The times are changing! The new preferred form of greeting between young and old is the high 5! In honor of National High 5 Day, we would like to reflect on the history and significance of the High 5 (the High 5 even has roots in Sacramento!)

It has been in the Oxford English Dictionary since 1980 and officially considered a verb since 1981. It is only (officially) 35 years old.

The origination of the High 5 has a few theories, but our personal favorite involves Sacramento local (and hero) Dusty Baker. As the story goes, on October 2, 1977, Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke of the LA Dodgers had the first High 5 celebrating a run. At the time, it was an ‘awkward’ celebration, but the two rolled with it.

Many years later, it was popularized again by Glenn Burke, who was one of the first openly gay professional baseball players. Glenn used his High 5 to greet other gay residents of the Castro District in San francisco where it became a symbol of gay pride and identification.

Since the 80’s the High 5 has spread to people of all ages and all over the globe. For many people and medical professionals, the High 5 is now preferred over the handshake. High 5s spread about 1/2 the amount of germs as handshakes according to Kathleen McNamara of New York Methodist Hospital. So if you are a germaphobe (like some people in our office) the High 5 is the best way to go!

High 5s are also becoming more accepted as a substitute for the handshake in professional and business settings. Just ask Richard Branson, Virgin mogul and philanthropist. He prefers High 5s and Fistbumps over the traditional handshake. Just think of how many germs he would come across, eeeeewww.


We hope you have learned to embrace and appreciate the high 5 as we have. The history of the High 5 makes us California proud! In addition, the more High 5s we give, the less ickiness we will spread. Put ‘er there! Happy National High 5 Day!