Sunday, September 4, 2011


To start off, I know it's Sunday, not Monday, but there is no way I'm waking up before 9 am on Labor Day to do my post, so I decided to do it tonight. I was inspired to choose this particular subject during visiting hours tonight when someone, who for whatever reason was reading about kissing online, announced that kissing was "perfected" in ancient Rome, and that people would greet each other by kissing each other on the mouth, cheek, or eye. (Not sure about that last one, who knows if her source was accurate.) My brain immediately registered that kissing is a perfect example of folk knowledge that is universal yet has domestic quirks and traits depending on the region.

According to the article I linked below, the earliest evidence of kissing dates back to 1500 B.C. in India, and in places like Babylon in the 7th century B.C. it was used as an informal greeting. In more modern times, such as in Industrial Revolution era England the, "hand kiss" was a popular greeting and evolved into a handshake. "Charles Darwin theorized that given the diversity and popularity of kissing and related behaviors around the world, humans must possess an innate desire to connect this way."

Kissing connects not only two people, but also connects us globally. With all of the varied social and cultural norms in the different parts of the world, it interests me that kissing is so universal. I wonder if Darwin is correct, and humans have an innate desire to connect by kissing, or if some bold souls centuries ago started a trend that spread globally and throughout generations through observation and curiosity. And it's very true that you can't learn to kiss by reading how to in a book or hearing someone else describe it. Rather, only through observation and practice does someone learn how to kiss, and isn't that the definition of folk knowledge?

So whether inherited and innate or a result of social customs, kissing is one example of something that unifies the world and makes the globe a little bit smaller. (Like Facebook or Blogger)
-Dane F Olsen


  1. Dane, great way to connect folk knowledge as something that binds the world together. Sometimes I think we like to focus on how it draws us away from each other, "MY family does it this way..." Also, if you look at this post: from Gideon he mentions how to write a post and then set it to appear on a given day. So you don't have to be awake!

  2. I think that is a really interesting take on what folklore is because it's true that you can't really get good at kissing from reading about it, and it is such a part of so many cultures. I found this link:, that shows a lot of the references to kissing in the Bible, just because I was curious about how prevalent it was, and if you look towards the bottom of the page, it explains that "phileo" in the New Testament means "to kiss, to be friendly," while "kataphileo," the kiss used by Judas and the woman who kissed Jesus' feet, means, at least it says it means, "to kiss thoroughly, to be very friendly," almost like a holier kind of kiss.

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  4. I think this post was very interesting as an example of folk knowledge. In my mind, it sparked the question of whether kissing is a means to an end or an end unto itself. I think that many of the things we learn how to do that fall under the category of "folk knowledge", we do simply for the pleasure of it. We are taught our letters in order to read, write, and someday provide for ourselves, but we learn how to swing on a tire simply to swing on a tire. I think kissing, though it can be a means to an end, in its natural state is an end unto itself.

  5. Amen! I love this idea that kissing is only a natural expression of attachment or global connection.
    The interesting thing about folk knowledge, however, is not that it can be perfected and altered so that the knowledge can be used in a way that fits the time and place. for example, with eating one doesn't always follow there natural instincts and gorge down ever bit of food they see in front of them. No, there is an art. One uses a fork and knife, and one chews with their mouth closed. Same thing with singing. Anyone can sing, but it takes time and experience to become a gifted singer. I guess the same can be said for kissing. One doesn't simply go around kissing everyone they meet on the lips. They learn timing which is key in order for a kiss to communicate an effective feeling of mutual connection.

  6. Morgan, I think kissing is almost always a means to an end rather than an end itself. Although, at least in BYU culture, there are things like "NCMOs", I find it very hard to kiss someone without feeling some kind of attachment to them and using the kiss as a display or token of this.