Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Etiquette History and America

One theme commonly seen in Native American legends is that of hospitality. In particular, stingy hosts are derided, and tribespeople who mistreat orphans, stepchildren, or captives are often harshly punished. (It was the custom in many tribes for prisoners-of-war to be adopted into the tribe that captured them, and although many former captives integrated easily into their new families, there were some who were badly treated. This was naturally a matter of great concern among Native American tribes, since they had to trust one another to treat each others' captives fairly. –Native

The Native Americans taught our forefathers much in the art of hospitality. It is believed by many, that the Native Americans are, and always have been, the most hospitable groups of the world. Much that is Native American is woven into our social fabric.

The United States, which is less then three hundred years old as a nation, has borrowed most of its manners and customs from other, older civilizations. Though there have been in this country, many writers on etiquette, the truth is that we have accepted our etiquette ready-made. There are, of course some customs and fashions that are distinctly American; but most of the things we do and say show the influence of the Old World.

After all, what customs could we have created here in young America? What code of etiquette could we have developed in the short time that we have been a separate people and to separate nation call? Etiquette is a growth. It began in earliest times and has been progressing, developing, growing ever since. 

The history of its development differs in the various countries; sometimes we find a highly developed etiquette as in the time of Marcus Aurelius who, in the Golden Age of Rome, taught politeness and consideration for others, taught courtesy and ease and gentleness. And then we see etiquette sink far below the levels of civilization, as in the time of Nero, who originated so many new ways of torture, who made death in a plaything and his savage arena a playground.

This etiquette, while it remains essentially and fundamentally the same, is to a certain extent a reflection of the periods through which it is passed. The age of man in the long ages of antiquity—they blend into one shadowy beautiful whole, the fabric of human existence. –The Customs of Mankind

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

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