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As long as doors have been around, there have been ‘traditions’ surrounding it and a lot of us don’t know how these traditions came around. Nowadays, these are mainly known as manners, like it is manners to open the door, or hold the door open for someone who is passing with you. Here, we explain some of the trivia around doors and why these cultural idiosyncrasies still are around today.

Should You Hold The Door Open?

It used to be that holding the door open for women was gentlemanly, now most people do it for all genders as. It is seen as a polite thing to do and it shows your manners to other people.

When holding the door open first began, women wore extravagant outfits where sometimes they would have to walk through doors sideways. The gentlemen would then help keep the door open to help the women slide through.  Then it became manners that the men would hold the door open for women coming through if they we’re wearing an extravagant gown or not. This then became all genders opening the door for each other if the person was a few strides away from coming through the door themselves.

Why Is It Rude To Put Your Elbows On The Table?

When eating food at the table, it is considered rude to place your elbows on the table. This rule does only apply when utensils are being used and people are eating. The reason it is seen as rude to rest your elbows on the table when people are eating is mainly down to the way prisoners and sailors. When both prisoners and sailors eat their food, they tend to eat with their elbows on the table for a similar reason, to protect their food.

When sailors were out sailing, because of the rocky sea, they would have to make sure their plates and food aren’t going anywhere, they would do this by surrounding their food with their elbows.  As prisoners generally didn’t feel safe in a prison and are always on guard, they tend to guard their food. It is known that when both sailors and prisoners come home and eat out socially, it is a struggle to get rid of this habit.

Therefore, when someone puts their elbows on the table when food is being eaten, it can be seen as defensive. As if someone was going to take their food away, therefore can be seen as rather rude to the other people sitting at the table.

Door Idioms

Door idioms can apply to most things and can be rather confusing sometimes, if you don’t know your way around the door idiom world. Here are some of the most commonly used door idioms.

Door to Door – From door to door, this trip will take an hour.  This is also a way of saying, calling at each house, apartment or store, usually when someone is trying to sell something.

Crack the door – Open the door slightly, usually to let some air in.

My Door is Always Open – I am always available to give you guidance, support or assistance whenever you need it. This is usually someone in your workplace, or education place.

A Golden Key Can Open Any Door – This is simply saying that money can open doors for people. For example, someone getting into somewhere even if they don’t have the specified things they would normally need.

Don’t Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out – This is usually someone expressing their eagerness to see someone leave. It means to leave quickly and directly, don’t linger on the way out.

Shut The Stable Door After The Horse Has Bolted – This is a way of saying trying to prevent something from happening when it’s already happened. Everybody, or that person has acted too late.

The Wolf Is At The Door – The threat of poverty is here.

Behind Closed Doors – something said or being done behind closed doors, is in secret. Secret from certain people and usually happens in a closed room.

The could go on and on as doors have become representative in language of new beginnings, fresh starts and letting go.

The etiquette surrounding holding the door open or not putting your elbows on the table are largely down to cultural lineage and they certainly differ from country to country. It used to be seen an honourable for men to hold the door open for women who were passing through. As feminism and chauvinism get increasingly scrutinised and challenged, the manners surrounding simple things like this are constantly evolving. Even the rules of the once frowned upon act of putting your elbows on the table are being rewritten with the increasing popularity of casual and informal dining, this is how traditions are born though – with people breaking and reforming what is socially acceptable, so who knows who will be holding the door for us next!

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