Kissing was a custom during the Biblical period being mentioned in the Genesis 27:26, when Isaac kissed his son Jacob. The kiss is used in numerous other contexts in the Bible: the kiss of homage, in Esther 5:2; of subjection, in 1 Samuel 10:1; of reconciliation, in 2 Samuel 14:33; of valediction, in Ruth 1:14; of approbation, in Psalms 2:12; of humble gratitude, in Luke 7:38; of welcome, in Exodus 18:7; of love and joy, in Genesis 20:11. There are also spiritual kisses, as in Canticles 1:2; sensual kisses, as in Proverbs 7:13; and hypocritical kisses, as in 2 Samuel 15:5. It was customary to kiss the mouth in biblical times, and also the beard, which is still practiced in Arab culture. Kissing the hand is not biblical, according to Tabor. The kiss of peace was an apostolic custom, and continues to be one of the rites in the Eucharistic services of Roman Catholics.
In the Roman Catholic Order of Mass, the bishop or priest celebrant bows and kisses the altar, reverencing it, upon arriving at the altar during the entrance procession before Mass and upon leaving at the recessional at the closing of Mass; if a deacon is assisting, he bows low before the altar but does not kiss it.
Among primitive cultures it was usual to throw kisses to the sun and to the moon, as well as to the images of the gods. Kissing the hand is first heard of among the Persians. According to Tabor, the kiss of homage—the character of which is not indicated in the Bible—was probably upon the forehead, and was expressive of high respect.
- Muslims may kiss the Black Stone during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca).
- In Ancient Rome and some modern Pagan beliefs, worshipers when passing the statue or image of a god or goddess will kiss their hand and wave it towards the deity (adoration).
- In the gospels of Matthew and Mark (Luke and John omit this) Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss: an instance of a kiss tainted with betrayal. This is the basis of the term "the kiss of Judas."
- The holy kiss or kiss of peace is a traditional part of most Christian liturgies, though often replaced with an embrace or handshake today in Western cultures.
- Pope John Paul II would kiss the ground on arrival in a new country.
- Visitors to the Pope traditionally kiss his foot. (The ring of a cardinal or bishop, hand of a priest.)
- Jews will kiss the Western wall of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, and other religious articles during prayer such as the Torah, usually by touching their hand, Tallis, or Siddur (prayerbook) to the Torah and then kissing it. Jewish law prohibits kissing members of the opposite sex, except for spouses and certain close relatives. See Negiah.
- Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Christians often kiss the icons around the church on entering; they will also kiss the cross and/or the priest's hand in certain other customs in the Church, such as confession or receiving a blessing.
- Catholics will kiss rosary beads as a part of prayer, or kiss their hand after making the sign of the cross. It is also common to kiss the wounds on a crucifix, or any other image of Christ's Passion.
- Hindus sometimes kiss the floor of a temple.
- Local lore in Ireland suggests that kissing the Blarney Stone will bring the gift of the gab.
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