Saturday, May 6, 2017

England's "Lady Kissing" Etiquette

A 17th C. Kiss on the hand —"Being unaware of the fact that it was customary in England to kiss the corner of the mouth of ladies by way of salutation, instead of shaking hands, as we do in Hungary, my younger brother and I behaved very rudely on one occasion..."

Kissing the Ladies

Nicolaus de Bethlen, a pupil of Doctor Basire at Alba Julia, visited England during the winter of 1663-1664 and relates the following in his "Autobiography": "Being unaware of the fact that it was customary in England to kiss the corner of the mouth of ladies by way of salutation, instead of shaking hands, as we do in Hungary, my younger brother and I behaved very rudely on one occasion. We were invited to dinner to the house of a gentleman of high rank, and found his wife and three daughters, one of them married, standing in array to receive us. We kissed the girls, but not the married ladies, and thereby greatly offended the latter, but Duval, a French Protestant clergyman, apologized for our blunder, and explained to us that when saluting, we must always kiss the senior lady first and leave the girls and children to the last; after dinner it was considered sufficient to kiss the hostess only, in recognition of the hospitality received. "Thereafter​," he adds, he and all his traveling companions, with the exception of one who could not be prevailed upon, "complied most scrupulously with the rules of etiquette." — Marin Journal, 1889


Etiquette Enthusiast Maura J Graber is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia