Thursday, April 25, 2019

Etiquette at Athen’s Baby Ball

Neither King or Queen took part in the dance, but the Princes and Princesses did and seemed to enjoy tbe Ball as much as any of the children. Of course they had to pay strict attention to the rules of etiquette in choosing their partners, only the members of distinguished families being eligible. – Pictured above, Queen Olga, or “Grand Duchess Olga Konstantinovna of Russia, Queen of the Hellenes” Photo source, Pinterest

The Baby Ball at Athens, Part 2
Attended by Children Invited by the King and Queen – A Night at the Royal Palace – How the Ball is Conducted – 
Little Princes and Princesses

The King and Queen sat in chairs, covered with canopies. Presently the Master of Ceremonies, no other than one of the cabinet ministers, gave a signal and the Royal orchestra struck up the opening polka which is a favorite dance among the Greeks. Immediately there was a great clanking of spurs and swords as the officers came forward to ask the little ladies and there older sisters to dance. Many of these officers are present every year, some coming from the ships stationed near Athens, but most of them belonging to the standing army. You can imagine how proud the little girls are to be led out by one of these splendid men in uniforms, brilliant with silver bands and cordons. And now you see why I thought the little Greek boys did not have as good a time as their sisters! Although I had learned to dance very nicely in America, I had great trouble at this ball, not because the steps were difficult, they were just the same as ours, but because of the way they danced them. For instance, in the waltz they only turn one way, and never reverse, and they turn about three times as fast as we did. The result was I soon got very dizzy, and once or twice nearly fell to the floor. The little Greek girls, however, did not seem to mind a bit and whirled about perfectly happy. With them, dancing is a second nature and they seem to know the most difficult steps instinctively from babyhood. Besides that, they have private dancing masters to make them perfect in all the movements. 

A charming scene it was as all these black-haired, dark-eyed little gentlemen and ladies whirled about to the inspiring music, while King George, Queen Olga, and all the grand people of the Court looked on in smiling approval. There are very few fair haired girls in Athens, a child with golden curls being regarded almost as a curiosity. Many of the girls are pretty, and all of them are graceful, but tbey are sure to grow up stout like their mothers, and to fade while they are yet young. Most of them are clever linguists, speaking French and other languages fluently, but few of them, or even their parents, can read the ancient Greek, which is very different from that spoken today. While the children dance tbe King conversed with his Ministers or with guests of importance and the Queen sat in the midst of the ladies of the Court, often pausing in her talk to bestow a smile or a kind word upon some little child who would never forget this mark of favor. King George, being a German by birth, and consequently fair, does not look at all like a Greek. On this occasion, he wore his cavalry uniform, which was almost completely covered with stars and crosses.

Neither King or Queen took part in the dance, but the Princes and Princesses did and seemed to enjoy tbe Ball as much as any of the children. Of course they had to pay strict attention to the rules of etiquette in choosing their partners, only the members of distinguished families being eligible. Among all the Princesses, my favorite was the Princess Marie, who seemed always so good natured and unaffected. She was only a young girl at this time and as fond of romping about the gardens as any of us. One day a friend of mine chanced to be walking in the royal grounds when the Princess, knowing her by name, came running up, her face all aglow and said: “I want you to write your name in my birthday book. Mademoiselle; to-day is my fete, and I want to know when yours comes.” My friend glanced at the book, and saw that the signature of the Prince of Wales was in the line directly above where she would have to write. His birthday chanced to come on the same day as her own. Rather embarrassed, my friend hesitated to comply with the request. “But Princess,” she said, “I have no pencil.” “Never mind,” said Princess Marie, “I will get you one from papa's study.” With this, the Princess went running back into the palace and presently came flying down the steps again, her hair tossed and tumbled, the perfect picture of simplicity and kindliness. In her hand, she carried a long pencil which she held out to my friend, saying: “Here it is, now you can write your name.”

