Why do people call dinner tea?

17-Dec-2010

Why do people call dinner tea?

First, let’s jump on the time machine back to the Edwardian days, when it all started. The Upper Classes had a light afternoon tea at 4.30pm and dinner at 8.00pm. However; the working classes would come back from work and needed a large meal. They had dinner at the time when the upper classes were having afternoon tea, so called their dinner “tea”.

How is it now?

•    If you call it “tea”, and eat it at around 6.30pm, you are almost certainly working class or of working class origin. (If you have a tendency to personalize the meal, calling it “my tea”, “our/us tea” and “your tea” – as in “I must be going home for my tea”, “what’s for our tea, love?” or “Come back to mine for your tea” – you are probably northern working class.)
•    If you call the evening meal “dinner”, and eat it at around 7.00pm, you are probably lower-middle or middle-middle class.
•    If you normally only use the term “dinner” for rather more formal evening meals, and call your informal, family evening meal “supper” (pronounced “suppah”), you are probably upper-middle or upper class. The timing of these meals tends to be more flexible, but a family “supper” is generally eaten at around 7.30pm, while a “dinner” would usually be later, from 8.30pm onwards.

Watching the English, Kate Fox, Hodder 2004

Something to discuss over a cup of tea:

What is the choice of meals in your country? Has it been changing throughout the centuries?

How do your meals differ during the week and weekends?

How often do you replace your meals with snacking and why?

A choice of Macmillan English Campus resources, you can type the resource ID (given in brackets) into the Word and Phrase Search to find the resource.

“Breakfast all over the world” (MLAB005374) In this two-part business Listening Activity you listen to people talking about breakfast habits in different places. First you identify the place, then you match the breakfast food with the place.

“Food around the USA” (MWP004126) This Web Project is about regional food in the USA. You will look at three different regions and the food that is popular in those areas. You will look at external websites, answer questions and complete tasks.

“International Food” (MLA003214) In this two-part Listening Activity you listen to extracts from a conversation about international food.

“Lunchtime” (MVA006657) In this two-part Video Activity, a woman talks about her eating habits. For the first task, you click on the words you hear. For the second, you choose the correct answers to complete sentences.

“Time for tea” (MVA004008) This Vocabulary Activity practises expressions we use to describe frequency. You choose the correct words to complete an advertisement for herbal teas.