The Handshake

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Once again someone challenged Miranda that she couldn’t find out something. To them she says HA! And brings you – THE ORIGIN OF THE HANDSHAKE.

In its oldest form the handshake signified the handing of power from a god to an early ruler. This is reflected in the Egyptian verb “to give,” the hieroglyph for which is an extended hand. Then a ritual in Babylonia around 1800 BC required that the king grasp the hands of a statue every year during a New Years festival, transferring authority for another year. The ceremony was so popular that when the Assyrians defeated and occupied Babylonia, the subsequent Assyrian kings adopted the ritual in case they offended the gods. It is this aspect of the handshake that Michelangelo so magnificently painted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Folklore offers another explanation – if a villager met a man he didn’t recognise and reacted by reaching for his dagger. The stranger did likewise and they cautiously circled each other. When it was decided that the meeting would not be a fight to the death, daggers were reinserted and the weapon hands were extended as a token of goodwill. This also explains why women, not traditionally allowed to carry weapons, never developed the custom of shaking hands.

Aha! Take that Jamie!

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