A Hello…. to YOU, reading this. Thank you for choosing to engage in this endeavor, this humanist course on family life ceremonies. 

Let’s address the ritual of hellos as a prequel ~ Hellos are indeed micro-ceremonies in themselves. Many people rush into situations ignoring this. Greetings are among the most abundant and consequential opportunities for ritual and ceremony in any day of any life. To bring awareness to hello is to pause before entering, to nod, to slow down, to take care. 

One core notion of humanism is that how human beings treat one another matters. In fact, learning to say hello in a few languages has enormous benefits beyond the fun of the sounds. Likewise, listening to the answer matters, when you ask another “how are you?” 

Activity: Play around with the ritual of greeting, the ceremony of Hello. In your own transitions, take a moment to notice what it feels like to be looked at and greeted or not… before diving into a work situation, when you enter a store, or upon arriving home. 

With people you see regularly, you may enjoy making a signature handshake – a sequence of one to three moves you master together. 

Practice: Here is a gift to add to your greetings repertoire: It’s called HIGH-PEACE/hi peace, or “the mindful high five” (Kindred, blog date; any other source– that book?). It goes “My two ‘peace fingertips’ reach out to meet your fingers.” One makes the peace symbol with the index and middle finger and touches with these gentle human antennas. It brings certain peace into any informal interaction. It is spontaneously transmitted as both signal and symbol simply by doing it. It teaches itself that way. It literally slows down the greeting experience, compared with so many such as the more common “high 5” or even handshake. HIGH-PEACE/hi peace, if you try it, takes a certain focus. It takes a certain eye hand precision and coordinated connection of timing in slowing down between two people both focusing on the connection point.

Beyond the Handshake: How People Greet Each Other Around the World

10 different ways to politely say hello in different countries and cultures–some of which don’t involve any touching at all.

  1. Stick out your tongue Tibet
  2. Bump noses Qatar, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates
  3. Air kiss on the cheek France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Latin America, Ukraine, and Quebec, Canada
  4. Rub noses (and sometimes foreheads) New Zealand
  5. Shake hands Botswana, China, Germany, Zambia, Rwanda, and the Middle East
  6. Clap your hands Zimbabwe & Mozambique
  7. Put your hand on your heart Malaysia
  8. Bow Cambodia, India, Nepal, Laos, Thailand, and Japan
  9. Sniff faces Greenland & Tuvalu (Oceania)
  10. Greeting your elders before younger people Asia & Africa