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Communal meal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell, an iconic image of an American Thanksgiving meal
A large group of diners, all seated at one long table
Communal diners at Outstanding in the Field

A communal meal is a meal eaten by a group of people. Also referred to as communal dining, the practice is centered on food and sharing time with the people who come together in order to share the meal and conversation. Communal dining can take place in public establishments like restaurants, college cafeterias, or in private establishments (home).[1][2] It often but not always serves a social, symbolic and/or ceremonial purpose. For some, the act of eating communally defines humans as compared to other species.[3] Communal meals have long been of interest to both archeologists[4][5] and anthropologists.[6][7][8][9] Much scholarly work about communal eating has focused on special occasions but everyday practices of eating together with friends, family or colleagues is also a form of communal eating.[10][11]

Communal eating is closely bound up with commensality (the sociological concept of eating with other people).[12][13] Communal eating is also bound up with eating and drinking together to cement relations, to establish boundaries and hierarchies as well as for pleasure.[13]

Some examples of communal meals are the Native American potlatch, the Thanksgiving meal, cocktail parties, and company picnics. Meals shared for religious traditions include the Christian Agape feast, Muslim iftar, and Jewish Passover Seder.

Some restaurants feature communal meals at large tables where diners are seated next to strangers and are encouraged to interact with neighbors.[14][15]

Communal dining was an important part of ancient Rome's religious traditions.[16] There is a mention of communal dining in Chinese history.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Forgrieve, Janet (2011-01-19). "Communal dining - cozy setting or terrible trend?". SmartBrief. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  2. ^ Stakal, Kimberley (2011-02-14). "Restaurants Go Communal: Are You In?". Organic Authority. Retrieved 2012-04-02.
  3. ^ Fresco, Louise (2015). Hamburgers In Paradise: The Stories Behind the Food We Eat (1st ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 560. ISBN 9780691163871.
  4. ^ Hayden, Brian (29 September 2014). The power of feasts : from prehistory to the present. ISBN 978-1-107-04299-5. OCLC 1313871862.
  5. ^ Bray, Tamara L., ed. (28 May 2007). The Archaeology and Politics of Food and Feasting in Early States and Empires. ISBN 978-0-306-48246-5. OCLC 1086492959.
  6. ^ Whitehead, Harriet (2000). Food rules : hunting, sharing, and tabooing game in Papua New Guinea. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-09705-9. OCLC 1123902594.
  7. ^ Simon, Scott (2015-11-19). "Real People, Real Dogs, and Pigs for the Ancestors: The Moral Universe of "Domestication" in Indigenous Taiwan". American Anthropologist. 117 (4): 693–709. doi:10.1111/aman.12350. ISSN 0002-7294.
  8. ^ Strathern, Andrew (1971). Rope of Moka. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-511-55816-0. OCLC 958554322.
  9. ^ Gopi, Anil (December 2021). "Feasting Ritually: An Ethnography on the Implications of Feasts in Religious Rituals". The Oriental Anthropologist: A Bi-annual International Journal of the Science of Man. 21 (2): 359–374. doi:10.1177/0972558X211057159. ISSN 0972-558X. S2CID 244644874.
  10. ^ Dunbar, R. I. M. (September 2017). "Breaking Bread: the Functions of Social Eating". Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology. 3 (3): 198–211. doi:10.1007/s40750-017-0061-4. ISSN 2198-7335. PMC 6979515. PMID 32025474. S2CID 151610874.
  11. ^ "Family meals — a thing of the past?", Food, Health and Identity, Routledge, pp. 44–61, 2013-04-15, doi:10.4324/9780203443798-7, ISBN 978-0-203-44379-8, retrieved 2022-10-31
  12. ^ Fischler, Claude (2011). "Commensality, Society and Culture". Social Science Information. 50 (3–4): 528–548. doi:10.1177/0539018411413963. S2CID 56427179.
  13. ^ a b Kerner, Susanne; Chou, Cynthia; Warmind, Morten, eds. (2015). Commensality : from everyday food to feast. ISBN 978-1-4742-4532-6. OCLC 1201426965.
  14. ^ Walsh, Danielle (2013-03-20). "The Communal Table". Bon Appétit. Retrieved 2024-05-15.
  15. ^ Braun, Adee (2014-03-31). "Alone Together: The Return of Communal Restaurant Tables". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2024-05-15.
  16. ^ Martens, Marleen (2015). "Communal Dining". In Raja, Rubina; Rüpke, Jörg (eds.). A Companion to the Archaeology of Religion in the Ancient World. doi:10.1002/9781118886809. ISBN 9781118886809.
  17. ^ Chang, Gene Hsin; Wen, Guanzhong James (October 1997). "Communal Dining and the Chinese Famine of 1958–1961". Economic Development and Cultural Change. 46 (1): 1–34. doi:10.1086/452319.