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Do Manners Matter?


Do good manners really matter? Or did adults just make up lots of rules so they would have lots of things to nag kids about?

Well, let’s think about it. Say you’re eating pizza with someone you just met. He’s taking HUMONGOUS bites and talking loudly with his mouth full about the frog he dissected in science class. He says the science teacher is SO BORING, then he sneezes into his hands, wipes them on his pants, and reaches past you to take the last slice of pizza as he coughs in your face.

This guy just broke 10 rules of good manners in 30 seconds (can you find them all?). He probably ruined your appetite too.

So ask yourself again: do manners matter? They really do!

Having good manners

•    is one way to show people the love of God (remember the Golden Rule?).

•    shows people we respect them.

•    helps keep us and others healthy.

•    helps everybody get along.

Read on for more interesting stuff about manners!

Your Ticket to Good Manners

The word etiquette (say it ET-eh-ket) means a set of rules for good behavior that people in a certain culture agree on. Etiquette is a French word that means “a ticket or a note.” In fact, that’s where we get the English word ticket from! But what does a ticket have to do with good manners?

A few hundred years ago, the rules for good behavior were pretty complicated. So if you went to the palace or to a fancy party, your invitation might include a small card (an “etiquette”) with a list of dos and don’ts on it. That way you would know what was proper and wouldn’t embarrass yourself or your host by messing up!

A Little Manners Poem

Here’s a little poem to help you remember the basics
of good manners. Which ones are the easiest for you?
Which ones are the hardest?

Wait your turn—don’t interrupt.
If you use it, pick it up.
When you need some help, say “Please.”
Be kind and loving—never tease.
Say “Hi” when meeting someone new,
and be a friend whose words are true.
If you win a game, don’t gloat.
To thank someone, write a note.
Don’t be piggy when you eat.
And clean your space so it looks neat.
These manners are the perfect start
to showing friends you have a heart!

Etiquette  Around the  World

Good manners in one country aren’t always the same as good manners in another! While talking with your mouth full is frowned on all over the world, some things North Americans think are rude are fine in other countries. So when you’re traveling, it’s best to learn about other people’s rules and follow them. Here are a few that could come in handy:
•    If you’re eating noodles in Japan, it’s OK to slurp them (some people even say it makes them taste better).
•    In China it’s OK to burp out loud after a meal. It means the food was good and you had enough to eat. (It’s not OK to do this in North America, so kids, do not try this at home!)
•    In Turkey never point the bottom of your foot toward a person. Turks think that’s insulting.
•    In Pakistan always eat with your right hand, even if you’re left-handed. The left hand is considered unclean.
•    In Malaysia never touch the top of someone’s head. People believe it’s the home of a person’s soul, so you have to treat it with respect.
•    In India don’t clean your plate. If you do, your host will think the meal he gave you didn’t fill you up. Leave a little food on your plate to show that you have been well fed.
•    In Vietnam use both hands when you give something to another person.
•    If you’re eating a bowl of rice in China, never leave your chopsticks standing straight up in the rice. When a relative dies, Chinese people sometimes stand sticks of incense in a bowl of rice as an offering. So doing that with your chopsticks is the same as saying you wished someone were dead!

Table Manners Quiz

Think you’re a manners whiz? Then take this quiz about eating in North America.

1. When you pass food around the table, you should pass it
(a) to your right.
(b) to your left.
(c) either way is OK, as long as everyone is passing in the same direction.

2. If you have to blow your nose during dinner, you should
(a) turn away from your neighbors, then blow your nose into your napkin, because getting up during a meal is rude.
(b) leave the table.

3. True or False? When you’re done praying, it’s OK to start eating.

4. Which of the following foods are OK to eat with your fingers?
(a) asparagus
(b) olives
(c) fried chicken
(d) bacon
(e) pickles
(f) b and c
(g) all of the above   

5. BONUS QUESTION: You’re eating dinner,
and you find a bone or a pit in the bite
you’re chewing. You should
(a) quietly spit that bite onto your plate.
(b) quietly spit that bite into your napkin.
(c) take the food out of your mouth the same way you put it in.
(d) yell, “GROSS! There’s something in my FOOD!”
(see answers below)

ANSWERS: 1. (a) When you’re passing food, give it to the person on your right. 2. (b) Always leave the table if you need to sneeze or blow your nose. 3. (False) The polite thing to do is to wait until everyone has been served before you start eating (ESPECIALLY if the server is your mom and she just spent hours cooking). 4. (g) According to Judith Martin, who’s also known as “Miss Manners,” it’s OK to eat all of these foods with your fingers. 5. (c) But this is a trick question! Usually you should take something out of your mouth the same way you put it in (either with your fork or your fingers). But if you’re chewing a really tough piece of meat that you can’t swallow, it’s pretty yucky to leave it on your plate for everyone else to look at. You should put it in your napkin. But whatever you do, do it quietly so you don’t gross anyone out.


    Calvin Institute of Christian Worship

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