Last night I attended a very bizarre dinner at which they performed a ritual known as the Ceremony of the Loving Cup. It's not as dodgy as it sounds!
The dinner was to commemorate the foundress of our college, Lady Margaret Beaufort, and the ceremony was a drink to her health.The Ceremony of the Loving Cup
The Loving Cup (a hefty silver vessel) is handed around the table (filled with port and with a napkin tied to its handles). Each diner holds it in both hands, stands and his neighbours stand also. This is because when you are holding a two-handed cup, you cannot reach for your sword, and your neighbours are therefore supposed to protect you. You nod to each of them in turn, then recite "In Piam Memoriam Fondatricis Nostrae Dominae Margaretae" (In memory of our founder Lady Margaret) before drinking, wiping the lip of the cup with the napkin, nodding once more to your neighbours and then passing it to your left. It passes all the way around the table. It's not a very hygenic ritual, but it is one that's rumoured to have been in existence for five hundred years. I didn't actually drink any port, but the thought was there...
This made me think of how different fantasy societies might have similar rituals, for instance the Gondorean facing West and toasting the Dunedain Kings in the LOTR.
I was wondering if anyone had attended any other ceremonies which could be adapted to add flavour to a fantasy setting (either that or just come up with some original ones!)