A Regency … Thanksgiving? Dinner etiquette from the past

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By Jennifer Abella

It’s Thanksgiving week and you might be preparing to host dinner or attend one. Here are some Regency-era points of etiquette, according to “Georgette Heyer’s Regency World” and “The Jane Austen Handbook.” Who knows? Maybe Regency etiquette will be your new Thanksgiving tradition.

  •  You must dress for dinner.
  • When entering the dining room, guests enter according to rank, with the highest-ranking lady escorted by the man of the house.
  • According, guests are seated according to rank, with the highest-ranking lady seated to the right of the host, who sits at the head of the table.
  • In formal dinners, conversation is limited to your right and your left; at informal dinners, you can talk across the table.
  • Use your fingers to cut and tear your food. Umm….
  • Men should carve the meat placed near them and offer slices to neighbors.
  • Ladies retire to the withdrawing room after dinner, but the host shouldn’t give the signal to withdraw until everyone at the table has finished.

Happy Thanksgiving! And don’t forget: Registration for the program opens Dec. 1!


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Jennifer Abella is a TV/movie/pop culture/knitting/sewing/Jane Austen geek. Oh, and a total Anglophile. Follow @nextjen on Twitter.

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