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13 Different Ways to Greet and the Main Reason Behind Them

There are many ways to greet our friends or people with whom we have a cordial relationship. Although today most greetings serve as a demonstration of affection (to a greater or lesser extent), almost all have a similar origin: to demonstrate a conciliatory intention to the other. Perhaps we can say that, originally, greetings served to say “I am not your enemy”.

Reaching out to you, we do awesome.club🇧🇷 we invite you to know the origin of 13 gestures used as greetings. Has the intention behind them changed much over time?


It is believed that the Egyptians would have started the custom of handshaking. Some studies, however, suggest that the gesture emerged in the early days of humanity, in a time dominated by tribes. A time when carrying a spear, for example, was commonplace. So, extending an unarmed hand was a gesture to say “I am not your enemy”. And the handshake then became confirmation of the desire for cooperation. Today, in a much more civilized world, shaking someone’s hand is more commonplace, but does it no longer symbolize this desire for cordiality?


In the movie The Last Stand, General Irwin (Robert Redford) explains the origin of the military salute. In the Middle Ages, knights lifted the visor of their armor to reveal their faces. A show of respect for his superiors and an act of peace before other knights who crossed his path. Once again, the gesture also made the unarmed hand evident, demonstrating that there was no intention of enmity.

High Five

The palm-to-palm gesture in place of a handshake probably existed in the 1920s, but the more excited high-hand clap emerged on sports courts and fields. It is difficult to pinpoint a starting point, but a good hypothesis is that volleyball players started the custom in the 1960s. Years later, the gesture would also appear among baseball and basketball players, popularizing what is considered a variation of the grip hand. Which makes a lot of sense in the dynamic and exciting environment of the sport, don’t you think?

Soquinho (Fist Bump)

The origin of the gesture is controversial. It is believed to be an evolution or variant of the High Five, but there is no consensus on what its starting point would be. It could have appeared in the Super Friends cartoon, from the Super Twins’ gesture when they used their powers. Its origin in sports, such as Boxing, Basketball and Baseball, is also highly defended. In all cases, the punch serves as a compliment of complicity, either to celebrate the established partnership, or to show mutual respect before a dispute.

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Bye-bye (Wave)

The origin of the bye is uncertain. There is a famous record of the gesture in the Iliad, which tells the deeds of the hero Ulysses in Ancient Greece. But some argue that the wave or bye is a variation of the military salute, yet another way of showing those approaching that you are unarmed. Over time it became a way to get the attention of allies and signal recognition. When used with the word bye (originated in a Venetian dialect), it gains an extra meaning since the term refers to the idea of ​​serving others.

Shaka (Hang Loose)

The Shaka gesture, or Hang Loose, was popularized by Hawaiian surfers, but its origin is unclear. The most accepted theory is that the gesture came about as a stylish goodbye that Hawaiian fisherman Kalili Hamana used in his role on a mill. He was in charge of train transit and waved his right hand to authorize passage. Since he didn’t have the three middle fingers, the Shaka sign formed naturally. The gesture can mean many things, but they all refer to empathy and recognition of the other as an equal.

kiss on the hand

The kiss on the hand came as a form of reverence. In general, the person above him offered his hand to be kissed. It was common as an act of submission of subjects to their monarchs. In some religions, it remains a practice. It was and remains a gesture of reverence for women, practiced by a gentleman when appropriate. Today, however, it is rare. By the way, used informally, it can serve as a mockery! There is a variation in which the palm of the hand is kissed, but the gesture is more intimate, common among lovers who “save” a kiss before leaving.

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There is archaeological evidence that the hug has been around for at least 6,000 years. But do fossils with intertwined arms confirm these intentions? A hug can serve to exchange heat between bodies in a very intense cold, for example, but it can also be a diplomatic act. According to Mario Prata, the hug full of pats on the body was something of the Italian mobsters, a way of knowing if someone was hiding something in their clothes. It was, once again, a gesture to establish trust and make clear the intention of collaboration.


The origin of the kiss is controversial. It is believed that the Hindus started the custom of kissing on the mouth, but it is not possible to say that the gesture did not exist since antiquity, there is just no record. The kiss on the cheek, in turn, seems to have been born out of a Catholic tradition. Considering the touch between lips very intimate, Catholics began to rub cheeks as an alternative. Thus, the kiss on the cheek has become a way of greeting peers, those with whom we have a cordial relationship. A declared gesture of affection and understanding, no?

Eskimo Kiss (Kunik)

There is a myth about the “Eskimo kiss” that says it is an alternative to the traditional kiss, since in the intense cold the lips would stick together. In fact, greeting by touching noses has become a habit because in extremely cold environments people tend to only have their eyes and nose on display. Among the Inuit, indigenous people who inhabit the Arctic, the “kiss” of noses is called Kunik. They were the first to be observed performing this gesture that, in fact, does not have the same romantic character as a kiss, serving more as a greeting of recognition between members of the same tribe.

Japanese bow (Ojigi)

The Japanese have a millennial tradition in terms of behavior, so discipline permeates their habits a lot. The Japanese greeting, called Ojigi by the Japanese, emerged around the eighth century. The word means “bow”, or “bow”, quite literal, doesn’t it? But there are countless ways to do the movement, always depending on the degree of reverence and respect to be shown. It is a very clear compliment not only of cordiality, but also of respect and willingness to serve others.

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Namaste is a greeting that intends the message “my essence salutes your essence”. Its origin, in Sanskrit, has the most literal meaning of bowing down. It is an attitude of humility towards the other. Originating in Indian and Nepalese cultures, the greeting has a more spiritual meaning than other more commonplace waves. In addition to demonstrating cordial intention, it also indicates to the other the willingness to serve you. Especially for Asians, it is a very formal greeting and should not be done in a banal way.

Vulcan salute

The Vulcan salute, Spock’s trademark, has its origins in Judaism. Leonard Nimoy, who played the character on the original Star Trek series, suggested the gesture from a childhood memory. During a ceremony at a synagogue, Nimoy saw a rabbi blessing people with the gesture, as it alludes to a Hebrew letter that symbolizes divinity. Isn’t Spock by chance saying “live long and prosper” with the greeting, a declaration of peace, isn’t it? Today the salute is a strong symbol of recognition among supporters of the so-called “nerd culture”.

Bonus — the common meaning of greetings (and the personalized one)

Not all the gestures we make in our daily lives are greetings, but when they are, that saying from the past “I am not your enemy” is still present, a common meaning in all of them. A sign of civility, respect and consideration for others, which we can even customize! Is not it?

And you, do you have any secret or special greetings that you use with someone? Share in the comments explaining how it’s done and be sure to tell how the idea came about.

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