What to Expect When Dining with the Chinese

Eating and Drinking -Despite what one may hear anecdotally, or observe in certain restaurants, Chinese table manners are exceedingly refined and are, in many ways, similar to Western table manners: One should not fill one’s mouth with food; one should chew one’s food thoroughly and quietly before swallowing; one should not speak when one’s mouth contains a significant amount of food; one should not shout at the dinner table; one should wipe one’s lips before drinking; etc.

-When invited to dine with the Chinese, one should dress appropriately. A small gift or a bottle of wine is always appreciated. Punctuality is important.

-The guest-of-honor should be the first guest to arrive (and the first guest to leave).

-Avoid discussing business at meals. Topics such as art, music, and literature are preferred.

-Chinese dining is done at a table, diners sitting on chairs.

-The typical Chinese dining table is round, not rectangular or square. And the food to be served is presented in communal dishes at the center of the table. To facilitate the round-table presentation, communal serving dishes are sometimes offered on a “lazy suzan.” The individual place-settings are situated at the periphery of the table.

-Unlike in the West, where individual plates are sometimes passed around the table to be filled, or serving-dishes are passed around the table for guests to serve themselves, in China the serving-dishes placed in the center of the table remain there, and guests, while sitting, reach towards the center of the table to obtain items from the communal dishes.

-The typical Chinese place-setting consists of a plate upon which a bowl is placed; a set of chopsticks; a chopstick-rest; a spoon (to be used only for the soup course); a napkin; a teacup; and the drinking glasses. (Knives are never a part of the Chinese place-setting since food is prepared such that it can be consumed in small portions with the use of chopsticks. An item that is too large to be comfortably placed whole into the mouth may be picked up with chopsticks such that a portion may be bitten off. Whole steaks, for example, would never be served at a traditional Chinese table. And rice is traditionally prepared with a sticky consistency so as to facilitate its consumption with chopsticks).

-Guests should sit where they have been invited to sit. Generally, the host or the guest-of-honor (seated to the immediate right of the host) will be seated in the seat facing east. The higher one’s rank, the closer one is seated to the host and guest-of-honor. Guests should not sit prior to the guest-of-honor or most senior guest. When all guests have been seated, the dinner may proceed—the host or guest-of-honor leading the way.

-Unlike in the West, in China the napkin is not laid flat onto one’s lap; instead, a corner of the napkin is secured under one’s plate, the remainder of the napkin being allowed to cascade onto one’s lap.

-A guest should not start eating or drinking prior to the host. Most formal meals are accompanied by tea, wine, beer, or some other distilled spirit. Once all glasses have been filled, the host will toast his guests then make a short speech to begin the meal.

-The host will serve the guest-of-honor or highest-ranking guest (seated at the immediate right of the host) first, then the next-ranking guest (seated at the immediate left of the host). Thereafter, the host will invite guests to serve themselves as he proceeds to serve himself. At the beginning of the meal, guests should offer to serve persons seated at their immediate right and left before serving themselves. Once the meal is in progress, however, each guest is expected to serve himself but should always, prior to serving himself, offer to serve adjacent diners. Whenever served by others, a “thank-you” should be expressed. And when a “thank-you” has been expressed, it should be met with a “you are welcome.”

-While liquids such as water, tea, or juice may be drunk at any point during the course of the meal, alcoholic beverages are only to be consumed during toasts. Likewise, because of the cultural proscription of drinking alcohol “alone,” cocktails are not typically served before meals in China.

-The person(s) seated nearest the tea and wine should pour for the other guests, beginning with the most senior/“important” and ending with himself. Rarely will a guest be responsible for pouring the wine or tea. But if ever the occasion arises, he must be sure to always offer to pour for others before pouring for himself.

-Generally, serving utensils are provided for each dish. But when dishes are presented without serving utensils, guests are to use the opposite ends of their own chopsticks—not the pointed ends which are put into the mouth when eating—to serve themselves (and others). (Obviously, then, guests should wash their hands properly before sitting down to dine. And when the opposite ends of chopsticks have been used to pick up food, any food residue on the chopsticks should be discretely wiped off in one’s napkin so as not to have unsightly food particles or sauces on the chopstick when eating is resumed). When selecting items from the communal dishes, a guest should select the items that are closest to him; he should not search through or reach across the serving dish to select something that he finds more appealing. When taking from a dish that has been presented on a “lazy susan,” a guest should yield to other guests before rotating the device to select his serving.

-Rice is not served from a communal dish (And with good reason since using chopsticks to transfer rice from a communal dish to an individual’s plate would make for a mess at the table); instead, rice is served at the end of a meal or may be requested in individual bowls during the course of the dinner to supplement a dish. A bowl of rice may be lifted to the mouth with the non-dominant hand, while the chopsticks, held in the dominant hand, are used to push the rice into the mouth.

-A bowl containing noodles may be brought to the mouth with the non-dominant hand, while chopsticks, held in the dominant hand, are used to push the noodles into the mouth.

-Soup, especially after any solid contents have been eaten with the spoon, may be drunk directly from the bowl. A bowl of soup should be raised to the mouth with both hands, thumbs, near the rim of the bowl, securing the portion of the bowl nearest the mouth, and the index finger and the middle finger gracefully cupping the upper periphery of the bowl, while the ring and small fingers brace the bowl towards its base. The palms should not touch the bowl.

-When courses are served in succession, diners should keep relative pace with each other such than no one finishes his course too soon or too late.

-Except for significant health or religious reasons, each dish should be sampled.

-A little portion of each course should be left on the diner’s plate so as to signal satiety to the host. (Otherwise, the host will assume that the guest has not had enough to eat and will offer more).

-Voluntarily taking the last portion from a communal dish is considered bad manners, bad luck, shows “greed,” and indicates hunger. But at some point, someone should eat the last portion…. So an observant host will invite someone—usually a robust eater—to take the last portion so as not to “waste it.”

