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Spanish people like to connect with people that they talk to

DoughnutANZ

Ka whati te tai ka pao te tōrea
Time of past OR future Camino
2019, 2023, 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027 & 2028.
A recent post in a different thread mentioned that when the pilgrim involved was talking to a hospitalero the Spanish person touched them. In this particular case the pilgrim interpreted that as aggression. This may have been the case and I don't want to be part of that seperate discussion.

What did occur to me though is that in some cultures touching someone without specific permission is seen as akin to assault. This also comes up often when there are posts about snorers being woken up.

In Spain, however, I have found that it is relatively common for a local that I am speaking with socially (admittedly a special case) to touch me on the arm, shoulder or if we are seated, on the leg while speaking.

Initially I was a little surprised at this and wondered if the touch was signalling something else.

After discussing this with a number of Spanish people I now realise that this is simply the Spanish way of connecting.

It is not sexual nor is it usually aggressive, just another way of allowing people to connect at a slightly deeper level.

I thought that there had been another recent thread about this Spanish cultural artefact but when I searched for it I couldn't find it and so perhaps I am conflating something that I read elsewhere with this forum.

Anyway, something to be aware of and something that I personally enjoy when it is done to me but I am not yet sufficiently localised to do this myself unless I knew the other person very well.

Ah, us Anglos and our hangups but that conversation belongs to a different forum I think. 😄
 
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As a Spaniard, I can confirm that touching someone's arm, shoulder (or leg if you're sitting) is a common practice and perfectly normal. Of course, there can always be creeps with other intentions, but in general, there's nothing weird/aggressive/negative going on. Quite the opposite.

I know it says Argentina in the cartoon, but it could be replaced with Spain and it would still be valid 😅5cc01c1dc800d-56161428_2322521081366652_3055882830385379255_n-5cbc8c4fafb28__700.jpg
 
Yes, it seems that the further you move south (in Europe) the more common touching is as a means of communication. I remember when, many years ago, I stayed for a longer period in Turkey/Türkiye and made some good friends, there were some situations that initially made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
Yes, it seems that the further you move south (in Europe) the more common touching is as a means of communication. I remember when, many years ago, I stayed for a longer period in Turkey/Türkiye and made some good friends, there were some situations that initially made me feel a bit uncomfortable.
Likewise, when I first arrived in Ireland and the people who were supposed to 'welcome' me greeted me with a handshake (instead of the 2 kisses that are normal in Spain)... if they had slapped me I wouldn't have felt worse.
 
Yes, it seems that the further you move south (in Europe) the more common touching is as a means of communication. I remember when, many years ago, I stayed for a longer period in Turkey/Türkiye and made some good friends, there were some situations that initially made me feel a bit uncomfortable.


It is even a difference here in Belgium between the Flemish and the Walloon part. The French speaking community is much quicker with kissing " strangers " than we here in the North.
 
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It is even a difference here in Belgium between the Flemish and the Walloon part. The French speaking community is much quicker with kissing " strangers " than we here in the North.
Luckily the Dutch habit of kissing 3x on the cheek went out with Covid. Fine when it's done with close friends and family but it was getting a bit out of hand. I was even surprised recently when visiting a young orthopedic surgeon in a hospital that he didn't even shake my hand.

I often touch someone when talking to them, friends and family that is, not usually with perfect strangers but that may be due to my background as a physiotherapist. Touching just comes natural.

While a hospi in Grañón with 3 Spanish woman I remember making a comment to them that we could tell the Northern Europeans from the Southern by how they said good-bye in the morning. The former would give us a handshake and the later a big hug. I found it heartwarming.
 
