11 Surprising Examples of Good Table Manners Around the World (2023)

Let’s take a trip around the world and see how food norms differ from place to place.

1. Morocco

"Forget about using your napkin," said no mother ever, right? Well not necessarily... in some places in Morocco, food is eaten with your hands but you’re not supposed to wipe them on a napkin. Instead a basin of water is passed around before and after a meal to wash your hands.

Morocco might not be using napkins but they’re certainly wiping their hands clean of hunger. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recognized Morocco as one of the countries achieving the MDG objectives in advance regarding the fight against hunger. In fact, Morocco has been doing exceptionally well when it comes to taking on the MDGs, improving the number of children in school immensely.

2. Vietnam

If you ever happen upon Vietnam during their new year celebration, Tet, you’ll run into these big cakes of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves calledBanh Chung. They are square-shaped to symbolize thankfulness.

Tet is one of the biggest celebrations in Vietnam, so you can imagine how much rice you’d need to accommodate a whole nation of Banh Chung cakes. In fact, 94 percent of farmable land in the country is occupied by rice paddies.

3. India

If you have a leftie in the family you’ve probably heard them ramble about how they feel discriminated against by school desks, scissors, spiral notebooks, etc. Well you might want to warn them that they’ll experience a whole new level of prejudice if they share a meal in India because using your left hand to eat is taboo. Your left hand is thought to be used strictly for bum-wiping, and since the Indian culture rarely uses utensils, the right hand is reserved for eating.

Unfortunately many in India are having trouble keeping food in either hand. A quarter of all undernourished people in the world live in India, which makes sense considering the fact that about 32 percent of its population live on less than $1.25 a day.

4. Japan

What happens when you’re faced with oodles of noodles in Japan? It’s time to slurp. Noodles and soup are considered best when enjoyed loudly. Also, it’s a sign of appreciation to the chef to slurp through your meal. I wouldn’t go as far as chewing with your mouth open, but no need to eat quietly when visiting this country.

While it’s nice to have a surplus of anything, Japan might have one oodle too many. In 2010, approximately 18 million tons of food were discarded and five to eight million tons of that was considered edible.

5. Ghana and Ethiopia

What’s mine is yours is the motto in these two countries when it comes to dinner time. It is custom in both Ghana and Ethiopia to share food from a communal bowl and to eat the food that is closest to you.

Ghana has taken this communal concept seriously and is actually making huge strides in the MDG 1 goal of halving the proportion of people suffering from hunger. However, improvements are still needed. For instance, food crop farmers are extremely vulnerable in Ghana because of marketing and price instability of their farm produce.

The adoption of the MDGs in 2000 has proven to show significant progress in reducing hunger and malnourishment in Ethiopia as well. Food poverty is on its way down, however the hunger index was recorded at 28.7% in 2011.

6. South Korea

In South Korea, the elders hold rank at the table, so make sure to wait until they take a bite before you dive in!

The agricultural sector makes up a quarter of this country’s GDP and has comprises almost half of the entire labor force.

7. China

To me, chopsticks already seemed hard enough to master but when in China there’s a lot of rules to consider as well. It’s generally impolite to point, move bowls, or drum with them...pretty reasonable right? Well there’s also the minor problem of sticking them vertically in rice that you should probably avoid. It’s considered adark omen because it looks like incense sticks that are burned in memory of the deceased.

Unlike the their chopsticks, the Chinese are on the up and up when it comes to their progress on eradicating hunger. While they prioritize food security, there is still a gap between urban and rural areas when it comes to child nutrition.

8. Colombia

Now I know you lefties took that last one as a huge blow but maybe Colombia can win some points back. Not only do they ask that your fork remains in your left hand, they also pass all dishes to the leftwhen sharing a meal at the table.

Unfortunately conflict in Colombia has caused over five million people to be displaced from their homes as well as their dinner tables. Almost 95 percent of those victims are considered food insecure.

9. Philippines

When Christmas bells are ringing in the Philippines, the pig roasts are close behind. This is a traditional meal families share to celebrate the holiday.

The Global Hunger Index came out in 2013 to assess the progress of reducing hunger worldwide. The Philippines have lowered their numbers significantly, however hunger is still considered a “serious” problem there with a rating of 13.2.

10. Thailand

Are you the big or the little spoon? Either way, you’ll fit in with this rule because Thailand is all about spooning...well at least when it comes to utensils. It’s #rude to eat with a fork in Thailand. Instead, people use the fork to push the food onto a spoon and then eat it.

