Pleasantries, politeness, kindness, and positive exchange methods are truly underused and oft undereducated. Remember when your mother or father (or caregiver) would snip at you, “Say please and thank you!” I am sure everyone has heard that at least once in their lives. If not? You are either the most pleasant person I have ever met, or a flaming psychopath. Even psychopaths use pleasantries. Even if it is to lure you into their macabre game. (see SAW)
In various cultures and time periods, pleasantries have taken on different forms. For example, in medieval Europe, courtly manners and chivalry were important aspects of social interaction, and there were specific codes of conduct governing how individuals should behave and exchange pleasantries. Including the position you had to be in for a simple hug. There were even rules about how one must present their physical selves to others. Their appearance was in a way, a part of their pleasantries.
In Asian cultures, rituals and formalities have long been a part of social interactions, emphasizing respect and politeness. There are rules about who can interact with who and how that interaction must occur. There are things that only certain social classes can say or do. Addressing each other involves its own set of social mechanics.
Hugging (open the link, it is funny) that snugly bear hug or the gentle embrace from a friend, is a practice as old as humanity itself. It’s almost as if we’ve been hugging since before we could write about it! While the exact origin remains a mystery, experts believe it likely dates back to our primate ancestors. Think about it, haven’t you seen bonobos and chimps huddle together for comfort and reassurance?
Humans, being the clever critters we are, took this instinctual behavior to another level. We use hugs not only to show love but also as a way to share warmth in colder climates, a primitive form of central heating, if you will. After all, there’s nothing like a warm bear hug to chase away the chill.
Kissing (open the link, it is funny) is a little more complicated to pin down, but that hasn’t stopped scholars from trying. One theory suggests that the practice may have evolved from our ancestors who would chew food for their little ones and then transfer it mouth-to-mouth. You might say it’s the original baby food delivery service!
Another intriguing theory is that kissing could be a sneaky way to assess a potential mate’s immune system. Through the exchange of saliva, our ancestors might have been trying to figure out if they were locking lips with someone who could help pass on strong genes to their offspring. Talk about a romantic DNA test! Also… ew.
Throughout history, the meaning and significance of kissing have varied wildly across cultures. In some places, it’s a full-blown love fest, while in others, it might be a simple sign of respect or greeting. Whatever the case, it’s clear that kissing is a versatile expression of affection and connection.
Get out there and share your biomes!