5 Marvelous Mealtime Rituals.

Via Ashleigh Hitchcock
on Feb 17, 2014
get elephant's newsletter

vintage is better

Five Extra-Special Meal-time Rituals.

When my family sits down for a home cooked meal, we enjoy a few rituals.

Rituals are symbolic behaviors that can be comforting in their repetition.

Rituals around meals help us to enjoy the food more. They can help us transition smoothly into eating and let us know when the meal is over. Rituals provide a natural rhythm around eating.

Piper's Birthday

Rituals can also be incorporated into special occasions. Singing the Happy Birthday song and blowing out the candles is one of my best-loved traditions associated with food. It honors the birthday boy or girl and lets all of the guests be an integral part of the celebration.

Sitting down to a family meal is a good way to catch up on each other’s day, builds family connection and provides a healthy break to digest our food. Here are a few rituals to help us savor a family meal.

1. Set the table. Learning how to set the table is a good life skill. It’s an easy way to help out. A beautifully set table is inviting and prepares us for the meal.

2. Light a candle. Lighting a candle provides a healthy glow. It lets us know that it’s time for the meal to begin. It makes every day a special occasion.

3. Bless the food. Saying a blessing before eating gives us reverence for the food. My family says this simple blessing, taught by Roshi Joan Halifax at the Upaya Zen Center, before each meal:

Earth, air, water, fire and space

combine to make this meal.

Numberless beings gave their lives and labor

that we may eat.

May we be nourished,

that we may nourish life. 

4. Boast and toast. During this part of the meal, we take turns sharing the highlights of our day.  This gives us the chance to appreciate one another’s triumphs.

5. Blowing out the candle and asking to be excused from the table. This defines the natural end to the meal and gives us the opportunity to practice good manners.

Rituals make eating and spending mealtime together special.


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: @waylonlewis, author’s own



About Ashleigh Hitchcock

Ashleigh Hitchcock was given a terrific birth name to become a writer. She is full of ideas, feelings and experiences. Ashleigh has always been her own best friend and she loves everyone. She uses meditation to connect to her basic goodness and lives her life to be of benefit. Ashleigh has 1000 hobbies, 3 teenagers, a dog, a vintage one-speed bike and a ski car. She lives in the best town in America: Boulder, Colorado. She practices non-attachment and gives away her favorite objects often. Catch up with Ashleigh on Facebook.


4 Responses to “5 Marvelous Mealtime Rituals.”

  1. Jamie says:

    Lovely. And I would add to the fifth ritual, saying thanks to the cook!!

  2. bobnotrob says:

    Kiss the cook

  3. bill keys says:

    Great, and simple, suggestions.

  4. Savannah Kruger says:

    Awesome! I love the prayer there. I plan to incorporate it into my meals. Thanks.

Leave a Reply