Cuddles might be free, but what about people who can’t afford the other type of spooning? Thailand actually made big strides in the 80’s to reduce their number of malnourished from 50 percent to 25 by putting a large network of community volunteers into action to help change people’s behaviors. However, 7 percent of children in Thailand still suffer from malnutrition.

11. Italy

You know what they say, when in Rome…skip the cheese? Seems a little off for a country known for their pizza and pasta. But if you want to steer clear of pissing off an Italian (which trust me, you do) you better not ask for parmesan to add to your meal. If it’s not offered, it’s just not meant to be.

Parmesan or not, the Italians started something big when they invented the pizza because nowadays there are about 5 billion pizzas sold worldwide each year.

There are many do’s and don’ts around the world when it comes to mealtime. If you’re traveling abroad it’s important to make sure you stick to the cultural norm so you don’t step on anyone’s toes. And of course show your gratitude! Apparently it’s polite to burp after a meal in China, and some Inuit groups in Canada don’t mind when you fart because it shows that you enjoyed the meal. But what happens when there’s no meal to enjoy? The fact is that there still too many people around the world without enough to eat.

The bottom line is this doesn't have to be. There is more than enough food in the world to feed everyone. In the scheme of things, it’d actually be great if our only problem was offending someone with our chopsticks; the trickier part is simply putting a meal in front of everyone. We don't need a an increase in food production, instead we need to address the systems that keep people poor.



What are table manners answer? ›

Table manners are the rules of etiquette used while eating, which may also include the use of utensils. Different cultures observe different rules for table manners. Each family or group sets its own standards for how strictly these rules are to be followed.

Can you give examples of some good table manners? ›

Wait to begin eating until everyone is seated and served. Use proper utensils to eat, and cut your food into bite-sized pieces. Ask your neighbor to pass an item on the table rather than reaching across their plate to get it. Chew with your mouth closed, and don't talk with food in your mouth.

What are the 30 good manners? ›

30 Manners Your Kids Should Know By Age 10
  • Saying “please” and “thank you.” It shows gratitude for the things others do for you.
  • Making introductions. ...
  • Covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough. ...
  • Not picking your nose in public. ...
  • Greeting visitors and say goodbye to them. ...
  • Asking for things instead of reaching for them.
Nov 30, 2017

What are the 9 good manners? ›

11 Good Manners for Kids
  • 1) Say please. This shows consideration for others.
  • 2) Say thank you. This demonstrates appreciation and gratitude.
  • 3) Look people in the eye when you speak to them. ...
  • 4) Apologize. ...
  • 5) Smile & have a good attitude. ...
  • 6) Make small talk. ...
  • 7) Ask questions of others. ...
  • 8) Say excuse me.

What are 15 good manners? ›

To help get you started, here's a list of common manners to teach your children:
  • Ask, Don't Take. ...
  • Say Please and Thank You. ...
  • Share. ...
  • Apologize Sincerely. ...
  • Offer to Help Without Being Asked. ...
  • Say Excuse Me. ...
  • Know Basic Table Manners. ...
  • Listen Carefully.
Sep 7, 2021

What are 50 good manners? ›

Start Teaching These Good Manners for Kids
  • Say “Please” when asking.
  • Say “Thank you” when receiving.
  • Show respect for others and elders.
  • Let others finish before you speak.
  • Don't use bad language.
  • Ask permission before touching or taking things.
  • Respect your own and other people's property.
Jun 1, 2021

What are 5 of the most important manners to use? ›

Here are the top 11 most important manners for kids and the reasons why they are important.
  • Say please. This shows consideration for others.
  • Say thank you. ...
  • Look people in the eye when you speak to them. ...
  • Apologize. ...
  • Smile and have a good attitude. ...
  • Make small talk. ...
  • Ask questions of others. ...
  • Say excuse me.
Oct 1, 2020

Do and don'ts in table manners? ›

Don't touch your face or head at the table. Don't tip up the glass or cup too much when drinking, but keep it straight. Don't reach across the table or across another person to get something. If it's out of reach, ask the closest person to pass it to you.

What are good manners short answer? ›

What are Good Manners? A person with good manners shows respects towards feelings and sentiments of others living in the surroundings. He/she never differentiates people and shows equal regard to everyone. Modesty, humbleness, kindness, and courtesy are the essential traits of a well-behaving person.

Which table manner is best? ›

Eat slowly and cut only a few small bites of your meal at a time. Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth. Pass food items to the right (i.e. bread, salad dressings).

