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One of the earliest depictions in art of a handshake is from the 9th century B.C. Homer mentioned a handshake in The Odyssey a century or two later.
The hand signs' meaning is believed to date back to ancient times, with the Greeks using it when referencing male genitalia. The Romans called it the "shameless finger."
Its earliest documentation in the U.S. was in 1886 when a pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters " flipped the bird" in a photograph with the team's rivals.
Putting two fingers up in the shape of a "V" behind your friend's head has a dark origin.
The original gesture was an ancient pagan custom that demanded two people to cross fingers - the idea that wishes would be kept safe until they came true.
Early Christians often crossed their fingers when faced with persecution to invoke the power of Christ's crucifixion or to absolve themselves from sin. Some would cross fingers with fellow Christians before Mass to form the symbol of the ichthus.
In ancient Rome, referees originally used these gestures to decide if a gladiator should live or die. However, thumbs up meant death, and pressing your thumb down on your fist meant life.
In 1917, in a book titled Over the Top, Arthur Guy Empey explained that U.K. soldiers used the phrase thumbs-up to indicate that all was well.
The "V" sign can be used as a symbol of peace or an insult. In the U.K., if your palm is facing yourself while you're making the sign, it's the same as using your middle finger in the U.S. If your palm is facing outward, the sign simply means the number two.
During WWII, the V sign (with your palm facing outward) was used to signify "victory.", After the 1960s, the hand sign began to be associated with "peace" by American and British youths.
This sign has a lot of possible origins. The popularisation is attributed to Ronnie James Dio in the 1970s. Dio says his Italian grandmother inspired him to pick up on the "corna" gesture to ward off the "evil eye" and bad luck.
His grandmother might have been inspired by the 1897 novel Dracula, which mentions characters using the sign to protect themselves from the evil eye.
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