Friday, January 13, 2017

Finger Bowl Etiquette and Fashion

The dining era, host's and hostess's purses and country one is dining in, have always determined the requisites of the dinner setting etiquette, menus, accoutrements and table manners needed. While finger bowls, and finger bowl usage, have fallen in and out of fashion over decades and centuries, clean fingers at the dining table have always been fashionable.

 On Regency Era Finger Bowls and Rinsing At Table:

"Custom allows ladies at the end of an entertainment to dip their fingers into a glass of water, and to wipe them with their napkin; it allows them also to rinse the mouth, using their plate for this purpose; but, in my opinion, custom sanctions it in vain." – Elisabeth Celnart, 1833

On Gilded Age Desserts of Fruit, Napkins and Finger-Bowls: 

Small fringed napkins of different colors were used with a dessert of fruits. "Fancy doylies (sic) of fine linen embroidered with silk"were sometimes brought in with the finger-bowls; but they were not for utility. The dinner napkin was employed by the diner, while the embroidered "fancy" added a dainty bit of effect to the table decoration. – Samuel R. Wells, 1887

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Turkish Etiquette History Tidbit

Even pupils in the highest forms, “do not know how to greet people, shake hands, take off their hats, what kind of dinner table etiquette they must observe, or how to behave when paying calls.” 

According to a recent report from Istanbul, etiquette is now to be a compulsory subject in all Turkish schools. It appears that even pupils in the highest forms there “do not know how to greet people, shake hands, take off their hats, what kind of dinner table etiquette they must observe, or how to behave when paying calls.” 

Without suggesting that pupils of a similar standing in Western schools, who have the advantage of a long tradition behind them, are altogether young Turks in this respect, one cannot help feeling that they might benefit from an advanced course in etiquette. –Christian Science Monitor, 1939

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Chinese Etiquette and Hospitality

Paying New Year's Day Calls
Escorted Through Mongolian Quarters by Gallant Officers and Spend an Interesting Time Viewing the Sights

On Wednesday night, one of the merriest of parties of visitors seen in Chinatown for a long time, paid a New Year’s call on the Celestials in their own quarters. After the drill of the Rehekah degree team at I. O. O. P. Hall, the members and a number of friends were conducted through Chinatown by City Marshal George Severson and Police Officer John M. Boyes. The party were shown all places of interest by their escorts and in turn were shown hospitality by the Mongolians. 

The Chinese hosts treat their visitors to nuts and candies, and the other dainties of the New Year's season, according to the rules of Chinese etiquette. Needless to say the ladies were very much pleased with their trip through Chinatown. There were about forty in the party. — Press Democrat, 1903

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Ancient Chinese Etiquette

One Han Dynasty Ring, helped Royal subjects follow proper rules of Court Etiquette 

The Smithsonian Institution has received a gilt of a great antiquity from the Chinese Minister. It is a "jade" ring, about ten inches in diameter and one-eighth of an inch in thickness, with a hollow centre about four inches in diameter. It is of a pale hue. The ring is known as the "Han Pek" jewel of the dynasty of Han, an old-time monarch of 3500 year's ago.

Court officials of that day, when an audience was accorded them by the Emperor, held the ring with both hands and thrust their fingers into the opening to guard against moving their hands while addressing the throne, the emphasizing of their remarks by flourishes of their hands, presumably being contrary to official etiquette. The ring was used as an emblem of submission, or respect, for the sovereign. It was recently unearthed from a sepulchre, having been buried with the owner. – New York Sun, 1899

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Etiquette and Gifts

"So it happens every year — Always has as yet — Such a lot of things we want. And so few we get. Always happens, always will; Don't know who's to blame. Wish you all a very Merry Christmas, just the same."

I'LL change that to "Hope you all have had a very merry Christmas just the same" and make it my day after Christmas wish for you people. I also have a few days' after Christmas thoughts for you. Trust you didn't work so hard and get so tired and fussed over the holiday and that all you want to do is to forget the whole thing. If you did you'd better stop here. I've given you fair warning. 

In the first place, why isn't it a crackerjack idea to notice what people say they wished they'd have given them and jot it down for next year's use? Just now it doesn't seem possible that there is another Christmas coming, but truly there is, and one when you will be quite as glad to know just the right thing to give folks as you would have been this year. 

