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.