-Chopsticks originated in ancient China during the Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 B.C. E). But it was during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 C.E.) that they came into everyday use for eating and serving. Most of the etiquette pertaining to chopsticks, then, originates during that period. Below are some of the rules commonly followed today:

a) Do not suck or lick sauce off the ends of chopsticks—even at the end of the course or meal.

b) Chopsticks should not be used to spear food that is difficult to pick up.

c) An item that is too large to be placed whole into the mouth may be conveyed to the mouth in the chopsticks such that a manageable portion may be bitten off. (The remaining portion should be placed back onto the plate). Alternatively, without spearing, the chopsticks may be used to skillfully divide the oversized item—one stick being used to hold the item in place, while the other is used to divide the item. The hands should never be used to handle food at the Chinese table (But see “o” below). “Hand-foods” such as sandwiches, corn-on-the-cob, or spear ribs, for example, would not be served at the traditional Chinese table.

d) Chopsticks should not be used to stir up food or to search through food in pursuit of a special morsel.

e) Chopsticks should not be held in the hand while gesturing during speech.

f) Chopsticks should not be used for pointing—whether at food, people, or objects.

g) Chopsticks are not toys and should not be treated as such. For example, chopsticks should not be used for drumming or clicking.

h) Chopsticks should not be used to move anything other than food.

i) Chopsticks should never be left standing upright in food, especially in a bowl of rice. Such a positioning is reminiscent of death and funerals where offerings of rice to the dead are presented with chopsticks vertically placed into the rice; or at funerals, where incense sticks (“joss sticks”) are placed upright.

j) When not in use during the course of a meal, chopsticks should be placed onto the chopstick-rest (if one has been provided) or laid side-by-side towards the right side of the plate. (Chopsticks placed horizontally towards the top of a plate or bowl signal that the guest is finished with the dish and that, as such, it may be removed). Chopsticks should never be placed in such a manner that they appear to be pointing directly at someone.

k) Food should never—ever—be passed chopsticks-to-chopsticks; the act is reminiscent of the funeral ritual where relatives use oversized chopsticks to pass the cremated bones of the deceased from one relative to another in order to place the bones into the funeral urn. If food must be passed, it should be placed directly onto the recipient’s plate.

l) It is considered bad form to drop food. Food being conveyed from a communal plate to one’s plate, or from one’s plate to one’s mouth, should be held carefully.

m) Chopsticks should never be used as toothpicks.

n) It is considered bad luck to drop chopsticks.

o) Inedible portions of the food should be removed from the mouth with the hand (the only time food may be touches with the hand at the Chinese table) or with chopsticks and placed to the upper left side of the plate.

-Toasting is an essential component of Chinese dining. And just as there are rules pertaining to the use of chopsticks, there are rules pertaining to toasting:

a) When all guests are seated and all glasses are filled, the host begins the dinner with a speech and a toast of welcome. Thereafter, throughout the course of the meal, especially at the end of a course, various people will propose toasts, beginning with the most senior/“important.” When toasting several people during the course of the evening, a guest should propose toasts to people in the order of their “importance.”

b) A toast is most respectfully proposed by holding the glass with both hands and raising it shoulder-height. If only one hand is used to raise the glass, the right hand should be used. A toast may be made with any beverage other than water. At the end of the toast, everyone takes a sip from his glass—or at least raises his glass to someone in his immediate vicinity, makes eye contact with that person, and says, “gan bei,” which means “empty glass!” When shots of “baijui” are being drunk during toasts, guests are expected to drink the entire contents of the glass with each toast. (The shot-glass is then immediately filled in preparation for the next toast).

c) The person to whom the toast is offered should immediately stop eating or drinking and accept the toast.

d) When seated far from the person being toasted, the person proposing the toast may tap his glass on the table—rather than shouting across the dinner table—so as to call attention to the intended recipient, then proceed. At a large table, toasts may be exchanged amongst people in close proximity without being announced to the entire table.

e) Glasses are not typically “clinked” in Chinese culture.

-The serving of fruit signals the end of the meal. Some hostesses will encourage guests to take home uneaten food. Guests typically do not linger long beyond the end of the meal.

-At the end of the meal, guests should thank the host abundantly.

-Guests should not leave before the guest-of-honor. So as not to inconvenience others, therefore, the guest-of-honor should leave shortly after the conclusion of the meal.

-When dinners are held in a restaurant, guests are expected to offer to pay the bill; and, of course, the host is expected to refuse their offers. The offer-and-refusal “saving face” ritual is expected to be repeated twice or thrice. Beyond two or three exchanges, however, would be insulting to the host as the gesture would insinuate that the host is incapable of paying the bill. Likewise, a guest’s not offering to pay the bill would insinuate that the host was somehow indebted to the guest.


The Hindu Wedding Tradition of India–one of the World’s Most Elaborate and Symbolic

Hindu wedding ceremonies are elaborate events, involving pre-wedding rituals, the wedding ceremony, and post-wedding rituals, with the wedding ceremony alone lasting three to four days. (Details of the Hindu wedding are described in the ancient scripture, “Manusmriti”). And the ceremonies and rituals surrounding the Hindu marriage are rife with symbolism and meaning.

Pre-wedding Ceremonies:

-shagun ceremony: Once the young man and young lady have consented to the marriage, the elders of both families choose an auspicious date, oftentimes after consulting the astral calendar, for the shagun ceremony, a ceremony where the groom’s mother visits the bride’s home with gifts, clothing, betel nuts, rice, and incense. Jewelry and sweets may also be a part of the gift-giving. Acceptance by the bride of the shagun signifies her formal consent to be the daughter-in-law of the family.

mangni ceremony (also called “sangaai ceremony” or “misri ceremony”): The engagement ceremony, where the young man and young lady exchange rings in the presence of elders and friends. It is an elaborate ceremony, celebrated with food, music, and dancing. Mangni marks the mutual agreement and consent for the marriage by both families.

Mehndi ceremony: In a ceremony organized by the women of the to-be-bride’s house, the mother of the bride applies a small dot of henna onto the bride’s small finger. An expert Mehndi artist then decorates the bride’s hands and feet with intricate Indian and/or Arabic designs. Ladies in attendance may also decorate their hands and feet. The mother of the bride may also request that the Mehndi artist write the groom’s name amidst the designs, the groom, in one of the post-wedding rituals, being challenged with finding his name. Typically, Mehndi ceremonies occur in the evening and are followed by a sumptuous dinner. The ceremony is regarded as one of the most anticipated wedding rituals.

sangeet ceremony: The bride celebrates her last days of single life. She is pampered; the bride’s friends take delight in teasing her about her future husband; and elders of the house sing traditional songs and bless the bride. (The churi ceremony may take place within the sangeet ceremony. In the churi ceremony, all the women present are presented with different bangles of their choice). Sangeet ceremonies are held in the house of the bride and groom separately.

haldi ceremony: In a ceremony which takes place the day before the wedding, freshly ground turmeric, combined with extracts of jasmine and sandalwood, is applied to the body of the bride (at her home) and the body of the groom (at his home). (Turmeric is revered in Hindu culture). It is believed that the haldi ceremony (perhaps because of the golden hue of the spice blend) imparts a natural glow upon the bride and groom. After the haldi ceremony, neither the bride nor groom should leave the house until the day of the wedding.

navagraha puja: Performed separately at the bride’s and groom’s homes by the family priest in order to seek blessings from the planets.