Another thing —if it doesn't seem to you now as if you would ever forget what you gave each friend, but unless you jot down a list, just as sure as next Christmas comes 'round, you will be wondering whether it was to Louise or Mary you gave the hatpin, and whether it was Eleanor or Katherine you presented with a lace jabot. Why, it won't take you 10 minutes to jot down a memorandum of your Christmas giving. Do it on the train or trolley car— do it in the time you wait for the potatoes to boil, but anyhow you do it — do it now. 

Wonder if there are many people who dislike as vigorously as I do the expressions "I think I fared well." "I think you did finely," as applied to Christmas giving. I know there must be a good many people who don't, by the frequency with which I hear these or similar expressions used. Seems to me it is a terrible testimony to the commercial spirit we are allowing to infest our Christmas. Try not to think things like these. Try not to say them, and above all be sure not to say them before children.  

Speaking of this matter, what do you suppose I heard yesterday afternoon? Two children boasting to each other about the sum total of the value of the gifts they had received. One reckoned the love of her friends and relatives at $25. The other boasted of $32 worth of affection. Wasn't that unpleasant? What were their mothers thinking of? 

Just one thing more — I have been asked if it is necessary to acknowledge Christmas cards. That, like so many similar etiquette questions, can be answered in just four words — "Not necessary but courteous." – Ruth Cameron, 1910

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Royal Shopping Etiquette

Depiction of Harrod's in the 19th Century — Royal tradition ended in 2000, with the removal of royal warrants, and after the death of Princess Diana. Harrods severed its commercial links with the Royal Family by removing warrants from its prestigious shopfront. Workmen have taken down the warrants, which show that the Royals buy goods from the store, from outside the Knightsbridge building. The Royal seal of approval was also removed from the store's vans, marking the end of a 62-year tradition.

Poor Queen - She Can Take Only One Shopping Trip Every Year!

LONDON (UPI)—Queen Elizabeth II likes to have what she calls “a really good poke” 'round everything on the one time a year when she goes shopping—for Christmas presents. Court etiquette prevents her from going out to buy anything except Christmas gifts. Everything else is sent to the palace for her to choose from. So the Queen always looks forward eagerly to her annual expedition to a famous store (Harrods) in the London district of Knightsbridge, near Buckingham Palace, for the pleasure in which other women take as a matter of course.

She writes her gift list weeks in advance, makes secret inquiries as to tastes, and adds Prince Phillip's gifts to her own. Her Lady-in-Waiting telephones the store manager to say when she is arriving. “No publicity, please,” is the strict rule. One Christmas the newspapers described the toys the Queen had bought. Her eldest children, Prince Charles and Princess Anne, discovered what they were to receive three weeks in advance. This year the queen has a special gift for them.

She is having a “teen-age rumpus room” made in the Victoria Tower of Windsor Castle, which the royal family uses as a weekend home. The sound-proof room will have television, hi-fi equipment, a tape recorder and rugs that can be removed for dancing sessions. It is due to be inaugurated formally with a teen-age cocktail party when Prince Charles, 16 and Princess Anne 14, arrive home for the holidays from Gordonstoun and Benenden Schools, respectively. Normally the Queen has a big house party at her country home at Sandringham during Christmas but this year renovations are in process there, so the royal family will spend Christmas at Windsor.

It is celebrated in the traditional English manner, with a Yule log burning in the hearth and the rooms decorated with holly, mistletoe and pale Christmas roses. Dinner is the same every year —roast turkey with sausages and chestnut stuffing, sprouts and carrots, followed by hot mince pie and plum filled Christmas pudding. There's fruit, candy and crackers, which are pulled. The hats they contain are put on by everybody. The Christmas dinner is served at 1:00 p.m. instead of in the evening, so all the children over seven can be present. Those under that age eat upstairs in the nursery suite, but come down during the afternoon for the children’s party.

The brilliantly decorated and illuminated Christinas tree is ceremoniously revealed at dusk in the ballroom when the double doors are flung open. There is a gift from everyone in the building. The Queen distributes the packages, such things as socks or china for her staff and servants, puzzles and jokes for the royal family. They exchange their personal gifts on Christmas Eve, just before carol singers come into the hall to sing the Christmas hymns. The Queen and all the Royal family join in. On Christmas morning, everyone attends church and Prince Philip customarily reads the Scripture lesson.
– The Desert Sun, December 1964

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pepper Spray Etiquette

My husband Cliff wanted us to both be safe, so he bought us each pepper spray. I wanted us both to be safe, so I never took mine out of the package.

