Dinner usually refers to the most significant meal of the day, which can be at noon or in the evening.
The word “dinner” comes from the Old French word “disnar”, which in fact means “breakfast”.
Dinner and supper are generally synonymous when referring to a meal in the evening. However, dinner can be considered by some to be a somewhat more formal word.
Traditionally dinner was the first meal of the day, eaten around noon. It also happened to be the biggest meal of the day. Eventually, more meals started being added to the day with people eating meals before the large noon meal of dinner. Rather than calling these earlier meals that broke the fast by the word that means breakfast, the name “dinner” now stuck as meaning the largest meal of the day.
In Europe, the fashionable hour for dinner began to be incrementally postponed during the 18th century, to two and three in the afternoon, until at the time of the First French Empire an English traveler to Paris remarked upon the “abominable habit of dining as late as seven in the evening”. Dinners in the evening became more common in the 1700s, due to developments in work practices, lighting, financial status, and cultural changes.
The rise of the American family dinner depended upon the arrival of the dining table, and the dining room, from Europe, where they had been embraced since Elizabethan times. One of the first American homes to have a room specifically meant for dining was Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, built in 1772. The dining room, with the dining table at its center, began to be incorporated into wealthy homes across the country.
The hallowed family dinner we are so familiar with became accessible to all in the glorious consumer spending spree of the 1950s. New white goods arrived from America and the dream of the wife at home baking became a reality. Then the TV arrived.
Dinner is a large part, often a tradition, on many American holidays including Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Christmas dinner can take place any time from the evening of Christmas Eve to the evening of Christmas Day itself. The meals are often particularly rich and substantial, in the tradition of the Christian feast day celebration, and form a significant part of gatherings held to celebrate Christmas.
The centerpiece of contemporary Thanksgiving in the United States and Canada is a large meal, generally centered on a large roasted turkey. The majority of the dishes in the traditional American version of Thanksgiving dinner are made from foods native to the New World, as according to tradition the Pilgrims received these foods, or learned how to grow them, from the Native Americans.
A full-course dinner is a dinner consisting of multiple dishes, or courses. In its simplest form, it can consist of three or four courses, first course, a main course and dessert. Most Western-world multicourse meals follow a standard sequence, influenced by traditional French haute cuisine. Each course is supposed to be designed with a particular size and genre that befits its place in the sequence.
A progressive dinner (US) or safari supper (UK) is a dinner party with successive courses prepared and eaten at the residences of different hosts. Usually this involves the consumption of one course at each location. Involving travel, it is a variant on a potluck dinner and is sometimes known as a round-robin. An alternative is to have each course at a different dining area within a single large establishment.
The largest silver-service dinner party took place on 17 July 2008, when 16,206 people were guests at the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Centennial Celebration Dinner hosted by the Walter E. Washington Convention Center (USA) in Washington DC, USA.
The greatest altitude at which a formal meal has been held is 6,805 m (22,326 ft) by Henry Shelford, Thomas Shelford, Nakul Misra Pathak, Robert Aitken, Robert Sully (all UK), Caio Buzzolini (Australia) and appointed butler Joshua Heming (UK), who dined on Lhakpa Ri, Tibet on 3 May 2004. The expedition team named “Henry Shelford’s 30th birthday party” were set to dine on the summit of the 7,054 m (23,113 ft) mountain but hurricanes forced them to descend to a more sheltered spot. The team carried the tables, chairs and silver cutlery as part of the expedition and dined on a feast of caviar as a starter, duck for main course, chocolate bombe for dessert, cheese and wine, followed by birthday cake to finish.
Deipnophobia is the fear of dining, dinner conversations or carrying on a conversation while eating. People with this phobia tend to eat alone, in silence and when dining with others expect them to eat in silence.