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Kissing History

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 7

Pucking Up Through The Ages

Kissing: the intimate act used to express feelings of love, passion, affection, respect, friendship, greetings and many more. A kiss can vary widely in different cultures, for example, a kiss can be used in formal greetings, or ritual and traditional formalities, or for religious reasons, as well as being used as an intimate expression of love. But where did kissing come from? How has the act evolved over time?

Kissing Lips

Kissing Through History

Ancient Indian Kissing

The earliest evidence of kissing came from Indian Vedic Sanskrit texts that date back to around 1500 BC. In these texts there are descriptions of people kissing. However, while the texts don’t mention the word ‘kiss’, there are references to ‘licking’ and ‘drinking moisture of the lips’, which historians believe refers to the act of intimate kissing. There is also an epic Indian poem called ‘Mahabharata’ that describes the act of kissing on the lips as a sign of affection. The ‘Mahabharata’ was originally passed down orally for several hundred years, before being written down and recorded properly around 350 AD. It was also around this point in time when the Vatsyayana Kamasutra (better known as the Kama Sutra) was established. Considered to be the standard work on human sexual behaviors, the Karma Sutra included an entire section on the different ways of lavishing kisses on a lover.

Roman Empire Kissing

Intimate Kiss
Kissing doesn’t really surface in the Western world until the days of the Roman Empire, where Romans would use kisses to greet family and friends, as well as express feelings of love, and to pay their respects to ruler’s by kissing their hand. The Romans had three different categories for kissing, ‘Osculum’ was a kiss on the cheek, ‘Basium’ was a kiss on the lips, and ‘Savolium’ was a deep kiss. The Romans are responsible for beginning out modern day traditions when it comes to kissing. In ancient Rome, a couple became betrothed by kissing passionately on the lips in front of a group of people. The term ‘sealed with a kiss’ also comes from ancient Rome, where were used like handshakes to seal legal and business agreements and even during political campaigns.

Religious Kissing History

In the early Christian Church, Christians would use kissing as a way to greet one another. This greeting, known as an ‘Osculum Pacis’, or holy kiss, was believed to transfer the spirit between the two people. It was also used to establish family bond between the members of the church and to strengthen the community, as well as separating Christians and non-Christians.

Kissing in the Middle Ages

In the Middle Ages, kissing was a demonstration of a person’s social standing.  Subjects of a King would kiss his ring, robe, hands or even the ground beneath his feet to show respect. This kind of respect was also shown toward the Pope. A kiss was also used as a greeting between feudal lords and vassals as a show of trust. It was also during this time that many men did not know how to read and write, so a kiss was used as a legal way to seal contracts, as it had been done in ancient Rome. An ‘X’ would be drawn on the line and kissed, making it legal. This symbol of a kiss has been carried over into modern day, with ‘X’ being written to represent a kiss.

Kissing Today

During the Industrial Revolution, the kiss became replaced by the handshake as a form of agreement between to people when it came to legal and business matters. By 1872, Charles Darwin had theorized that due to the global diversity and popularity of kissing, humans must possess an innate desire to want to connect with others in this way. Darwin surmised that kissing is rooted deep within our evolutionary past, but is influenced by our social-cultural traditions, rules and customs.

The term “French kiss” came into the English language around 1923 as an insult towards the French culture which was thought to be overly concerned with sex. In France, it’s called a tongue kiss or soul kiss because if done right, it feels as if two souls are merging.


Kissing occurs in most cultures around the world today, but there are many different views on what is appropriate when it comes to displays of affection. In Middle Eastern countries public displays of affection, including holding hands, cuddling and kissing can be punishable by law. In some Asian countries, while not illegal, kissing is considered a private activity, and PDA is frowned upon.

Kissing Conclusion

Scientists, scholars and anthropologists are divided over whether kissing is a learned or instinctual behaviour. There are also many theories behind where kissing evolved from, including when mothers orally passed chewed food to their infants during the weaning period, or that kissing evolved from prospective mates sniffing each other’s pheromones to check for biological compatibility. Another theory suggests it was used to judge a person as a potential mate. Whatever the reason for the development of kissing, it has come through history as a symbol and expression of human feelings.


If you have enjoyed reading about the history of kissing, check out these interesting kissing facts.




Apr 16, 2012 10:48pm
Very interesting! It is interesting in the Hindu tradition there is actually a lot of helpful information about kissing etc. and yet in most religions emphasis is placed more on what you should not do.
May 18, 2012 12:29am
Oh-la-la. A very interesting bit of history is in here!
May 18, 2012 12:40pm
Kisses to you all!
May 18, 2012 6:49pm
I've never really thought of kissing as a spirit transfer before. There's some interesting possibilities there.
May 20, 2012 4:55am
The history of Kiss has been well traced and narrated.Nice.Thanks.
May 21, 2012 9:48am
Very intesting article!
BTW the "French Kiss" is also in German called a "tongue kiss" for the same reason.

Jun 3, 2012 2:14am
Nice article about Kissing...
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