Mourning the Unexpected Death of the Handshake

Growing up, my Dad taught me the value of making eye contact and the importance of a firm handshake.

Schau ihm in die Auge, Sohn.”

“Look him in the eye, Son,” Dad would say whenever he introduced me to one of the men who worked for him or someone he knew.

He taught me that there was a right way and a wrong way to shake hands, especially with another man. The handshake needed to be firm, but not too hard. It should express welcome and self-confidence. And above all, be sure to make eye contact.

You can imagine how the unexpected death of the handshake is negatively impacting me.

photo of people doing hand shake
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on

It’s a sad day in BedRock, Barney.

The coronavirus CoVid19 has upset our routines and things we once took for granted. There’s a global run on toilet paper (!?!). Cultural norms, in a time where norms seem to be obliterated daily, have taken a massive gut punch and the once common greeting between people is now dying an untimely death right before our eyes.

The History of the Handshake

A gesture demonstrating peace, the handshake developed in Greece around the 5th century B.C. Back then, the greeting showed that neither person carried a weapon. From there, the handshake evolved into global etiquette between people greeting each other or even saying goodbye. Until recently, in addition to a sign between people meeting, greeting, or parting, the handshake expressed gratitude, offered congratulations, and sealed the deal between businessmen and statesmen. In sports and numerous competitive activities, the handshake communicates good sportsmanship. The handshake signals trust, respect, equality, and equity between people.

“We’re all broken. That’s how the light gets in.” Ernest Hemingway

man in blue and brown plaid dress shirt touching his hair
Photo by Nathan Cowley on

But that’s ancient history now.

Today, handshakes are seen as germ fests and as a vehicle for spreading disease. Now, what once served as a bridge between two individuals is seen as inconsiderate and insolent behavior. How could you? Once a global gesture communicating affection, CoVid19 has killed the handshake. Fist bumping just isn’t the same. And rubbing elbows and arms…please, no.

Who knew that not everybody washed their hands or covered their mouth when they sneezed? The 21st century sure is presenting us with its share of unique challenges. Even before we’ve gotten a handle on this thing that’s making its way around the globe in a nanosecond, experts are warning us of more impending doom lurking around the corner called our future.

“May the LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you, the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Keep the faith. This too shall pass.


The Devotional Guy™


ABOUT: The Devotional Guy™ is a writing ministry of Chaplain Rainer Bantau, a Swiss-born, German kid who grew up in East Texas and today ministers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

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  1. bgddyjim says:

    It’s not close to gone. Just taking a break for a bit. It’s all stupid anyway… they say to elbow bump instead, but that’s what you’re supposed sneeze and cough into as well. That’ll tell you just how well planned out this is.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I sure hope you’re right about the handshake being on temporary hiatus. Yes, I thought the same thing about the elbow. Thanks for reading Jim and sharing your thoughts. Blessings brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. bgddyjim says:

    Blessings? Every day, my friend. And I know you know what I mean.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Amen. I’m just glad and grateful to be alive (By His Grace). Today. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nancy Peavey says:

    Beautifully and thoughtfully written, as always. Thank you for sharing your gift!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you so much for your encouragement Nancy. Blessings.


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