What’s With This Three-Finger Salute?

The three-finger salute.  You’ve been seeing it everywhere as part of our current We Are the Districts campaign.  But perhaps you’re new to the Hunger Games fandom, or aren’t in the fandom at all.  You might be thinking “dude, what’s with all these pictures of people holding up three fingers?”

Let us shed some light for you.

It all starts with the first book in the trilogy, The Hunger Games.  Very, very early in the story, when Katniss volunteers to go to the Games in her sister’s place, this happens:

“At first one, then another, then almost every member of the crowd touches the three middle fingers of their left hand to their lips and holds it out to me.  It is an old and rarely used gesture of our district, occasionally seen at funerals.  It means thanks, it means admiration, it means good-bye to someone you love.”

~The Hunger Games, page 24

oiofOkay, so not the most cheerful gesture, but definitely a moving one.  In the story, District 12 is the only district that we know of that has this particular hand gesture, and it’s part of their district’s culture.  Of course, in the recaps of the Reapings of that Hunger Games, every other district sees this little salute to Katniss, and I have a funny feeling that they don’t pay it much mind.

And then Katniss starts turning the tides, even if she doesn’t initially mean to.  She takes Rue under her wing, and protects her, burying her in flowers when she’s killed in the arena.  The three-finger salute comes back again as Katniss says good-bye to her friend and ally.  And that definitely moves people, because touching moments like that aren’t probably seen in the districts all that much.

And then there’s an issue with some poisonous berries and Katniss foiling the Capitol’s plans, which sparks a revolution she didn’t ever intend to happen.

The next time we see the three-finger salute is in Catching Fire.  Not to give away any spoilers for the movie, in case any of you haven’t read the books, but let’s just say that this happens while Katniss and Peeta are visiting the districts after they win the Games.

“What happens next is not an accident.  It is too well executed to be spontaneous, because it happens in complete unison.  Every person in the crowd presses the three middle fingers of their left hand against their lips and extends them to me.”

~Catching Fire, page 61

The gesture that started out as just a traditional farewell in District 12 has suddenly become one of the symbols of the rebellion.

Which brings us right back around to the Harry Potter Alliance and our current campaign.

Like the districts in the novels, we’ve adopted it for our own resistance movement.  All over social media, we’re using images of ourselves giving this three-finger salute in comments protesting things the “Capitol” is posting.  We are becoming the districts and we’re standing up against the fictional Capitol in order to stand up for ourselves in the real world as well.  We’re showing the “Capitol” that we won’t be ignoring the true message of the stories, that we won’t be letting their marketing campaign shadow the real world struggles we stand up against.

But it doesn’t end there.  We’re hoping that this three-finger salute will stick and be a symbol of general resistance, not just in reference to a Hunger Games-centered campaign, but in reference to anything we disagree with.  Any time you see something unjust, or something you don’t like or don’t agree with, put up that three-finger salute.

Until the odds are in everyone’s favor, this is our symbol.

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  1. Stauschua Schmolinsk

    December 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Bought a mockingjay Tie pin, friends asked with a questioning look. Simple it is a sign of a tyrannical centralized government stealing the resources, freedom, and choice from us, and forcing our children to pay. I say buy a mockingjay brooch or pin and show your solidarity it isn’t a sign of rebellion or hate but a sign that we understand the consequences of government ignoring the future and making itself exempt from the pain of their own legislative actions and ludicrous spending. Also, the fact we have noticed that it is pitting groups of it’s citizens against each other by spreading hate and rhetoric instead of understanding.

  2. June 20, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    Vos posts sont réellement passionnants

  3. Elena marie

    July 13, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    What I don’t understand is why do they kill anyone that does the 3 finger salute

    • July 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm


      It’s a good question, and not explicitly explained in the novels or movies. They beat and kill anyone who does the three finger salute because it has become a symbol of the rebellion against the Capitol, and by killing the people showing their support, they hope to squash the rebellion and keep the Districts in line. Did that help?


  4. echo

    September 2, 2014 at 6:27 am

    in our Greek fraternal org. ALPHA PHI OMEGA the 3 upright fingers represents our 3 guiding principles LEADERSHIP,FRIENDSHIP, And SERVICE!
    while the thumb finger and the little finger are joint together to signify dependency to each other!

    living our life with such dedication to our guiding principles! that is what our RESISTANCE mean! like in the movie!

  5. November 23, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    Here’s my article linking the events in Thailand to the three finger salute. Have a look and pass it on.

  6. A girl scout

    December 16, 2014 at 12:47 am

    It means “girl scout’s honor”, and if you kiss it before you raise your hand it means “Love”

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