Wednesday, April 2, 2014

"Beijos" - Getting smoochy in Brazil - ExPat Diaries

As part of



"Beijos" are kisses in Brazil.  (Pronounced bay'-joos, with a soft j)

It's a cultural thing.  Also common in other Latin-American countries.

You give beijos to say hello and goodbye.

They also say, "beijos" to each other if they're walking away and/or are out of kissing range.  And they also type "beijos" or "bjs" in text messages when they're signing off.  It's really cute!

In Sao Paulo they give one kiss, in Rio they give two.  I'm not sure about other Brazilian states.  You just put your cheeks together and kiss the air next to the person's ear.  (Not quite as slobbery as some of the cheek/neck/ear-kisses I've received in other Latin-American countries!)  

Here's how it breaks down, by gender.

Female to Female, all friends and acquaintances - Beijos
Female to Male, all friends and acquaintances - Beijos
Male to Male, first meeting - Handshake only
Male to Male, friends - Handshake and hug combination, with a pat on the shoulder
(The men never give another man beijos)

Pros:  It's more personal than a handshake, and it takes the pressure off of how to be introduced to someone.  In the States I'm always confused - Do I offer a handshake?  Do I just smile and say "nice to meet you?"  Wave awkwardly?  Here I always know exactly what to do.

Cons:  It's not always comfortable to have someone's face so close to your own face...  Also, it's a bit confusing to remember how many kisses to give.  In Peru and Mexico it's two kisses, and they're real kisses on the cheeks.  In Rio it's two air-kisses, and in Sao Paulo it's only one air-kiss!  When we were visiting Sao Paulo at Christmas, I was meeting lots of new people, and I kept trying to go for the second kiss as they were pulling away after the first.  So awkward!
(It's also a little awkward to be giving "kisses" to other peoples' husbands, but since it's such a cultural thing, no one seems to mind)

What do you think?  Are you into the kissing thing?  Or do you wish people would just respect the bubble of personal space?

XX ;)



  1. I prefer the "saying Nice to meet you and wave awkwardly" version :D I'm not even good at handshakes as my handshake probably feels like touching a dead fish :D But kisses? Oh no. I struggled with that when I was in France and didn't know whether to actually kiss or just cheek-press and how many times you need to do that.....Awkward!! And I was lucky to not accidentally REALLY kiss someone on the mouth :D This definitely is the worst part of being abroad. You never really know what you're supposed to do and in the end you do it wrong anyway..... ;)

  2. Here, we do besos two. Always one on each side. I still hate them. Especially when arriving at a group event or leaving a group, you have to go around and give two to every person. It takes forever! I would much rather give one, universal wave goodbye. I also prefer a good ole hug :)

    It is especially awkward with somebody who isn't Spanish, because you know that THEY aren't Spanish, but you're both in Spain, so do you do as the Spanish do, or just do what you're both used to? There are always awkward moments, and I just wait for the other person to take the lead, which usually results in us both standing there uncomfortably.

    1. Yes! Or here there are people from all over South America, so I know to expect kisses but I never know how many.

  3. awww cute!! i love it xoxo beijos!


Thanks for reading. I'd love to know what you think. Please leave a comment!