The Kiss: A Real Elixir in all World Cultures

The Kiss between literature and theater, sacred mythology and history, as well as the intimacy of the home of a simple happy life, is used as a universal gesture of love and pleasure. On International kissing day, we explore this fascinating, sentimental and dramatic theme.

The kiss is a sacred gesture and at the same time is the most universal human behavior. The kiss gives a spectrum of meanings, attitudes, motivations, and traditions. In the collective imagination, the kiss is closely linked to the feeling of love and related emotions. But the symbolic values attributed to this act is different.

The kiss belongs to specific rituals and is an expression of a different nature of feelings. It not only covers the love but also the maternal and filial affection, tenderness, sympathy, gratitude, compassion, joy, and pain.

A history of the kiss could be written to highlight an evolution of the meaning of the gesture in the uses and customs of civilization, over time and through space. Every classificatory solution might look artificial since the categories within which to place the different types of kisses overlap. We will try here to draw up a brief summary of the kiss, paying attention only to the symbolic gesture.

Kiss binds to specific cultures and there are peoples who have long denied the erotic value. They did not recognize it as an act intended for obtaining a sweet pleasure. The kiss was for example seen in western China as a simulacrum of cannibalism, while today the customs of various African people to embed the wooden discs in the lower lip or darken their teeth with betel leaves cancels any erotic connotation of the mouth.

For the Eskimo people, mouth and tongue had very practical functions. They are used to chew the leather and clean children, and intimate search is the nose, involving the olfactory proxemics. The nose kiss is indeed described by Darwin and other ethnologists as a way to share the other's space, crossing well-defined thresholds of intimacy.

With the same meaning, even today among some peoples of northern Australia, Aboriginal men gather sweat with their hands, rubbing the body and applying it on the skin again. It is a form of acceptance in their intimate zone, which is to express the degree of hospitality.

The kiss from prehistory to our descendants is a demonstration of affection that has no age. It ranges from tenderly kissing the newborn or the elderly mother to affectionately kissing the lover. The origin of the kiss dates back to prehistoric times when our ancestors passed food through a kind of kiss to feed the babies.

Mothers to feed their children chewed the food and gave it with a mouth to mouth contact. It implied a significant amount of pressure of the tongue and lips. It was a way of feeding children that is similar to that of birds that seem bizarre and strange today, but our species has probably practiced it for more than a million years.

Lovers find each other exploring the mouth with the tongue, that generates archaic well-being and the feeling of satisfaction and trust. This strengthens their confidence and their link. The mouth is the first privileged organ through which the children know the people, the objects the world. The children bring everything to mouth because it is an extremely sensitive organ and a place of transit of what gives more satisfaction of the food.

The neurobiologists have recently, with extensive research, reduced the role of passion and feeling and affirm categorically that the function of the kiss is mainly to select the partners with purely reproductive purposes. The kiss is a kind of cure-all, is the most superficial and affectionate, is the most thorough, full of eroticism and sensuality.

Kiss produces confidence, and the endorphins, which stimulate the joy and keeps the sadness away. Kiss tends to lower the level of cortisol, the stress factor, which increases in situations of anxiety and danger. When the kiss is passionate, it increases blood flow to the brain, while the heart begins to throb more intensely and the pupils dilate. It also induces desire, elation, and euphoria. The longer and more intense kisses excites the woman.

The kiss is not just by human beings as there is exchange of effusions between animals. Currently, it is believed that the kiss also has the function to search for partners with a different genetic makeup from their own to reinforce the offspring. It manifests itself in the same way in all cultures from the Eskimos or pygmies who also mutually rub noses, as also the Mongols and the Japanese.

Kiss expresses a very wide range of situations and relationships from kissing the feet, to the greeting between friends and family, and from the exchange of intimacy between two lovers at the wedding ceremony or in a clan. Then there are the liturgical kisses of sacred objects during services and the administration of certain sacraments, or between religious leaders.

A very special kiss with irrepressible sensuality is the French kiss. It is to kiss the other person opening his or her lips, moving vigorously and often with an exchange of light bites on the lips and on the tongue itself. It is, almost always traded with closed eyes. A French kiss is an approach to the sexual act itself or one of the so-called preliminary. Often younger people start to find out the sexual desires through this kind of kiss.

The oldest kiss in the visual arts is those that are stored in the excavations of Pompeii or in the erotic Cabinet of the Archaeological Museum of Naples. In line with an erroneous historical tradition, the birth of the kiss takes place in the modern sense in the first century BC, when to fight the habit of drinking, women established it control the breath of the man.

It is far more difficult to make sure of the love of a woman, so the kiss, from a simple approximation of the lips, would have become what we all know from childhood.

The Latins had three different definitions for the kiss of the osculum representing respect and was used for the filial love, while Basium and was used for the wives, and the Savium was an expression of lust and traded with prostitutes.

In the literary field even Shakespeare has left us unforgettable pages on the kiss, from that of Romeo and Juliet to those fatal Othello and Desdemona, the first, passionate, traded on the Cyprus stands and the last, desperate, when the bold dark savored with his lips the last moments of life from his dying love.