing in Costa RicaThe title of this blog should really be “how do people in Costa Rica greet each other”, but I think more people will read this blog with the actual title. Anyway, it IS all about kissing because in Costa Rica we greet people by kissing them, depending on your sex. Now, don’t be shocked, there is nothing wrong with kissing. I know many North Americans, when they greet someone, they don’t kiss but they hug.

In many other countries, family kisses family when greeting and within the family, `men kiss men and women kiss women, some on the cheek, some on the mouth. In my home country, Holland, there is even a difference between the different areas. I was born and raised in the west where most people are of Protestant religion and we kiss people of the other sex once on each cheek. In the southern provinces, where my mom and dad are born and raised and people are mostly Catholic, people kiss people of the other sex three times.

In the Maori culture (New Zealand), the traditional greeting involved people touching and lightly rubbing noses together, no matter what their sex is.  This is known as the Hongi, a formal Maori event. The above was just meant for those who haven’t traveled much, to explain that not all people hug.

North American hug

North Americans mostly hug

Latin people are generally raised Catholic and kissing is very common when greeting. That doesn’t mean the kiss is always well meant.  I know a lot of women who don’t kiss the cheek but kiss in the air, kind of. Maybe they are just taking care their lipstick doesn’t rub off, because Latin people are also jealous people and a painted cheek could easily provoke a divorce.

How do Ticos greet?


Many people customarily kiss on the cheek when greeting

There is a marked difference in Costa Rica between the greeting of people of the same sex and people of the opposite sex. Of course there are exceptions and there is a difference between a social meeting and a business meeting. Let me explain how Ticos greet formally and not formally

  • Formally men greet men with a handshake.  Socially they also greet with a handshake. Socially, when they know each other well, they greet with a hug.
  • Formally women greet women with a handshake.  If they already know each other or when meeting socially, they kiss each other once on the other’s cheek, just once (or in the air).
  • Formally men and women greet with handshakes.  If they already know each other, depending on the intimacy level, or when meeting socially, they greet with a kiss on the cheek, just once.


In some countries men kiss but most shake hands

I hope that when you are ready to move to Costa Rica, you will now know how to greet the locals. Don’t hug, it will be seen as strange, but don’t kiss effusively either. Just follow the rules and you will figure out how easy it is. As easy as buying a Costa Rica real estate through GoDutch Realty.

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Ivo Henfling

If you are looking to buy a home in Costa Rica or invest in a condo anywhere in the central Valley, or looking for any property for sale in Escazu, you need to call me. I have been selling real estate in Escazu for over 20 years and can show you hundreds of happy buyers of real estate in Escazu and other areas. To me, a deal is not a good deal unless both buyer and seller are happy.

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