Elbows and manners

At supper the other night, a discussion about elbows on the table came up.  The basic consensus of our family was that we weren’t really sure why it was rude to have your elbows on the table, and in fact, some of us had them on the table as we were eating and determined that they were more comfortable that way.

This morning, Joe asked me if I could look up on the Internet and find out why it was considered rude.  (Because, of course, Mom can find answers to EVERYTHING on the computer).

What I learned was this:

1.  It is considered sanitary issue:  keeping the table clean is important, and you should keep as many body parts off the table as possible in order to cut down on germs.

2.  In the middle ages, when people ate, they were jammed together on benches at a table.  There simply wasn’t room for your elbows to be on the table — if you tried to put them on the table, you might end up putting them in your neighbors food.

I’m not entirely sure I believe he first one, and the second one certainly doesn’t apply at our house.  I’ve never been overly concerned about elbows on the table (compared to chewing with your mouth open, this particular rule of manners is not even worth worrying about…at least in my book…) so I think the issue of elbows on the table will not be a battle I try to win.  I may try to convince them that when they are in public, at more formal events, they should try to keep the table elbow-less, but if you come eat at our house, you may find yourself looking at elbows resting on the table.


  1. Helen says:

    We have had the same conversation at our table except about putting your knife and folk together when you have finished eating! LOL 🙂

  2. joycej says:

    We are elbows on the table if you want at our house. I have never thought it was rude. I am with you on the chewing with your mouth open though.

  3. jenclair says:

    Chewing with your mouth open is rude, but elbows on the table is one of those traditions “more honored in the breach than the observance.” 🙂

  4. Dianne says:

    We have had the same conversation! I think I’ve lost the battle, and elbows are definately resting on our table. But I’m still trying with the “Sit up Straight”!!!!

Comments are closed.