Monday, May 9, 2016

Etiquette and Breaking Bread

The root word for the word “companion” is “company” and in Old Latin it means to “Break bread with one another”. When you have company over, do you usually offer them something to eat? Do you want them to feel good about visiting with you? The next time you are with company, make sure to break your bread

One does not bite into a whole slice of bread or whole roll. The well-bred man or woman breaks off a small piece to eat. This tradition of breaking bread into bite sized pieces, was not made by European royalty or Imperial rulers. 

Breakng one's bread goes back to the time of the Old Testament, when the custom was for leftovers at the dining table to be collected after the meal and given to the poor. In consideration for those who would receive the leftovers, one broke off only what piece he would eat from the bread. Thus, some surmised, came the expression, breaking bread together. In actuality, the root word for the word “companion” is “company” and in Old Latin it means to “Break bread with one another”.

The charitable practice was continued in monasteries of early medieval times and from there, found its way into the grandest of castles and simplest of households. The 15th-century Boke of Curtasye, gave this explanation:

"Bite not thy bread and lay it down,
This is not courtesy to use in town;
But break as much as you will eat
The remnant to the poor you shall lete [leave]." 


What originally brought the rule into existence was charity, a courtesy to those who would take and use the bread that remained after the meal was finished. The bread was leftover, but untouched by the lips of others, and that courtesy still justifies the existence of such a rule today. — Contributed by "Charm School Betty"


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