Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Day Etiquette in Gilded Age New York

New Year's Celebrations in New York, 1871 — "No calls after 9pm will be permissible, according to the new etiquette of the day. From all that can be learned, therefore, it appears that in “high circles” the celebration is to be about the dullest and dreariest formality that could be conceived." 


The Celebration this Year 
In New-York

Part 1— The Customs of the Day

The celebration will not prove less general this year as far New-York is concerned, but there will be noted considerable change in the customs of the day. From all that can be gathered from Brown and other wise men of the inner social circle, it appears that there will be a dull tone respectability pervading the observances. It will not be the rollicking carnival of the olden time, when everybody, however genteel, felt warranted in coming down from his stilts and engaging with impunity in a wild revelry that would be tolerated on no other day. 

A remarkable falling off in enthusiasm has marked New-Year’s Day celebrations for the past five years. But before that, even, croaking prophets had begun to presage the decline of the festival; though; notwithstanding, “calling” continued general, among high and low, and the streets afforded the usual midnight scenes and sounds of bacchanalian uproar. There was a change in custom, however, for all the outward signs remained as strong as ever.

What Brown Says

Many of our first families, according to Brown, are going further still. Forestalling the fashion of the future, they entirely abandon the customs of their fathers. They close their doors against all comers, of whatever quality, affording not even the poor cheer of a social glass. The reception of cards, not of persons, will be encouraged by these ultra-exclusive fashionables. 

For such as do call in high circles, Brown says that full evening dress will be necessary: claw-hammer coat, black necktie and the display of shirt bosom equal to one-third the square inches of the caller’s surface. No calls after 9pm will be permissible, according to the new etiquette of the day. From all that can be learned, therefore, it appears that in “high circles” the celebration is to be about the dullest and dreariest formality that could be conceived. But it must not be supposed that the first “society” is in the majority. Although it sets the fashion for all, that fashion has a year or so to run before its general adoption.

The Card-Droppers

The cards of the callers are being gotten up by the Broadway engravers in various unique styles, comic effects predomination in the designs, though a few attempts at poetical graces in delicacy of workmanship and suggestiveness of allegory are to be remarked. The orders for such cards have been filled by the million. There never was such a demand as that which prevailed last week among the trade in bristol board. This is accounted for by those best acquainted with the rules of social etiquette, by cards, instead of calling and gorging and guzzling in proof of good feeling for the at whose expense you gorge and guzzle. A very sensible reform, truly – at least so think the engravers.
A Victorian calling card salver —The New York Times in 1871 has published a new reform of social etiquette to send an invitation on a card instead of calling (per “Brown” in the above article). One would wonder how the unique styles would be used, according to the station in society. But then again the importance of receiving one would show the request of your presence.
Part 2 — Society Alarmed

The wealthy classes – those among them, at least who delight in the lacteal pedigree, crème de la crème – had begun to draw pertly within their shells. Merchants and manufacturers no longer set immense tables, and threw open their doors for the admission of their workmen, and often a general rabble composed of fire boys and corner loafers. Their wives and daughters began to doubt the propriety of making their usual concessions to the rude customs of the days culture was at work lopping of the gnarled branches of the social tree. Mrs. Grundy commanded exclusiveness in New Year’s receptions fashion indorsed Mrs. Grundy. So high society closed its doors to the world in general and limited its hospitalities to a select set.


Change of Customs


This was the first step of a reform that is gradually undermining customs of the New Year, working its changes almost imperceptibly, yet so surely that in five years more the custom of calling and gorging may have fallen back into misty tradition of the manners of an olden time. Today’s celebration will be pretty general – there can be no doubt of that; but there are significant changes of custom to be noted.


There will be fewer tables set than ever before, among the society leaders; there will be less display of culinary temptations in the parlors of the parvenus. It is the style of thing, this time, to fill your house with young women in superb toilets, and offer your guest a simple glass of wine; and in no case must this guest be a partial stranger, nor must strangers be introduced on this carnival time, no matter what their social standing. 

High society has taken the alarm, and fearing she has been too free in the past, does not mean to let her feelings carry her away again; hence the tighter drawing of the lines on this day, which once was marked by an utter abandonment of the rules of social exclusiveness. — From New York Times January 1, 1871


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

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Mid-20th C. Etiquette Advice

Question... Due to the fact that I was working during the day and very busy at night getting our new home in order, I was unable to acknowledge all of our wedding gifts. Is it all right to write "thank you” notes now, six months after the wedding? 

Mid-20th Century 
"Modern Etiquette"
By Advice Columnist, Roberta Lee

From 1941

Q. When a bride is to be married in a traveling suit, what should the bridegroom wear?
A: A business suit.

Q. What is the best way to ask a girl for a dance?
A. "May I have the next dance?"

Q: May one use a lead pencil for writing a social or business letter
A. Not unless one is ill and writing the letter in bed.

