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Kwanzaa Etiquette

 "The seven principles of Kwanzaa -- unity, self-determination, collective work and responsibility, cooperative economics, purpose, creativity and faith -- teach us that when we come together to strengthen our families and communities and honor the lesson of the past, we can face the future with joy and optimism." ~ President Bill Clinton

Out of the turbulent 1960s and the ashes of conflict emerged the celebration of Kwanzaa. The brainchild of activist Maulana Karenga, Kwanzaa was established in 1966 to heal, unify and revolutionize the Black community in the wake of the Watts Riot in 1965. The focus of the holiday is the celebration of African-American cultural roots, focusing in large part on the African Continent's agricultural history. The name Kwanzaa is drawn from the Swahili phrase, “matunda ya kwanza,” which means "first fruits of the harvest." Kwanzaa is celebrated during the last week of the year, beginning on December 26 and ending on January 1.

Job Search Series – Nailing the Interview – Part 1 – Types of Interviews

Types of Interviews


“Besides getting several paper cuts in the same day or receiving the news that someone in your family has betrayed you to your enemies, one of the most unpleasant experiences in life is a job interview.” ~Lemony Snicket

It is my hope that Mr. Snicket will read the next few blog posts along with you so that he, too, might gain some snippets of advice that will help smooth the way to the job interview process. 

Let's start by taking a look at the various types of interviews you can expect to come across: 

Job Search Series – Going For The Gold

"Not that you root for failure," Vasgersian said,
 "but he needs one more crash to guarantee a spot in the next round."
 ~ NBC 2014 Winter Olympics Announcer Matt Vasgersian   

The above-captioned statement was uttered during the men’s freestyle aerial ski jumps last week in Sochi during the play-by-play commentary. The speculation was that for American Mac Bohonnon to qualify for the finals one of his competitors would have to make a mistake, thereby making Mr. Bohonnon’s point score sufficient. No sooner were these words spoken when Renato Ulrich of Switzerland took his turn at the aerials and crashed. 

Dining Etiquette Series – Saying Grace Before Dinner

“In some families and at some events it’s customary to say a blessing or prayer before the meal begins. If that’s not your custom and you’re a guest, just sit quietly until the blessing is finished. If asked, do join hands around the table—doing so will complete the circle.”
~ Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition, Manners For A New World

In the U.S., the freedoms of religion, speech and assembly are held in very high esteem. But, along with freedom should come civility. That means that we should not only respect the rights, beliefs and customs of others, we should also extend courtesy, consideration and understanding when we or when others exercise those rights, express those beliefs and celebrate those customs. In each the following dining scenarios, consider the response that you believe would be most appropriate: 

The Skillful Dinner Conversationalist

That which chiefly causes the failure of a dinner-party,
 is the running short—not of meat, nor yet of drink, but of conversation.
 ~ Lewis Carroll

There are many components to a successful dinner party – a welcoming invitation, warm and friendly hosts, engaging guests, delicious food served elegantly, and a beautiful and inviting dinner table. Those are the elements that will draw guests to a gathering. But, the dynamic that sets the occasion afire and keeps people talking about it long afterward is the conversation, good or bad.

Dining Etiquette Series – The Formal Dinner Party Menu

There was no food as yet on the glittering golden plates, but small menus were lying in front of each of them. Harry picked his up uncertainly and looked around—there were no waiters. Dumbledore, however, looked carefully down at his own menu, then said very clearly to his plate, “Pork chops!” And pork chops appeared.” ~ Harry Potter And The Goblet Of Fire

We might not be able to summon our courses directly from the menu card the way the Harry Potter crowd did, but all the same there is a magical atmosphere that surrounds a formal dinner party. 

Dining Etiquette Series -The Hostess Gift

It’s not the gift, but the thought that counts.
 ~ Henry Van Dyke, American Author & Poet (1852-1933)

Bringing a gift to the host or hostess when you are invited to dinner -- from a formal affair to a casual pot-luck and everything in between -- is a time-honored custom intended to show a guest’s appreciation to the hostess for the invitation. Although this type of gift is called a “hostess gift,” it’s obviously intended for both genders. A hostess gift can be generic, such as a bottle of wine or candy, or tailored to the taste and personality of the host. But, be sure to consider any allergies, preferences, religious beliefs or ethnic customs. 

Dining Etiquette Series – Responsibilities of a Guest

Did you ever have the feeling that you wanted to go,
and still have the feeling that you wanted to stay?"
 ~ Banjo, from The Man Who Came to Dinner

Banjo is a character from the classic play about an insufferable guest named Sheridan Whiteside, who reluctantly accepts a dinner invitation and then because of a freak accident not only overstays his visit but behaves badly the entire time. So, to entertain Banjo’s question, perhaps there have been times when, as a guest, you’ve been ambivalent about whether you wanted to stay or go. However, as you know that the foundation of good manners is to put others ahead of yourself, I’m betting that you did not behave as Sherry Whiteside did. Because whether at a formal affair or a beach party, a guest has certain responsibilities that mirror those of the host (see last week’s post, Responsibilities of a Host), as follows: 

Dining Etiquette Series – Responsibilities of a Host

 

A host is like a general: calamities often reveal his genius.
~ Horace, Roman lyric poet, satirist, and critic, 65 – 8 B.C.

Now that autumn has arrived and the busy fall entertaining season begins, I’m returning to topics of dining etiquette. As a student, your future very likely will include formal entertaining and hosting for both personal and business occasions. As Horace observed millennia ago, planning and implementing a dinner or luncheon party can be fraught with opportunities for mishaps, often referred to as Murphy’s Law

Dining Etiquette Series – Please Pass The Salt

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working
 together is success. ~ Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company

The famous American industrialist probably didn’t have salt and pepper in mind when he uttered these words. But they apply to this week’s topic. When part of the dining table -- whether at a casual business breakfast or a formal dinner party -- the salt and pepper shakers are placed on the table together, kept together when being passed and work together when both are used to season food.