Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sociologists Say Kissing is an Expression of Advanced Civilization

      Love has made men and women out of brutes, and the kiss is love's truest expression. According to the world's greatest sociologists, the kiss has brought souls together. It has made mothers prize their infants more then anything in the world, and it has taught fathers to understand that self-sacrifice made for one's family is a privilege. A worthy kiss means forgetfulness of self; it is born of love. It is that and more. It is a melodious song which love sings to a burning heart. It is the symbol of noblest things, great love, great sacrifice, great triumph. A kiss is a wonderful dynamic force, compelling and commanding. The number of souls it has ruined are few compared with those it has elevated and uplifted.
The Kiss, Francesco Hayez, 1859
      The origin of this word is significant. The Gothic kustus mean test; the Latin gustus means taste; and the Anglo-Saxon ceosan signifies choice. The kiss had its origin in selection and adoration. Poets in all climes and ages have recognized its significance. A Latin epigram says that the dew of heaven is sweeter than mead, honey from Hybia is sweeter, nectar is sweeter than honey, but the kiss is the sweetest of all. The early French poets recognized its value, and in their pastorals always spoke of this expression of affection as a sweet kiss.
      There are many kinds of kisses; some students of social customs say there are so many it is hard to recognize them all. The more conservative thinkers limit the number to five--recognizing love kisses, kiss of affection, peace, respect, and friendship. While the Romans classified all kisses into those of friendship and love. 
      However, much they disagree on the kinds of kisses, they all believe it is through kisses that a knowledge of life and happiness first comes to us. A mirror may help us to know our physical selves, but it is only by the aid of another soul we are made acquainted with our higher selves, while the kiss teaches us the delight and value of this companionship. One poet expressed this truth happily when he said, " the angels rejoice over the first kiss exchanged by lovers." All folk poetry declares the kiss of lovers surpasses all others. The kiss of friends is expressive of sympathy, but it is in a lover's kiss we find the perfect blending of souls.
      Man is the slave of the kiss. This expression of affection has purified and ennobled thousands who were once cruel and selfish. Although the lover's kiss must be given in a frank, joyous way, to be worthy, it cannot be promiscuous. A lover should reserve them for his sweetheart, a girl should bestow her kisses on him she holds most dear. 
Mother's Kiss Symbol of Purity.
Mary Cassatt, " A Mother's Goodnight Kiss."
      Not all the love of the world is found in the lover's kiss. The kiss of parents to children may be less fascinating, but they are no less worthy. How tender is the kiss bestowed by a mother holding a tiny infant in her arms. More tender is the kiss bestowed by a mother when she forgives some wrongdoing of the child. Likewise man earns the title to noblest fatherhood when he kisses his wife and children before starting off to face some danger for them or his country. Just as splendid as was the Trojan war is the leave taking of the great warrior Hector when he lifts his little son up in his arms, but the child is afraid of his father's helmet, of the gleam of copper, and the nodding crest of horsehair--until
"From his brow 
Hector the casque removed and set it down
All glittering on the ground, then kissed his child
And danced him in his arms."

      The old Norse sagas attributed irresistible power to parental kisses. One story tells of a mother who kisses her son and he forgets everything, even his betrothed, who is waiting for him in the forest.
Kiss of Friendship Subtle.
      Kissing of friends is more common with women than with men. The handshake is regarded as a worthy expression of friendship with men, but women feel that the kiss is a subtler expression of true joy and sorrow. The kiss of friendship is becoming less common, being reserved for special occasions. The kiss of respect, of ancient origin, although allied closely with the kiss of friendship, almost has passed into disuse. In all countries at one time it was used by men as friendly greeting. The survival of this custom is found in the Austrian expression, "Kuss die hand, gnadige Frau and Sarat Mana." In Romania the promise was given, but the performance was rare. In France is was the custom for women to salute any visitor with a kiss whether he was an ambassador or a stranger.
      Later survivals of this well known practice were the kiss dance, common in Belgium, and the kissing feast known to the Magyar. In Belgium at the weddings of the peasantry, if the bridal couple were willing, a male guest kissed a girl every time he danced with her. More interesting still was the Magyar kissing feast, and it was just what it claimed to be. The young people would seal their vows with one, two or three kisses. This might be the first time young people may have even been guilty of kissing, even though the young girls may have kissed their romantic choice many time prior with their eyes only. The kissing during this dance was done in public accompanied by happy music, laughing and dancing.
The Kiss, by Klimt,
oil and gold leaf on canvas,
      Individuals of princely rank once expected the kiss of respect from their inferiors, but this custom is almost obsolete. A kiss was conferred as a formal mark of favor by crowned heads of jousts and tournaments. Princess Margaret, daughter of James I of Scotland, kissed the poet Alain Chartier for saying so many nice things about her, although he was said to be one of the ugliest men in the kingdom.
To Show Their Fealty.
      In the days of chivalry vassals paid homage to their lords by kissing them on their thigh; if the lord was away they kissed the door, the lock, or the bolt.
      The kiss of peace was popular in bygone days. This kiss made friends of enemies, though it is seldom practiced in our prosaic age. This kiss often brought men together who had not spoken in years. The kiss of peace, respect, and salutation has passed away, but the lover's kiss, the kiss of parents and friends still remain. All peoples value kissing as an expression of affection, and it is only in savagery where kissing is unknown. Paolo Mantegazza, the great Italian psychologist, says: "Fear, religion, interest and space may separate lovers, but the kiss they have exchanged will hold them together."
Some Nations Were Ignorant of Kissing.
      For all this, kissing was unknown among the Malays, the dwellers of the Friendly isles, the Andamans, the Fuegians, the Papuans, Australians, and Somals. The Malays expressed their feelings of endearment by touching noses. They said that much tenderness was expressed by bringing noses into contact. It was with the nose they breathed, and therefore the bringing of noses together had great influence on the soul.
      African husbands never kissed their wives. They would consider this too familiar an expression of endearment. A Mandingo wife, meeting her husband who had just returned home, threw herself on the ground as a token of greeting. In Loango the women knelt and as they rose they clapped their hands.
      The only thing that could rob kissing if its charm, is the assertion made by physicians that kissing is dangerous and ought to be tabooed. Some say it is so dangerous that osculators ought to stop and think --- that almost every infectious disease is brought in through the mouth. Doctors have sometimes suggested lovers not kiss each other, and even that mothers must not kiss their babies on their mouths but preferably on the cheek or on the head.

Craft Kisses for Valentine's Day:

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