Why do we shake with our right hand?
This is something that you may have never wondered about before now as its just natural… and now you’re wondering why!
There are an abundance of reasons why, we shake with our right hands. Throughout history and cultures these reasons have possibly compounded or at the very least have been influenced by others.
Firstly the word ‘left’ comes from an old English word ‘Lyft’ which translates as weak or worthless.
The left hand is seen as unclean in many cultures as it is often described as being used to clean (after using the toilet – remember toilet paper is a new invention as history goes) one’s self and therefore not fit to be used for something as important as greeting friends. This has become worse over the years. Have you ever tried putting your left hand over your heart for the ‘Pledge of Allegiance’? I don’t think that would be received very well.
Catholics shun using your left hand for writing as the left hand was associated with the Devil. This meant that left handed people were thought to be evil due to this association. There are many times that the Devil and left hand are used together in scripture including when the Devil baptizes.
Spanning a long era throughout history and continuing even now, those of us who are armed keep their weapons’ in reach of their right hand. (As the majority of people are right handed – not helped by single mindedness through history) To show a modicum of respect/faith with the person someone was facing they would extend their right hand in a greeting or agreement and while hands or arms (see roman handshake) were clasped each person was unable to draw their weapon to attack.
Something that did not help to sway the beliefs of left handed people being associated with the devil or at the very least being nasty/evil, was that a small group of left handed fighters found that they could shake hands (with their right hand) and still draw their sword/pistol and attack accurately. They used this to their advantage, which unfortunately spread that news that no left handed people could be trusted. The most famous of these were often Assassins.
I am not a historian and I do not know in which order the above examples first appeared but they have all contributed in their own way to educational establishments over the centuries (including when I was young) trying to get every student to use their right hand.
If you hadn’t guessed by now… I am left handed and proud!
Until next time…