What Culture Touches Foreheads? Exploring the Meaning Behind This Gesture

The world is often described as a global village where different societies and cultures coexist in harmony. However, this coexistence is often marked by unique customs and practices that can be unfamiliar to outsiders. Culture is intertwined with every aspect of human life and permeates every step of societal interaction. In New Zealand, the Maori people have a traditional greeting known as 'Hongi' which involves the touching of noses and foreheads. This cultural practice is unique and steeped in significance and tradition, representing a symbolic connection with the land, ancestors, and community. It highlights the importance of respecting and honoring the cultural traditions of different cultures, fostering understanding and appreciation for diversity.

What Does It Mean to Touch Foreheads Together?

The act of touching foreheads can signify different things depending on the context and the culture in which it’s being practised. In some cases, it may be a gesture of respect, trust or compassion, while in others it may signify a spiritual connection or a bond of friendship. The physical proximity of touching foreheads can be an intimate and powerful way of communicating a deep sense of empathy and understanding between two individuals.

It’s often associated with important life events such as weddings, funerals, or religious ceremonies, and is used to mark significant transitions in an individuals life. The act of bringing two peoples foreheads together can create a moment of peace and tranquillity, enabling them to connect on a deeper level and share their emotions in a more meaningful way.

It’s a way of honouring the heart and soul of another human being, and of acknowledging the profound interconnectedness of all people.

Now that we understand the significance of a forehead kiss, let’s explore the different reasons why people engage in this act of affection and the cultural significance of it in various parts of the world.

Why Do We Kiss People on the Forehead?

The history of forehead kissing can be traced back to ancient times, where it was believed to have significant spiritual and religious meaning. In Hinduism, for example, the forehead is considered the spiritual center of the body, and a kiss on the forehead is a sign of respect and honor.

Forehead kisses are often seen between partners in romantic relationships, where the physical touch can communicate feelings of tenderness, comfort, and reassurance. It’s a way to say “I’m here for you” without words.

Source: Why do forehead kisses feel so good?..

This cultural practice of touching foreheads holds deep meaning for Hawaiians. It goes beyond just a simple physical gesture and connects individuals on a spiritual and ancestral level. The act of bone to bone connection symbolizes the linking of lineage and the sharing of the knowledge passed down from generation to generation. Let’s dive deeper into the significance of this tradition.

Why Do Hawaiians Touch Foreheads?

This physical connection creates a spiritual connection as well, allowing us to tap into our intuition and sense the other persons emotions and thoughts. This can be especially useful in situations where verbal communication may fail, such as when trying to apologize or convey respect.

The practice of forehead touching, or “honi,” is deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture. It’s a way to greet someone with love and aloha, and to honor their presence in our lives. It’s also a way to show respect to our ancestors and the wisdom they’ve passed down to us.

In ancient Hawaiian culture, the forehead was considered a sacred and powerful place. It was believed to be the seat of the soul and the source of intuition and spiritual power. Touching foreheads was a way to exchange mana, or life force, and to create a bond between two individuals that could transcend time and space.

Today, the practice of honi is still widely used in Hawaiian culture, especially in family and social settings. It’s a way to show love, respect, and gratitude, and to connect with others on a deeper level. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for strangers to become fast friends after sharing a honi.

Whether used to greet loved ones or to connect with strangers, honi is a reminder that we’re all connected and that our roots run deep.

What Other Cultures or Traditions Involve Physical Touch as a Form of Greeting or Connection?

There are many cultures where physical touch, such as hugging or kissing, is used as a form of greeting or connection, including many Latin American and Middle Eastern cultures.

As we grow older, this behaviour becomes a natural and instinctive way for us to calm ourselves down when we’re feeling stressed or anxious. But have you ever wondered why touching foreheads, in particular, elicits such a satisfying sensation?

Why Does Touching Foreheads Feel So Good?

When we experience fear or uncertainty, our body naturally seeks out ways to reduce stress and anxiety. Touching the forehead is a common self-soothing mechanism that we develop from a young age. As infants, we learn to seek comfort from our parents, and this need for physical reassurance is carried into adulthood.

Additionally, touching foreheads with others has been shown to evoke feelings of trust, intimacy, and connection. Research suggests that this type of nonverbal communication is a way of expressing empathy and vulnerability. By touching foreheads, we’re literally getting close to someone, physically and emotionally.

The forehead is also home to several pressure points that can promote relaxation and reduce stress. Applying gentle pressure to the temples or brow can stimulate blood flow and release tension. This is why forehead massages and other forms of facial massage are so popular in spas and wellness centers.

Moreover, the act of touching foreheads can release feel-good hormones like oxytocin. Often referred to as the “love hormone,” oxytocin plays a crucial role in social bonding and emotional regulation. Studies have shown that increased levels of oxytocin can promote empathy, trust, and social connection.

Whether self-soothing or connecting with others, this type of nonverbal communication has been shown to reduce anxiety, promote relaxation, and foster emotional connection. So next time you feel stressed or overwhelmed, try placing your hand on your forehead and taking a deep breath. You might be surprised at how good it feels.

The Cultural Significance and History of Forehead Touching in Different Parts of the World

Forehead touching is a gesture that holds cultural significance in several parts of the world. It varies between cultures, but it’s often traditionally associated with reverence, respect, gratitude, and affection. This gesture also has a spiritual significance in several cultures, as it symbolizes humility, surrender, and a willingness to learn. The history of forehead touching goes way back, and it’s been documented in several ancient texts and artifacts. Despite the cultural differences, the gesture of touching the forehead has been used and passed down for generations as it holds significant meaning across cultures.


Throughout history, cultures have developed their unique ways of greeting one another, expressing respect and solidarity. The Hongi is more than just a physical act, it holds significant meaning and symbolism for the Maori people. It communicates the sharing of one's breath or life force, acknowledging each other's presence and connecting spiritually. It’s a beautiful reminder of the importance of respecting and honoring traditions and cultural practices. As we move towards an increasingly globalized world, it’s vital that we appreciate and understand the significance of such cultural practices. The Hongi serves as an excellent illustration that even though cultures are unique and diverse, there’s still an underlying universal human connection that unites us all.