The History of the Handshake: From Ancient Greeting to Modern Gesture

The Handshake is a familiar gesture practiced daily around the world. But how did this custom get its start? Evidence hints that handshakes have formed part of cultural rituals since antiquity.

 Meanings of the handshake in Medieval Times 

Crazy to think that something as ordinary as a handshake today used to hold so much weight, right? Back in medieval times, a good ol’ fashioned grip meant a whole lot more than just saying hi. Trust me, you didn’t want to leave someone hanging if you valued your safety and reputation!

Extending an open palm showed you were coming in peace since, you know, that’s where dudes would usually be holding their swords. It said “look, I’m unarmed so don’t stab me, okay?” And in that cutthroat world, that simple gesture went a long way. It built the trust needed for all kinds of deals and diplomacy between different folks who weren’t always pals.

Lords and their underlings would shake to seal their loyalty oaths too. For vassals, it meant swearing to defend their liege lord’s lands come what may. And for lords, it bound knights and peasants to their protection in return. Talk about high stakes hand-holding!

Even folks who never saw a day of battle put their faith in a firm grip. Merchants clasped hands over contracts, confident the terms would be honored on both sides. And your status often showed in your shake – the higher-ups gave sturdier pumps while lowly serfs gave meeker grasps as a sign of deference.

Religious ceremonies and knighting rituals also featured handshakes in meaningful ways. Priests shook as a sign of harmony during Mass, while taps between knights and their peers welcomed them to a life of valorous chivalry.

In the end, medieval mitts said a lot through simple touch. Their gestures cemented oaths, sealed bargains, and conveyed a person’s rank and integrity when life was nasty, brutish and long. Not bad for something we barely think twice about today! Just goes to show some traditions, like the handshake, have echoed through the centuries.

 The Handshake – Global Spread in the Colonial Era 

Colonial expansion broadcast Western handshaking across the globe. Traveling businessmen of the 1800s found common ground with international contacts through this shared greeting. As interactions multiplied, so did handshakes around the world.

 Revival in the Modern Era 

While germ fears temporarily curtailed shaking in the 20th century, globalization revived its role in professional circles.

Ever notice how much we can say with a simple squeeze of the hand these days? This ancient gesture that’s been around for donkey’s years has taken on all sorts of new meanings as society changes.

First encounters usually start with a quick pump – it’s like an unspoken “pleased to meet ya” that breaks the ice. In business it signals a more serious vibe, a promise to play fair during deals. Friends use it to show affection or cheers over beers.

Our mitts say a lot about equality too. No matter your status, gender or where you’re from, a firm shake means we meet as equals, even if briefly. Though COVID’s made us wary lately – bumps and elbows have replaced full contact in case someone’s bug-carrying.

With so many diverse cultures coexisting, understanding goes both ways. What’s normal for some may not fly for others, so flexibility and cross-cultural IQ are key. Tech also influences how we interact – virtual meetings need real connections too.

At the end of the day though, a genuine grip shows we see each other. It bridges physical distance and says “I acknowledge your presence.” A handshake cuts through differences, if only for a moment, to foster goodwill between all people. Whaddya say – let’s keep that human touch alive in this rapidly changing world.

 Contemporary Function and Impact 

Firmness with eye contact builds rapport quickly. Short pumps prevent fatigue at crowded events. Alternating hands averts numbness. Through a few subtle motions, impressions form regarding character and credibility.

In our digital age, handshakes still facilitate warm introductions globally. They allow face-to-face connections that technology alone cannot replace. As president Theodore Roosevelt asserted, straightforward plainspokenness resonates most effectively between individuals—as does a honest handshake between new acquaintances….

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