“Hello!”, “Hi!”, and “Hey!” are the three most common forms of greetings in use today. Greetings do not rely only on the language, but also on the way you express it. Different countries have their different customs of saying “hello” to each other.
Here are 20 ways to say “hello” taken from around the globe. Next time you are visiting any of the countries, you will know how to greet everyone.
1. Encantado / Encantada (Argentina)
In Argentina, when you meet a person for the first time, it is a courtesy to put your right cheek onto your acquaintance’s right cheek and make a kissing sound only. Don’t repeat this on the left cheek, unless the person moves forward to do it. Since this is a formal greeting, if the person is a male, say “encantado”, and if they’re female, say “encantada”.
2. Dumela rra / Dumela mma (Botswana)
People in Botswana prefer to say “hello” to each other before proceeding to talk about other things. If you are meeting a man, say “dumela rra” (doo-meh-lah-rah), and if you are meeting a woman, say “dumela mma” (doo-meh-lah-mah). The custom they follow is a handshake with a twist, achieved by extending your right hand for a normal handshake, then once you hold the other person’s hand, change the hand position, grasp your friend’s thumb with yours, and return back to the handshake.
3. Bedouin men
Bedouin men are desert nomads, who are also Arabs. They are a huge tribe, and live all of their lives in the desert, maintaining their very own culture. According to them, rubbing noses with an acquaintance is the only way they greet each other. This act is done by both men and women alike. In the case of women, they do it as well, except that they prefer to do so behind the curtain.
4. Nin Hao (China)
This is the first thing you learn as a beginner when you start learning Chinese. “Nin Hao” means “hello” in a more respectful way other than “Ni Hao”. As for the custom, people in China bend forward by kneeling down on the floor, and touching their forehead on the ground. This custom is dying out, but many still do this out of respect to elders.
5. Bonjour (France)
Saying “hello” to everyone is a common form of greeting in France, regardless of whether you are traveling on the bus, or dining out, or even walking down the road. A common custom of greeting is a kiss on each cheek, but there are other rituals when people kiss four times (twice on the right cheek, twice on the left).
6. “Eskimo Greeting” (Greenland)
Eskimos (or Inuits) have a special kind of a greeting, known as Kunik. An Inuit will put their nose and upper lip on their companion’s cheeks or forehead, and inhale their companion’s smell.
7. Namaste (India)
Indians fold both their hands together and say “namaste” to each other. A common custom of greeting is to bend down and touch the other person’s feet.
8. Ohayo (Japan)
The Japanese bow when they are saying “Ohayo” (hello) to each other. Apart from being their culture, it is also a form of showing respect to the elders and other individuals.
9. Selamat.. (Malaysia)
Malaysia is a multicultural country with the majority of people being conservative. Despite various cultures, people generally follow the same manner in greeting each other. They will lightly touch their companion’s hands with both of their hands, and pull back their hands toward the heart. Meanwhile, they use the word “selamat“ depending on the time of the day (for example: “selamat pagi” means “good morning“.
10. Tena Koe (Maori)
The first thing Maori tribal people do to address each other is to perform hongi. This is done by pressing the forehead and the nose against your companion’s. This is mostly done out of respect for each other.
Micronesia consists of many islands put together. Each island has its individual way of ritual and custom when greeting people; however, residents of Marshall Islands acknowledge the presence of each other by raising their eyebrows. Interesting, isn’t it?
12. Salaam (Middle East)
The custom of greeting in Middle East is to shake hands and kissing cheeks 2 to 3 times. This has to be done to the same gender.
13. Kamusta (Philippines)
The young Filipinos will bow, take a hand, and touch the knuckles of the elderly on their forehead to show respect and a way to say “Kamusta” (hello). This form of greeting is known as Mano.
14. Zdravstvuyte (Russia)
As a tradition followed for generation after generation, Russians greet their guests with bread and salt. This is known as Kleb da sol. Russians respect bread the most out of any food, and salt means “long friendship” to them.
15. Aybowan (Sri Lanka)
When saying “Aybowan” (hello) in Sri Lanka, the people will hold their hands in front of their guest.
16. Tashi Delek (Tibet)
Funny enough, a courteous greeting in Tibet is to stick out your tongue, and it isn’t even considered rude!
17. Sawasdi Ka (Thailand)
If you have traveled on Thai Airways or have seen their ads, you already know how they greet people. Their custom is to fold their palms at the chest, bow their head at such a level that their thumbs touch their chin and the fingertips touch the forehead.
18. Dobryy den’ (Ukraine)
Ukrainian men remove their gloves before shaking hands with their male guest. As for women, a way of showing gallantry is by kissing a woman’s hand. Men don’t shake women’s hands because it does not fall into their tradition.
19. Hey (USA)
Nowadays, Americans shake hands on formal occasions, and everyone smiles at each other. As far as tradition goes, they mainly hug, but there is a trend for men fist bumping with their male friends. Actually, fist bumps first stemmed out of the 1940s by motorcycle gangs.
20. Bwanji (Zambia)
There is no specific way to say “hello” in Zambia because Zambians directly ask “How are you?” which is “Bwanji” in their language. As for the tradition, in the West and the North West, people clap on each other’s hands and gently squeeze the thumbs.
Featured photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo via en.wikipedia.org
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