Liberian snap handshake

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In Liberia, the snap handshake or finger snap is a gesture of greeting, in which two people shake hands in the conventional Western way, but end the handshake with a mutual press of the fingers that creates a "snap" sound.[1]

Apocryphally, the custom is attributed to the Americo-Liberian population of freed slaves, who created the gesture to contrast with slave owners' practice of breaking slaves' fingers.[2]

During the 2014–2015 Ebola epidemic, handshaking in Liberia was curtailed, leading a BBC commentator to note that avoidance of handshaking was detrimental to the established custom of the Liberian handshake.[3]


  1. ^ Leanne Olson (2009). A Cruel Paradise: Journals of an International Relief Worker. Insomniac Press. pp. 50–. ISBN 978-1-897414-89-7.
  2. ^ Ayodeji Olukoju (2006). Culture and Customs of Liberia. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 119–. ISBN 978-0-313-33291-3.
  3. ^ "Ebola outbreak: How Liberia lost its handshake". BBC News. 20 September 2014.