Protocol & Etiquette

One can only appreciate the importance of etiquette when we educate ourselves about the history or origin of these rules of engagement.  In fact, many of them date back to The Middle Ages, or medieval period, which lasted from 500 A.D. to 1500 in western Europe.  Many of the customs of celebrating holidays and thoughts about proper manners were derived from religion.  In fact, weddings became a religious ceremony in the 1100s, behavior books gained popularity in 1250 and in the 1300s laws were passed to control the way people dress.  Good manners were important in this society and were considered a sign of noble status.

“In the first –century A.D. Rome, dinner guests brought their own sizable napkins, called mappa, to parties and toted leftovers home in them.”

When you offer your hand do you know that the ritual was originally a way to check your acquaintance for a knife up their sleeve?

Speaking of knives, 

“Keeping the business side of your knife aimed inward conveys a lack of ill will or intention toward other diners.  A tragic combination of plentiful food, booze, and talk of politics in close proximity to handy table weaponry occasionally led to bloodshed at the table.”

In the United States, we can thank George Washington, the father of our country, whom at the age of 14, wrote down 110 rules under the title “Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour in Company and Conversation.”


Sources:

Manners and Customs in the Middle Ages, Crabtree Publishing Company
The Mere Mortal’s Guide to Fine Dining, Colleen Rush