Nugget of Knowledge: History of applause

Ancient Romans snapped their fingers to applaud

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Historians say we really don’t know just when our human ancestors began clapping their hands.

Primates, apes and monkeys do clap hands in the wild. It’s because they’re frightened or they’ve found food.

Babies learn to clap hands, but it’s something they pick up from mom and dad.

The ancient Greeks did it at the end of plays,  but the Romans did not. They snapped their fingers.

Today, in Russia, Norway and many northern and eastern European countries, audiences clap in unison. It’s more popular than random clapping.

Now, what about the expression “hands down?”

To win hands down has nothing to do with placing a winning hand of cards face down.

Here’s where the expression comes from: It originated in the earliest days of horse racing.

If a horse had proven it was so fast and was nearing the finish line well ahead of the pack, the jockey would release the reins, giving the animal free reign to the finish.

He would win the race “hands down” at his sides, winning without question.

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