Brightest among all the dancers at the ball and most lovely, so it seemed to me, was the Princess Marie as she danced in the cotillion which began at one o'clock and ended the ball. It was led by the Crown Prince Constantin, who. being heir to the throne, has been brought up entirely among the Greeks, and belongs to the Greek church. Like his father he is quite stout, and resembles the Germans more than the people be will he called upon to rule. Among the other royal dancers in the cotillion was the Princess Alexandra,who, about a year later, made the first love match among the royal children when she was betrothed to the Grand Duke Paul of Russia. She, too, is a decided blonde. The cotillion lasted until two o’clock, and then all these proud little girls and boys kissed each other good night, and were bundled on home by their mamas and chaperons, very happy in the memory of a pleasure that marked an epoch in their lives. Mabel Moffett, Los Angeles Herald, 1895

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

Greek Royal Children's Court Ball

The little girls are led out by the officers... – The invitations signed by the Prime Minister read as follows: “Their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Hellenes have requested the presence of at the palace on the day of this month.” 

The Baby Ball at Athens
Attended by Children Invited by the King and Queen.
A Night at the Royal Palace – How the Ball is Conducted 
Little Princes and Princesses

The greatest event in the life of a little Greek girl is the Children’s Court Ball which takes place at the Royal Palace in Athens every year in the Autumn. Of course little boys also attend this Ball, but they do not have as good a time as the girls for reasons which I will presently explain. About three hundred children make their debut at this grand affair every year, the average age for their first appearance being ten years, although I have seen little girls there as young as eight. These newcomers, however, are not the only children present for those who have attended in previous years are allowed to go again until they become big girls and boys, in fact until they are quite grown up. So highly do they prize this privilege of dancing before the King and Queen that young ladies of twenty do not scorn to be seen on the floor with their little brothers and sisters. No little Athenian girl or boy may be present at this Ball except on an invitation addressed personally by the Prime Minister. And this honor is reserved for the children of distinguished families and those whose parents belong to the diplomatic circle. 

Great is the excitement, therefore, among these ten year old young ladies and young gentlemen of Athens as the time approaches for the invitations to be sent out. Many are the eager faces at the doors and windows of Athenian homes watching for the mounted soldier in green and red uniform, whose mission it is to distribute the precious missives. These are engraved in French, on square cream-colored cards enclosed in envelopes bearing the large red government seal. The invitations signed by the Prime Minister read as follows: “Their Majesties, the King and Queen of the Hellenes have requested the presence of at the palace on the day of this month.” I shall never forget the day when my invitation came, and how my heart beat as the soldier drew up his big black horse in front of the American Consulate where I was living. I can still see him taking the paper from his knapsack —the paper that had my name inside, and I remember how imposing he looked with his chin held in the strap from his cap, and his long sword at his side. I was just eleven years old.

The etiquette of the court is very strict about dress, and the girls’ costumes are carefully prepared sometimes for weeks in advance. The frocks are of white silk or satin covered with lace, the skirt reaching to the knees. The waist is cut low with short sleeves, and with these are worn long silk mits to match the sash and stockings. The hair is usually worn flowing loosely down the back, or knotted with a bow of ribbon. All Greek children wear a tiny chain around the neck with some medal given them at their baptism. This, and a few bracelets are the only trinkets that may be worn at the Children’s Ball. All the girls wear little bronze dancing shoes strapped up over the ankles, just allowing the stockings to bs seen. An odd feature of the ball is that the children never carry flowers the costume for the boys is more easily disposed of as most of them attend either military or naval schools, and simply wear their full dress uniforms.

The Ball always takes place on a Sunday evening, this being a gala day in Athens, and by eight o'clock a long line of carriages fillet with children and their mothers or chaperons is drawn up in front of the King's palace. The palace stands in the heart of the city, and is a large white marble building not very imposing, but placed in the midst of beautiful gardens. At the door, a gorgeous flunky receives the children and escorts them into an ante-room, where two of the Queen‘s Maids of Honor inspect the little Debutantes. This is merely a matter of form, for it rarely happens that any one of the little girls receives anything more severe than a smile of encouragement. 

