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The History Of A Hand Kiss And 5 Hidden Meanings Behind It

The History Of A Hand Kiss And 5 Hidden Meanings Behind It

Neck kiss, a kiss on the cheek, forehead kiss there are so many variations of a kiss, and while some of them are easy to interpret, others are more complex.

A hand kiss is one of those gestures that convey a lot of hidden meanings!

Hand kissing is not something we encounter every day. It is more of a vintage gesture that only a few brave individuals are still practicing even today (or should I say, in these modern times).

Having someone kiss your hand evokes a wide array of different emotions from feeling special and flattered to feeling extremely awkward about it (I’m not sure, but I think I belong to the latter).

Every single one of us sees a hand kiss differently because it is no longer something that is popular or expected from someone.

Even though it is not something trendy, you still might experience the magic (or awkwardness) of this vintage gesture.

When (and if) that happens, you will probably feel confused (like myself) and you will demand some answers from the universe. I may not be the universe in itself, but I think I can also help you with this one.

Regardless if you’re just a random person interested in this unique gesture or you’re here purposefully motivated by recent or potential future events, here’s everything you need to know about the hand kiss, its origins, and its possible meanings!

The History Behind A Hand Kiss

It’s not really easy to trace the first references of a hand kiss because it was omnipresent at that time.

However, one of the earliest references is found in Homer’s The Illiad (written in the 8th century): “I have steeled myself as no man yet has ever steeled himself before me, and have raised to my lips the hand of him who slew my son.”

Also, it is said that a hand-kissing gesture originated in the Spanish courts and Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth of the 17th and 18th centuries.

It is still sometimes practiced in Central and Eastern Europe, specifically, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Russia, Romania and Austria). In 1979, the New York Times wrote a piece about this gesture where they confirmed all of that.

All in all, a hand kiss was considered as a respectful and chivalrous way for a gentleman when greeting a lady. Traditionally, a woman would offer her hand to a gentleman to kiss.

Interestingly, the lady offering her hand was either expected to share the same social status as the man kissing her hand or be of a higher social status than him.

A hand kiss was a gesture of politeness and courtesy, and refusing an offered hand was considered rude.

Hand-kissing started to vanish in the 20th century.

This practice is no longer trending, but it is replaced by two alternatives: a good old handshake and a kiss on the cheek.

In this day and age, the hand-kiss has many different connotations from a religious gesture to a romantic gesture (expressing emotional attraction in a traditional way).

Sometimes, the gesture is interpreted as a mockery.

I remember when one guy kissed my hand, and every time I think about it, I vividly relive that awkwardly special moment in my head.

I’ll be honest with you, at first, I thought it was a mockery so I immediately started laughing, but to my surprise, he didn’t laugh.

At that moment, I had no idea how to interpret what had just happened, so I just decided to forget about it.
But, given that I’m an overthinker by nature, I thought about that hand-kissing event for days afterward.

My reason was convincing me that he was just kidding, but my feelings were telling me that it was more than that.

After doing my research on a hand-kiss, I realized that it was a chivalrous gesture and that he was also waiting for more hints from me to give him the green light to expand his kissing attempt.

If you have had a similar experience and you’re not really sure how to interpret it, below you’ll find all the possible meanings behind it (and more)!

See also: Maybe I’m Wrong But All I Want Is That Vintage Kind Of Love

5 Meanings Behind Hand Kissing

A chivalrous gesture

Remember all those hand-kissing scenes in older movies? A gentleman would kiss a woman’s hand as a sign of ultimate respect and devotion.

This was a traditional greeting between opposite genders at social gatherings.

Even though we usually laugh at this gesture on the small screens, I bet the majority of us secretly wish to go back in time and live in that vintage era of old-school affection.

Before, people were overly excited about the fact that they just kissed a lady’s hand, whereas today, nothing is sacred anymore.

Modern times have brought us many advantages, but have also taken a lot from us.

In the past, it was almost impossible to take someone for granted because social norms forced everyone to behave in a respectful way, be patient, and appreciate the real beauty of a person (not the one promoted on social media).

