Gala etiquette over the years

By Quincy Netteb - 17 October 2023

As you all know the gala is coming soon (24th of November), and a gala is not complete without a date! How you ask someone to be your date following the etiquette (by using blue paper with silver ink for the man, and pink paper with gold ink for the ladies) and the followed up sit down with tea is all thoroughly explained in the gala booklet ( ;) ). But where did these traditions come from?

Asking someone to accompany you to a gala is a timeless tradition, and the etiquette surrounding this request has evolved over the years. Dating customs and social norms have shifted, but the core principles of respect, courtesy, and sincerity have always remained essential.

I found that the tradition of sending a blue letter with silver ink is not a widely recognized or established tradition in most cultures or historical contexts. Nether is the sit down with tea and cake with various meanings behind it. This is however what I did found on the history of inviting someone to a gala:

In the early 19th century, formal balls and galas were a prominent part of high society, and invitations were often extended through written correspondence. A written letter, delivered by hand or post, was considered a polite way to request the pleasure of someone's company at such events. These letters were eloquent and well-composed, reflecting the importance of the occasion.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, etiquette guides emphasized the importance of a face-to-face invitation when possible. Asking in person or through a trusted intermediary was seen as more personal and sincere. Written invitations remained common for more formal events, but verbal requests were preferable for dates.

The mid-20th century saw a shift toward casual dating, and this influenced the way gala invitations were extended. Young people often used the telephone to ask for a date to a dance or gala. While it was more informal than a written letter, the etiquette still revolved around politeness and respect.

In the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st century, texting and digital communication became more common, changing the dynamics of asking someone to a gala. While many found it acceptable to use these mediums for invitations, traditional etiquette remained relevant.

How the etiquette of using colored paper, or what the meaning is of what kind of sweet you serve with the tea came to be is still a mystery to me. Nonetheless I think it’s a fun way to create more excitement around the gala. But if all these etiquettes are not your thing, just ignore them and ask whoever you want however you want! You can even be your own date, like Miley said: ♫ I can hold my own haaaand ♪. The most important part is that you have fun with it!

So, get you (and your date) a ticket if you haven’t yet. You can find blue/pink paper and silver/gold pens at the beginning of the internaat if you so wish to use them. If you have any questions about the gala don’t hesitate to ask and I hope to see you all at the gala :)



Chairman of the 2023 Lustrum Gala Committee