A kiss is the pressing of one’s lips against another person or an object. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love, passion, affection, respect, greeting, friendship, peace and good luck, among many others. In some situations a kiss is a ritual, formal or symbolic gesture indicating devotion, respect, or sacrament. The word came from Old English cyssan (“to kiss”), in turn from coss (“a kiss”).
Anthropologists are divided into two schools on the origins of kissing, one believing that it is instinctual and intuitive and the other that it evolved from what is known as kiss feeding, a process used by mothers to feed their infants by passing chewed food to their babies’ mouths. Cesare Lombroso, Italian criminologist, physician and founder of the Italian School of Positivist Criminology, supported this idea.
Kissing has been recorded for at least the last five millennia. The earliest literate civilization in the world, Sumer, mentions both lip and tongue kissing in its poetry:
My lips are too small, they know not to kiss.
My precious sweet, lying by my heart,
one by one “tonguemaking,” one by one.
When my sweet precious, my heart, had lain down too,
each of them in turn kissing with the tongue, each in turn.