The Three Finger Salute is used by District 12 residents when they have to say thanks or just to show that the person is loved and respected by them. It's a gesture of admiration, gratitude and saying goodbye to someone you love.
The sign is made by pressing your three middle fingers of your left hand to your lips and then hold them out to the person, or people, that you want to show respect to. In the books, the left hand is used, but in the first film it is the right hand, and the fingers are simply held up by their side. Later on, in the second film, the left hand is used like in the book.
75th Hunger Games reaping
Katniss Everdeen became District 12's tribute at the reaping of the 74th Hunger Games by volunteering to go into the arena to save her younger sister Prim. As Katniss was walking up to get on the stage, Prim grabbed onto her and needed to be pulled off by Gale. When Katniss was standing on the stage, the rest of District 12 were asked to applaud, but instead they used the respect sign to say goodbye to her.
When Rue had been killed by a spear in the stomach by the boy from District 1, Marvel, Katniss had shot him in the upper chest with one of her arrows. To show the Capitol that she was "not just a pawn in their games," Katniss decorated Rue's body with flowers which the cameras would have to show when the body was collected. Just before the hovercraft came, she used the respect sign for Rue.
The Victory Tour
In District 11 during the Victory Tour, once Peeta and Katniss had finished their speeches, which included the personal speech and the speech said in every district, the crowd used the District 12 respect sign for Katniss, which was the last goodbye that she gave to Rue in the arena. The old man that had started it during the speech in District 11 was then publicly killed.
Quarter Quell reaping
- The three finger salute has been used by Scouting and Girl Guides since 1908.
- Inspired by its use in The Hunger Games, the three finger salute is now used in Thailand as a way to protest the military coup in control of the Thai government. The protest usage began in 2014 during the release of Mockingjay: Part 1 and is now illegal in Thailand. It has also been used to protest against another military coup in 2021 in Myanmar. It is now officially banned, but the Hunger Games has not been associated with the cause much.