The Wedding Ceremony

baraat: The wedding procession where the groom arrives at the wedding venue atop a white mare. The groom’s retinue is comprised of his family members and friends. Music is played, and members of the procession dance en route to the wedding venue.

vara satkara: The ceremony in which the bride’s mother welcomes the groom by applying tilak and rice grains to his forehead. (“Var” refers to groom in Sanskrit). The groom is then seated in a special chair, where the bride’s brother or another relative washes the groom’s feet. Thereafter, the groom presents a gift to the bride’s brother (or to whoever washed the groom’s feet).

madhuparka: The bride’s father welcomes the groom to the vivaah mandap (also spelled “vivah mandap”), the highly decorated canopied area where the actual wedding ceremony will take place. The priest then lights the holy fire (“vivaah homa”) and begins chanting Vedic verses, thereby signifying the commencement of the wedding ceremony. (The fire is typically contained in a decorative box). The priest then chants Vedic verses for the groom. After some time, the bride’s sister or future sister-in-law guides the bride to the vivaah mandap, the bride taking her seat next to the groom. The bride and groom then recite Vedic verses as directed by the priest.

kanya daan: In the kanya daan ceremony, the father of the bride gives her away to the groom. The father places his daughter’s left hand into the groom’s right hand, the groom promising to be with and protect his wife in good times and in bad. Paani-graham refers to the point in the ceremony where the groom accepts the bride as his lawfully wedded wife.

lojja homa: The couple offers oblations of puffed rice to the vivaah homa (the holy fire).

shila arohan: The bride stands on a stone slab, marking her entrance into married life. She is then counseled by her mother about being a good wife and daughter-in-law.

sapta-padi (also called “mangal phera”): In this ceremony, the bride and groom walk around the holy fire seven time, three times led by the bride, and four times led by the groom. Each revolution (phera) symbolizes a marriage vow. It is also believed that each revolution represents a birth.

mangal aashirwad: The newlywed couples seeks blessings from the elders of both families.

Post-wedding Ceremonies

anna prashan: The newlyweds break their fast by feeding each other. Wedding guests are also served food.

griha pravesh: The bride is welcomed into her new home by her mother-in-law, who applies tilak onto the forehead of the bride. (“Tilak” is a distinctive spot of colored powder or paste worn on the forehead by Hindu men and women as a religious symbol). The bride then seeks blessings from the elders in the family. Thereafter, the bride and groom engage in a series fun-filled games where the bride and groom are pitted against each other. The games are aimed at acclimating the bride to her new family. One such game is the ring game, where the bride and groom must race to first find his/her ring which has been immersed in a bowl of water mixed with milk, turmeric, kumkum, and rose petals. It is believed that whoever is first to find his/her ring will be the dominant spouse.

path phera: The bride returns to her mother’s house on the fourth day after the wedding. On the fifth day, however, the groom and his family visit the home of the bride’s mother in order to take the new bride back to her marital abode. The bride’s family prepares a lavish feast to welcome the groom and his family to the path phera.





The History and Etiquette of Japanese Chopsticks

The History and Etiquette of Japanese Chopsticks

Chopsticks originated in ancient China during the Shang Dynasty (1766 – 1122 B.C.E.). But it was during the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 C.E.) that they came into everyday use for eating and serving. Chopsticks later spread to Vietnam, Korea, and then Japan. (Japanese chopsticks tend to be shorter and more pointed at the eating-end than their Chinese counterparts).

The oldest written record of chopsticks in Japan is found in the Kojiki (a collection of myths pertaining to the origins of the four home-islands of Japan, compiled by Ō noYasumaro at the request of Empress Genmei), written in 712 C.E.; but chopsticks are believed to have arrived in Japan around 500 C.E., when Chinese culture first began infiltrating Japan via Korea.

Japanese chopsticks were originally made from one piece of bamboo, joined at the top like wooden tweezers. Around the 10th century, however, chopsticks were crafted as two separate sticks. By the 17th century, Japanese chopsticks were commonly being made of lacquered wood. And the very wealthy used chopsticks made of precious materials such as jade, gold, ivory, and silver (Silver was a popular choice as it was believed that the metal would immediately tarnish if exposed to poisonous foods). The concept of the disposable chopstick originated in Japan in 1878. But today, because of the millions of trees used annually to produce disposable chopsticks, the concept is being revisited.

-All cultures that use chopsticks have etiquette specifying their proper usage. Below are some of the chopstick rules of Japan:

a) Chopsticks should be held towards their non-eating ends—not towards their middle sections or towards the ends that are used to pick up food.

b) Chopsticks not in active use during a meal should be placed onto the chopstick-rest. If no chopstick- rest has been provided, chopsticks should be placed together vertically towards the right side of the plate or bowl, the points facing away from their respective diner (and, to the extent possible, not directly towards any other diner). Otherwise, they may be placed together, diagonally across the bowl or plate. (The horizontal placement across the plate or bowl signals that the diner has concluded his meal).

c) Food should never, ever, be passed from one person’s set of chopstick’s to another person’s set of chopsticks. To do so is regarded as bad luck and inviting of death since the only time items are correctly passed from one set of chopsticks to another is in the context of a cremation when family members pass the cremated bones, via oversized chopsticks, from one person to another prior to placing the bones into the funeral urn. If food must be passed from one person to another, the passer should use his chopsticks to place the food onto the recipient’s plate, then the recipient should use his own chopsticks to retrieve the passed item from the plate. Similarly, chopsticks should never be left standing upright in food—especially rice—as that placement is consistent with the upright placement of chopsticks into bowls of rice offerings to the dead at grave sites and funeral altars.

d) Chopsticks should not be used to spear food.

e) A food item too large to be eaten in one bite (such as a strip of chicken, or zucchini prepared tempura-style, or slices of wagyu beef) may be picked up whole with chopsticks; a portion of the oversized item bitten off; and the remaining portion placed back onto the plate. (No more than one bite should be taken from an oversized item that has been lifted from the plate). To divide an oversized food item on the plate requires practice: The chopstick on the left holds the item in place, while the chopstick on the right is skillfully used to divide the item.

