Dear ladies and gentlemen,you probably have seen this gesture many times: an elegant woman (or even man) seated nearby you is holding his glass with his little finger ostensibly up, as a sign of distinction. But is it really correct? Let’s see together why you better avoid it and how to place your hand graciously.
In both Chinese and Western culture there is a tradition about rising your little finger when you eat, as you may see on these photos:
So, why do some people do it? Do you think we should keep this gesture or not?
The Chinese Tradition
People from the Imperial family during the Ming and then especially the Qing dynasty commonly had 2 longs nails, depending on their status.
It was not very convenient to eat that way, or to get involve in any other task. Indeed, with such a long nail there is not much you can grab, not many actions you can do without breaking your long nails.
These people had to have staff to serve them, as they were not able to accomplish the daily task. Therefore, eating with the little finger up was a mark of distinction and wealth: you were rich enough to have servants for you.
The Western Tradition
During Antiquity, there was no cutlery in Europe, people used to eat with a sharp knife and their hands, which would get easily greasy and dirty.
But they were fond of spices imported from China and India. Spices were expensive at that time, so in order not to waste them they took the custom to eat with the little finger up, in order to use it to help themselves with spices.
Dinning with the little finger up was then here as well a sign of wealth and distinction: you were rich enough to buy the expensive spices.
What about today?
Over the centuries, this custom has survived whether in China or in Western countries. You may still encounter people pretending to be elegant that way even if they don’t have servants at home or if they eat with cutlery and not with their hands.
In my opinion it is an out-dated gesture we should now avoid. Let’s be modern.So how should you position your fingers? I suggest you to keep them together graciously, and having them slightly in a scale, it will give an elegant effect.
Because we live in 2020 and not in 1720 or 720 let’s find out together the modern manners!