After our recent adventure in Normandy, we thought it would be the perfect time to share some of the fascinating cultural etiquette specific to the region. Every culture has their own set of rules and this rural region of France is no exception. Many of the bizarre cultural etiquettes are steeped in years of history and, as some would argue, superstition.
Because of the rich cultural tapestry of the Normandy region; with Celtic, Roman, Frankish, Viking and Middle English heritage some of these cross over and you might have heard of them before. Regardless, have a read of our list below and brush up on your Norman etiquette. It’s a perfect excuse for a French holiday!
1/ Don’t Pass the Salt
This is possibly the most well-known tradition. The concept of ‘passing the salt’ is very specific to the action of handing a salt shaker, or grinder into someone else's hands. Sure, you can pick it up and place it on the table closer, but never pass it into someone’s hand. It can have a plethora of terrible results, from dooming romance to severing business ties. It’s an action that is simply steeped in bad luck for the passer and the person to which it has been passed to.
NB: If you have had the misfortune of being passed salt, throw some over your left shoulder as a preventative to any potential bad luck.
2/ Correct Way To Cheers
This complicated and frightful custom dates back to Vikings, bloodthirsty and murderous, willing to sacrifice anyone for power and riches. At the table when you cheers, every glass (or drinking horn as the case may be) must touch, ideally with enough force that a drop from each cup sloshes into other cups. Why? Because if I’m happy to have a little bit of my drink in your drink, and you’re happy to have a little bit of your drink in mine, then we have no poison to hide and all around the table are safe. In the Normandy region, try their apple cider and apple brandy for a real Norman experience.
3/ Dunking Bread Into Coffee
This is a French breakfast staple. Cafe` au lait which is simply a weak milky coffee (often served in a bowl) with some fresh bread or pastry like a croissant. Simply tear small pieces off and dip them in the creamy coffee with milk, fresh from the cows grazing the Normandy hillsides. The secret here is to hold the bread in the coffee only long enough for it to absorb some of the liquid. You don’t want it turning soggy, or worse, falling off and getting lost in your drink!
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