Coming from a Spanish Culture (Cuban, but I live in the US) I grew up hugging, kissing and touching even people I just met. Living in the USA for over 50 years had taught me to measure those burst of affection I get sometimes towards strangers or people of other cultures.
Like they mentioned above lots of European cultures are very affectionate, and the Spanish may even slap your shoulder hard if they are telling a joke or making a statement, this doesn’t mean aggression, specially if they are laughing with you.
We all should realize and research other countries we visit for their culture traits and customs, some may burp on the table while eating, some may eat with their hands, others will kiss everyone on the lips, and or put their noses next to yours to breathe your exhale.
So if you visit a country which has a custom that may offend you, two things can be done visit with the customs in mind and expect them to happen, or just don’t visit!
We as individuals grow up in different cultures, and/or countries, learn prejudice, stereotyping, and even racism. Even though we don’t know the people, or who they are as a culture. Camino de Santiago being a pilgrimage to seek forgiveness, clearance, or GOD, should be the perfect place to learn humility, understanding, and acceptance of other people’s choices, religions, cultures and race. Give a Hug, take a Hug, kiss a stranger and make them smile! We are One People! One Love! BUEN CAMINO
 
A recent post in a different thread mentioned that when the pilgrim involved was talking to a hospitalero the Spanish person touched them. In this particular case the pilgrim interpreted that as aggression. This may have been the case and I don't want to be part of that seperate discussion.

What did occur to me though is that in some cultures touching someone without specific permission is seen as akin to assault. This also comes up often when there are posts about snorers being woken up.

In Spain, however, I have found that it is relatively common for a local that I am speaking with socially (admittedly a special case) to touch me on the arm, shoulder or if we are seated, on the leg while speaking.

Initially I was a little surprised at this and wondered if the touch was signalling something else.

After discussing this with a number of Spanish people I now realise that this is simply the Spanish way of connecting.

It is not sexual nor is it usually aggressive, just another way of allowing people to connect at a slightly deeper level.

I thought that there had been another recent thread about this Spanish cultural artefact but when I searched for it I couldn't find it and so perhaps I am conflating something that I read elsewhere with this forum.

Anyway, something to be aware of and something that I personally enjoy when it is done to me but I am not yet sufficiently localised to do this myself unless I knew the other person very well.

Ah, us Anglos and our hangups but that conversation belongs to a different forum I think. 😄
I am a US citizen from the south. I am a hugger, as are many southerners. When comforting someone who is grieving, when seeing a friend, or someone who seems like they need a hug. Of course, I read the body language to see if they are open to it.
 
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Likewise, when I first arrived in Ireland and the people who were supposed to 'welcome' me greeted me with a handshake (instead of the 2 kisses that are normal in Spain)... if they had slapped me I wouldn't have felt worse.
Sorry I did not have the chance to meet you! Come back, do come back!
 
Luckily the Dutch habit of kissing 3x on the cheek went out with Covid. Fine when it's done with close friends and family but it was getting a bit out of hand. I was even surprised recently when visiting a young orthopedic surgeon in a hospital that he didn't even shake my hand.

I often touch someone when talking to them, friends and family that is, not usually with perfect strangers but that may be due to my background as a physiotherapist. Touching just comes natural.

While a hospi in Grañón with 3 Spanish woman I remember making a comment to them that we could tell the Northern Europeans from the Southern by how they said good-bye in the morning. The former would give us a handshake and the later a big hug. I found it heartwarming.

A cultural minefield also with the choice between 1 , 2 or 3 kisses depending on the social settings here...
 
I've always liked the hand-shake, particularly with strangers (weapon hand to weapon hand, eye to eye - mutual safety) but with many friends and acquaintances also. Hugging, outside of family or close friend? Not to my inclination, nor that, it seems, of most of my friends and acquaintances. There are some that I am that close with and will get that close to but its a short list. Air-kissing seems to have spread amongst the English but it is a non-contact sport.

Now, the shoulder touch, leg poke, arm squeeze delivered up by my Spanish friends and by total strangers in social situations in Spain seems. to me, entirely different. As does the Spanish inclination to pick up and cuddle any distressed child while they look for the nearest relative.

There are a few bars scattered across Iberia wherein if I get a slap on the back and asked ¿Dónde has estado culo? I know I'm back among friends
 
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In the south of France I witnessed a greeting with four kisses. Four! From cheek to cheek, cheek to cheek. I wondered how do people know when to stop. I think I’d rather give a hug and be done with it. 🙃


Like I wrote : a cultural minefield!