From 1951

Q. Is it considered good manners to supply a word which seems to elude another person who is speaking? 
A. It is perhaps a friendly service if the speaker is a foreigner—but it most certainly should never be done with a countryman. 

Q. When a woman has been introduced to you as “Alice Young,” how do you know whether to address her as Mrs. Young or Miss Young? 
A. The only thing to do is to ask her, unless there is someone else nearby whom you can ask.

From 1953


Q. Is it all right for a hostess to mail invitations to a cocktail party on her calling cards? 
A. Yes; on the lower lefthand side, opposite the address may be written: "Saturday, July eighteenth, Cocktails at five o’clock." 

Q. Is it bad manners to eat candy or popcorn in a theater? 
A. Society used to frown upon this practice. However, today’s motion picture theater is just about as much in the popcorn and candy business as in its presentation of films, and the practice is now condoned. Eat as noiselessly and unobtrusively as possible. 

Q. When one is to have a small wedding in the minister's home, is it all right to send out wedding announcements
A. Yes.

From 1955


Q. Should the hostess lead the way to the table at a luncheon, or usher her guests into the room and then follow them? 
A. The hostess should lead the way, and then designate the proper seating arrangement. 

Q. Is it proper to write an anonymous letter of protest or criticism to a newspaper or to a columnist. 
A. This is not only considered ill-bred, but it is a cowardly thing to do. One should always have enough courage in one’s convictions to sign the letter. 

Q. Is it proper for a married woman to send a gift in her name only to a bride? A. No; she should always include her husband’s name. 

Q. What kind of decoration should be used for the breakfast party table? 
A. A bowl of fruit is customary, although flowers may be used too. 

Q. Is it now considered good manners to use a toothpick at the table? Lately I have seen this done by people of apparent refinement. 
A. The rules remain unchanged. Toothpicks should never be seen in use, at the table or anywhere else. 

Q. In what manner should friends be invited to a christening? 
A. By telephone or informal note.

From 1956

Q. Where do the relatives of the deceased sit during the funeral service at the church? 
A. The relatives occupy the front pews on the right of the center aisle. 

Q. When one’s partner has unwittingly given information about his hand during the progress of a bridge game, what should one do? 
A. Disregard it. Under no circumstances should one take advantage of such information, as this would not onty be bad manners, but poor sportsmanship. 

Q. Due to the fact that I was working during the day and very busy at night getting our new home in order, I was unable to acknowledge all of our wedding gifts. Is it all right to write "thank you” notes now, six months after the wedding? 
A. Thanks at this time are better than no thanks at all. And it would be nice to state the reason for the delay.From The Madera Tribune

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

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Etiquette Advice for Lovelorn

"... there are so many faults about his table manners that I would have to criticise everything, it seems."


Etiquette Advice for the Lovelorn and Unmannerly


"I am golng with a young man who is very good to me and has a very good character, but he is very self conscious and twists his hands in such a peculiar manner when he thinks anyone is watching him, and stands all humped over and awkward. It embarrasses me terribly when in company. He also has very bad table manners. 

He leaves his spoon in his cup when he drinks and stoops over his food instead of bringing the food up gracefully to mouth. These things are embarrassing to me and I get so provoked I don't know what to do. I have suggested that he take his spoon out of the cup when drinking and it hurt his feelings frightfully, I believe. But there are so many faults about his table manners that I would have to criticise everything, it seems. 


Won’t you kindly tell me what to do, because he is all right other ways and is more moral than the average boy.
 I  don't want to contend with his bad manners, as I myself have been taught table etiquette and notice details." —From "C. P."

"A man’s morals are of infinitely more importance to a woman than his table manners or the way he carries himself in company. For the sake of his good morals you should be willing to be patient and long suffering on the score of more trlviaf matters. No man likes to be nagged—and no woman ought to be willing to develop into a hen-pecking wife. 

I am firmly convinced that an attitude of unkind superiority and criticism over personalities, such as leaving a spoon in a cup or twisting hands from embarrassment breaks up many a home and wrecks many lives. If you feel your knowledge, of table etiquette is so fine that it will prevent a daily exercise of tact and kindness toward this man, you had better give him up. You will, however, be making a mistake. 

Try to forget your own good manners—they aren’t really good, you know, or you would not have criticized him. but would have influenced him by tact and indirect methods. Remember how finehe is in the things that really count, and leave to time, patience and affection, the smaller task of helping him to more polished manners." — by Beatrice Fairfax, in the Los Angeles Herald, 1917

Etiquette Outside of Prohibition

Partying like it's 1922


Imbibing Outside US' 18th Amendment

From the alcoholic beverages of the chafing-dish supper to those of the dinner is a natural transition. At the formal dinner wines often accompany the courses and, as already mentioned, liqueurs and cordials supply the final liquid note after the coffee. The theory of alcoholic beverages at the formal dinner is a simple one. Certain fixed and definite rules obtain and are generally observed. Three wines may be served, though the best social form prefers one or two.

