PARIS, Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Concerned about the H1N1 virus, or swine flu, the French government is urging young and old to forego "la bise," the light cheek-to-cheek kiss, officials said.
La bise is a social greeting instilled in French children from a very young age, CNN reported Sunday.
Students are being told to forego la bise and instead write a sign of their their affection on heart-shaped greetings to be slipped into "bise boxes," CNN reported.
The French are becoming more accustomed to masks and at least one company wants employees to stop wearing neckties because they are so infrequently washed, CNN reported.
France has confirmed three H1N1 deaths this year from more than 2,800 deaths reported worldwide.
While H1N1 is a concern, the French are traditionally rebellious souls who don't like being told what to do, said Camille Hercot, a professor at the American University of Paris.
"So if it is really important, and if there are rules in the offices, or
if they get very scared they will," Hercot said, "but otherwise they will say 'pfff.'"