Wearing a hat at dinner..impolite?

During dinner last week (thanks K..the pasta was delicious) a discussion arose concerning the wearing of a hat at the dinner table.Normally i would just brush it off or maybe write a couple of lines regarding my opinion but  the views expressed were so varied i felt it necessary to post something more substantial.

The origin of the act (men removing their hats upon entering a home) is debatable but they all stem from a similar source.It began with men of ‘lesser rank’ removing whatever headdress or coronet (crown) they had on to show that they were not trying to challenge  the king or chieftan of their country.According to the Dictionary of Phrase and Fable the custom of taking off the hat is a relic of the ancient custom of taking off the helmet when no danger is nigh. A man takes off his hat to show that he dares stand unarmed in your presence.

A gentlemen dressed up and when it became fashionable to wear the hat, they had to find a way to still bow. A bow was given to show the male was offering his unprotected neck to the sword of the one the bow was directed at, to show there was no animosity.Since a bow was usually executed upon entering the place where they were being entertained due to their host and hostess standing there to greet the guests, the hat was removed.There are some references to hats keeping your head clean from industrial dust but you can go look that up yourselves.

Clearly all of the above examples originate from the custom of showing the owner of the house that you mean no harm and equally extending your trust in the host.

When the hell did the paradigm shift occur that resulted in the social faux pas of being impolite when wearing a hat indoors or at the dinner table.Traditions have about zero purpose if no one can remember why they are traditions.For impoliteness to occur one has to INTEND to offend someone…i did not arrive at your house with the blatant intention of offending you and lets not forget that  understanding a particular social act is highly subjective and is intrepreted as such.The acts themselves are a matter of discursive dispute and can be evaluated in a positive,negative or  indifferent manner.

I find it hilarious that an antiquated custom  at one stage in history resulted in a pompous set of rules being created.Hat etiquette still to this day is comprised of several rules all of which have pretty much vanished in modern society apart from the wearing of a hat at the dinner table.How can it possibly be inherently disrespectful?For you to make the assumption that im being rude is downright judgemental.Basing your decision on my appearance is naive ..i did not make a concious decision to insult the older generation since that age group seems to be the most adamant that im doing something wrong.To merely justify your statement by saying “its disrepectful” or “just because” is a sad attempt at establishing superiority and an inability to engage in an socially relevant discussion about a archaic custom that will be judged to be irrelevant in the not-too-distant future.


~ by mcsavage on May 18, 2009.

8 Responses to “Wearing a hat at dinner..impolite?”

  1. I thought you would have preferred the following “fact” to explain why you left your hat on:

    “In ancient times, in all oriental countries and even in Rome and
    Greece, slaves had to go about bare-headed and bare-footed, reflecting
    their status in society. When a kind master would decide to free a
    slave, he would symbolically place a cap on his (i.e. the slave’s)
    head and restore his freedom and respectability in society. Wearing a
    cap, therefore, is not only a mark of respectability, but also
    offering respect to another. The Western custom of doffing one’s hat
    is a symbol of humility, as if to express, “I am your slave.” On
    formal parade duties, however, the salute is generally offered with
    hats on.”

    Best of “Deen Parast”
    Article II: Youth Page

  2. well,thats what you call good maners,and thats the way its always been and thats the way to show respect.why do you open a door for a woman or give her the way to enter first?its not cause she cant open the door herself,its sinply cause its polite and special!why does gentelman open a car door for woman?simply cause it makes her feel good and cause it shows that you have good manners and you are well educated man who likes to treat his woman in a special proper way.thats the same thing abut wearing hat indoors,i understand it might not make sense but thats not cool.its not for us to judge the rules that human nation has for years now.anyway,its just my oppinion.

  3. Just say that you had a bad hair day!!Who you calling old! Ha haa…

  4. You tell him baby!! 🙂

  5. Im loving the debate generated by this entry!. This is a quote for Lera and it comes from a woman!!!
    “I have come to believe that so-called chivalrous acts, such as letting women exit elevators before men and opening doors for women, are actually institutionalized forms of control.A woman’s genteel passivity when offered an act of chivalry merely reinforces men’s feeling of domination and superiority.”

  6. Well done… You managed to find the one women not interested in chivalry. Very few women these days expect or demand this behaviour, but trust me, when you open that car door or allow a woman to exit an elevator, they’ll remember…Sure we run this risk of “institutionalizing forms of control”, but it’s better than being considered a douche!

    Let’s be honest, as men, we do very little…lets open the damn car door at least!

  7. well said Chad..im the first to open the door for my lady and let everyone out the elevator before me( sometimes even awkwardly when there is another chivalrous basterd who wont leave before me).I never said i dont wanna do it and im happy to continue the tradition.Ill even take my cap off at dinner( unless i have a bad hair day ..right Karen!)to purely avoid the drama but i still find it difficult to accept that certain actions are deemed inherently disrespectful.I can understand that it may be “douche-like behaviour” but to assume that im intending to disrespect or insult is purely judgemental.

  8. God, guys how did you get all this so damn confusing!did you forget that i am from Ukraine,so i cant understand anything from your last comments! =)))) translate please,who is taking advantage of who?=)

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