Sherry or Madeira

Sherry or Madeira may accompany the soup course. They should be poured after the soup has been placed, and served from a decanter. In general wine should always be poured slowly, and glasses should be filled only two-thirds. The etiquette is for the waitress to pour a little wine into the host's glass, then filling the glasses beginning at the host's right. Sherry should always be served cold, at a temperature of 40° Fahrenheit; the Madeira may be served at a temperature of 65°F, or that of the room.

Sauterne or Rhine Wine

Sauterne or Rhine Wine go with the fish course. They are poured, like the Claret, at the end of the preceding course, before the next course comes on. They (like Sparkling Burgundy and Champagne) are served from the bottle, and the bottle should be held in a folded napkin or bottle holder. The mean average temperature of Sauterne should be 50°F. Some prefer it decidedly cold (chilled in the icebox), others only slightly cold. Rhine Wine should always be cold: 40°F.

Claret

Claret is the wine for the entree and, as a rule, is served from a claret pitcher. Being a light wine, it may be served with the Champagne and instead of it to those who do not prefer the Mumm. Claret should be poured at the end of the course immediately before the one with which it is served. The room temperature or one of 65°F is the proper one for Claret.

Champagne, Burgundy or Port

These wines are served with the meat courses. In order that Champagne or Sparkling Burgundy may come on the table at the proper temperature (Champagne 35° and Burgundy 70° F) it must be ice-packed for several hours before serving. Care must be taken, however, that it does not frappe when, if required at short notice, it is salt-and-ice packed half an hour before serving. 

Sweet Champagne, on the other hand, is improved in flavor if slightly frappeed. It should always be served very cold. Like Sauterne, Champagne and Burgundy are served from the bottle. In serving them the wire should be cut, and the cork carefully worked out of the bottle by pressing it up with the thumbs. It is wise to work out the cork under the edge of the table, since it is sometimes projected with much power. The temperature for Port is 55° F.

Cordials and Liqueurs

Cordial glasses holding a small quantity are used for serving these sweet, aromatic beverages. Cordials are served plain, with crushed ice or with cream. In serving Creme de Menthe the straw is unusual in private home service, though customary in some hotels. Creme de Menthe glasses should be filled two-thirds full with fine crushed ice, then a little of the cordial poured over it. Chartreuse (green or yellow), Benedictine, Grenadine, Apricot Brandy, Curacoa, and Dantzig Eau de Vie arc usually served without additions or ice. 

Benedictine or Creme de Cacoa, however, may be served with a dash of plain or whipped cream. The exceedingly sweet Creme Yvette should he served with cracked ice, like Creme de Menthe. Noyau, Kirschwasser, Maraschino and Grenadine may be served as cordials, or reserved for the flavoring of puddings, ices and sauces.—From Lillian B. Lansdown's, 1922 “How to Prepare and Serve a Meal; and Interior Decoration” 


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

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Etiquette and the Chaperon

"Regarding the "free" American girl, it is only when she travels abroad or stops at a hotel for any length of time that social requirements still command that she be chaperoned."


American girls with their independent ideas of social requirements mock the idea of a chaperon to the theater or dance. And this is especially true of the many young women who are planning careers for themselves, who intend to be more than social butterflies.


We are proud of the ideal American girl. We do not mean, of course, the self-esteemed, arrogant young miss who derides all conventions and calls herself "free." In her we are not interested at all. But there is the true American type—the young girl who is essentially a lady, who has self-reliance but is not bold, who is firm without being overbearing, who is brainy but not masculine, who is courageous, strong and fearless, yet feminine. She has no need of the chaperon; and it is because of her that the "decay of the chaperon" has been so rapid in America.


And so we find that the American girl who is well-bred, who is well-mannered and high-principled, may attend the theater and the dance with gentlemen, unchaperoned. It is only when she travels abroad or stops at a hotel for any length of time that social requirements still command that she be chaperoned. But even then, the girl who travels on business purposes, need feel no embarrassment when she is alone, if her manner and speech are as polished and correct as they should be.” 
—From Lillian Eichler's 1921, “Book of Etiquette / Volume I”

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

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Office Party Etiquette

Remember... You're going to have to go on dealing with these people in a businesslike way ever after!

The Office Party

The office party is supposed to be a time when superiors and subordinates meet socially. Actually the whole institution is loaded with problems. Remember that the salesman on whose shoulder you've poured out your problems, or the typist whose been kissed among the file cabinets, will be back at their desks on Monday, and that you're going to have to go on dealing with these people in a businesslike way ever after. So dress up and have fun, but don't drink beyond the point of discretion (whiskey in paper cups is bound to be treacherous.)