If you’re a woman reading this, I have a question for you. If a man kisses your hand when meeting you for the first time, would you classify him as a hopeless romantic or a creep? Hmm…

A diplomatic gesture

If you’ve seen the movie, The Godfather, you probably remember that there was some hand-kissing, right?

I vividly remember the scene of some guy kissing Don Vito Corleone’s hand as a sign of loyalty and ultimate trust.

You could see the sheer amount of respect in that guy’s eyes as he was approaching to kiss his hand.

This is a pure example of a diplomatic gesture. In this case, hand-kissing is not seen as a romantic gesture, but it is a way of expressing your allegiance to an authoritative individual.

This could also be a priest or someone else who is an important and dominant figure.

A parting gesture

Sometimes, the act of hand-kissing is interpreted as a parting gesture. Let’s say that you’re on a date with someone you really like, you’re having a good time, and then comes the sad part – the end of your meeting.

He’s looking you deeply in the eye and you’re smiling shyly as he’s taking your hand to kiss it softly. Sometimes, words are totally unnecessary, and this is one of those situations.

By kissing your hand, he’s letting you know that he had a great time with you, that he likes you A LOT, and that he wishes to see you again.

If your guy does this, he’s a real gentleman. Seriously. And, I’m really jealous. Do you know why?
Because such guys are real gems.

They are not one of those men who are only interested in getting into your pants, but they embrace your personality, your smile, your eyes, etc.

They are not superficial or chasing fake ideals, but they know the real value of the little things.

Respect for the elderly

Kissing an elderly person’s hand is, in some cultures, considered as a sign of respect to them. This practice is popular in Arabic countries like Indonesia, Turkey, and Brunei.

In the Philippines, after an elderly person is greeted this way, the greeter draws the hand to his own forehead in order to receive blessings from an elderly person.

This is a common way of greeting elderly people of both genders (parents, uncles, aunts, grandparents, teachers, etc.).

This gesture reminds me of the concept of agape love (the most powerful love in the universe) that promotes expressing respect and love for nature, God, humanity, animals, and all of life on earth.

A religious gesture

A hand-kiss can also be a religious gesture. This gesture has notable importance in the Roman Catholic Church.

When meeting an important figure in the Roman Catholic Society (the Pope, a Cardinal, or similar), one needs to kneel down on their left knee and kiss the priest as a sign of devotion and respect.

After that, the priest blesses the person by laying his hands on them.

In Orthodox churches, instead of kneeling down on the left knee, the devotees tend to raise their right hand.

Then, the priest blesses the person by placing his hand on the devotee’s open palm, so that they can kiss his hand. This act symbolizes kissing the body of Jesus Christ.

See also: 15 Things A True Gentleman Does Differently

What Does It Mean When A Guy Kisses Your Hand In This Day And Age?

He wants to be your lover

If a guy kisses your hand, it’s natural that you immediately ask yourself the following: Is he interested in me? Well, if we were living in times of vintage courtesy, we probably wouldn’t overthink it much.

In this day and age, one of the main reasons why a guy kisses a lady’s hand is because he’s interested in you! This is one of those subtle signs he likes you.

Indeed, there’s not a chance that a guy would decide to kiss any woman’s hand for no reason.

I’ll repeat it again: We’re not living in times when this was considered a norm, but it has become a choice that poses a question:

Did he choose to kiss your hand because he secretly wishes to be your lover?
So romantic.

He’s poking fun at this vintage gesture

He might be poking fun at this vintage gesture. If he laughs while doing it, then chances are he’s just making fun of this gesture.

He sees kissing a woman’s hand as something ridiculous because it’s no longer trending, so he chooses to sarcastically point that out to you (and maybe others as well).

Truth be told, in times of selfies, social networks, and other modern captors (I like to call them so), an air kiss is a more popular alternative to kissing hands.

Recently, I saw a video clip where a young woman and man are making fun of the hand-kissing gesture, which only confirms all the above said.

