Monthly Archives: November 2014

Cheers: toasting and clinking glasses

I was in Munich at the end of September. At the celebrated Hofbräuhaus beer hall, we were sat opposite a very affable father and son from Argentina. The father is a surgeon, in town for a conference. As luck would have it, I had done a little research on the biofuel industry of Argentina last year. I knew a little bit about their country, so I had an instant icebreaker.

Photo from

When our beers arrived, they offered their glasses for me to clink with the customary ‘Salud!’ (In deference to our location, we should have said ‘prost’.) Right before I touched my beer stein to theirs, I hastily said, ‘Oh, you have to look the other person in the eye or you’ll have seven years of bad sex!’ (Siete años de mal sexo.) Whether this was a silly superstition I picked up from my Spanish friends, well, I didn’t want to risk it. Seven years is a long time!

During a speech
Speeches are usually given after a meal.
Sometimes it is given between the main course and the dessert. When the speaker invites everyone to “raise their glasses,” in hounour of someone (or something), guests are expected to stand and do just that, raise their glasses. Do not touch your glass with your neighbours during a toast.

At a drinks reception, it is a good idea to leave a little bit of your drink, just in case there is a welcome speech. You can always finish it right before you enter the dining room. If you find you have polished off your champagne too early, don’t call attention to yourself, just raise your glass with the rest of them.

President Obama giving a toast at a state dinner at Buckingham Palace. Photo from The Telegraph

Cheers, to your good health!
In the very olden days, when individuals still drank and talked unreservedly with strangers in pubs, people clinked glasses with each other to signify trust. This is because some of the other person’s ale will spill into your glass and vice versa (somehow it’s always ale in the days of yore). This acts as a deterrent to the sinister, if someone had slipped poison into your drink, there is a chance that some of the poison might be mixed into their drink too. Was it irony or mockery that the words “to your good health” precedes the touching of glasses?

Later on, perhaps because people developed greater (dis)trust of drinking companions, the middle and upper classes eschewed the practice. Indeed, in the early part of the 20th century, clinking glasses was an indication of a working class upbringing.

To clink or not to clink glasses?
Undoubtedly, clinking glasses gives a gathering a friendlier atmosphere. It also gets people talking. If people offer their glasses to you, do not hesitate and touch your drink to theirs. It is considered rude not to do so.

Although I must admit, it can get awkward when there are more than four people at the table. It causes confusion, crossing of arms and spillage. Whatever you do, just make sure you look the other person in the eye and smile.

Cheers, to all that we love,

A royal toast! Photo from

Happy blog birthday!

Dear Readers

Today marks the 1st anniversary of The Etiquette Butterfly. We are grateful to all our readers and followers, especially those who have left kind messages and feedback.

When we started a year ago, we could not have conceived such a wonderful reception to our little etiquette website. Thank you to Stilettos on the Glass Ceiling for commissioning exclusive articles. We would also like to thank Communication Daily, Adrienne Henry Millinery and Hand Luggage Only for featuring several of our posts.

Finally and most importantly, thank you to friends, family and all our readers for being part of The Etiquette Butterfly community.

With love from,


Remembrance Sunday, poppies and how to wear brooches

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation at the Tower of London

November is truly upon us. Tomorrow is (already!) Bonfire Night. During my university days in Scotland, we would spend the night on West Sands Beach, drinking soups from flasks, and always with toffee apples. November is also known for being “Poppy Month”, when we wear poppies to commemorate those who have died in conflict. This year marks 100 years since the start of the First World War. Remembrance Sunday, 9th of November will be all the more poignant. In this post, we present the etiquette of wearing poppies and brooches. When to wear a poppy The Royal British Legion, the nation’s custodian of Remembrance, recommends wearing one from the launch of their appeal at the end of October until Armistice Day, 11 November.

Photo from The Guardian

How to wear your poppy This is a hotly debated topic. Some people say wear it close to the heart, on the left side of your body. Others say that men should wear theirs on the left and women on the right. There is also a school of thought that says the poppy stem should be pointing down, and never worn at an angle. Again, I echo the advice The Royal British Legion: there is no right or wrong side “other than to wear it with pride”.

A proud poppy

Brooches and corsages Traditionally, women wear brooches on the right and men wear badges on their left. I find this is no longer observed. I find that because women’s hats and fascinators are designed to be worn to the right, a brooch worn on the left achieves a balanced, put-together look. (More on this hat etiquette later). What I have noticed is that flower corsages are still worn a certain way, at weddings for instance. Married women would tend to wear them with the flower pointing down (see photo below). While the opposite is true for single ladies, they would wear it with the flowers pointing up.

Observe how the flowers are pointing down. Photo from

So wear your poppy with pride. Pin it on your coat, wear it in your hair or even buy a giant one for the car. We must not forget that the sentiment that goes with wearing a poppy is more important than social customs. I leave you with this very cool “educational” video on how to wear your poppy.

In remembrance,