Etiquette Boss: The three-finger rule

I was leaving a restaurant recently and saw someone take more than a few dinner mints upon exiting. This immediately brought to mind the “three finger rule” in dining etiquette. I thought a timely reminder would be in order for this week’s column.

If you present a tray of cookies, candy or other finger-foods to a child, the natural tendency would be to pick up as many as possible, using all five fingers, especially before they are taught consideration for others. However children grow into adults, and sometimes guidance is still needed on the art of picking up finger foods correctly.

Pick up finger foods with thumb, forefinger and middle fingers only. A small history lesson will aid in understanding the rule. In ancient Rome, before the birth of the middle class, and before the invention of the knife and fork, all citizens ate with their fingers. The upper class, or aristocrats, picked up their food with three fingers: the thumb, middle and index fingers. The commoner used all five fingers. Maybe it had something to do with the landed gentry having unlimited amounts of time to eat while the commoner had to rush a meal due to work commitments.

Though centuries have passed, the ‘three-finger rule’ still applies today when it comes to picking up finger foods. The three-fingered  lift (pinkie down) remains a symbol of good breeding, while the five fingered grasp (which facilitates up to a handful) is still an indicator of lower or working class behavior.

BEAUTY TIPS:   Healthy Sun Tan

We all know the dangers of lying in the sun, and I would avoid it at all cost. However, I always wondered how I got severely burnt while I read a book under a beach umbrella in Barbados until I read that 50 percent of the sun’s rays bounce off pavements, pool decks, sand and water to get to you under that umbrella.

Aloe Vera gel and petroleum jelly were once used as tanning lotions in themselves, and can still be used to enhance your tan naturally without lying in the sun.

Boost your sun protection while helping a natural tan by upping your Vitamin A plus bone meal supplements. Lack of Vitamin C may be responsible for spotty tans, and adequate supplementation may prevent sun damage to the skin. Researchers claim that people who burn easily or are susceptible to skin cancer should up their Vitamin B Complex intake in addition to recommended precautions.

Phillipa Morrish is the president of Etiquette Training International.

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