Ten Essential Rules of Ossetian Table Etiquette

25.11.2014 3380
Ten Essential Rules of Ossetian Table Etiquette

Willingness to give a good account of oneself indicates politeness, good manners, and breeding regardless of the situation.  Undoubtedly, by demonstrating one’s merits, one not only shows his nature but also contributes to the image of his nation.

It is safe to say that respect for senior people and politeness to juniors is the principal aspect of Kazakh etiquette. There are many more ethnic-specific rules, such as hospitality. I is essential to have good table manners. Kazakhstani Ossetians believe improper table manners to be outraging. Both Ossetian and Kazakh people value the the art of having meals greatly. The Ossetian table etiquette consists of ten basic ruled.

1. A set table is a sacred place. Argument and quarrel are inappropriate.  Eaters should not express their disagreement or dispute. Unholy animals, such as dogs and donkeys, must not be mentioned. Grandfather and grandson, father and son, uncle and nephew, mother-in-law and son-in-low, and brothers (in case they have a disparity in years) must not sit next to each other. To violate the tradition means to show disrespect for those older and younger than one is.

2. If guests visit a family for a holiday, the host (an adult man) can take the senior place regardless of his age. During a large-scale fest or a wedding, the host does not sit at the table. He makes sure every guest gets more care and attention that his or her status requires. It is his function to smooth away the imperfections of the fest, makes remarks and suggestions.

3. Getting drunk on alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Every guest should consider the tradition and deny himself any extra amount of alcohol. Those who drink to excess violate the principal traditions. No abstaining Ossetian has ever been much to blame, while drinkers always have a reason to be ashamed.

4. Smoking at the table is impolite. Ossetians and other Muslim nations do not practice it. According to the Ossetian tradition, one who needs to smoke should ask the seniors for permission three times. One cannot satisfy one’s need for smoking unless the permission is given.

5. Walking idle round the table is impolite. Children must not rise from the table unless their parents allow them to do so. It would violate the etiquette rules.

6. If a guest comes late, he is expected to sit at the end of the table regardless of his age, which is considered the only polite way. If the guest has made a long journey, he should greet the adults and express his willingness to see them more often at fests and celebrations.  The seniors suggest a drink to celebrate the occasion. The guest who had said the toast drinks the content of his glass and takes any place offered to him.

7. Inappropriate clothes, such as shorts or sport style, should not be worn at the table. Apart from dress code, behavioral rules should be adhered to. For instance, arguing, saying hard words to wound other people’s pride, being rude to elderly people, taking children to the table where men are sitting, etc. is improper.

8. If a senior person stands up for a toast, the rest must stand up too. Only one of the juniors can remain seated as a “table keeper”. When the senior has drunk his glass and taken his seat, the “table keeper” must stand up. It is safe to say that it is a specifically Ossetian rule.

9. During Ossetian fests, no poultry or fish dishes are present on the table. The Ossetians do not eat such foods on their national holidays. All meat dishes should be made of beef and mutton. Pork dishes are not served at Ossetian feasts.

10. Ossetian people always feasts with music, jokes, and fun. Young people mostly provide it. However, the tradition forbids them to begin singing on their own. Seniors start and the others should join them. Sometimes well-respected guests concede the right to juniors by asking them to sing or play a musical instrument.

Some customs of Kazakhstani Ossetians are similar to those of our people, as they are also Muslims. At present, the Ossetians living among us keep up their traditions and observe their own etiquette.


Zeynegul Zhumabekova