Friday, April 30, 2010

Etiquette: It Started In the Garden

No, I don't mean the Garden of Eden. Although perhaps there are some etiquette issues there with the apple and the serpent and . . . well, you can draw your own conclusions. I'm talking about the concept of etiquette and the origin of the word itself.

And of course, no one can pinpoint the moment when informal etiquette arose - perhaps when a caveman offered his cave-mate the choicest morsel of woolly mammoth, thus setting an example followed to this day. What we do know is that formal etiquette originated in the French royal court in the 16th and 17th centuries. (Another day we'll talk about the year 1669 - when dining knives lost their points!)

But, back to France and specifically to the Palace of Versailles. Louis XIV’s gardener posted signs, or tickets (etiquettes), telling people to keep off the newly seeded lawns; the courtiers ignored these signs until the King issued an edict commanding everyone to “keep within the etiquettes” and the modern term was born.

Today most public gardens have similar signs, although the penalties for breaking the rules is less severe.

So, have a seat on this cozy bench and think about garden etiquette and I'll join you tomorrow to continue this chat.

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