The point of discretion could be defined as the point beyond which you're going to feel mighty foolish facing all those people the next day. Remember, the young man in the shipping department that you've always thought attractive, is still going to be married on Monday. And the girl down the hall that you've always distrusted will be no more discrete with all your personal business than she's always been with other juicy tidbits of gossip. — From "Etiquette" by Frances Benton, 1956

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

A Tale of Poor Business Etiquette


"Politeness goes far, yet costs nothing." — Author and Reformer, Samuel Smiles
"Customers may forget what you said but they'll never forget how you made them feel." Unknown — "May I venture to inquire your name?" asked the lady of the house. "Oh, any name will do for me; the name of the book is of a good deal more importance to you..." 
Peddling Etiquette:
A Dealer in the Commodity Rebuked
For Poor Manners

Yesterday a Carson lady was called to the door by the ring of the bell, and as she opened the door a tall man with a book under his arm glided into the hall, hung his hat on the rack and slid rapidly into the parlor. "Madame," he said, as he cast his frame into an easy chair, "I'm selling a very valuable book and it only costs two dollars and a half."

"May I venture to inquire your name?" asked the lady of the house. "Oh, any name will do for me; the name of the book is of a good deal more importance to you. I am selling a work on etiquette, teaches you how to act in polite society, treats of good manners, how to receive company, etc..., etc..." "Does it treat of making calls and the like?" "Ah, Madame, I should say so. Devotes five chapters to the latest rules governing calling." And the man opened his sample with a broad grin.

"Does it have any suggestions as to how a strange man should act when he enters a lady's parlor without an invitation and prior to an introduction?" and she fixed a calm look upon the party in the easy chair. The party in the easy chair folded up his sample, moved gracefully to the hat- rack and made toward the gate.
— The Carson Appeal, 1884

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

Etiquette, Civil Rights and Diplomacy

The Highway to Diplomacy and Civil Rights — Route 40 played a role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act
Breaches of Diplomatic Etiquette and Protocol Cause of International Crises

In the segregated State of Maryland, diplomats from newly independent African nations suffered a series of indignities during the 1950s and early 1960s. While traveling through Maryland, on their way from the United Nations to the White House. Newspapers in their respective home countries, railed against American racism whenever a diplomat was ejected from a “whites only” establishment.

The situation became so dire, the State Department was eventually forced to establish an agency just to deal with the discrimination against black diplomats. In an effort to solve the problem, the Kennedy administration argued that ending segregation was vital to winning the Cold War. Many believe this ultimately helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 



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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Etiquette and Japanese Omotenashi

"Customers are gods, as a saying goes in Japan, where staffers press for shoppers in department store elevators and hotel porters line up to bow to guests." Japan Times

Omotenashi — A Very Japanese Hospitality
The word "omotenashi," which, ever since Tokyo won the right to hold the 2020 Olympic Games, is used to describe the Japanese style of hospitality and, when it’s covered by the media, a source of national pride. 
Any foreigner who has lived in Japan for an extended period of time will have been asked this question: "What's your favorite Japanese word?" In my own case I have often answered the enquiry with omotenashi and, without exception, my reply has garnered instant murmurs of approval. The tacit implication is that I have "understood." But what, exactly, is it?


Japanese Tea Ceremony 
Omotenashi is a singularly difficult word to define, let alone translate. It is very close to the Western phrase 'Hospitality', yet it is palpably something else, one of those semi-mystical Japanese keywords that seem to tap into the very heart of the Japanese cultural DNA, yet remain somehow beyond literal explanation. One of my personal favorite attempts to decipher its meaning, comes from an unlikely source, the PR department of a major Japanese cosmetics corporation: 

"Omotenashi is a word you have to translate with your heart" says their copy, "It is a subtle connection in which trust, pleasure and respect are interwoven in an approach steeped in a natural sense of deference; an exquisite approach to the art of receiving guests." Not a bad stab at it, methinks. 

My own attempt goes something like this: "Omotenashi describes an atmosphere of conviviality and welcome in which individual needs and preferences are catered to impeccably, and of which an essential element is the unobtrusive, meticulous attention to detail. The term is primarily used in modern Japan in the hospitality and service industries, most notably in high-end hotels and restaurants, though its use is not exclusive to those trades; it may even be used to describe the hospitality found in the confines of a private home." Text By John Ashburne

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Etiquette for Bridal Showers

The Novel Bridal Shower of 1907
Vintage 1960s Bridal Shower gift wrap
An Astonishing
 "Paper Bridal Shower" 

By the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, pre-printed paper shower items and gifts were seen more and more at bridal showers. In 1907, however, they were not. Paper items for a shower was novel and fun for the woman of 1907. As talk of china and silver were left out of this article, it is probably a good guess that the paper items were only gifts. There is no mention of paper plates, nor napkins.


