Bon Ton. From the origins to today Etiquette.

Before Easter holidays, we talked about the table and the necessary rules we have to keep in order to receive our guests in the best way. But, who designed these rules? What are the origins of our Etiquette?

Etiquette as we know it today has its roots in an ancient work by Clemente Alessandrino, theologist and philosopher, who wrote "the Pedagogue" in 200 BC. This text proposed a series of behavioral rules to keep at the table: from how to sit, to how to use perfumes and so on.

Subsequently, the Renaissance first and then Humanism, brought Etiquette to a different level, much more rigid and dictated not only by behavioral rules, but also moral ones.

Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, we find what becomes the mainstay of bon ton, the Galateo overo de 'costumi, written by Monsignor Giovanni della Casa. The treaty touches on countless topics including the right behavior to keep at the table, the topics to be treated and avoided, the way of dressing, the tone of voice and so on.

In the eighteenth century it was Baldassarre Castiglioni who defined the image of the civilized man, the one who, to make his way in society, would have used exclusively good manners and courtesy and pursued an ideal of beauty and harmony.

And today? How do we reconcile the strict rules of the past with the evolution of modern life?

 bon ton

Figure 1 What we should't do

If the mise en place, over time, has become lighter and tables overloaded with cutlery and objects are no longer fashionable, the behaviors to be kept tend to remain the same, aimed at maintaining a harmonious and civil coexistence. 

Etiquette, therefore, should be adopted in every daily action, starting right from the table: the way of eating, using cutlery and entertaining guests are all daily gestures that we should try to implement in the correct way. For example, keeping your mobile phone on the table is a sign of little respect for diners, as well as talking with your mouth full or wiping your mouth with a tablecloth.

mise en place

In addition, we have to remember that, before starting to eat, we must wait for all the diners to be served and that the hosts themselves begin their meal.

In short, all these simple rules, if learned correctly, will allow us to be always elegant for any formal and non-formal event.


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