f) Chopsticks should not be used for pointing or held in the hand while gesturing.

g) Chopsticks should never be used to move bowls or plates.

h) If dishes are served communal-style (on serving platters or in serving bowls placed in the center of the table) and no serving utensils have been provided, guests should use the opposite ends of their chopsticks (if they have already been used for eating) to move items from the communal dishes onto individual plates. (Any food residue on the opposite ends of chopsticks should be discretely wiped off in one’s napkin. At no time should food residue be licked or sucked off chopsticks).

i) Special care should be taken to ensure that one’s chopstick’s are not pointing directly at another person. Pointing chopsticks at a person is interpreted as wishing ill for that person.

j) At the end of a meal, chopsticks are placed together onto the chopstick-rest or together horizontally, midway across the “northern half” of the plate or bowl. Disposable chopsticks are placed back into their paper slip-envelope, the end of the envelope sealed with a fold.

k) Chopsticks are not toys—not even for children. Using chopsticks for twirling, drumming, or clicking is unacceptable.

(While knives and forks will not be used at the traditional Japanese dining table, Chinese-style ceramic spoons are used to eat soups, and regular spoons are used to eat Japanese dishes such as “donburi” or “curry rice”).

The History and Etiquette of Liquor Flasks

The Gentleman’s Flask

Of all gentlemanly accessories, the flask is arguably the most fascinating: It has been known to fortuitously—and elegantly—shield men from bullet and blade to the heart; in the minds of some people, a man who carries a flask is undeniably a drunkard, albeit a debonnaire one; and for yet other people, there is no more refined a way to “correct” or “adjust” coffee than with Irish whisky or Caribbean rum dribbled from a flask—of sterling silver, of course.

The concept of the flask—a container for conveniently carrying liquids on one’s person—is as old as human history. Even in hunter-gatherer societies man must have concocted ways to conveniently carry life-sustaining water during their hunts and their forages for food. As such, the earliest flasks were probably made of animal skins or gourds. During the Middle Ages, devotees would make their pilgrimages to the Holy Land with “pilgrims’ bottles,” containers typically made of earthenware (but also of leather and other materials) and suspended from the shoulder or around the neck, with a rope passed through loops at the neck of the bottle. Pilgrims’ bottles eventually evolved into canteens (another name for flasks), popular with soldiers and scouts.

But the liquor flask (also called “hip flask” or “kidney flask”) as it is known today—the relatively flat, palm-sized vessel, typically made of stainless steel or sterling silver and slightly concave on one side and correspondingly convex on the other—first became popular as a male accessory in the 18th century.

The first 18th -century flasks were made primarily of glass, silver, or pewter. In the early 1800s, when glass windows came into use, many of the glass-making companies were managed by or were employers of Freemasons since they, too, controlled much of the building construction that utilized glass windows. Glass flasks were made as byproduct of the window-glass industry; and when Masonic Lodges would meet in local taverns, they were served food and drink after their meetings but were required to bring their own liquor. So the Masons used glass flasks to comply with the B.Y.O.B. directive.

The classic concave/convex, palm-sized flask is the result of both form and function. So that the vessel could be carried on one’s person, its concave side was designed to fit against the natural curves of the human body: a man’s chest (which led to “pocket flask”); a waistline (hence, “kidney flask”); a thigh, held in place by a garter (the result, “hip flask”), or tucked away inside the carrier’s boot, worn against his lower leg (the inspiration for “bootleg”). And the relatively small size (Most classic liquor flasks can hold between four and eight fluid ounces.) enabled the carrier to discretely transport his spirit, invisible to the naked eye.

Once the relatively small size of flasks was established in the 18th century, gentlemen began demanding luxurious flasks. Enter: silver. And because silver was believed to be able to ionize liquor, “cleansing” the precious liquid in the process, silver became the material of choice for gentlemen of means. Pewter, “poor man’s ‘silver,’ ” was also used. But with time, it became known that the lead content of pewter produces unhealthy results.

The heyday of the flask came during the first half of the 20th century, with Prohibition laws taking effect in several countries in Europe: the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union (1914 – 1925); Norway (1916 – 1927); Finland (1919 – 1932), for example, and in the United States from 1920 to 1933. In the United States, when the “Roaring Twenties” ushered in the era of excess, society simply was not going to consume less alcohol! So as the manufacturing, storage (in barrels or bottles), transportation, sale, possession, and consumption of alcohol became illegal, socialites sought solace in their inconspicuous flasks.

By 1933, with the repeal of Prohibition in the United States, the need for flasks declined. But their place as an elegant, stylish accessory had already been secured. And to this day, there are few gentlemanly gestures more genteel than a perfectly timed, effortlessly executed swig from a flask of sterling silver.

Where there are flasks, there is flask-etiquette:

-The carrying of a flask containing alcohol is illegal in jurisdictions that prohibit the carrying of liquor in “open containers.” Even if shut tight with its cap of luxurious sterling, a flask is regarded as an “open container” for legal purposes, and “flashing one’s flask” in public could get one arrested.

-The traditional liquor used for filling flasks is whiskey. But rum, brandy, cognac, grappa, sherry, and port, for example, are also used. Any spirit or liquor that is drunk neat is appropriate for a flask. But because of the small opening, making the cleaning of flasks somewhat challenging, liquors that leave no residue tend to be most suitable. (Flasks should be washed with hot, soapy water then thoroughly rinsed with clean water before being turned upside-down to drain and dry. A pipe cleaner or some similar device may also be used to clean a flask).

-Flasks are generally sold with appropriately sized funnels for spill-free filling. A gentleman who uses a precious flask should secure a precious funnel for use when filling his flask with precious liquid. Antique funnels may be acquired from online bidding sites such as www.ebay.com

-Though flasks are today made of safe materials such as stainless steel, silver, glass, and plastic (which is excellent for going unnoticed by metal detectors!), the contents of a flask are best enjoyed when drunk on the day of the filling. The general rule, however, is that the contents should be drunk within three days.

-It is correct to drink directly from a flask, avoiding “backwash” of course! But the contents of a flask may also be poured into a glass or cup containing other liquids (such as coffee ) or even onto foods (such as ice cream). When amongst intimate friends, a flask may be passed, person-to-person, each taking a swig. In more formal or reserved settings, the contents may be poured into various glasses for a toast. A flask is regarded as a personal, private accessory. But when in the company of other intimate friends, a gentleman would offer his flask to those in his company.