The writer begins "astonished" to receive an invitation to her first "paper" bridal shower. She then goes into great detail about the decor and gifts for the bride to be. All of the curiosities made from paper. It is fun article to read, all the way down to the serving of the "salad and dainties." Below the article is some simple bridal shower etiquette to keep in mind. 



By the tone of the article, the women at the shower in 1907 could give Martha Stewart a run for her money in the craft department.

Bridal Shower Etiquette

The Etiquette Then:

1.The bestowal of engagement presents has taken on a wholesale aspect. Instead of the occasional receipt of a present from one or another of her friends and relatives, the bride-elect is often now the guest of honor at one or more "showers," and the recipient of numerous gifts which are literally showered upon her. There are many kinds of "showers," as many as the ingenuity and financial resources of friends may admit of. When, however, any one bride is to be made the object of a series of such attentions, it is well for the girl's friends who have the matter in hand to see to it that no one person is invited to more than one shower, or, if so invited, that it be at her own request and because she wishes to make several gifts to her friend.

2.Effort should be made not to have the articles given at a "shower" duplicate each other. They should be some simple, useful gifts, which will be of immediate service, and need not be either expensive or especially durable, unless the giver so desires. A "shower" is usually given when a wedding is in prospect, and the necessity of stocking up the new home confronts the young home-makers. The aim is to take a kindly interest in the new home and help to fit it out, more in the way of suggestion than in any extravagant way, which would make the recipients feel embarrassed or indebted, or overload them with semi-desirable gifts.

3.The "shower" is usually in the afternoon, and is joined in almost exclusively by the girl friends of the bride-elect, with perhaps a few of her older women friends and relatives. If, however, it comes in the evening, the men of the bridal party are usually also invited. The refreshments are simple and the style of entertainment informal. The invitations to a "shower" are usually given by the hostess verbally, or she sends her cards by post with the words "Linen shower for Miss Hanley on Wednesday at four."

4.There is a wide range of possible kinds of "showers," but the only rational way is to choose for a donation party of this sort only such objects as will be needed in quantity and variety, and in the choice of which one has not too strong and distinctive taste, as, for instance, the following: Linen, towels, glass, books, fancy china, silver, spoons, aprons, etc. Of course, the furnishings of some one room, as the bath-room, laundry, or kitchen, might be the subject of a "shower," but usually a housewife would prefer to have what she wanted and nothing else for use in these places.

The Etiquette Now:

1. The old etiquette was that bridal showers are not held for 2nd time brides, or even 3rd time brides. Etiquette changes with society, and "serial-marriages" are with us to stay. It is wise for the bride-to-be to make sure anyone throwing a shower for her keeps it tastefully small and with just intimate family and friends invited. Anything over-the-top appears tacky.

2. The old etiquette was that the shower was held only for the bride, her family and friends. Today, more participation of men has given rise to "couple showers" that honor both the bride-to-be and groom-to-be. Men enjoy being feted, just as much as ladies do.

3. The old etiquette of handwritten thank you notes for the shower gifts, being sent out prior to the wedding, is still the correct etiquette now. If the bride and groom do not get notes of thanks sent out quickly, they will find the task much more difficult as the wedding nears. And no... you may not email the notes of thanks! It is poor manners to email a note of thanks to someone who took the time to bring you a gift. Unless a gift was emailed to you, an emailed "note of thanks" is rude.

Compiled by contributor Mary Boyd from Gero-Dynamics©

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Learning Etiquette of Esteemed Gents

"Listen here... It serves a good purpose to keep a little mental notebook of the things which annoy us in others."


Learning Courtesy and Avoiding Rudeness in Manners is Quite as Essential in One Who Desires to Be Esteemed a Gentleman

A High School boy has made a request for a series of articles on good manners. The boy may acquire good manners if he will indulge every day in a little self-analysis until he finds that the fundamental principle of good manners is kindness of heart.

Next comes consideration of others. Never to indulge in any habit of conduct or speech which can annoy, wound or displease without good cause those with whom we associate—that is the platform on which we can easily build a structure of good manners.
 
While it is an excellent rule to pass lightly over the faults ot others and to dwell upon their worthy qualities and virtues, it serves a good purpose to keep a little mental notebook of the things which annoy us in others, but to keep these notes only as reminders of the things we do not wish ourselves to do or say. 
A man who was eager for an education and who had acquired the principles of correct grammatical expression was thrown much with illiterate people in his dally association. After some years he became notable for his elegance of language, and his fine powers of conversation. He was asked how he managed to avoid acquiring the slip-shod expressions and grammatical mistakes of his companions.
This Man Learns on Mistakes of Others 

The man answered, "Whenever one of my comrades or acquaintances uses an expression which I know to be incorrect I mentally say the phrase as it should be said. "For instance, when I hear a man say, ‘I done it,’ or ‘I seen a feller do that,’ ‘I hadn’t got it,’ or similar phrases, I repeat mentally, 'I did it,’ 'I saw a man do that,' ‘I haven't it,’ etc... I never permit one of those expressions to pass by without my mental correction. “In that way my mental notebook is filled with the right expressions, and the wrong ones do not come to me when I wish to speak.” This is an excellent rule for the acquiring of good language. The same rule can be applied to manners.

