Contact Us

How Did This Whole Handshake Greeting Get Started?

Why do we shake hands?
Paul Miller - Pool, Getty Images

Shaking hands upon greeting someone new has become such a routine and automatic “Hello” response — that is, unless you’re one of those guys who bump fists or put people in head locks. As with most things, the majority of people just accept this act as customary without question, but for the rest of us, we want to know why we do it.

Some sources say it stems from the transfer of power from a god to a king. In ancient Babylonia, for example, the ruler would clasp hands with the statue of a god, signifying this divine power exchange.

A more commonly held belief is that a handshake was a means of checking another man for a weapon, being that an open right hand cannot grip a blade. Sometimes the men clasped forearms when they met, thus searching for a knife possibly hidden in the sleeve. Remember that the next time you take part in this “friendly” greeting gesture.

Here are three things to keep in mind about the etiquette of handshaking:

1. In the West, the right hand is used because of the religious associations of the left hand with the devil. Sorry to all of those left-handed folks out there.

2. In Islamic culture, the right hand is also used. The left hand is reserved for the less-than-sanitary places our fingers travel to when nature calls.

3. The style of handshake you choose can convey a different kind of message.  A vertical palm position is a sign of equality and trust. If you adopt a palm down position, you’re asserting your dominance over the other party, and conversely, a palm up position is a subtle signal of submission.

[Temple Study]

Best of 106.9 Classic Rock

Recommended For You

Best of the Web

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for All Access Pass quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive All Access Pass contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.