Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Etiquette for Being Agreeable

It’s never too early for teaching an agreeable attitude, countenance and cordiality to young persons. The ability to converse with ease and fluency needs to be carefully trained and developed.

How to be Agreeable

Very rarely, if ever, young persons acquire the ability to converse with ease and fluency. This implies, first of all, good ideas, clearly and sensibly expressed. An empty mind never made a good talker; remember, “You cannot draw water out of an empty well.” Next in importance is self-possession.

“Self-possession is nine points of the law” — of good breeding. A good voice is as essential to self-possession as good ideas are essential to fluent language. The voice, from infancy, should be carefully trained and developed; a full, clear, flexible voice is one of the surest indications of good breeding; it falls like music on the ear, and while it pleases the listener, it adds to the confidence of its possessor, be he ever so timid.

One may be witty without being popular: voluble without being agreeable; a great talker and yet a great bore. It is wise, then, to note carefully the following suggestions:

  • Be sincere, he who habitually sneers at everything, will not only render himself disagreeable to others, but will soon cease to find pleasure in life. 
  • Be frank; a frank, open countenance and a clear, cheery laugh are worth far more, even socially, than “pedantry in a still cravat.” 
  • Be amiable; you may hide a vindictive nature under a polite exterior for a time, as a cat masks its sharp claws in velvet fur, but the least provocation brings out one as quickly as the other; ill natured persons are always disliked. 
  • Be sensible; society never lacks for fools. If you want elbow room, "go up higher."
  • Be cheerful; if you have no great trouble on your mind, you have no right to render other people miserable by your long face and dolorous tones. It you do, you will be generally avoided. 
  • But, above all, be cordial; true cordiality unites all the qualities we have enumerated.—American Agriculturist, 1888


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

19th C. Etiquette Advice for Men


“Horse Show At Madison Squre Garden 1895”, by A.B. Wenzell
From the Men’s Section

Our men have, most of them, been well and correctly garbed during our horse show, and have many of them established the reputation of being excellent whips. In England at a recent “hunting breakfast” the table was wonderfully effective. Top boots held the flowers at opposite corners, a hunting cap formed the centerpiece, and was of a bright color; across it was a crop gracefully arranged. The cap had a tin lining and held “blackberries cut in long trails, hawthorn berries and shaded chrysanthemums.” The spurred boots were filled with the richest of crimson chrysanthemums and were slightly splashed with mud; horns, horseshoes and hurdles were arranged about the table in an artistic way. The designer advises that real bits, horns and shoes be always used. 

The fad of collecting old and unusual furniture and historical bits of silver is much indulged in by many of our bachelors, who show good taste in their selections. Men who have little “shooting boxes” should avoid when furnishing having too much furniture and should eschew all light and flimsy articles, having everything solid, practical and comfortable. It is nonsense to fit up a country home in city style.

At the New York Horse Show a few men showed a tendency to appear in very gay waistcoats. Tan and leather ones were popular. Ascot and Teck ties were universally seen and red prevailed, and real yellow gloves were seen in the morning, but of course, the evening saw every one in evening dress. Vogue remarks: “The collars this year are straight and standing; the all-round turned-down collar is still very popular. Otherwise everywhere there is a disposition to dress less and to avoid conventionalities, and I regret to see it. I shall always be an apostle of dress, and I believe firmly in its inexorable etiquette. There can be no mixing of matters. We must either dress to suit the occasion or we must abandon all hope of being considered gentlemanly. The present revolution in dress is arrant socialism. I am not in favor of it, and I shall fight against it.” – San Francisco Call, 1895


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

Monday, February 4, 2019

Lai See Etiquette

Lai See Etiquette – In Chinese and other Asian societies and communities, a red envelope is a monetary gift which is given during holidays or special occasions such as weddings, graduation or the birth of a baby. Start giving Lai See on the 1st day of the Lunar New Year and finish on the 15th. You should give your lai see the first time you meet with someone during this time period. Always give (and receive) the envelopes with both-hands. Never give or receive them with just one hand. If you carry around plenty of red envelopes which are split up into different amounts, you won't get caught empty handed.

During Chinese New Year, and stretching into the following week, you may notice a flurry of red envelopes being exchanged almost everywhere you go. These fancy little red envelopes, called "lai see", are packets that contain good luck money. Giving lai see to people is a big part of Chinese New Year celebrations, so you don't want to miss out on giving (or receiving!) them in the following couple of weeks. 

But giving lai see is not like handing out candy to children on Halloween (unless you're one of those grumps who don't like giving treats to the kids without costumes). There's a set of rules you have to abide by when giving out lai see. 

