The History Of Kissing: Why Do We Kiss Each Other And Where Did It Come From?

By | August 24, 2020

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Frescoes of the Baronial Hall (15th century), detail, Della Manta Castle, Manta (Cuneo), Piedmont. Italy, 13th–16th century. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

From a long, passionate kiss to a peck on the cheek to a smooch goodbye, kissing is a key component of our culture and an important ingredient in our relationships. But when did humans first start locking lips, and why? Not all cultures in history practiced kissing, so it seems like it must be something more than instinctual. Whatever the case, the history of kissing goes back much further than our modern notions of love and manners.

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Kama ("desire, wish, or longing") scenes at a Hindu temple. (Kandukuru Nagarjun/Wikimedia Commons)

India, Alexander, And The Middle Ages

According to India's Vedic Sanskrit texts, circa 1500 B.C.E., people in India rubbed foreheads and noses together as a form of greeting. Several centuries later, the epic Indian poem Mahabharata described lip-on-lip kissing, while the Kama Sutra, a classic guide to all things erotic written around the third century C.E., includes numerous tips on kissing techniques. It's thought that Alexander the Great brought the practice of kissing back with him to Europe after he invaded India in the fourth century C.E.