I was a little frightened as we entered the palace and was surprised to see the self-possession shown by most of the Greek children. I suppose they were more accustomed than I to the idea of being ushered in before a genuine King and Queen. The large Ballroom used on this occasion is in the interior of the palace. It is an immense room with a ceiling like the dome of a cathedral. The walls are beautifully frescoed, and long gallery runs the entire length of the sides. At one end is a raised platform on which, as we came in, were seated the Royal family, conversing with various ambassadors in full dress... to be continued – Mabel Moffett for Los Angeles Herald, 1895

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

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Mid-20th C. Wedding Etiquette

Statistics show you’re more likely to be bride, groom or wedding guest in June... the “month of marriages” than at any other time in the year. But how much do you know about wedding manners? 

Test your knowledge on the wedding etiquette questions below...

1. You arrive at the church after the mother of the bride has been seated. You should 
  • a) slip silently into the nearest pew. 
  • b) wait in the church vestibule until after the ceremony. 
  • c) take any free seat. 
2. As the usher escorts you to your seat, it is proper for you to 
  • a) maintain a dignified silence.
  • b) talk in a normal voice about anything that occurs to you.
  • c) exchange polite remarks with the usher in a low voice.
3. On the receiving line you pass by the bride. If you do not know her personally, you 
  • a) mumble “How do you do?” and move along quickly. 
  • b) wish her good luck and tell her she made a lovely bride. 
  • c) congratulate her. 
4. The two most popular pieces of music for weddings were originally 
  • a) a bridal chorus for a medieval knight and a wedding march for a fairy queen.
  • b) a church hymn and a march for an emperor’s procession. 
  • c) tunes composed especially for church weddings. 
5. Right after marriage, the bride is faced with a stack of thank-you notes to write. The proper thing is to 
  • a) write out each note, mentioning the gift and commenting on it. 
  • b) have thank-you notes engraved and simply mail them out. 
  • c) thank the giver in person or by phone. 
6. A family relative plans to photograph the ceremony. He should 
  • a) consult the bride's mother. 
  • b) go ahead on his own. 
  • c) ask the clergyman's permission. 
7. Your husband is an usher at the wedding, but you're not invited to sit at the bride's table. You should 
  • a) graciously be seated at a guest's table.
  • b) insist on sitting with your husband.
  • c) stalk out. 
8. The father of the bride feels he will look silly in a cutaway and refuses to join the groom in wearing one. The bride must 
  • a) humor Daddy, who, after all, pays for the wedding.
  • b) get him to compromise on a dark gray suit.
  • c) persuade him at all costs to wear the cutaway. 
9. The bride's parents must 
  • a) pay for both the bridesmaids’ and the maid of honor’s dresses.
  • b) pay only for the maid of honor's dress. 
  • c) let bridesmaids and maid of honor buy their own. 
10. Aunt Alice is invited to the wedding reception but will be unable to attend. She is 
  • a) obliged to send a gift. 
  • b) allowed to send one, but not obligated.
  • c) definitely not supposed to send one.


1. b). No one should be seated after the bride’s mother has begun to walk down the aisle. This would detract from her entrance, at the moment when she should be the focus of all attention. 

2. c). Although it looks stiff and unnatural to walk down the aisle like a statue, it is not seemly to begin a lively conversation in church. Your wisest course is to talk quietly about a general subject until you are seated. 

3. b). Even though you don't know the bride, you must say something more than “How do you do?” to her. But never congratulate her, since this implies that she has managed to win her husband when it should be the other way around. Etiquette says that only the groom may be congratulated. It's proper to wish the bride happiness. 

4. a). The traditional “Here Comes the Bride” originally was a bridal chorus in Wagner's opera, Lohengrin. The wedding march customarily used as a recessional is the “Fairy Queen's Wedding March” from Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream.

