By Linda Hall • 03 September 2023 • 20:41
AIR KISSES: Not easy to get used to when I first lived in Spain
Photo credit: Pixabay/pictSeahorse
OUTSIDE Spain some Rubiales apologists absolved him from That Kiss because the Spanish are allegedly an impulsive, Mediterranean, passionate race.
“They kiss a lot,” it’s been said, and although it’s true that they do a kiss a lot and probably kiss more now than they did half a century ago, they tend to hold back on public occasions witnessed by millions.
Besides, not every Spanish person is Mediterranean and that dazzling sun casts many shadows. What’s more a look at a relief map revealed how practically all of Spain’s Mediterranean coast is geographically and temperamentally separated from the rest of the country
There are no easy-to-consult statistics going back more than half a century, but a 2022 EU study reveals that in 2021 more than 2.5 million people living in Spain were taking anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication on a daily basis, respective increases of 6 and 4 per cent. A 2020 survey found that more people were on this type of medication in Spain and Portugal than in any other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) country.
Day-to-day living, 21st century stress and the pandemic will have been responsible for much of that, but I’ll stick to what I said about the light and shadow of Spanish moods.
Whether we’re talking about the Mediterranean or inland Spain, when I first lived here there was no getting away from the unavoidable two-kiss formula that had nothing to do with passion or mood. The Spanish kissed on both cheeks on being introduced and these days that includes men although decades ago, apart from greeting male relatives, the formula was limited to women.
It was a custom I could have done without. The air-kisses were perfunctory and devoid of any feeling but had to be endured as there was no way of escaping them.
I would stick out my hand while chirping “Encantada” although protocol would get the better of me every time and my hand would be taken and shaken but I still received two mwah-mwahs.
“Why do I have to kiss people,” I asked my husband.
“You just do,” he answered, so I just did.
An introduction to a man was different, or at least to a certain sort of man who was no longer young and had courtly manners or courtly pretensions.
He would take your hand, raising the back of it slightly towards him, before swooping as though about to plant a kiss. Then, roughly half-a-centimetre before touch-down he would stop short as though he’d suddenly changed his mind. It was the same sort of convention that kept physical contact between the unrelated, unwedded or unbetrothed to a minimum. Or that was the idea.
Spanish has a word – sietemesino – for a baby born at seven months. Not all were premature, not even back when inhibitions, prohibitions and the niceties were rigidly observed.
There were very many merry bouncing babies who looked every day of nine months old but were born seven months after their parents married. Mediterranean or morose, some things transcend moodiness.
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Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share?
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