There are now friends of friends in Perpignan I will give a wave from afar when greeting them a next time... ;) :eek:. Ah the shame...
 
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The different and mutually uncomprehending cultures on the Camino are for me one of its greatest pleasures. We all share the same mid-Atlantic culture these days, but that only gives us an illusion of similarity in culture that masks the deep differences that prevail.

As a Christian pacifist it grieves me to admit that I can within a hair of punching someone on 3 occasions, when their violation of my local mores overwhelmed the tolerance of a lifetime spent abroad. God knows how many times I escaped a puck in the gob myself, having unwittingly trod on someone's toes.

I second the advice of Darealdeal 77 above, adding a remark my father made years ago:
"Never take offence unless offence is intended".
 
The further north in Europe you go the less touch. Could be that even friends don't do handshakes. Once at introduction and never again. Although I'm fine with the Spanish friendliness too, it's natural.
 
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When my back went out walking over the Pyrenees from SJPP a Spanish couple gave me a ride from Roncesvalles to my albergue in Burguete. When I thanked them they both came over and gave me a hug. I found that very heartwarming and made my first day very special.
 
¨If you smile at me, I will understand
'Cause that is something everybody everywhere does in the same language¨

Lovely sentiment, unfortunately Messrs Crosby, Stills and Nash were no social anthropologists. Smiles can mean embarrassment, welcome, fear or worse (as William Blake once wrote). Paralinguistics is a fascinating topic but very misunderstood and underestimated. We perform an incredible range of complex and subtle actions when we talk, all of them meaningful and all of them unconscious but nonetheless learnt and culturally specific. Eye contact, distance and touching are all bound by rules and the rules vary. Spanish is a culture where proximity and touching (generally on the arm above the wrist) are greater than in other cultures. The rule will vary according to gender, by the way. The only way to learn is to watch, and watch closely: it is all very well knowing that in culture x, you kiss on the cheek three times, but which cheek first? Head-butting someone you are being introduced to is pretty well a no-no in any culture.
 
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In France I remember it being 4x! I wonder if that has changed since Covid.
In my experience in France, it very much depends on the region as @SabsP says. We are in the south-west - 2 is usual - one on each cheek. But it's only with people you know - not with those you have just met or have only met a few times. Exceptions would be, for example, when you meet for the first time the partner or parent of a good friend or family member.
 
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It can be hard to get your head around. On the Frances I was sitting at a table outside a bar near a Spanish family. The man asked if I was a peregrino, I said yes and we had a brief conversation. As I got up to leave the young daughter, about 6 years old, grabbed my hand and kissed my cheek amid 'Buen Caminos' from the rest of the family. I was very surprised and somewhat embarrassed. No way at home would a child have kissed a complete stranger with the encouragement of her parents. A bit of a culture shock.
 
The further north in Europe you go the less touch. Could be that even friends don't do handshakes. Once at introduction and never again. Although I'm fine with the Spanish friendliness too, it's natural.
Well i don’t entirely agree! I’m Swedish , so from the north, and here we are lots of touchers and huggers. Kisses haven’t been the thing here but has spread (in some groups of younger people mostly) from further south. Mostly air kisses. I’m seventy plus ( age just to show that that isnt so important) and a person that likes to touch, arm, shoulder etc while talking with people And hug when meeting or parting. But not everyone! It takes some caution as some person’s borders are far out. So I think even if culture is involved its more about who you are as a person. I have friends that I seldom touch as I can feel it in the air that they don’t like it and they don’t do it themselves. And so I have f ex new pilgrim friends on the Camino that I can be physically closer to.
 
It can be hard to get your head around. On the Frances I was sitting at a table outside a bar near a Spanish family. The man asked if I was a peregrino, I said yes and we had a brief conversation. As I got up to leave the young daughter, about 6 years old, grabbed my hand and kissed my cheek amid 'Buen Caminos' from the rest of the family. I was very surprised and somewhat embarrassed. No way at home would a child have kissed a complete stranger with the encouragement of her parents. A bit of a culture shock.
It's beautiful -- the single kiss on the cheek in Mediterranean Europe is an expression of deepest personal respect, and usually only between friends of many decades. Not family -- friends.
 