What are 4 table manners? ›

Come to the table with clean hands and face. Put your napkin on your lap. Start eating when everyone else does—or when given the okay to start. Stay seated and sit up straight.

What are some don'ts for table manners? ›

10 Table Manners Mistakes You Should Stop Making
  • Passing Food in the Wrong Direction. ...
  • Cutting Your Food into Bite-Sized Pieces All at Once. ...
  • Placing Your Used Utensils in the Wrong Place. ...
  • Leaving Your Napkin on the Table. ...
  • Not Following Your Host's Lead. ...
  • Don't Mess With Seating Arrangements. ...
  • No Phones at Dinner.
Oct 10, 2022

What are 10 good habits? ›

Show your kids that you care for them by sharing these 10 healthy habits that they will follow throughout their lives:
  • Brushing twice a day. Dental hygiene is very important. ...
  • Bathing every day. ...
  • Eat breakfast. ...
  • Hand wash. ...
  • Drink water, not soda. ...
  • Regular physical activities. ...
  • Read everyday. ...
  • Family time.
Dec 26, 2019

What are the 4 magic words of good manners? ›

The building blocks of proper etiquette and good manners begin with the magic words "please", "thank you", "you're welcome" and "I'm sorry". These are the words and phrases that should be taught to children from an early age.

What are some important manners? ›

But while these gifts are free to give, the simple offerings of being polite and kind — like saying please and thank you, listening carefully, and making eye contact with people — can bring huge benefits to ourselves and those around us.

What are basic human manners? ›

Show respect by controlling yourself, not others. Accept that we all have different personalities and ways of doing things. Show respect for everyone, including yourself, your peers, and elders. Show Appreciation and Gratitude. Using the terms “thank you” and “you're welcome” shows others you have good manners.

What are the basic manners for adults? ›

"Please" and "thank you," holding doors, chewing with our mouths closed, dressing appropriately, shaking hands—these are all manners. They are important because they give us confidence, allow our focus to be on the substance of our interactions, and they tell us what to do and what to expect others to do in return.

What are 5 golden words? ›

The golden words of being polite: Thank you, Sorry, May I, Please, Excuse me. The golden words which bring a smile on every face.

What are the 10 good manners at home? ›

Exhibit good manners at home
  • Greet your family. ...
  • Make pleasant conversation. ...
  • Knock on closed doors. ...
  • Ask before you borrow things. ...
  • Avoid going through others' things. ...
  • Apologise when you make mistakes. ...
  • Acts of kindness. ...
  • Practice what you preach.
Aug 13, 2017

What are the three types of manners? ›

All manners traditionally convey one or more of the 3 Principles of Etiquette: Respect, Consideration, and Honesty.

What are the 5 most important things a child should be taught about manners? ›

6 Good Manners Every Child Should be Taught
  • Saying “Thank you” and “Please”
  • Saying “I'm sorry”
  • Asking permission first.
  • Covering their mouth when coughing or sneezing.
  • Respecting our elders.
  • Being kind and compassionate.
May 27, 2021

What is the magic of good manners? ›

It is the glue of civilization and the utilitarian road map for dealing in everyday business. Manners and polite address are not superficial. They are essential. The importance of plain good manners is increasingly not taught or explained with any depth.

What are the best good manners? ›

Ask them to be humble by saying 'Please'. Always tell your child that whenever someone gives you something reciprocate and show gratitude by saying 'Thank You'. When your kids want to say something – teach them to say 'Excuse me, please'. Tell them never interrupt elders when they are talking.

Who has the best manners in the world? ›

New Zealand tops the list of most polite countries — maybe it's hard to be rude when you're surrounded by beautiful landscapes. First let's clear up some vagueness. Does the most polite mean the kindest?

What is good manners in society? ›

Good Manners refers to being humble, polite, respectful, courteous and well-cultured social behavior. A well-mannered man/woman is respected and esteemed wherever he goes and in whatever condition of life, he may be. Among students, in particular, the preservation of good manners is a boon and it costs nothing.

Is it rude to put napkin on plate? ›

Don't place your cloth or paper napkin on your plate after eating. Don't place your napkin back on the table while others are still eating. Don't crumple your napkin. Do place your napkin on the seat of your chair when you leave the table during a meal.

What side of the plate does the napkin go on? ›

The napkin goes either to the left of the fork, or on the very outside. If you have three forks in a formal table setting, put the napkin on the plate. When you sit down, unfold the napkin, and put it in your lap. If you get up, put it on your chair.

