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European Gestures Every Traveler Should Know

February 28th, 2011 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on European Gestures Every Traveler Should Know

JetsetterShow.comEuropeans communicate quite well through the use of hand gestures. We’re not talking official sign language here, but rather signs of a different (unofficial) type. We can only guess but it makes sense to us that the ripe selection of hand signals developed in Europe through the close proximity of so many different cultures. Below are a few of our favorites. Take care that you, as a traveler, know what country you’re in at the time and, please, use with care.

Fingertip Kiss: Perhaps one of the most widely known abroad, citizens of France, Spain, Greece, and Germany often employ this signal of praise. You’ve probably seen it before. Bring the fingers and thumb of your right hand together, raise to your lips, kiss, then open the hand as you extend your arm joyously away from your body. It’s like blowing a kiss – with a flourish. Unfortunately, too many travelers completely miss the subtlety of the expression. Observe a local before attempting it yourself.

Cheek Screw: This is a gesture that means good, lovely, or beautiful in Italy. Go to southern Spain, however, and you’re calling a man effeminate. See what a difference a few hundred miles makes? To execute the cheek screw correctly, make a fist, stick out your index finger and pretend like you’re screwing it into your cheek – not too hard. No need to pierce the skin.

The Rude Forearm: We have a version of this in America when you see someone raise a middle finger to another. We call it flipping them off. In southern Europe, people expend even more effort to convey the same message. In the unfortunate event you want to emulate this rude gesture, clench your right fist as you jerk your forearm up and slap your right bicep with the left hand. There. Don’t you feel all big and tough now that you can insult someone in European?

That’s enough for now. We’ve given you enough ammunition to get yourself thoroughly thrashed on the streets of at least twelve different countries. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The old saying goes: When in Rome, do as the Romans do. We’d like to add this slight caveat. When a traveler in Rome, don’t do EVERYTHING the Romans

do unless you understand explicitly what it is.

The Jetsetter Show Team


Flickr / mafarlandmo

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