When preparing for dinner, why do we need to set the table? Why fashion each place with the plates and silverware exactly in position? Why the napkin?
It does seem pointless at times to set the table with dinnerware, silverware, and napkins, all atop a beautiful tablecloth, and perhaps wrapped around a lovely centerpiece, just to allow family to scramble to the table to eat. But there is a point to the tradition.
We might wonder if anyone would really notice if the forks were tossed on the right with the knife and the glass ended up on the left. Perhaps no one would comment or object.
Throughout history, we have established guidelines for preparing and eating our meals. We normally sit around a table together. Food is served from the left and dishes are removed from the right. We wait to eat until all are served. Chew with your mouth closed and never speak with food in your mouth.
Why set the table and practice etiquette? Such traditions give us a sense of continuity. They help each generation follow through the learning process and give us cohesion at social events. Our dining etiquette, from setting the table to clearing it, help u form those customs that bond us as a society. They are our heritage. In such, they promote a binding of one generation to the next. By teaching our children the proper etiquette, we are ensuring their generation will hold similar traditions. They will have that attachment to their past and to their future.
We also help set social politeness in our etiquette. While it might not seem so essential to today’s youth, learning to follow table etiquette will enable them to be a part of social functions in the future without fear of stumbling. By practicing the social graces at home, they become second nature and are easily managed when at a dinner party or restaurant.
Why set the table? We set the table to enable our families to enjoy their dinner in the most comfortable of traditions!