If you have never experienced pepper spray, or are thinking about carrying some pepper spray for safety, or simply trying some out just to see what it's like, the following are a few etiquette rules one should follow:

1. If you feel you must have pepper spray with you, put it in a safe place where it cannot accidentally be sprayed. A safe place would be any place a child cannot find it, or in a special spot. One example would be your glove compartment in your car, not a pocket full of other things like your keys, along with your cell phone, and other assorted items.
Dawn helps save wildlife. It also helped save my husband.

2. If you accidentally spray your pepper spray on yourself after having it in an overly-filled pant pocket, immediately, and extremely politely, ask a spouse, loved one or friend, to please go out and buy you copious amounts of Dawn dish washing liquid. Pepper spray is an oily substance, and as Dawn is used to clean sea life that have been victims of oil spills, it will help you tremendously.

3. Thank your loved one (or friend) profusely. Then, when the pain has subsided, send a handwritten thank you note along with chocolates, flowers, or possibly a bottle of wine. This is a nice touch, especially if your loved one had just returned from 5 long hours of Christmas shopping, and had to run right out again to buy you gallons of Dawn dish detergent.
Maybe you should keep this in your pants pocket instead.

4. Do not use, for example, your spouse's shower to wash the pepper spray off. Surprisingly, this can be construed as very impolite. Those soapy bubbles float all over the place, and when your spouse then goes to take a shower, he or she may find they are sporting a face that is bright red and burning, as the bubbles taking the pepper spray off of you, floated onto the facial cleanser, shampoo and conditioner bottles, and basically the entire shower! Check into a hotel to shower or bathe. Or shower outside with a garden hose if need be. Whatever you do, do not attempt to clean yourself in your spouse's shower or bathtub.

Seriously... the stuff burns!

5. If your spouse's shower or bath are your only options, hire a professional cleaning crew in hazmat suits, to come in afterward and clean said shower or bathtub, as another apology and act of graciousness. You then should always be welcome to use the shower or bath anytime after that.

This stuff works really well, if slathered all over your spouse's face a dozen times throughout the afternoon and evening, even if it is Christmas Eve and he or she is entertaining the family. At least it works well until a new package of supplies arrives from your spouse's favorite beauty or skincare consultant.

6. If your spouse has just purchased shampoo, conditioner, their favorite Kiehl's facial cleanser, and other assorted items that are in the shower with you, politely explain that you will need to throw them all out, but you will purchase all new items to replace them. Make sure you follow through with purchasing new items as soon as possible, and throw in a couple of extra skin care goodies as an added act of goodwill.

Please give your dry cleaner a warning.

7. If you take your pepper sprayed clothing to be professionally laundered, kindly warn the establishment that the clothing has pepper spray on it. If they launder it with anyone else's clothes, they may find themselves named in an unwanted lawsuit.

These won't persuade anyone.

8. If you are goofy enough to take your spouse's unopened package of pepper spray and attach it to your new key ring and keys, simply because you now, "know what to do if it happens again." please laugh it off when your spouse's friends, hairdresser and relatives think you are nuts. You can show them you have those handy wipes you bought off of the internet as proof that you are prepared for yet another pepper spray disaster.

As for me? I am sticking with this pet safe stuff. Evidently it doesn't burn.
*Special Note for Physicians: If you are a physician, and your spouse has been given pepper spray by a friend, please don't spritz it into a toilet to see what happens. Moments later, something will happen all the way back down the hall, into your office. You will experience a burning face and burning eyes. Just try to keep in mind, you were smart enough to get through medical school, and take relief in the fact that you were wise enough to not try this during office hours when patients were in the waiting room, right next to that restroom. Politely tell your spouse not to carry the pepper spray. It's up to you whether or not you want to tell your loved one why.

Contributor, and Site Editor, Maura Graber has been teaching etiquette to children, teens and adults, and training new etiquette instructors, for over a quarter of a century, as founder and director of The RSVP Institute of Etiquette. She is also a writer, has been featured in countless newspapers, magazines and television shows and was an on-air contributor to PBS in Southern California for 15 years.