-A flask is designed for discreet drinking. And it should be handled as such. (Though one should not use a flask as if engaged in some illegal or clandestine act). Like the tipping of a hat, rising for a lady, or offering to light a lover’s cigarette, a sip from a flask is an acquired skill, perfected with practice. A man who uses a flask should do so in a second-natured, nonchalant manner. He should look as if he were born with a silver flask in his hand or as if he drank his milk as a child from a flask.

-Occasionally, flasks, being hollow vessels, dent. And because the typical flask-opening is proportionately small, access to the inside of the vessel for repairing dents can be a daunting task—even for professionals. One of the world’s foremost restorers of luxurious silver items (including flasks, pens, cigarette cases, ink wells, men’s vanity sets, etc.) is Jeff Herman of Rhode Island, USA. (www.hermansilver.com )

The Traditional Persian (Iranian) Wedding–One of the World’s Most Beautiful and Highly Symbolic Nuptial Rituals

-Today, most Persians are Muslims, but for certain rituals and ceremonies—Nowruz, which literally means “new day,” (the Persian New Year, which is celebrated on the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring) and weddings, for example—Iranians rely upon the traditions of their ancient, pre-Islam faith, Zoroastrianism.

-Generally, Persian weddings are lavish events, with hundreds of invited guests. The groom’s family is expected to finance the wedding. As weddings are regarded as the ultimate social event, guests are expected to wear their finest clothing. Wealthy Persian ladies wear their most impressive jewelry to weddings.

-Today, Persian brides wear Western-style white dresses, and grooms wear suits or tuxedos. Female guests wear evening gowns, and their male counterparts wear suits or tuxedos.

-(Iranian Muslims generally do not marry during Muharram, the month of mourning for Imam Husayn, or during his “cheleh” [fortieth day of death], which occurs in Safar. Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, and Safar occurs during the second month).

-While Iranian weddings may superficially resemble Western weddings—with white bridal gowns, wedding rings, and wedding cakes—Iranian weddings are imbued with many uniquely Iranian elements.

-In the past, and still today in rural areas, marriages were arranged by parents and elder family members. Today, most Iranian couples choose their own mates, but parental consent remains important. And even today, after the man and woman have already agreed that they would like to marry, it is the man’s parents or relatives who officially ask for the bride and her family’s consent. Traditionally, the man’s family goes to the woman’s house with flowers, sweets, and gold coins and jewelry to ask for her hand in marriage. During the negotiations, the family of the groom is served tea, “sekanjebin” (a sweet-and-sour drink made from vinegar and sugar), and members smoke water pipes. Only when an agreement, including the “mahr” (bride price), is reached is the groom’s family served sweets in a ritual called “sheerne khoran,” which means “eating sweets.” With an agreement reached, other gifts are given to the bride-to-be in a tradition referred to as “khoncheh.” Men of the groom’s family, dressed in festive costumes, would carry the gifts on their heads in large, flat trays, called “tabaghs,” to the bride’s home. There would be singing, clapping, and music playing along the way. Mirrors and candelabras, which figure significantly in the Zoroastrian religion, are significant gift items of the khoncheh tradition. Other gifts included espand (also “esfand”) (a popular incense); large, decorated sugar cones; henna, cardamom, rosewater, fabrics, candles, and a prayer mat (called “janamaz”). Also included was a specially decorated bread called “noon-e sangak.” Once the men arrived with the gifts, they would not go beyond the entrance of the bride’s home: Khoncheh would at that point transform into a female-only event.

-An engagement party is planned, and simple gold rings are exchanged. In Iranian culture, engagement rings do not feature precious stones; wedding rings do. The engagement ring is delivered to the bride-to-be by the female members of the groom’s family. The bride is also given a shawl. One of the female members of the groom’s family (other than his mother) places the engagement ring onto the bride’s finger, and another member of his family places the shawl onto the bride’s shoulders. Thereafter, there is music—played by female musicians—and dancing.

-Traditionally, the marriage contract is negotiated by both fathers.

-Per long-standing Persian custom, men received written invitations to weddings. Otherwise, they were informed by word-of-mouth. Women, on the other hand, received personal visits to inform them of an impending wedding: A servant or female relative [Presumably from the groom’s family since it is his family that traditionally finances the wedding] would visit the invitee with noghl and nagal (both sweets), and cardamom (an expensive spice) wrapped in a lace-decorated silk handkerchief delivered upon a small glass plate. The messenger would then offer the handkerchief and its contents and inform the recipient of date, time, and place of the wedding. The recipient would then eat a few of the sweets, express satisfaction about the impending union, then, in the case of a servant, give a small tip and sweets. (Today, sweets such as noghl and nagal are given as wedding favors).

-In ancient Persian culture, unmarried women would not remove body hair. So three days before the wedding, the bride would either visit or be visited by a female beautician for the hair-removal ritual. Using thread, the body hair would be removed at the root in a practice called “band andazi.” And done three days in advance, the bride would have enough time to recover from the ordeal.

-The day before the wedding was a day designated for special baths for the bride and groom. The bride and her female relatives would go to a bathhouse, where she would be thoroughly cleansed, exfoliated, massaged, and rubbed with oils and perfumes. (On the day of the wedding, beauticians would arrive to apply her makeup). In a less elaborate ritual, the groom was also cleansed.

-Traditional brides provide a dowry primarily of household items, specially woven fabrics, and, in the case of wealthy families, real property.

-There are two traditional components to a Persian wedding: the first is called the “aghed,” meaning “knot,” which usually lasts from forty-five minutes to one hour; and the second is the “jashn-e aroosi” or “aroosi,” the wedding reception and celebrations, which may last as long as seven days. Typically, the aghed and jashn-e aroosi occur on the same day. But in the past, especially in the case of very young brides, the aghed could have occurred several years before the celebration so as to allow a young bride to mature into womanhood.

-The aghed is the legal component of the wedding: There are an officiant (a “mula” or a priest, for example), witnesses, a marriage contract, and a notary—in addition to the close family and friends—in attendance. (Of course, Persians who marry outside Iran must comply with the marriage laws of their respective jurisdictions). Traditionally, the aghed takes place at the bride’s home during sunlight, but today it oftentimes takes place in a special room at the ceremony venue. Having the aghed during daylight harkens back to the Zoroastrian period, where darkness was associated with evil spirits. Guests arriving for the aghed are ushered into the room by close relatives of the bride. In very traditional families, the sexes will be segregated. When all guests are seated and witnesses are present, the ceremony begins.