What do you mean by good manners in 150 words? ›

Paragraph on Good Manners 2 (150 Words)

We show good manners by what we say and the way we say it. Good manners are also expressed by the way we behave and conduct ourselves. Being polite and considerate is good manners. Being rude and arrogant in our words and deeds shows bad manners.

Why are good manners important give some examples? ›

Manners are a good way for you to show gratitude, display respect, and demonstrate kindness. Demonstrate trustworthy behavior. Good manners are a strong indication of how you'll behave in the future. They indicate whether you're dependable, reliable, and selfless.

What is good manners in your own words? ›

Being polite and courteous means considering how others are feeling. When you practice good manners, you're showing others that you're considerate of their feelings and respectful. You're also setting standards for other's behavior and encouraging them to treat you with the similar respect.

What are table manners in South Korea? ›

Pass with both hands, pour for others

When passing bowls, glasses, or dishes, always use both hands to show respect. For Koreans, it's also considered rude to refill your drink, especially for alcohol. Always pour for others at the table, and let them fill yours.

Where is it rude to finish your plate? ›

Always leave food on your plate in China.

That's not so in China. Finishing your plate when dining at someone's home in China suggests the food wasn't filling enough, and that your host was skimping on the portion size. Always leave behind a little food to show the host that their meal was filling and satisfying.

What is the first thing you do when seated at a table? ›

Placing the napkin in your lap is the first thing you do when seated at a table. It is respectful to wait for the host or hostess to place their napkin on their lap first.

Why are basic table manners important? ›

Table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression. They are visible signals of your manners, and therefore, are essential to professional success. leave a lasting impression.

What are the six basic standards of table setting? ›

What are the Table Setting Rules?
  • Cutlery is set in the order of use, working outside-in. ...
  • Forks always go on the left of the setting. ...
  • Knives always go to the right of the setting. ...
  • Glassware is set above the knives. ...
  • If serving dessert, the dessert spoon and fork should be placed above the plate.
Jan 18, 2021

How are Japanese table manners? ›

When eating from shared dishes (as it is commonly done at some restaurants such as izakaya), it is polite to use the opposite end of your chopsticks or dedicated serving chopsticks for moving food to your own dish. Blowing your nose at the table, burping and audible munching are considered bad manners in Japan.

What is the rudest thing to do at the dinner table? ›

Correcting Another Person's Etiquette

But even if you notice another diner at your table engaging in all of the above behavior — or worse — the worst etiquette rule of all is to call someone else out in the middle of a meal.

What is the difference between manners and etiquette? ›

However, the two are different at their core and shouldn't be confused with each other. Etiquette is a code of conduct and a set of societal rules that acts as a catalyst for positive human interactions. On the other hand, manners are behaviors that reflect a person's attitude.

What are the 5 table manners? ›

During the Meal
  • Eat slowly and cut only a few small bites of your meal at a time.
  • Chew with your mouth closed and do not talk with food in your mouth.
  • Pass food items to the right (i.e. bread, salad dressings). ...
  • Pass salt and pepper together, one in each hand. ...
  • Taste your food before seasoning it.

What is the basic of good manners? ›

But while these gifts are free to give, the simple offerings of being polite and kind — like saying please and thank you, listening carefully, and making eye contact with people — can bring huge benefits to ourselves and those around us.

How do you have amazing manners? ›

Here are 12 ways you can demonstrate good manners in your daily life and model good manners and etiquette.
  1. Choose your words and topics wisely. ...
  2. Practice Active Listening. ...
  3. Watch Your Volume. ...
  4. Avoid Negative Remarks. ...
  5. Think Before You Act. ...
  6. Show Respect Towards Others. ...
  7. Show Appreciation and Gratitude. ...
  8. Be responsive.

What are the 10 table manners for kids? ›

Download: Top Table Manners for Kids
  • Come to the table with clean hands and face.
  • Put your napkin on your lap.
  • Start eating when everyone else does—or when given the okay to start.
  • Stay seated and sit up straight.
  • Keep elbows (and other body parts!) ...
  • Chew with your mouth closed and don't talk until you've swallowed.

What should you not do at a fancy restaurant? ›

In case you (or someone you know) needs a refresher, here are 23 things NOT to do when dining at a nice restaurant.
  • Dress like a slob. ...
  • Fail to cancel a reservation. ...
  • Sit down without the host's approval. ...
  • Pretend you know an unfamiliar dish. ...
  • Claim to have allergies if you don't. ...
  • Ask for too many substitutions.
Dec 10, 2019


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