Boy Scout’s Left-Hand Handshake


By custom, instead of shaking each other’s right hand, Boy Scouts are supposed to greet fellow Scouts with “a warm left hand clasp.” Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, claimed that he started this tradition after being told by an African chieftain that, “The men in my tribe greet the bravest with the left hand.” But there are other theories about the origin of the custom. It may have been supposed to signify that the left hand is closer to the heart. Or it may have originated with Baden-Powell’s lifetime passion for promoting ambidexterity. He wrote, “completeness and symmetry can only be secured by an equal attention to, and exercise of, both sides of the body — the right and the left; and this two-sided growth can alone be promoted and matured by educating our two hands equally.”

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