The handshake is thought to have been introduced to the UK by Sir Walter Raleigh in British Court during the late 16th century.

(The handshake is thought by some to have originated as a gesture of peace by demonstrating that the hand holds no weapon. There are various customs surrounding handshakes, both generically and specific to certain cultures:-

The handshake is commonly used when meeting, greeting, parting, offering congratulations, expressing gratitude, or completing an agreement. In sports or other competitive activities, it is also done as a sign of good sportsmanship. Its purpose is to convey trust, balance, and equality.

  • In Anglophone countries, in business situations. In casual non-business situations, men are more likely to shake hands than women.
  • In Belgium, handshakes are done more often, especially on meetings.
  • In Switzerland, it may be expected to shake the women’s hands first.
  • Austrians shake hands when meeting, often including with children.
  • In some Muslim countries (such as Turkey or the Arabic-speaking Middle East), handshakes aren’t as firm as in North America and Europe. Consequently, a grip which is too firm will be considered as rude.
  • Moroccans also give one kiss on each cheek (to corresponding genders) together with the handshake. Also, in some countries, a variation exists where instead of kisses, after the handshake the palm is placed over the heart.
  • In China, where a weak handshake is also preferred, people shaking hands will often hold on to each other’s hands for an extended period after the initial handshake.
  • In Japan, it is appropriate to let the Japanese initiate the handshake, and a weak handshake is preferred.
  • In South Korea, a senior person will initiate a handshake, where it is preferred to be weak. It is a sign of respect to grasp the right arm with the left hand when shaking hands.
  • The ‘hand hug’ is a type of handshake popular with politicians, as it can present them as being warm, friendly, trustworthy and honest. This type of handshake involves covering the clenched hands with the remaining free hand, creating a sort of “cocoon.”)