top of page
  • Writer's pictureSusie Barber

Brief History Of Etiquette

"Etiquette" For many, the word "etiquette" implies white gloves, finger bowls, children curtsying, and other genteel manners that once were the hallmark of proper behaviour. The the actual definition of etiquette is a system of conventional rules that regulate social behaviour.

The etymology of this French word literally means a "ticket" or "card" and refers to the bygone custom of French monarch making ceremonial rules and regulations for members of his court.

The ticket or card would indicate the proper dress code, expected impeccable behaviour, and dining instructions for all who attended court. While these elaborate court rituals have come and gone along with other archaic customs.

TODAY'S ETIQUETTE remains traditional and constant.

BRIEF HISTORY OF ETIQUETTE From the dawn of time, social skills, manners, and rules had to be created so that societies could cooperate and survive. In man's early effort to interact smoothly with others, he developed ways to make life easier and more pleasant . In doing so, certain practices developed for all aspects of life. 

While table manners were probably low on a long list of priorities, with the chief focus on sustenance for survival, eating implements and utensils evolved out of necessity, not fashion. After fire was used to cook foods, burnt fingers surely led man's use of sticks, shells, animal bones, and whatever else was handy for bringing food to one's mouth. These early utensils did not last long and were eventually re-placed with the development of copper and other malleable materials. Though there is evidence that forks were used throughout early history and during Roman Empire, Dark Ages in Europe brought many changes, including the abandonment of forks and spoons for dining.  Instead, double-edged knives, finger, and cupped hands came in use by the majority of Western Europe along with hallowed-out trenchers (a primitive form of a plate made of dried bread). Forks remained in use in the Middle East and Africa, though more commonly for serving purposes along with spoons. Chopsticks were favoured by Asian cultures. Dining with one's hands, however, remained a popular method among the more primitive of societies. Soups and broths were drunk from saucers and bowls. Within time, bread trenchers were replaced by wood, pewter, and porcelain tableware depending on the household and family budget. While eating, little fingers ( pinkies) were extended and kept away from greasy foods so they could be used for dipping  into expensive sauces. By 1533, Catherine de Medici of Italy brought several dozen small dining forks with her when she arrived in France to marry Henry 11. She is the first notable to have used forks in Western Europe. Considered an oddity at first, the fork slowly became popularised in European Courts. Silver utensils of all sorts, along with Chinese inspired table ware, were created for the wealthy. As table manners evolved throughout Europe, and with more foods available, larger and more extensive sets of silver were created for the table. By the mid- 1800s, silver electroplating made utensils affordable for the growing middle class of Europe and America. During the Victorian Era, hosts and hostesses were fond of highly specific and elaborately decorated flatware. There were numerous styles of Ice-Cream forks, corn scrapers, orange spoons and mango forks. Implements were designed specifically for serving olives, peas, baked potatoes, berries, and for tinned fish such as sardines and herring. Bread was served with a specially designed fork. Even crackers had their own scoop- like serving spoon. Pickled foods had ornately adorned forks, spears and tongs, along with pickle casters.


Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page