It’s impossible to learn all the languages in the world and whenever we travel, we have to find ways to understand each other despite the language barrier. However, if we really want to get the most out of your trip, we recommend to at least learn how to greet the locals, following their cultural protocol.
Not everyone has a word for “Hello” or “Hi” or do they wave their hand to greet people. For example, muslims greet other muslims (and sometimes, non-muslims) by saying “As-salam alaykom” (pronounced as Ahl sah-LAHM ah-LAY-koom) which literally means “may peace be upon you”. Every culture has a unique way of greeting people and we’ve found the most unique ways to say hello around the world!
Tibet: Sticking your tongue out
Tibetan monks stick their tongue out to greet people. They also press the hands together and place them in front of their chest to show that they “come in peace”. They started doing this to prove that they’re not the reincarnation of a cruel king from the 9th century that had a black tongue.
In the Philippines, elders are greeted by taking one of their hands gently and pressing it on your forehead. They call this gesture “Mano” (which is “hand” in Spanish) and it’s used to show respect.
People greet each other with a bow in Japan. The problem is that their bows differ in angle and duration depending on the person they’re greeting.
In India, people greet each other with the Añjali Mudrā salute. People press their palms together over their heart and say “Namaste”.
Oman: Nose “kisses”
In Oman, men often greet each other by pressing their noses together.
New Zealand: Hongi
The traditional Māori greeting, known as hongi, is similar to the oman greeting except they also press their foreheads together and look at each others eyes
The traditional greeting in Tuvalu is to press their cheeks together and simultaneously inhaling.
Malays usually stretch out their hands and touch the other person’s fingertips and then bring their hands to their hearts. It symbolizes that they’re greeting you from their hearts.
You know how everyone thinks they greet others by pressing the tip of their noses against each other? Well, forget about it. Actually, don’t even talk to them about it because it’ll bug them. But they perform a unique and traditional greeting with their loved ones called “Kunik” and it consists of placing their nose and upper lip against the cheek or forehead of the other person and taking a deep breath.
If you’re lucky enough to witness the unique welcoming greeting of the Maasai’s, you’re in for a treat! The tribe warriors perform an elaborated jumping dance.
Now that you’re a pro of greeting people in different cultures, you’re ready for the Botswana handshake! To perform this, you have to follow 3 steps: extend your right arm, place your left hand on your right elbow, and press hands together; Interlock your hand with the other person’s, interlacing thumbs; and then return to the original position and say “Lae kae?” which means “How are you?” in Setswana.