Locals give out lai see like it's second nature to them, but in fact, there are different amounts distinguished for different people and people with different marital statuses and also people with different job positions. Starting to feel a little weary about this whole business? You'll get the hang of it once you understand proper lai see etiquette. 
  • Lai see is bestowed from "big to small", "old to young", and "senior to junior". For example, if you are the boss or manager, you should give lai see to your employees. If you live in an apartment complex with its own management staff, you should give lai see to your security guard, cleaners, and doorman. Married couples also give to their single, younger relatives, and may give two lai see packets to each recipient (one from each spouse). If you are unmarried, you will usually only need to give one packet to each recipient. 
  • You don't have to give lai see to everyone you know, but keep in mind that there is a chance you may forget somebody. People usually bring a pile of red envelopes with them whenever they go out, just in case they might bump into someone accidentally. It's best to keep a mixture of $10, $20, $50, and $100 envelopes on you to be ready at all times. The amount you put in the lai see is up to you. 
  • Use this handy guide to avoid any lai see faux-pas. Don’t forget to give and receive with both hands as this is regarded as a sign of courtesy. Also, never let children give out lai sees to older folk or service staff – this is considered insulting. –From Geo Expat.com

Lunar Festival Etiquette


The Pig is the twelfth of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Pig was late because he overslept. Another story says that a wolf destroyed his house. He had to rebuild his home before he could set off. When he arrived, he was the last one and could only take twelfth place. – From Chinesenewyear.net


In China, the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is the celebration of the new year determined by the lunar calendar, because the dates of celebration follow the phases of the moon. Since the mid-1990s people in China have been given seven consecutive days off work during the Chinese New Year. This week of relaxation has been designated the “Spring Festival.”

It’s not only the Chinese who observe and celebrate the Lunar New Year. In China, Vietnam and in Chinese communities around the world, annual 15-day festivals are celebrated. These begin with the new moon that occurs sometime between January 21 and February 20 according to Western calendars. Festivities last until the following full moon.
  • The Lunar New Year can be rough for the young and single Chinese, especially the single women. Family reunions and celebrations are highlighted by dreaded interrogations of singles who haven't yet married and settled down. The solution? The slew of websites offering  boyfriend/girlfriend rentals. The fake boyfriend/girlfriend rental business has been growing the last few years. Singletons were forced into these rentals so parents and relatives would finally stop nagging them. Renting a bogus marriage prospect ranges from RMB 500 ($77) to 6,000 ($925) per day. Some packages come with "a free embrace, hand holding and a goodbye kiss on the cheek," as well as a list of additional specific service charges.
  • According to CNN in parts of China, there are a few things you can and can't do over the Lunar New Year holiday – simply because of how they sound. Purchases of shoes or footware are off limits for the entire lunar month, as the term for shoes (haai) sounds like losing and sighing in Cantonese. You can however, turn the Chinese character for luck (fu) upside down to make "dao" (which sounds like arrival) and put it on your door to bring in good fortune for the new year.

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

Changing 19th C. British Manners

The British hostess is now available for chaperoning or engineering your house parties while you’re vacationing in England!– “Notwithstanding the decidedly radical change in British manners and customs during the last decade, the ‘insular British female’ of a certain type, still holds her own...” From The New York Tribune, 1893 Etiquipedia©: Victorians and American Manners, August 2016

From the Women’s Section 

“A woman returning from a stay in England is authority for the statement that it is not uncommon over there, for the owner of a handsome suburban residence, to receive pay for an autumn or winter house party. She will act as chaperone, if desired, or will efface herself in her own quarters, directing the management of the servants, to relieve the temporary hostess from all cares of that sort.” – Sacramento Daily Union, 1898

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

Collegiate Wisdom in Etiquette

At the woman’s college, every effort will be made to secure a wise decision on points of etiquette!

From  the Women’s Section

“A course of study which was recently introduced in a woman’s college should have an excellent effect. It is that of a systematic study of manners: A council of etiquette is formed, to which mooted questions are submitted, the council not pronouncing judgment until authorities have been consulted and every effort made to secure a wise decision. Papers on relevant topics are prepared and discussed, an effort being made to remove the study from the consideration of minor arbitrary points of etiquette to the broader range of gentle breeding.” – Sacramento Daily Union, 1898

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

Etiquette from “The Housekeeper”

“An invitation to a ceremonious luncheon requires as prompt attention as one to a dinner, ...” – The Housekeeper was one of the numerous Victorian era magazines, which a woman could read for up and coming fashion trends, etiquette, recipes, keeping a home and more.  

Formal Luncheons and Breakfasts

“At luncheons, walking or carriage costumes are worn and bonnets may be retained; the gloves are removed at the table,” says The Housekeeper. “Ladies should arrive twenty or thirty minutes before the hour named for luncheon, and it is polite to take leave fifteen minutes after leaving the dining room. 

An invitation to a ceremonious luncheon requires as prompt attention as one to a dinner, and whether accepted or not, a call must be made within a week, or upon the first reception day of the hostess. Invitations to a breakfast require an immediate acknowledgment and a call within ten days after the entertainment. After returning to the drawing room, guests depart within half an hour.” – Los Angeles Herald, 1891

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