5. a). It is considered impolite to send out engraved thank-you notes, and downright rude not to send any at all. People who go to the trouble of selecting a gift deserve to know that the bride has noticed it. 

6. c). Although the wishes of the bride and her mother should be respected, the clergyman’s wishes are “the court of last resort.” 

7. a). The bridal table is officially only for the bridal party and does not even include the parents of bride and groom. 

8. c). When the groom is dressed formally, the fathers of both bride and groom must follow suit. Daddy would look much sillier wearing any other suit than he will in his cutaway. 

9. c). If the bride’s parents are well-fixed, she may elect to pay for her attendants’ gowns but she is under no obligation to do so in any case. 

10. b). A guest who has been invited to the reception is expected to send a gift if he accepts the invitation. If he does not accept, he may send one or not, as he chooses. A guest who has been asked only to the church ceremony also may send a gift or not, at his own discretion. 


Eight or more right answers means that, so far as etiquette is concerned, you're well briefed for anybody's wedding even your own. 
Five to seven is just getting by. 
Less than five means you'd better hold back on wedding bells until you've consulted a good book of etiquette. 

– Parade Magazine, June 8, 1958

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

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Etiquette and 1980’s “Polite Society”

A 1983 ‘Polite Room’ in warm tones from House Beautiful Magazine – “Warm colors compliment guests; sunny shades make people happy. Peaches, pinks and reds are the nicest colors for flattering guests. A yellow room always picks up the spirits...” 

All of a sudden it’s nice to be nice. After a long spell of putting “No.
1” first, thinking of others seems to have a novel attraction. What’s the tipoff? Everyone’s emerging interest in etiquette. 

All across the country, ex-“me generation” mothers are sending their toddlers to manners classes. Harvard Business School students are attending seminars on gracious entertaining. Updated etiquette books are selling like crazy. And, in the White House, propriety is politic. Welcome the polite society.

Sociologists say it’s a reaction to the “take me as I am” 196o’s and the “me-ism” of the 1970s. But, whatever the cause, the aim is definitely to please. The same gracious mood is guiding a new trend in home decorating. Friendly rooms which extend polite welcomes are replacing the self-centered environs of the high-tech age. 

“Warm colors, a relaxed mix of furnishings, intimate scale and lots of cushy, comfortable upholstery are the hallmarks of the new decorating etiquette,” says one interior design consultant. “These polite rooms are the essence of all-American graciousness. And, unlike the so-called civilized rooms of yesteryear, these ‘polite rooms’ put people at ease, engage their interest and emanate warmth.” 

Although decorating dogmas went out with engraved calling cards, today’s new courteous decors do share a standard code of behavior. Here are just some of the dictates: 
  • An intimate scale creates a relaxed atmosphere. 
  • An 8-by-10-foot area is a good size for conversation groupings. 
  • In a larger room, designing a small library of music nook to create a cozy ambiance is recommended. 
  • Warm colors compliment guests; sunny shades make people happy. Peaches, pinks and reds are the nicest colors for flattering guests. A yellow room always picks up the spirits. 
  • Interesting accessories break the ice. Aside from making a room truly personal, handmade accessories, collections, flowers, books and art give people something to talk about. They are the niceties of decorating... the ‘white gloves and pearls.’ 
  • A mix of styles and patterns sets a friendly tone. There’s nothing stiff about these polite rooms. 
  • On the contrary, a warm blend of old and new and an artful combination of patterns and prints helps keep rooms from being too rigid, too formal, too cold. – The Sun, 1983

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

Bridal and Pearl Etiquette

Gifting the Same – The bridesmaids’ gifts shoud be all the same. Among appropriate gifts: a bracelet of cultured pearls. If bracelets are the choice, a triple strand for the maid of honor and single strands for the bridesmaids are suggested by etiquette advisers.– UPI, 1958

The Pearl Tradition 

Bridal dresses today are so attractively designed, that they need very little in the way of jewelry to set them off. However, for many decades, simple strand of pearls, pendant or earrings, has been a natural accompaniment. One reason for this is the lovely legend that has grown up around pearls. Besides being the birthstone for June, the month in which most weddings occur, pearls symbolize modesty and purity.

