Russian Handshake

In many countries a handshake is a typical form of greeting. But in Russia a handshake has its uniquefeatures, a special meaning.

It is believed that already among primitive people a handshake became a ritual greeting, showing that by extending your hand to another person you don’t have ill intentions.

How a Handshaking Tradition Appeared in Russia

In Russia a handshake came with Peter I. Shaking hands as a sign of a completed deal became something that merchants used.

Shaking Hands in the Context of Old Russian Wedding Ritual

During a wedding ceremony one of the matchmakers (representatives of the groom) during a courtship, when referring to the bride’s father said the following: “We have a merchant, you have the goods. Would you like to sell it? “. The ‘goods’ implied the bride. Then the conditions of the marriage “deal” were negotiated–specifically, the dowry given for the bride. The agreement was cemented with a firm handshake.

A Handshake in Modern Russian Life

Today a handshake in Russia is widely used as a friendly greeting of males. Workers, businessmen and politicians alike hold out their hands.

An interesting feature of a Russian handshake is that people shake hands not only to greet each other, but also to say good bye.

Unique Characteristics of a Russian Handshake

In Russia it is not customary to hold out a hand if you are wearing gloves, or if your hand is wet or dirty.

A right hand is held out for a handshake. The person who should hold out his hand first has higher social status or an older male.

If the right hand is injured or bandaged, you can greet your companion with your left hand, and, as a rule, should explain what had happened.

A Female Handshake

In Russia females usually don’t shake hands. An exception can be made for business interactions, but in this case a woman should have a certain status, so that she is regarded as an equal partner.

A handshake is a common sign of welcome and respect in Russia.


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