Definition of Kiss
A kiss is the touching of one person's lips to another place, which is used as an expression of affection, respect, greeting, farewell, good luck, romantic affection or sexual desire. The word comes from Old English cyssan "to kiss", in turn from coss "a kiss".
A Classic Kiss
History of Kissing
An Anthropological and Artistic Look at the History of Lipsmacking
Anthropologists really don't know much about the early history of kissing. It is presumed that it happened as part of courtship and sexual foreplay, and therefore is rather instinctive (many animals also kiss, lick and nuzzle each other), but it was (for whatever reason) rarely depicted in art or writing. Artists/writers may have considered kissing too sexual or private to share publicly.
Kissing allows prospective mates to taste each other's pheromones for biological compatibility. It is a much stronger chemical reaction than merely sniffing each other. Humans also judge potential mates on the quality of the kiss as a sign of a potential lover's personality and ability to commit.
Four Vedic Sanskrit texts written in India around 1500 B.C. describe people kissing, and this is one of the earliest known examples of kissing in literature. Statues made roughly around the same time depicted kisses (ie. Khajuraho India, Chitragupta Temple - The Kiss - c.1000). The Indian epic poem "Mahabharata" describes kissing on the lips as a sign of affection. The "Mahabharata" was passed down orally for several hundred years before being written down and standardized around 350 A.D. The Indian religious text "Vatsyayana Kamasutram," or the "Kama Sutra" also describes a variety of kisses. It was written in the 6th century A.D.
Some anthropologists believe that kissing is a learned cultural behavior and theorize that the Greeks learned about it when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 B.C., but many other anthropologists disagree and believe kissing was part of courtship rituals for centuries before it was ever recorded.
Kissing was quite popular during the Roman Empire and Romans used kisses to greet friends and family members. Citizens kissed their rulers' hands. The Romans had three different categories for kissing: Osculum was a kiss on the cheek; Basium was a kiss on the lips; Savolium was a deep kiss (what we commonly refer to as French Kissing).
In Rome it was tradition that couples announce their wedding by kissing passionately in front of a group of people, including family. Today modern couples kiss at the end of wedding ceremonies.
The Romans also sealed letters and documents with a kiss and so the term "sealed with a kiss" comes as no surprise. Kisses were used like handshakes to seal legal and business agreements and even during political campaigns.
The British took it one step further with "kisses for votes" scandals in the 18th century which led some candidates to kissing only the very young and very old.
Most cultures around the world kiss today, but there are differing views on the appropriateness of kissing. In the 1990s there was a trend of young people kissing in public in Japan, where kissing had traditionally been viewed as a private activity and scandalous to be done publicly.
Like the Romans, early Christians often greeted one another with an osculum pacis, an holy kiss on the cheek. According to tradition, the holy kiss caused a transfer of spirit between the two people kissing. Some historians believe this was the result of the church wanting to foster a sense of "brotherly love amongst the clergy", but could also have been the result of rampant homosexuality within the clergy. (See Papal Impropriety.)
In the 13th century the Catholic Church substituted a pax board, which the congregation kissed instead of kissing one another. The Protestant Reformation in the 1500s removed kissing from religious services entirely. The holy kiss doesn't usually play a role in modern Christian religious services, although some Christians do kiss religious symbols, including the Pope's ring.
Works of literature like "Romeo and Juliet" have portrayed kisses as dangerous or deadly when shared between the wrong people. Some folklorists and literary critics view kissing as a form of physical vampirism, symbolic of the physical and emotional dangers that can come from kissing the wrong person.
The Holy Bible (in the gospels of Matthew and Mark) for example shows the betrayal of Judas by singling out Jesus with a kiss, while Sleeping Beauty is awakened by a princely kiss and stories of succubi tell of women sucking the life out of men with a kiss (ie. Hans Baldung Grien - Death and the Maiden - 1518-20 or John William Waterhouse - La Belle Dame Sans Merci - 1893).
In the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea (an older version of Sleeping Beauty) a romantic kiss is used by a male to awaken or breathe life into a female statue (ie. Jean Leon Gerome - Pygmalion and Galatea - c.1890).
In modern American versions of the fairy tale "Frog Prince" it is the male who is transformed into the prince from the frog kissed by the beautiful female princess. A similar account occurs in "Beauty and the Beast".
A French kiss, tongue kiss, pash, snog or deep kiss is a passionate romantic or sexual kiss in which one participant's tongue touches the other's tongue (or lips) and usually enters his/her mouth.
Although family members may sometimes kiss on the lips, a kiss using the tongue almost always indicates a romantic relationship. French kissing stimulates the lips, tongue and mouth, which are all areas very sensitive to touch. It is considered by many to be both very pleasurable and highly intimate.
Unlike other forms of "casual" kissing (such as brief kisses of greeting or friendship), episodes of French kissing will often be prolonged, intense, and passionate. Because of the intimacy associated with it, in many regions of the world tongue kissing in public is not acceptable to most, particularly for an extended time. In Israel, legal precedent has been set for considering a French kiss without consent, as opposed to a kiss without involvement of the tongue, indecent behavior.
