Secret Handshake

SP is a current student at California Polytechnic University at San Luis Obispo where she studies Geography and Anthropology. She is originally from Seattle, WA and grew up in a small town nearby. She grew up in a typical American middle-class family. She attended a public high school in Washington where she grew up with a sister and her mother and father. She has a background of being half-Mexican and half Irish/Italian that has in some ways heavily influenced her beliefs as well as her religious beliefs rooted in Catholicism.

Is there anything you learned from your family that you still actively do today? Like a greeting or gesture that is something you feel is unique to you?

SP: Well me and my dad’s side of the family have this secret handshake that my dad made up. At first I think it was just a thing between him, me and my sister but now it has turned in to something all of cousins know how to do. It is really simple it is just some fist bumps and hand grabs and isn’t very hard to remember. It sort has become a family tradition with anyone he is close within the family who is younger. It keeps all of u having something in common that we all know as being the younger generation, we are a bit more separated from the older family in a way.

Do you still remember the handshake and use it regularly?

SP: Yeah, I still remember it, I have known it for almost 15 years now so it is like engrained in my brain forever at this point. I think it is only really used at family gatherings and we don’t have as many of those because of the fact that all of us have mostly gone to college and all the older aunts and uncles are actually getting to an older age where they come to less events because they have moved away or are spending time with other family. It is rare we get together but when we do my dad always asks us and our cousins in we remember it and we always do. It is nice that he still reminds us all in a way that he hasn’t forgotten us or that fact that we all share this secret technique together. Whenever I see people with handshakes it reminds me of my dad and our family.


Handshakes are a dying form of gesture or greeting. It is more common among children in younger ages as a way of bonding or sharing secrets between friends in a school yard setting. IT is now more uncommon since the digital age. People create common emoji messages or snapchats they can send back and forth rather than the significance of handshakes and jumping rope just do not exist after the age of eight or so. Handshakes just do not exist for the most part but used to be a huge form of bonding and communication. I remember when I was younger me and my friends created many handshakes we could share just between one person that made you feel like you had a special connection or unique thing no one else could share. It is sad to see them mostly die out but for those that remain it creates an everlasting bond between you and the other person.