Ancient legends from the Orient indicated that pearls fashioned binding ties and cemented love and friendship. Pearls were not only used on women’s garments, but also on ceremonial robes worn by priests, and embroidered on lavish tapestries hung on palace walls. According to etiquette, pearls, plus the marriage diamonds, are the only proper jewels on this great occasion. 

In past cultures, gifts of fine jewelry were first given to a young girl by her parents. Even today, a mother or father will present a beloved daughter with a fine strand of cultured pearls at the time she reaches her sixteenth birthday, graduates from school, or marries. Pearls are also traditional as the gift from the groom, although this is often in the form of a pin or earrings, since the bride, in many cases, already possesses her pearl strand.– The Herald-Journal, 1968
Etiquette Enthusiast,Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

Monday, April 22, 2019

Etiquette and Pinning Sweethearts

Some of the “unwritten laws of etiquette,” like those for the “pinning” or “lavaliering” of college sweethearts, are passed on generationally in fraternities and sororities. “Ever since society allowed young people to see one another in a romantic setting, dating formalities have existed from gentlemen callers to today’s less formal art of ‘hooking up.’ Somewhere in between lie two levels of commitment familiar only to Greeks – lavaliering and pinning. Lavaliering is a Greek tradition born out of various dating rituals going back to a pre-Penn State era. An actual lavaliere is a necklace with the fraternity's letters on it. The level of commitment varies from fraternity to fraternity and school to school. Some fraternities don't recognize lavaliering, and others don't allow members to pin the women they date. But if a fraternity allows members to lavaliere their partners, it adds a more concrete commitment to the relationship than what existed in the past...” – Pictured above, a Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity pin- Quote from The Daily Collegian, 1992

“Pinning” is Social Security for College Students

Sometimes a mother is upset by the news that her daughter has accepted the fraternity pin of a college beau. But there are several reasons why this campus custom can mean much to the future happiness of the boy and girl involved. Pinning is a kind of social security in the years before marriage. Less binding and more private than an engagement, it is an attempt to find someone to depend on. 

For hundreds of years a woman could only be single, engaged, married, widowed, or divorced; pinning has created a new social status. You won't find the rules of pinning in the etiquette books, many parents have never heard of it; society doesn't recognize it; but those most concerned honor and understand it. – San Bernardino Sun, 1953

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

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Etiquette and Empress Eugénie

 No suitable riding habit could be found for her in which to show herself on horseback to the troops and the populace... Empress Eugénie was the younger daughter of the Count of Montijo. She married Napoleon III in January 1853 and was Regent in the summer of 1870 when the Emperor was engaged in the Franco-Prussian war. After the battle of Sedan, when Napoleon III was captured along with his whole army, she fled to England with her son. –Image of Empress Eugénie from Pinterest

A Question of Etiquette in Paris 

It has repeatedly been asked as to why the Empress, after the news of Sedan was made public, did not present herself to the guards and the people of Paris, and call upon them to rally around her and her son, and to maintain for the latter the Imperial throne. The cause of this singular abstention has been made public. It was because no suitable riding habit could be found for her in which to show herself on horseback to the troops and the populace. 

There was only one to be found at the Tuileries in the hurry and confusion of that terrible crisis. It was one made for the hunting parties at Compeigne, and was in the Louis XV style, composed of green velvet embroidered with gold, and necessitating a cocked hat for completion of the costume. It was too theatrical. It would not do, and so the gallant appeal to the public was given up, and with it the last hope for the preservation of the Empire.—Paris Correspondence6 Philadelphia Telegraph, 1891

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