Central to the aghed is the “sofreh aghed” (also “sofreh-ye aghed”), a luxurious display of symbolic items laid out onto the floor atop an exquisite fabric (the “sofreh”) such as “termeh” (gold-embroidered cashmere), “atlas” (gold-embroidered silk-satin), “abrisham” (silk), or linen. The sofreh aghed faces east. And when the bride and groom are seated at the head of the sofreh aghed, they face east, into “the light.” The bridegroom is always the first to take his seat at the sofreh aghed. The bride then positions herself such that the groom is on her right side. (In Zoroastrianism, the right side is the place of respect). When the bride enters the room, her face is covered with a veil. When she sits besides the groom, she raises the veil, revealing herself to him in the mirror before them. The bridegroom sees the face of the bride (traditionally, for the first time) while looking straight ahead into “the light” and into the mirror. Throughout the aghed, the bride and groom have their backs towards those in attendance (except for those participating in the ceremony).

-Several items are placed onto the luxurious fabric to comprise the sofreh aghed:

a) A mirror [of fate] (“aayeneh-ye bakht”) flanked by two candelabras (representing the bride and groom). The mirror is a symbol of light, and the candelabras are symbols of fire, two very important elements of the ancient Zoroastrian culture.

b) A tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices (“sini-ye aatel-o-baatel”) to protect the couple from “the evil eye” (“chashm zakhm”), those malevolent glares cast—oftentimes unbeknownst to the subject of the glare—out of jealousy or envy; witchcraft; and to ward off evil spirits.

-poppy seeds (“khash-khask”) as an antidote to spells and witchcraft.

-wild rice (“berenj”)

-angelica (“sabzi khoshk”)

-salt (“namak”) to blind the evil eye.

-nigella seeds (“raziyaneh”)

-black tea (“chaay”)

-frankincense (“kondor”) to burn the evil spirits.

c) Noon-e sangak, a special flat bread that is decorated with a blessing inscribed upon it in calligraphy. The inscription is typically done with saffron, cinnamon, or nigella seeds. The inscribed bread symbolizes prosperity for the feast and in the couple’s life thereafter. (At the end of the aghed, a special platter of the bread, feta cheese, and fresh herbs is shared with guests in order to bring prosperity to the couple).

d) A basket of decorated eggs and nuts to symbolize fertility.

e) A basket of pomegranates and/or apples for a joyous future. (Pomegranates are regarded as heavenly fruits, and apples symbolize the creation of mankind).

f) A cup of rosewater extracted from special Persian roses to perfume the air.

g) A bowl made of crystallized sugar to sweeten the life of the newlyweds.

h) A brazier containing live coals upon which wild rue (“esfand,” a popular incense) is sprinkled. (In Zoroastrian custom, wild rue is believed to foil the evil eye and bring health).

i) A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity.

j) a scarf or shawl made of luxurious fabric which is held by over the head of the bride and groom throughout the aghed by the happily married female members of the bride’s family. (Until the 19th century, the fabric was always of a green color, the favorite color of Zoroastrianism. Since then, fabrics of other colors, especially white, are used).

k) Two sugar cones called “khaleh ghand” which are ground when rubbed together over the heads of the bride and groom (shielded by the scarf/shawl being held over their heads) in order to bestow sweetness upon their lives.

l) A cup of honey to sweeten life. (Immediately after the couple has exchanged vows, the bride and groom each dips his/her “pinky” finger (the fifth finger) into the cup of honey and feeds the other with his/her finger).

m) A needle and seven strands of colored thread to “sew” the mouth of the groom’s mother shut so as to prevent her from speaking unkind words to the bride. (A corner of the shawl/scarf being held over the couple’s head is symbolically sewn for this purpose).

n) A copy of the couple’s holy book, whether Avesta (for Zoroastrians), Qur’an (for Muslims), or Bible (for Christians). The holy books symbolize God’s blessings of the union and the couple. Non-religious couples typically use passages from famous poems.

o) A prayer kit is placed in the center of the sofreh-ye aghd to remind the couple of the need to pray during both good times and bad. The typical prayer kit is comprised of a small prayer rug called a “sajadah” (also “sajjaadeh”) and prayer beads called “tasbih” or, in the case of a Christian couple, a rosary or cross and the Holy Bible.

p) An assortment of pastries and sweets to be shared with guests after the ceremony.

-The aghed typically consists of preliminary blessings; questions to the witnesses, the parents or guardians, and the marrying couple; the solemnization of the ceremony by the reading of religious passages from a holy book of choice or from the works of esteemed poets; and finally the signing of the marriage contract (which may, for example, contain clauses to protect the bride against polygamy; the right of the groom to unconditional divorce; property rights, etc.).

-After the blessings and a sermon about the importance of the institution of marriage, the officiant confirms with both sets of parents that they wish to proceed with the ceremony, then asks if there are any objections to the marriage.

-The officiant then asks the couple for mutual consent to enter the marriage. The groom is always the first to be asked. If he consents to the marriage, he renders a quick affirmation.

-The bride is then asked for her consent to the marriage. Traditionally, she must keep her groom waiting for her response; she does not respond to the first and second inquiries. In rich families, it is the tradition for the groom’s mother or sisters to place gold coins or jewelry into the hand of the bride after the first and second requests so as to symbolically coax her to acquiesce to the marriage. Then, finally, after the third request for her consent, the bride (if it is her desire to marry) utters: “Ba ejazeyeh pedar va madar va bozorgtar-ha, baleh,” which translates to, “With the permission of my parents and elders, yes.” The couple is then officially married.

-After the mutual consent, the bride and groom kiss and exchange rings.

-Thereafter, the bride and groom each dips his/her pinky finger into the cup of honey and feeds the other with the sweetened finger in a gesture symbolizing the commencement of their marriage with sweetness and love. The guests then shower the couple with “noghl” (almond flakes covered in sugar and rosewater), rice, flower petals, and gold coins in a ritual called “shabash.” When real gold coins are not used, specially minted fake coins with the word(s) “shabash” or “mobarak bad,” which means “congratulations,” engraved on them are used.

