If you plop yourself down on a park bench in the U.S. and watch people come and go, you’ll undoubtedly see people of all ages meet and greet each other with a hug. Some are just friendly, quick hugs and others are more loving and romantic. Sometimes a hug is accompanied by a pat on the back, or swaying back and forth, and sometimes there’s a lot of distance between the two people. No matter the type, you will see lots and lots of hugs because it’s a common greeting among Americans. But upon arriving in France, I quickly learned there’s no hugging in France. You don’t hug to say hi. Not even family members.
How’d I learn?
When I jovially put my arms around my French father-in-law who proceeded to just stand there like an animal playing dead, just waiting for his predator of a daughter-in-law to slink away. Ooops. I found out the hard way there’s no hugging in France.
Tell anyone you live in France and their minds immediately fill with romantic images of lazy days spent lounging around Paris with Champagne, a baguette and cheese not far behind. And if you’re French? Well, by pointing out you’re French, you’ve just taken on an air of sophistication, won bonus points with any romantic interests and become a person of envy for some, because you have a life where, to many, the sun seems to shine just a little more brightly. Would living in China conjure up the same type of response? I don’t think so.