In order to express affection and love, Eskimos usually rub their noses, Westerners join their lips, Italians kiss on the cheeks but what is the Thai kiss how do they express their love? Kindly sniff the partner’s cheek! The so-called Hom Kaem is generally used to both express affection towards the loved ones and towards a son or a daughter. The latter continues into adulthood in every occasion in which a mother wants to express her affection for her child. The sniff intensity also conveys a different sign depending on what you want to convey to the other, a sharp breath can cause the senses to falter and a sniff given with ardor can communicate passion.
For a Thai, sniffing is as natural as breathing, although sometimes it can be strange, especially to people from other cultures. The most frequent question a foreigner could ask is: Is it a way to check my hygiene? Partly yes, Thai behavioral rules require cleaning before any physical contact. It goes without saying that for a Thai, hygiene is very important in a partner.
Almost any Thai will refuse a bad-smelling partner men men while worshiping the clean fragrance from a hom (perfumed) partner. Thais are also among the best smelling people on earth and it is not only due to the numerous daily showers but also to a diet rich in coriander, chili and lemongrass. Inhalers are also commonly used to have always a clean and perfumed scent in the nose.
What are the reasons behind the Thai kiss?
The reason for the Thai kiss and for this gesture is also to be found in the Asian concept that the body is sacred and the personal space is inviolable. It can be observed that even in the most crowded places such as markets or stations, Thais will never break another person’s space. Among the areas to pay more attention and to avoid contact at all there is the head; the place where, according to the Thai tradition, lies the soul of a person and therefore is the body most sacred part.
Culturally the exchange of effusions in public is still not accepted, although traditions are gradually changing especially in Bangkok and in more touristy places, in other parts of Thailand simply holding hands in public for people of the opposite sex is considered a real taboo. Also because of this, the delicate, indirect practice of sniffing is very popular among people of all ages.