-After the exchanging of vows, the couple is then pronounced husband and wife. The couple is then presented with gifts.

-The ceremony is followed by feasting and dancing, sometimes lasting a week. The many guests who were not invited to the aghed are invited to the reception. It is customary for guests to give monetary gifts—enclosed in decorative envelopes. (The amount of the monetary gift depends upon the guest’s relationship to the couple: the closer the relationship, the more generous the gift. In some instances, the requested amount is specified on the invitation. When not, the amount given should at least cover the cost of hosting the guest at the reception).

The wedding cake is one of the traditions borrowed from Western culture. A dish of sweet rice called “sheereen polo” is obligatory at wedding feasts. Thereafter, during the course of the following several weeks, parties will be given by various close relatives from both families in order to introduce the two newly related families. These parties are called “paghosha,” which means “clearing the path.”

-The concept of the honeymoon is still unfamiliar to most traditional Iranians. In rural societies, the bride and groom either go to their own home or to the home of the parents of the groom. In such societies, after two or three days, a stained handkerchief is presented as proof of the bride’s virginal status.

-It is customary for brides and grooms to be the first to visit the homes of their parents on their first Nowruz as a couple, and relatives and friends make a special point to visit the new couple on that holiday.



What To Expect When Attending A Bar/Bat Mitzvah

Bar Mitzvah/Bat Mitzvah
“Bar” means “son,” and “Bat” means “daughter. “Mitzvah” means “commandment.” As such, Bar/Bat Mitzvah means the “son/daughter of the commandment.” Observed in a formal ceremony in a synagogue and/or celebrated as a party, typically a lavish one, devoid of spiritual significance, the event takes place at age 13 for boys and at age 12 for girls. Bar/Bat Miztvah represents a transition from childhood to a full-fledged member of the Jewish community. As such, the adolescent is no longer a child under the protection of his/her parents, exempt from fulfilling the commandments of the Torah. Instead, he/she becomes personally responsible for his/her own Jewish identity and for actively participating in Jewish life. The young adult is now obligated to follow all the Mitzvoth. The event is a time-honored rite of passage.

Technically, a Jewish boy/girl automatically becomes a Bar/Bat Mitzvah on his/her 13th/12th birthday, with or without a ceremony in a synagogue. The ceremony is the public acknowledgment of the transition.  (The Bat Mitzvah celebration for girls is a relatively new but now very prevalent custom that started in 1922 in New York City. It was little known in traditional Jewish practice. The content of the Bat Mitzvah ceremony varies vastly in the various branches of Judaism and from synagogue to synagogue).

In the coming-of-age ceremony, the youth chants a passage from the Torah towards the end of the service. Called the “haftarah” (which literally translates as “concluding portion”), the chant is typically derived from the prophetic writings of the Hebrew Bible. The youth also gives a talk on the reading and the significance of coming of age as Jew. Following the youth’s first “aliyah,” (the honor of being called up to recite one of the blessings over the Torah), many congregations have the custom of showering the youth with candies, symbolic of the sweet blessings he/she will receive from above, while singing “Mazal tov un simon tov!” (a traditional congratulatory wish performed at happy life-cycle events such as births, weddings).

Bat/Bar Mitzvot are typically held on the Shabbat (Sabbath), but not by requirement. The current trend is to hold the ceremony on the weekdays of Monday or Thursday, when the Torah is publicly read, thereby making it easier for invited guests from afar to attend. Bar/Bat Mitzvot may also be held on a Jewish holiday that falls on a Wednesday. Typically, the ceremony is followed by a party. But when the ceremony and party are held on separate days, a small celebration typically follows the ceremony.

A gentleman invited to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah should wear a suit and tie or a sport coat and tie. Women should wear dresses; though in less conservative communities, a dressy pantsuit is permissible. In more conservative communities, women generally wear hats and would not wear pants. In essence, when the party will immediately follow the service, guests dress in a manner appropriate for both events, women, for example, wearing a bolero jacket over a spaghetti-strap garment at the service, then removing the jacket at the party. Bar/Bat Mitzvot celebrations, to the dismay of many, have increasingly become more elaborate, with after-service parties rivaling weddings in grandeur and cost. After allowing for what is required by faith, the family of the youth, the style of the invitation, and the party venue generally dictate the dress code. It is not uncommon for people attending a Bar/Bat Mitzvah to dress as if attending a wedding.

The time listed on the invitation indicates the starting-time of the weekly Sabbath service. Guests should arrive at the appointed time, though the actual Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony occurs later in the service. Jewish men (and in more liberal congregations, also Jewish women) will attend the service wearing a “tallit,” the prayer shawl, its braided fringes on each of its four corners serving as a reminder to its wearer to observe the commandments of Judaism. The wearing of the tallit is reserved for Jews, but an usher at the entrance may offer the shawl to gentiles, who may respectfully accept or politely decline the offer.

All male guests (and also women in more liberal congregations) are required to don a “kippah” (“yarmulke” in Yiddish), the small, beany-like head-covering worn by Jews, prior to entering the synagogue. Unlike the tallit, the wearing of a kippah is not a symbol of religious identification. Instead, it is an act of respect for God and the sacredness of the worship space, the way non-Muslims would be required to remove their shoes prior to entering a mosque. In some congregations, women may wear a hat or a veil.

All guests are expected to respect the sanctity of the sacred space:
-Turning off mobile devices (or adjusting settings to “vibrate”).
– In traditional settings, the taking of photographs is strictly forbidden on the Shabbat. In less conservative settings, the family of the youth typically engages the services of a photographer/videographer from whom photos/video footage may be requested/purchased.
-Smoking is not permitted on synagogue property.
-Writing or recording during the service is prohibited.
-Speaking during the service is regarded as a breach of decorum.

Jewish worship services are replete with occasions for standing and sitting for various prayers. Persons unfamiliar with the service protocol should take cues from members of the congregation and from the rabbi. Unlike the act of kneeling in a Catholic Mass, a posture with unique religious significance for that faith, standing and sitting during a Jewish religious service does not constitute any affirmation of religious belief. There are, however, instructions to bow during certain parts of the service. And because a bow or prostration is a posture with religious significance, non-Jews are free to decline the request and should either sit or stand, consistent with the congregation, during those segments of the service.