Whoever wounds us by rudeness, vulgarity, loud talking in public places, or other disagreeable habits, should be observed and remembered only as a guard to better manners for ourselves in these matters. Any bright, intelligent youth, ambitious to acquire a pleasing deportment, needs only to watch and listen to the well-bred people of his acquaintance to obtain a foundation for good manners, and a knowledge of the right things to do. Then by reading out of his mental notebook the things which he has found displeasing to himself in others, he can soon acquire a long list of the things not to do.
 
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1915

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

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Etiquette Advice for Young Men

Dig deep in your heart first, young man, then call your brain, your memory, your powers of observation to bear upon life

Good Manners Leave Impression Upon Observers

People who possess the refinement of good manners always leave a pleasant and stimulating impression upon those with whom they converse. Even in a brief interview In which only the ordinary events or happenings of health and weather are touched upon, the really good mannered individual whose manners spring from a good heart will find an opportunity to leave an agreeable and brightening effect.

Dig deep in your heart first, young man, then call your brain, your memory, your powers of observation to bear upon life, and you will need no book of etiquette to direct you, although it may not harm you to read one. — Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1915


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

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Victorian and Edwardian Etiquette of Declaring or Declining Love

When the opportunity offers to settle the matter, there is little doubt in the mind of the lover and little hesitation on the part of the woman. 
Finding and Declaring Love 
In a great majority of cases in America, at least, where access to the young woman is gained through a thousand social channels, the real declaration of love comes spontaneously, and is accepted or rejected before there is opportunity even for the formal proposal. For by a thousand half-unconscious signs does that state of mind reveal itself. So it happens that when the opportunity offers to settle the matter, there is little doubt in the mind of the lover and little hesitation on the part of the woman.
Parents should carefully watch the young men who frequent their houses, in order to see that undesirable intimacies are not formed with their daughters, for friendships and intimacies soon lead to love. Many a girl, feeling convinced that she had loved unwisely, has entered upon the married state with heart and reason at variance, when she might have given up the acquaintance, in the beginning of it, very easily. 
The most perfect reserve in courtship, even in cases of the most ardent attachment, is indispensable to the confidence and trust of married life to come. All public display of devotion should be avoided, for it tends to lessen mutual respect, and it makes the actors ridiculous in the eyes or others. It is quite possible for a man to show every conceivable attention to the one to whom he is engaged, and yet to avoid committing the slightest offence against delicacy or good taste. 
It is quite possible for a man to show attention, and even assiduity up to a certain point, without becoming a lover; and it is equally possible for the girl to let it be seen that he is not disagreeable to her, without actually encouraging him. No man likes to be refused, and no man of tact will risk a refusal. 
Long engagements are usually entered into by people who are quite young, but who, for some reason, cannot marry. As the years go on their tastes may change, and yet each may feel that honor binds the one to the other. The woman chosen by a man when he is twenty-one is seldom the woman he would chose when he is forty. When people marry young they grow accustomed to each other, and, oddly enough, they grow to be alike; but during a long engagement their tastes are apt to change, and the result is apt to be anything but a happy one. Of course, there are exceptions, but, generalizing, the long engagement is to be feared.
This is true in that society where really well-bred and noble-minded women hold sway, for no woman of character permits the man to be long in doubt of her withdrawal of herself, when she sees he is attracted and yet knows that she cannot respond to his advances. The method of proposing is not a matter for a book on etiquette. It concerns, along with all major matters of morals, those deeper things of life, for which there is no instruction beyond the inculcation of high ideals.          

It is enough to say that an engagement has been broken mutually, even though no reason is obvious.
Declining Love 

A young girl’s own safety, as regards her present and future happiness, demands that she receive attentions from only the best of young men,—those of whom her reason would approve, if the acquaintance should lead to more than acquaintance. 
In many circles to-day it is enough to say that an engagement has been broken mutually, even though no reason is obvious. This should be so, for if too much comment attaches to the breaking of a marriage engagement, marriages will be entered into the almost certain outcome of which is the divorce court. 
A lady should never accept any but trivial gifts, such as flowers, a book, a piece of music, or a box of confectionery, from a gentleman who is not related to her. Even a marriage engagement does not make the acceptance of costly gifts wise.

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Etiquette for East German Troops

Barbed wire and an odd energy merge, as the Berlin Wall was first being built.

 Ulbricht's East German Troops Got Tips on Being Gallant in 1969

 By Leon Dennen, for the Desert Sun, 1969 —

Who said chivalry is dead? According to a book of etiquette just printed by Communist East Germany as a "manual of good manners" for its armed forces, kissing the hand of a woman is indeed a “chivalrous gesture.” It is also recommended as an example of good Communist behavior. 

