The rule of 3 pervades a lot in our business and social lives. In literature you’ll find three little pigs, the three musketeers, and three wishes granted to Aladdin. Artists are familiar with 3 primary colors and 3 secondary colors. In science Newton discovered Three laws. At the dinner table you will find 3 pieces of cutlery. Most flags have 3 colors. There are 3 medals in the olympics. Three wise men appeared with 3 gifts for baby Jesus. The U.S and the French declaration of rights are based on 3 words, life, liberty, and happiness for the Americans and Liberty, equality, and fraternity for the french.
In Lebanon we also have our magical number 3 embedded in our social lives. We have 3 main religions (Muslims, Christians, and Druze). We greet each other with 3 words “Hi, Kifak, ça-va?”. Most of us speak 3 languages, french, arabic, and English; in case you didn’t guess that from our greeting. Our flag is made up of 3 colors, red, white and green. There are 3 basic ingredients to any good yakhneh, garlic, coriander, and onions fried together!
My favorite one is that we greet each other with 3 kisses on the cheeks, the one thing in common with the Dutch and the Swiss. I was amazed to find out that we are one of the few cultures that kiss 3 times, most countries kiss 1 or 2 times. Throughout all cultures people greet one another as a sign of recognition, affection, friendship and reverence. It’s a gesture of friendliness and companionship, a form of bonding through ritualized kissing. I find it to be a daily miracle of social coordination. It’s a sign of friendship that says I welcome you into my personal space. It’s part of our culture of welcoming people, of becoming one, of sharing the same intimate space. Kissing on the cheeks means you are my friend and I welcome you into my life. It’s an initiative you take to determine the degree of proximity. The social kiss is a gentle reminder that we are physical beings. It is this face-to-face encounters that make us human. Social kisses can be a nonverbal signal that you are embraced and respected by the person greeting you. Some believe that cheek kissing simply are customs of politeness. Whatever it may stand for, I love that we do it 3 times. Three kisses for me break into : Hello, I welcome you into my life, and we have established that physical bond that breaks the barrier of being strangers and brings us a bit closer together. We love kissing so much that I am sure if a survey was done on which country uses the kisses emoticon the most, Lebanon would rank #1.
So next time you greet someone, remember that that’s part of our culture, to be warm and welcoming even when it involves opening our own personal space to strangers.
Because I believe in our culture that is welcoming to its minutest detail, even when it comes to its simple social greeting, I #livelovelebanon and I will #fighton