Clapping is simply another one of those customs that just carried over into the modern era from ancient times. It is only one of many forms of applause that have been used for over 2 millennia. The first documented clappers in history were the Romans, but some say clapping has been going on since humans have been on the planet because it is an action hardwired into our brains from birth.
While some people say that we are born knowing how to clap and enjoying clapping, this theory is widely disputed. The whole theory is based on the observations of babies. Studies show that unless babies are later taught to clap, they no longer do so after infancy. Other studies on primates show that some species use clapping in the wild for various reasons, such as to call attention to something or when frightened. However, it is never used as a form of applause unless it is taught.
The earliest mention of clapping that can be found by historians dates back to 300 B.C. Several plays by the Roman playwrights Plautus and Terence have explicit instructions in them for times when audiences should applause. The Latin word used, plaudite, only means applause and not specifically clapping, so this reference is still up in the air.
The Romans had several forms of applause, and clapping was only one of them. Other common forms of applause included finger snapping, waving flaps of their togas, stomping feet and pounding fists on the table.
Clapping survived to the dark ages and became very popular in France by the 16th century. During this time, the French created the claque, a group of professional clappers hired to work at dramatic performances. Claques became highly organized and were hired by theaters and operas from a central agency. Soon the practice spread throughout most of Europe.
Today, clapping is still highly regimented at high-class events. Wanton clapping is frowned upon and get you ejected from a performance. A variation of the standard clap also exists at golf tournaments. The so-called golf clap is a quiet, subdued clap that is used so as not to break the attention of other golfers.
Posted 3646 day ago