"The kiss on the hand, which is more a breath than a kiss, belongs of course, on the back of the hand," says the Red manual. "If another spot is chosen, the gesture will far surpass the gallant function of the hand-kiss.” 

Specifically addressed to the soldiers of Communist East Germany, the 340-page treasury of Red courtesy bears the appropriate title of “Refined or Not Refined—Chats on Good Behavior.” It is said to be the brain child of Walter Ulbricht, East Germany’s aged boss, who has the distinction of being the most despised Red chieftain not only in the capitalist West but also in the Communist East. 

Ulbricht convinced Russia’s rulers to invade Czechoslovakia. He feared, not without reason, that the wave of liberalism in the neighboring Communist state would find an echo in East Germany. However, the unimaginative Russians made a fatal error when they' decided to include East German troops among the Warsaw Pact nations that occupied Czechoslovakia.

Europeans, including Communists, have not yet forgotten Hitler’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938 and the subsequent tramp of German boots through their countries. They were shocked even more by the presence of East Germans among these invaders than by the occupation itself.

To add insult to injury, the East Germans obviously forgot that in 1968, unlike 30 years ago, they invaded Czechoslovakia as Communist “liberators" and not as Nazi conquerors. Communists or Nazis, they proceeded to behave like German invaders and the Russians were soon forced to send them home. It is apparently to avoid future embarrassing situations— future invasions, perhaps?—that Ulbricht decided to issue his book of etiquette. 

It provides every conceivable bit of advice on the conduct of the soldier "who does not only represent the People’s Army, but also socialist society and the German Democratic Republic.” For instance, drunkenness is a disgrace of the Communist army’s honor "and drinking straight from the bottle is not done either.” If there has been a party in a public place where certain quantities of food and drink have been consumed, the book of etiquette urges its readers "not to forget to pay.”

The military uniform is recommended as an entirely acceptable garb for all social events. However, it is not permitted to carry an umbrella "when wearing a uniform.”

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

Etiquette and the Tragic Decline

Are 'phones' at the bottom of the matter? One has an uneasy suspicion that the telephone has much to answer for in destroying the conversational ideal. 

Decline of Good Manners Is the Tragedy of Modern Life

"'The decay of good manners is the tragedy of modern life—and what is the reason? Whence comes this falling off of those exterior graces which are the salt of society, whether it he spelled with a big 'S' or a small? For after all, what is society without manners and why have we not preserved this precious heritage in our midst?

Why are good manners pratically extinct?’ To all such questions there must be an answer—and it is surely worth time seeking. 'ls it the motor craze that leaves us no time to be polite? 'The very wind is like a bell' to toll us back to early Victorian days, when our grandmothers learned etiquette out of prim manuals, and the making of a gentleman was voted 'the most important part of a liberal education,' remarks a despondent writer in the London Daily News. 

For our forebears believed that, as old William of Wyckham had it, 'Manners makyth man'; how much more do they make woman? We know that these ideas once prevailed, because we recognize a few such happy individuals possessed of manners even yet, though they strike us as prehistoric survivals, not without their pathos.

Are 'phones' at the bottom of the matter? One has an uneasy suspicion that the telephone has much to answer for in destroying the conversational ideal. No one can pretend that this is gained by improved methods of communication. 'A voice soft, gentle and low is,' the poet assures us, 'an excellent thing in woman.' but when that same voice cries 'Hello! Are you there?' it does not sound her ideal greeting.

To come down to 'terra firma' — for there must we ultimately alight — is it possible that women's clubs have anything to do with the disappearance of polite ideals? Has the subtle influence of the smoking room, with its 'laissez-faire' atmosphere and abrogation of once reverenced etiquette tended to minimize the little courtesies which were once the hallmark of high breeding, and are now respected like old coins, valued for their antiquarian interest — but not current?

For there is a distinct feeling abroad that it is a waste of time to stand on ceremony with one's neighbors and a democratic age scoffs what it deems the airs and graces of a courtlier era. It associates fine manners with insincerity and superficiality, yet the profounder student of human nature will tell you that manners are matter of the heart when all is said." — Los Angeles Herald, 1911

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Etiquette and Parenting

There are none so ready as young children to assume airs of equality; and if they are allowed to treat one class of superiors in age and character disrespectfully, they will soon use the privilege universally.

If parents allow their children to talk to them, and to the grown persons in the family, in the same style in which they address each other, it will be in vain to hope for the courtesy of manner and tone which good breeding demands in the general intercourse of society. In a large family, where the elder children are grown up, and the younger are small, it is important to require the latter to treat the elder in some sense as superiors. 


