There is an amazing diversity of greeting customs around the world. In Tibet sticking out your tongue is a welcoming gesture. In New Zealand, the Moari greet by touching noses. Ethiopians greet by touching shoulders, Congolese touch foreheads. Most Asians greet with a bow. Europeans and Arabs are more familiar with hugs and kisses on the check. Americans now fist bump and South Africans bump elbows.
So why the handshake? The exact origin of this greeting is unknown but there are pieces of ancient art dating to 5 BC in Greece and others of Persian kings and rulers shaking hands. The Romans did more of an arm grab of the forearm. The shaking was said to check or shake loose any hidden weapons.
Handshakes are known to spread a number of microbial pathogens. Certain diseases are known to spread the most through direct skin-to-skin contact.
In 2009 during the H1N1 pandemic, the dean of medicine at the University of Calgary, Tomas Feasby, suggested that fist bumps may be a “nice replacement of the handshake” in an effort to prevent transmission of the virus.
Now during the Covid-19 pandemic, we once again have to adopt alternative modes of greeting instead of a handshake. I was taught and I have taught my sons, to shake hands firmly while making eye contact with the person you are meeting. This may now be seen as archaic or even dangerous. How will we be taught to make formal greetings in the future?
Just like that we have been forced to change a custom. Who knows what other changes to customs and traditions will be made in the near future. How hard do we push back to hold onto that what we once held dear, as identity of who we are? Does it really matter?
Remain authentic, honest to who you are. You are still a unique and magnificently designed individual. YOU MATTER, even when stuck indoors.
God bless and stay safe