The focus is on reducing the risk of failure through being well prepared. 2nd ed.
I spent a couple of weeks in Barcelona at a Spanish school back in 2015. One day I took the train to Sitges with one of my classmates. Her Spanish friend was spending the weekend there, and we went to the beach to meet her. We found her sunbathing on the beach. I was a bit embarrassed to be hugging and receiving three kisses from a topless woman!
 
A recent post in a different thread mentioned that when the pilgrim involved was talking to a hospitalero the Spanish person touched them. In this particular case the pilgrim interpreted that as aggression. This may have been the case and I don't want to be part of that seperate discussion.

What did occur to me though is that in some cultures touching someone without specific permission is seen as akin to assault. This also comes up often when there are posts about snorers being woken up.

In Spain, however, I have found that it is relatively common for a local that I am speaking with socially (admittedly a special case) to touch me on the arm, shoulder or if we are seated, on the leg while speaking.

Initially I was a little surprised at this and wondered if the touch was signalling something else.

After discussing this with a number of Spanish people I now realise that this is simply the Spanish way of connecting.

It is not sexual nor is it usually aggressive, just another way of allowing people to connect at a slightly deeper level.

I thought that there had been another recent thread about this Spanish cultural artefact but when I searched for it I couldn't find it and so perhaps I am conflating something that I read elsewhere with this forum.

Anyway, something to be aware of and something that I personally enjoy when it is done to me but I am not yet sufficiently localised to do this myself unless I knew the other person very well.

Ah, us Anglos and our hangups but that conversation belongs to a different forum I think. 😄
Yup, I, being a Finn, was quite surprised in 2017 after having talked about my camino plans with a Spanish squash player living in Santiago, I was leaving the tournament (ETC 2017) banquet, he met me and didn't ask, but just hugged me… A quite warm memory for me 🥰
 
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I spent a couple of weeks in Barcelona at a Spanish school back in 2015. One day I took the train to Sitges with one of my classmates. Her Spanish friend was spending the weekend there, and we went to the beach to meet her. We found her sunbathing on the beach. I was a bit embarrassed to be hugging and receiving three kisses from a topless woman!
Another great example of Cultural difference. Acceptance of nudity, either complete or partial, varies greatly from culture to culture. As a Kiwi with a fairly conservative background I’ve had to adjust somewhat throughout the years. Age helps!

Re: kissing upon greeting - at one point I had a French girlfriend. We visited the family for Christmas, I was firmly and thoroughly kissed by all and sundry. Similar experience in Italy with friends. Not so many kisses, but loads of hugs in Sweden and Norway. I’m very tactile, so after the initial surprise loved it. Wonderful European custom, or so I thought.

Fast forward a few years. First time greeting my prospective father in law. He offered his hand, I pulled him towards me, hugged him and kissed him on both cheeks. As you do…
Except, apparently, not in Germany 🤷‍♂️🤷‍♂️
 
In the south of France I witnessed a greeting with four kisses. Four! From cheek to cheek, cheek to cheek. I wondered how do people know when to stop. I think I’d rather give a hug and be done with it. 🙃
You count to 4....and...just stop!
Smile is optional 😆
 
Count me in the touchy-feely person. I like to touch peoples' shoulders, arms, elbows... I love to hold their hands...
Nothing but friendliness is implied by me towards the other person.
When I walked the Camino there were plenty of situations when I was exchanging hugs with another Pilgrim like on our 2nd encounter. I guess we both felt safe enough to do that.
Ang Lord only knows there were tearful hugs in Santiago ❤️
 
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You count to 4....and...just stop!
Smile is optional 😆
😊 I don’t think it’s that straightforward. A friend from the south of France told me that the further south in France one goes, the more likely one would encounter the four kiss greeting. Still, as @trecile - I believe it was - said earlier, it depends on how well one knows the other person and the relationship. And each person has to know how the other person feels about the other and whether the other is planning to stop at the second, third or fourth kiss. And to get it wrong is a faux pas. A minefield indeed!
 

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