Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
You Aren't by Yourself
if you are among the millions who bemoan the once-proud tradition of two people shaking hands. Among the many things that I didn't know was that hand-shaking can be traced back to the ancient Grecians who stood proud for their varied traditions and customs.
The Custom of Hand-Shaking
is one of the most-respectable, honored public displays among friends and yet, it is so simple. I can remember my dad (when he was young) going to our one bank in Hamilton, Ala., and the banker was a good friend of my dad and there was this saying: a hand-shake is as good as your bond, and somehow over the years of back-door deals and shady pay-offs we have lost the very valuable hand-shake and I for one would love to see it make a comeback.
What do I have to lose?
There is Really
nothing wrong with hand-shaking, except for one thing: contagious diseases. That would call for some prudent measures to "shake on a deal" if a hand-shake is required for holding-up some legal citing, but I cannot think of anything that would stop a hand-shake unless I am traveling in the Amazon and my boat is hit by a giant crocodile and thank God, I made it to safety, but a valiant warrior of that region walks up to me and smiles and without thinking, I start to shake his hand. A sudden gasp comes from his tribesmen and the chief nails me with a right cross and I am sent to the ground.
I am of course, scared and confused. So I ask my very-intelligent interpreter, "Haygale," what did I do wrong? He laughs and tells me that to the chief and his friends, it is very insolent for someone, anyone to lift a hand to him as to take hold of his hand--"Haygale," also tells me that in the chief's time, wars were fought for something as safe as a hand-shake.
I humbly offer my apologies to the chief who is now cool and I keep my hands to my side as "Haygale" and me make our way to the nearest Western Union Company so we can lay hands on some ready-cash.
But, Have you Ever
looked at just how many ways and reasons we go wild and shake the hands of others?
Real estate sold and bought (to someone) else calls for a hand-shake after all of the necessary legal papers have been signed. That is just how things go in the "Land Where Hand-Shaking is Valued."
High school and college sporting events and in this case, football on the gridiron and on the Tube every Saturday. When a Blue Chip running back lives up this hype, his coaches do a version of hand-shake and that is a High-Five--controversial and would hold up in a court of law, so let's do all that we can to honor hand-shakes and high-fives.
In the field of industry and business, hand-shakes are standard equipment. Especially in the area of sales. When have you witnessed a hard-trodden salesman (or woman) working on his last bit of strength to chase down this big client and after hearing the salesman's pitch, he agrees to the conditions and shakes the salesman's hand. All nice and tidy.
When an employee of a huge iron fabricating factory throws this 30-year veteran a Retirement Banquet and after all of the speeches, the company CEO call him up to accept his gold watch and receive several hand-shakes from the higher-ups and in this setting, there are no high-fives.
There are those inopportune times when a person has not been raised around people who live and die by the hand-shake and this poor person is all thumbs when the regular folks offer him a hand of friendship. The outsider reaches with two fingers to look like a giant lobster and the others laugh at him, but the main leader, a man with an humble heart, gets him off to the side and teaches him how to correctly shake a person's hand.
If someone is in a big hurry and you reach for his hand to shake as he runs by, you could receive some laughable embarrassment. If the person is a volunteer fireman, doctor, or even a police officer, do not expect a friendly hand-shake from him.
If your mechanic, "Al," who works on your car frequently, extend him a hand to shake. It makes for good business and helps to keep friends bonded.
When a lady is introduced to you, should you extend her a hand to shake? Sure. It fits most every occasion and it looks nice. But I urge you to use a lot of discretion when it pertains to you reaching for her hand to kiss her gently on her knuckles. With "this" gesture, you are looking directly at a 50/50 percentage of the woman not knowing what to do when you kiss her knuckles, so do the smart thing and shake her hand.
Let me, if you will, pass along a good piece of advice. Always and I do mean always, try your best to keep your hands clean. The reason why: you never know when you will meet a stranger and you want to meet them with clean hands.
Now, let's look at some scripture. Is it proper for a person to sit down and eat a meal with you if they haven't washed their hands? Sure. The Lord Jesus told it plain . . ."it is not that which goes in by the mouth, but what comes out of the man--evil thoughts, adultery; anger and violence, but to make washing hands a scriptural law is not necessary.
Did Jesus shake hands? Listen. Sometimes common sense can rule the circumstance and so will this one.
The hand-shake invaded the Music Industry very early. We had (Willy and) The Hand Jive; Shake a Hand," by Faye Adams; Hand Shake,by Paul Ortega; Shake Hands with the Devil (Kris Kristofferson) · Shake Hands with Shorty (North Mississippi Allstars) · Shake Hands with the Future (Pluto) · Let's Shake Hands (The White Stripes) · Spooky Lady's Sideshow and Shake Hands with the Devil (Kris Kristofferson) . . .and this is not even touching the surface of song's that contain Shake Hands.
When is Shaking Hands Inappropriate?
Well, if you have lived a short time in our world, you can use that "Special Sense" that can let you know that you are headed for embarrassment. Let's say that you are sitting in a decent restaurant and you and your date are sitting in a roomy place to enjoy a meal. Then you see Jay Leno, star of NBC's Tonight Show and other entertainment-based ventures. The head waiter treats him like royalty and even gives out a few autographs as he is being led through the restaurant to get to his reserved seating. And just as your eyes meet his, and you offer your hand, he halfway smiles and ignores you without missing a step. Don't you feel stupid? And what about your girlfriend? You know that she is feeling stupid because YOU did something so stupid.
I'm finished and now I'm extending my hand to you, my friend.
_____________________________March 27, 2018
John Hamilton from Arizona on March 28, 2018:
Great article and research!
The handshake seems almost a part of an American tradition, but to me, a non-world traveler, it may not be appropriate or may not be as heavily used.
For example, I know when I have hand-shaked East Indian co-workers, when I first meet them, it's like shaking a dead fish. Except not as slimy or scaly, lol.
Or bowing to Far Eastern Asians or Middle Eastern folks. I don't know if Europeans shake hands for the same reasons we do here in the USA
Anyways, it's good protocol to understand who you may be meeting or interfacing with and understand proper greetings. Like women, as you mentioned. I don't think I've ever kiss a woman's hand upon meeting her, Especially on a date.
Frank Atanacio from Shelton on March 28, 2018:
Fascinating to say the least.. you know I was traveling and not going to mentioned the country, but they rather not shake hands. but bow with an eye closing.. saying it is germ friendly.. but yeah I enjoy reading your hubs..
John Hansen from Queensland Australia on March 27, 2018:
A interesting read, Kenneth. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about handshaking.
Faith-Hope-Love on March 27, 2018:
I remember the time when we would agree on some way to help or do something for one another or to be at a certain point and just shook on it. We then Kept our word. I, like you, would like those times back. Don't see them returning any time soon. There was an element of trust in those times, absent to-day. Good, well written. Kenneth. Keep it up.