Spanish in Spain

Greetings and Partings

Two people hugging on a small street

In Spain, greetings and partings between friends tend to be both casual and highly demonstrative, a quality which often perplexes visitors from cultures that are more restrained. A kiss on each cheek, starting with the left, is given as a greeting between women and women, men and women, and even men and men. These kisses can also be accompanied by a hug.

In a formal introduction or when greeting an elder, the formal second person pronoun is used even as two kisses are still exchanged. In a formal business introduction, all parties simply shake hands.

When a person greets a group of close friends, regardless of the size of the group, two kisses are given to each person. In a less intimate setting, one simply greets the group at large. One always begins to take leave of a gathering at least half hour in advance of actually walking out the door, since each attempt to say goodbye will be met with protests on the part of the host/hostess and the rest of the group. A typical scenario would be that one begins to say goodbye, and the hostess says, “No, you mustn’t go. Please stay a little longer.” At which point the guest agrees to stay another fifteen minutes or so. This ritual may take place at least one if not two more times, before the guest actually leaves, usually after having kissed each of the guests.