Thursday, December 1, 2016

Etiquette and Early Napkins

Romans were connoisseurs, and whenever a Roman nobleman gave a dining to his many friends, some new fad was anticipated. 

Origin of Napkins in Rome

The Romans were the first to call the semblance of a napkin into use. It is a matter of history, whether it be accepted as true or not, that the Romans were connoisseurs, and that whenever a Roman nobleman gave a dining to his many friends, some new fad was anticipated. Sometimes these expectations were realized in the shape of a new dish, or sometimes it was an innovation that would appear in the next issue of the Rules of Etiquette, stylographed by Ciceronius and Son.

One day a Roman nobleman— l forget his name, though he was an ancestor of Caesar— had a large dining. It was given in honor of his return from Germany, where he had won many rights and captured numerous slaves. These slaves were long-haired, rosy-cheeked maidens of beautiful figure and gentle ways. An idea got into the possession of the nobleman and he carried it into instant execution. 

When dinner was served every guest was astonished to observe seated at his very feet a handsome woman, with loose flowing locks of the blonde order. Just what they should do with the fair intruders none of the guests appeared to know, until the host of the occasion having devoured a dish of elegant ragout, leaned over and used the hair of the maid nearest him for a napkin. 

Needless to mention the guests were delighted and swiftly followed suit. Later the noblemen who could not afford slaves for this purpose used their own beards. Since that time there has been an evolution in napkins until they have become what they are now. — Atlanta Constitution, 1896

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