There are none so ready as young children to assume airs of equality; and if they are allowed to treat one class of superiors in age and character disrespectfully, they will soon use the privilege universally. This is the reason, why the youngest children of a family are most apt to be pert, forward, and unmannerly.From American Woman's Home, by Catherine E. Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Etiquette and Education

Good manners should be taught to very young children, and the inculcation of the principles and practice of polite society should be continued throughout the whole period of adolescence.

Child, Where Did You Learn Your Good Manners?

WRITING from New York, where the rush and bustle of crowded city life make incivilities the rule and courtesy the exception, Margery Rex declares that the public school authorities of that city contemplate including the teaching of politeness in the educational curriculum.

Good manners should be taught to very young children, and the inculcation of the principles and practice of polite society should be continued throughout the whole period of adolescence; indeed it should not stop with the adult, but become a habit to follow one through life. 


Good manners ought to be taught at home, and are the more easily inculcated by force of example. But when parents are ignorant of, or indifferent to, the courtesies of domestic life—deference to one’s elders, chivalrous attention of the masculine to the feminine, the helping hand to smaller and weaker ones, repression of one’s own selfishness and tender of kindly offices at table and in the daily goings and comings—when these courtesies are quite disregarded by the elders it cannot be expected that children will show the gentlemanly and ladylike traits of good breeding. 

So that if normal courtesies and conventions of etiquette are not taught at home it becomes doubly necessary that the school strive to make amends. Else it will happen that in the crucible of the schoolroom and playground the mixture of good manners and bad will result in lowering the average rather than raising it. Children somehow learn evil from each other more readily than good. But that is because no child is ideal to another child. 

Juvenile ideals are the grownups. The father and mother first have most influence over the growing child, the school teachers next, and thereafter other elder persons of distinction and accomplishments. Politeness is not natural to children, because every child is a little savage and a bigger barbarian before it can be civilized. 

In a land of independence and of struggle to attain the high prizes, the amenities of self-denial in little things are an efflorescence of later life. Good manners should be the accompaniment of learning. They deserve to be incorporated as a course of study from kindergarten to university. — 1921 Los Angeles Herald

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

Place Cover Etiquette, 1922—Now

1920's inspired, luncheon place setting or place "cover," using mixed period flatware and glassware.

Before Anything Edible Comes to the Table

We will not waste time on directions regarding the laying of the tablecloth. Only remember that it must form a true line through the center of the table (your "silence cloth" had best be of table padding, a doubled cotton flannel or asbestos) and not hang below the table less than nine inches. 


The usual arrangement of the centerpiece in the center of the table (the table itself being immediately under the light, unless the waitress is thereby prevented from moving between the table and sideboard) with its dish of fruit or ferns or flowers (never so high as to cut off view or conversation) can be varied to suit individual taste. But the covers (the plates, glasses, napkin and silver of each individual) must always be in line, opposite each other on the opposite sides of the table.

The plate doilies indicate the covers when a bare table is laid. The service plate which each person receives stays where put unless it is replaced by a hot plate.

Napkins, Silver, China and Glass

Napkins (fold flat and square) lie at the left of the forks. The hem of the napkin, turned up, should parallel the forks and the table edge.

When dinner is served without a maid, everything yields to avoiding leaving the table. In that case put on the dessert silver (which otherwise should not be done) with the other dinner silver. 

Place all silver in its order of use, and remember that three forks are enough. If more are needed let them appear with the courses which demand them. The quietest and therefore most desirable way of putting the dessert silver on the table, is to serve it from a napkin, from the right. 

Knives should have their cutting edge toward the plate, at its right, and lie half an inch from the table edge. Spoons, bowls facing upward, lie at the right of the knife; forks at the left of the plate.    
 A typical 1925 luncheon menu.
When shell food is served (clams, oysters or mussels) the fork is placed at the right of the plate. The upper right-hand side of the bread and butter plate is the place for the butter spreader. 

In general do not arrange your cover too loosely, and see to it that the glass, china and silver for each cover sets close without the pieces touching. Glasses are placed just above the knives, a little to the right. Neither cups nor glasses should ever be filled to the brim. 

The bread and butter plate (bread and butter are, as a rule, not served with formal dinners) somewhat to the left, beyond the service plate. Between each two covers, or just in front of each, place your pepper and salt sets. The salt spoon lies across the open saltcellar.

When the table is set for some impromptu meal at which a knife will not be used, the fork takes the place of the knife at the right-hand side, and the teaspoon is laid beside the fork.

Desirable Improvements

No one wants to see the inner economy of the butler's pantry, nor should the perhaps fragrant but cloying odors of the kitchen be wafted into the dining room whenever the swingdoor of the pantry opens or closes. The screen obviates both disadvantages. 

Another improvement has been the introduction of the serving table in place of the sideboard. It now conveniently holds all the extras needed for the meal. — Lillian B. Lansdown's 1922, “How to Prepare and Serve a Meal; and Interior Decoration.”


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