Open Thread

by epi on May 1, 2013

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Angalee May 2, 2013 at 4:00 am

I’m doing my Major PIP (Personal Interest Project) on etiquette which closely regards social perception. I was wondering what one would describe as ‘Traditional etiquette’?

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Winifred Rosenburg May 2, 2013 at 8:05 am

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to that question. I suggest getting a copy of an early edition of Emily Post’s Etiquette.

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Chocobo May 2, 2013 at 8:56 am

Well, there’s a can of worms.

I would argue that you have the words backwards. It isn’t so much “Traditional Etiquette” so much as “Etiquette is Tradition.”

Unlike other studies, etiquette originates not in scholarly books, theories, or research. It comes from long standing cultural habits, which blossomed slowly over time and became standard by general consensus, or more likely by habit. This is why etiquette is impervious to logic: Why must one place the fork on the left side of the plate and not the right? Because you do. The answer is frustrating to the critical, hyper-analytical modern era, who want more concrete answers, but there you are. We place the fork on the right because that is where it was traditionally placed. The reason is lost to time, or never existed at all.

Of course, traditions change over time. It is no longer correct to simply dump one’s napkin on the floor when getting up from the dining table because the house’s staff will clean up after you. The change is what coins the term “traditional etiquette” as you describe. People who are opposed to the change invoke the traditions of their ancestors regardless of how irrelevant the traditions have become, while those petitioning for change call upon reason and logic to argue their point, regardless of how irrelevant logic is to etiquette. Over time, someone wins out and a new tradition is born. Yet etiquette remains.

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Karen May 2, 2013 at 2:33 pm

I’ve been invited to a Senior Recital and wanted to know if you give a gift?

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Winifred Rosenburg May 2, 2013 at 8:32 pm

I’m a musician, and I can tell you hardly anybody gives gifts at senior recitals. You can bring flowers or a card if you wish but it is certainly not required. I’m sure the performer would just want you to come and listen.

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Cyra May 2, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Hi Karen,

I think flowers would be the most appropriate, or a card.

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