How did the Handshake Originate?

How did the Handshake Originate? - Today it seems perfectly natural for us to shake hands when we greet someone or say goodbye. But like so many things that we do without thinking, such actions at one time probably symbolized something. For example, in primitive life the hand was probably a symbol of power and strength.

The hand was used to fight enemies, kill animals, and make spears and implements. So when the hand was extended to someone, it could have represented good will, since it showed that the person was not armed or ready to fight.

We know that the hand was an important symbol in early religions, probably as a mark of power. The Greeks prayed to their gods with raised hands. Presenting the hands palm to palm was at one time the way an inferior person paid respect to a superior one.


Among the Arabs, it was customary at one time to kiss the hand of superior. Later on, polite Arabs began to resist the efforts of people to kiss their hands, and sometimes they would end up clasping hands as each tried to prevent the other from showing this mark of “inferiority”.

The early Greeks held out the right hand when they wished to indicate friendship to a stranger. So we can see that the hand, and what was done with it, was full of meaning to people down through the ages. And while we shake hands without thinking, we are really carrying on a custom that has been handed down to us from ancient times.

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