Kissing Disease Has A New Meaning in Europe
The French are known for the famous double-cheek kiss called the la bise. But, amid fears of an H1N1 pandemic, the French government may put a temporary halt on this age-old nicety.
La bise, a light kiss on both cheeks, is the traditional greeting carried out by nearly everyone in France. Women kiss men, women kiss other women, children kiss their peers, and so on. But, because H1N1, or swine flu, is passed through coughing, sneezing, or other close mouth/nose contact, some French institutions are considering banning the air kiss greeting to help prevent the spread of the potentially deadly virus.
A handful of companies and schools have preempted the national ban and have already outlawed the traditional greeting. Some companies have even instilled a 0ne-yard buffer zone between employees! But, still wanting to keep some of the tradition, the companies have suggested people give their coworkers a slight wave or firm hand shake (while washing hands immediately after I assume). Schools that have banned kissing are taking a Valentine’s Day approach, crafting bise boxes, which allow children to leave heart-shaped messages for their friends in lieu of kissing.
But, France is not the only European country to forgo a kissing tradition in the midst of a flu pandemic. Spain’s government is also encouraging Spaniards to refrain from their own version of la bise. While in Naples, Italy, city authorities have stopped the tradition of kissing the blood of the city’s patron saint in fear of the disease.
Although the French and Spanish governments have not put an official national ban on kissing, recent reports say that this is just one measure that may be taken to ensure that H1N1 is contained as much as possible.