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The handshake is an important mode of communication in many cultures, and National Handshake Day aims to celebrate this grasping of hands!

History of National Handshake Day

Handshakes may have originated as a sign of peaceful intention among two people, since shaking hands means that the hand can’t hold a weapon. Or, the handshake had begun as a gesture of promise or oath, like the sealing of a bond. One of the earliest renderings of a handshake is dated to 900 BC between the kings of Assyria and Babylon.

In many cultures around the world, handshakes have continued to represent a sense of being welcomed, accepted, honored, respected and at peace. Different countries and cultures may have varying customs surrounding the handshake. For instance, sometimes a handshake comes along with a kiss, and in other places men will shake hands but women will not.

Founded in 2005 by Miryam Roddy, National Handshake Day was meant to promote the importance of the handshake as a way to make a good impression. Roddy, a professional development coach, says that handshakes are a gesture that is key to making first impressions and growing professional relationships.

How to Celebrate National Handshake Day

Enjoy and appreciate National Handshake Day with these ideas for celebrating:

Learn About the Benefits of Handshakes

Sometimes fear of spreading germs and disease can keep people from shaking hands, but some researchers believe that shaking hands can still be good for people (as long as everyone is feeling healthy, of course).

Skin-to-skin contact, from the moment of birth, is considered critical for humans to survive and thrive. Shaking hands can be an extension of this and here are some of the benefits from physical contact:

  • Promote Immune Function

    By increasing the level of neurotransmitters, touch can increase the function of the immune system to keep people healthy.

  • Increase Motivation

    Touch is known to activate the vagus nerve in humans, which is also associated with feelings of compassion and reward, boosting mental health.

  • Personal Connection

    When two people shake hands, especially when eye contact is made, they are more likely to have a personal connection and relate positively to the other person.

Wash Your Hands!

One critical form of respect for others, on National Handshake Day and every day, is making sure that your hands are clean when reaching out to shake someone else’s. It’s just good common sense and consideration for others.

A general rule for good hygiene is to wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20-30 seconds: after going to the bathroom, when hands are dirty, after nose-blowing and before eating. Practicing this should keep those hands in good handshaking order!

Shake Someone’s Hand

Though, in some circles, the frequency of handshakes may be diminishing, this loss of casual touch may actually be detrimental to relationships and to society. So National Handshake Day is the perfect time to bring them back around!

In honor of the day, and moving forward, reach out a hand to another person for a handshake and enjoy the benefits of this custom again.

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