Cash is a traditional Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift. Cash gifts for the event are traditionally given in multiples of 18, such as $18, $36, $54, etc., the rationale being that 18 is the numerical value of the “hay” and “yud,” which comprise “chai,” the Hebrew word for “life.” Gifts in increments of 18 symbolize the grantor’s wish for a long and prosperous life for the recipient. But cash is not the only appropriate gift: Considering that the event is spiritual in origin, Hebrew faith-themed gifts are also appropriate. A silk tallit or a hand-carved Torah-pointer would be considered special. And a gift such as the planting of a tree in Israel (at the cost of $18 per tree) is a gift with symbolic importance, though moderately priced.

In general, Bar/Bat Mitzvah gifts are presented at the party, not at the service that precedes it. Some branches of Judaism, such as Orthodox Judaism, prohibit the carrying of gifts into the synagogue, or the carrying of gifts on the Shabbat. If the Bar/Bat Mitzvah takes place on the Shabbat—Friday night to Saturday before sundown—it is best to have the gift delivered before or after the Shabbat.

When is a Gentleman Obliged to Rise in Deference to Ladies and Other Gentlemen?

When to Rise

One of the surest signs of a man well-groomed in the social arts is his knowledge of when to rise in deference to women of any age and to men of distinction and of advanced age.

The general rule is that a gentleman should rise whenever a lady of any age or man old enough to be his father enters a room in which the gentleman is seated. But as has been shown time and time again in this book, there are exceptions to the general rules of etiquette . And in general, the exceptions pertaining to rising are based on the nature of the room. If, for example, a man is sitting in the waiting area of a doctor’s office, reading the latest issue of Sports Illustrated (hopefully the “Swimsuit Issue”!) or that day’s Washington Post or doing absolutely nothing but “passing time” until his name is called, and a lady-patient enters the room to await her appointment to see the doctor, the gentleman would not rise if the room is relatively large, there are several people in the room, and its character is clearly that of a “public” waiting room, where people are coming and going without even greeting each other or exchanging the most basic of courtesies. If he stood under such circumstances, he might be referred to the doctor down the corridor—the psychiatrist. Nor would the gentleman stand each time the nurse or receptionist enters the room to announce the next patient. After all, a man must always apply basic common sense in determining how to conduct himself in social settings. But if the intimacy of the room is such that it would be impolite to enter it without extending general greetings to those already therein, a gentleman should stand each time a lady enters the room or rises to take leave of the room—unless, of course, he is deathly ill or incapacitated. (No one ever said being a gentleman was easy!) And he should know in his heart that despite the periodic disruptions of his peace and quiet, such a gentlemanly display of manners is likely to be infinitely uplifting for any lady present, whether sick or in the peak of health. But if, for example, a gentleman is seated at a dinner table and a lady must take leave of the table for whatever reason, he, and every other gentleman at the table, must rise, sitting only after she has exited the room. And they must all again rise upon her return to the table, sitting only after she has taken her seat. (Of course it is the responsibility of the gentleman at whose immediate right a lady is seated to assist her with her chair as she rises to take leave and upon her return to the table). A gracious hostess who must from time to time leave the table in order to oversee the service will request that her male guests not stand in deference to her comings and goings. At large gatherings such as wedding receptions, where there are many separate tables, the men sitting at a lady’s designated table will rise when she rises, remaining standing until she leaves the immediate vicinity of the table, and rise again upon her return, sitting only after she has sat. They do not, of course, rise when ladies seated at other tables rise or return, even if the tables are adjacent.

If a teenaged boy is visiting a friend for a weekend-sleepover, for example, he must rise whenever the lady or man of the house enters a room in which the teenager is seated, sitting again only when he is invited to sit, at which point he should say, for example, “Thank you, Mrs. Wilbourn,” and take his seat. The young man should extend the same courtesies to his friend’s sisters, regardless of their age. (Of course, if one of the sisters is a toddler who runs about the house all day, the young man would extend the courtesy to her once—upon being introduced to her on the day of his arrival). Generally, upon seeing a demonstration of a young man’s good manners, most 21st-century families will insist upon more relaxed comportment. But it is not the place of a young man to assume what those relaxed manners should be. Instead, he must wait until specifically informed of the customs of the home by his host or hostess. A young guest should remember to conduct himself correctly—even if his host-friend does otherwise—for every guest should bear in mind that the adage, “When in Rome do as the Romans,” applies neither to house guests nor the help. And a young man’s behavior is not only a reflection of him, but also a reflection of his family, especially his mother.

A gentleman sitting at a table in a restaurant must rise when any lady in his company rises to take leave of the table, sitting again only when she has departed the immediate vicinity of the table. And upon her return, he must again rise to receive her, sitting only after she has sat. Where it is possible and/or it is his responsibility to assist her with her chair, he should do so. In certain situations it would be awkward or impossible for a gentleman to rise fully in deference to a rising lady. In such instances, he should quickly and briefly rise to the extent possible, then resume his sitting position. In other words, the entire table setting should not be disrupted in the process of rising; under logistically problematic circumstances, the indication of the gesture is sufficient and will be much more appreciated.

A man must rise whenever he is being introduced, regardless of the age or sex of the person to whom he is being introduced or is being introduced to him. A man serving in the capacity of host must rise to meet his guests upon their arrival and to bid them farewell. And, of course, a man must rise to greet his host and/or hostess. A gentleman should also rise in deference to a gentleman of distinction or a man of the cloth.

Men (and women) rise for invocations and benedictions as well as for the playing of national anthems, including those of other nations.

A gentleman stands whenever he engages in extended conversation with a person who is standing. If sitting at a bar, however, a man does not have to rise to engage conversation with a person standing at the bar, the rationale being that bar stools are generally high such that the person sitting is already in a quasi-standing position. (Besides, if the bar is crowded, he might lose his seat!) But, of course, if he is being introduced while sitting at the bar, he must rise.

The rules pertaining to when a lady should rise are different, and a gentleman should familiarize himself with them, not only to be in a position to assist his female companion as they navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of society, but also to know that he is in the company of a lady of his social ilk. A lady, for example, does not rise to meet a man—unless he is her host and she is meeting him for the first time. (After their initial introduction, she does not rise when he enters a room in which she is seated). A lady must also rise when being introduced to an elderly man. There are also occasions when a lady should rise when being introduced to another woman: when being introduced to an elderly lady; and when being introduced to a lady of prominence. Of course, when serving as hostess, a lady must rise to receive her guests—male and female—and to bid them farewell. And when being received as a guest, a lady must rise to meet her hostess.