In a tongue kiss participants exchange saliva, something which would be considered disgusting in other contexts. Although most sexually transmitted diseases are not transmitted by kissing, the exchange of saliva in a French kiss may increase the chances of catching an orally transmitted disease. Infectious mononucleosis (American: Mononucleosis or, colloquially, "mono"; European: glandular fever), a disease spread through saliva, is colloquially referred to as "the kissing disease."
A French kiss is often used by lovers to express their intimate feelings toward each other, whether in passing or as a prelude to sexual intercourse (as a part of foreplay). French kissing also occurs frequently throughout actual intercourse. A French kiss is thus a highly intimate affair, and in a manner of speaking symbolizes a side of the physical love one has for the other. In essence it can also be called a passionate or loving kiss.
Generally speaking kissing between two women is much more accepted in Western culture. Two men kissing usually means politicians meeting foreign dignitaries.
In some countries kissing is only considered proper when between two men, two women, or parents kissing their children. Traditionally kissing between two men on the lips as a greeting or a farewell was as normal as the modern Western handshake. The rise of various plagues and widespread illness caused this custom to become frowned upon in Western culture.
At the Diocleia festival at Megara a kissing contest was held in which boys would kiss a male judge, who awarded a laurel wreath to the boy he deemed the best kisser.
Lord Nelson, the British naval commander, famously requested "Kiss me, Hardy", as he lay dying (they were not his last words).
The history of homosexual kisses is relatively short and has few examples in art history or film. There is Tanya Chalkin's photograph of two women kissing, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec's The Kiss and also Kissing in the Bed and of course plenty of erotica and X-rated material, but not many popular art examples.
What Wiki-pedia says on Kissing
Anthropologists have not reached a consensus as to whether kissing is a learned or an instinctive behavior. Kissing may lead to sexual behaviors. It may be related to grooming behavior also seen between other animals, or arising as a result of mothers premasticating food for their children.
Kissing allows prospective mates to smell and taste each other's pheromones for biological compatibility. Women are subconsciously more attracted to men whose major histocompatibility complex portion of their genome is different from their own, leading to offspring with resistance to a greater number of diseases due to heterosis, and thus having a better chance of survival.
Non-human primates also exhibit kissing behavior. Dogs, cats, birds and other animals display licking and grooming behavior among themselves, but also towards humans or other species. This is sometimes interpreted by observers as a type of kissing.
The anatomy of kissing Il bacio (The kiss), by Italian romantic painter Francesco Hayez, 1859Kissing is a complex behavior that requires significant muscular coordination; a total of thirty-four facial muscles and 112 postural muscles are used during a kiss. The most important muscle involved is the orbicularis oris muscle, which is used to pucker the lips and informally known as the kissing muscle. The tongue can also be an extremely important part of the kiss (see French kiss). Lips have many nerve endings so they are sensitive to touch and bite.
Disease transmissionDiseases which may be transmitted via kissing include mononucleosis and herpes, in which the infectious organism is present in saliva. Research indicates that contraction of HIV via kissing is extremely unlikely, however a woman has been infected with HIV by kissing in 1997; both the woman and infected man had gum disease (so transmission was through the man's blood, not saliva).
Kissing in Western culture The beloved's hand is kissed in the classic "one-knee" marriage proposal, ca. 1815In modern Western culture, kissing is most commonly an expression of affection. Between people of close acquaintance, a reciprocal kiss often is offered as a greeting or farewell. This kind of kiss is typically made by brief contact of puckered lips to the skin of the cheek or no contact at all, and merely performed in the air near the cheek with the cheeks touching. People sometimes kiss children on the forehead or cheek to comfort them or show affection, and vice versa.
As an expression of romantic affection or sexual desire in Western culture, kissing involves two people pressing their lips together with an intensity of sexual feeling. A couple may open their mouths, suck on each other's lips or move their tongues into each others' mouths (see French kiss). Romantic or sexual kissing may also involve kissing various parts of another's body (see Foreplay) such as the neck, the ears, the breasts, the navel, the genitals, etc.
In Eastern European countries and Slavic cultures until recent times, kissing between two men on the lips as a greeting or a farewell was not uncommon and not considered sexual.
Symbolic kissing is frequent in Western cultures. A kiss can be "blown" to another by kissing the fingertips and then blowing the fingertips in the direction of the recipient. This is used to convey affection, usually when parting or when the partners are physically distant but can view each other. Blown kisses are also used when a person wishes to convey affection to a large crowd or audience. In written correspondence a kiss has been represented by the letter 'X' since at least 1763.
A stage or screen kiss may be performed by actually kissing, or faked by using the thumbs as a barrier for the lips and turning so the audience is unable to fully see the act.
 Kissing in non-Western culturesSome literatures suggest that a non-trivial percentage of humanity does not kiss.
In Sub Saharan African, Asiatic, Native American and Polynesian cultures, kissing was relatively unknown until introduced by European and Western influence. However, India's practice of Kamasutra and advance sexual practices is an exception.
With the Andamanese, kissing was only used as a sign of affection towards children and had no sexual undertones.
Kissing in Muslim cultures isn't widely accepted between two members of the opposite gender
In India, public kissing was once quite popular, as evidenced by the common portrayal of kissing apsaras and people in motifs commonly used around palaces and temples. Muslim invaders and Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent prior to British occupation, followed by British rule and a Victorian ethics system pushed public kissing into a taboo act. Post-independence, public kissing is not so common.
Definition of Kiss