Sunday, February 16, 2020

Emily Post on Candles and Smokers

One of the better known writers on manners, with her first book of etiquette published in 1922, is Emily Post. Though she died in 1960, her extended family (most notably her late-granddaughter in-law, Elizabeth Post) has successfully continued on with her legacy of  nearly a century of etiquette books, news columns and social media contributions. – Above, “Emily Post” by Miguel Covarrubias for Vanity Fair, December 1933 
– Image source, Pinterest 

From “Good Taste Today” 

Dear Mrs. Post: Will you please tell me, first if it is proper to use unlighted candles (in candelabra) on the buffet merely as decoration? Second, if it is proper to use them then, should the candles be new or should they be lighted and snuffed out, leaving chaired ends?  
Answer: If by a buffet you mean a sideboard, candelabra are suitable decoration. There is no rule about burning off the candles, but if you did this the candelabra would at least look as though they were sometimes used on the dining table and merely stood on the sideboard between while. Candles are, of course, always put on an evening buffet table and lighted beforehand unless in summer when the evening meal begins in daylight.  

Dear Mrs. Post: How can I be courteous about letting visitors in my house know that I do not like cigaret smoke? Any one using strong perfume is supposed to be showing very bad taste, and yet cigaret smoke smells equally strong, to say nothing of smoke-drenched clothes worn by the inveterate smokers. When I have to spend a day or evening with smokers, I am completely seasick. 
Answer: If people you care very little about are the smokers, the solution is simple enough since you need not continue inviting them to your house. If, however, all the people you like best smoke, you will, I am afraid, have to accustom yourself to smoke or resign yourself to loneliness. On the other hand, I think it only fair to mention that your friends should in their turn show reasonable consideration for you. 
Every smoker should realize that smoking at a dining table, which has not been furnished with ash trays and cigarets, is a breach of etiquette. After the meal, of course, the question of courtesy goes into reverse and those who dislike smoke are unhappily for themselves expected to tolerate it. One thing that might help you, if you have not already discovered it, is to remove the dead ends constantly from the ash trays or better still, get especial ash receivers with water compartments beneath trap tops which prevent that stale smell, which is more than likely the cause of your feeling of seasickness. —Emily Post, 1939

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

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