He’s a real gentleman

Regardless if he’s 20 or 50 years old, if a man kisses your hand (and you’re sure that it’s not a mockery), know that he’s a real gentleman!

The thing is, such a romantic and sensual gesture is very rare, which only adds to its value.

I remember when one of my friends went on a date, came back home, and texted me: OMG this young man is a real gentleman! ​​

When I asked her how she concluded that, I expected her to say something like He held my hand in public, but instead, she said this: He kissed my hand.

Well, yes, if he kissed my hand, I would probably ask him to marry me the same second out of fear that such a man has become extinct.

And, he would probably refuse me the same second out of fear that I’m a desperate woman. Well, maybe I am.

He wants more hints from you to proceed with his romantic endeavors

I think that there’s no need to say that men can sometimes be really sneaky, but in a romantic way.

They are always testing our boundaries, hoping that their tactics will bear fruit and help them win that one girl they can’t stop thinking about.

Sometimes, a man will kiss your hand just to see if you will give him some hints that he should continue kissing you, ahem, someplace else.

I have to say that whoever thought of this is actually brilliant!

Even though I’m a female myself and I can’t stand such sneaky games, this one is interesting because it’s not forceful; it gives you a choice to give him the green light or ask him to retreat.

Needless to say how hard it is to ask a guy to retreat when he’s giving you that look (girls will know which one), I guess this is where you master your self-control.

We don’t want them to think that we’re easy prey, right?
This modern dating is getting more and more complicated.

See also: 106 Romantic Kiss Quotes For The One Who Makes Your Heart Flutter

He’s shy and doesn’t want to rush anything

Yes, hand kissers are real gentlemen, but sometimes, the real reason why they decide to kiss your hand is that they’re shy and want to take things slow.

Dating a shy guy can be frustrating at moments (especially if you’re an extrovert), but when you get to know him better, you will realize how unique he truly is.

Once they start feeling comfortable around you, you will be surprised at all their skills from conversational to romantic gestures.

He’s mesmerized by your personality

More than anything in the world, I respect guys who know how to value a woman’s personality and not just her looks.

I mean, anyone can compliment your hair or say something nice about your outfit, but only a few men (read: real men) know how to embrace your personality.

If a guy kisses your hand, know that he’s utterly mesmerized by your unique personality, weird habits, sense of humor, you name it.

You can be sure that he doesn’t only notice your physical aspect, but he sees you as a whole person.

He sees you as every man should see a woman. HOWEVER, keep in mind that true love is more than kisses and sweet words.

He’s deeply emotionally attracted towards you

When a guy kisses your hand, this is a strong indicator of him being emotionally attracted to you. It means he’s interested in knowing all your fears, dreams, and desires.

The more he learns about you, the more he feels connected with you. By kissing your hand, he expresses all that (and more).

He knows that hand-kissing is one of those unique romantic gestures that speak louder than words.

So, girl, if you ever meet such a man during your life, stick to him! Such a man will not take you for granted, play you, or do whatever else is left on the list of a modern man depicted as a player.

He wants to show his affection towards you

Oftentimes, a man kissing your hand is not something that you should overthink because it is just a sign of his affection towards you.

Perhaps he’s not really good with words, or he finds them superfluous, and that is why he chooses this romantic gesture.

I’ve noticed that contrary to young women, older women seem to not overthink much when they’re hand-kissed.

There are many reasons behind this hypothesis and the most common one is the fact that older women are less likely to think of it as a mockery.

Regardless if you’re an older woman or a teenage girl, if a man kisses your hand in this day and age, it is generally seen as an expression of ultimate affection.

Final Thoughts

In case this hand-kiss theory seems too complicated for you, here’s my humble advice: Don’t overthink things.

It’s a little bit funny for me to write that because I’m the ultimate overthinker at everything, but for the sake of your well-being, don’t do that.

If a guy kisses your hand at some point, accept it as a token of respect and affection (just like in old times). Don’t think too much about it, but appreciate the special moment and magic of this vintage gesture!