uestion: What’s the difference between dinner and supper? (Asked by a curious fellow about to enjoy his evening meal.)
Reply: Oh boy. I’m not sure there is a definitive answer as to what you call your meals. It seems this depends on your eating habits. Let’s try the dictionary first:
• Dinner: the main meal of the day, eaten in the evening or midday.
• Supper: the evening meal, often the principal meal of the day.
And we might as well throw this one in, too:
• Lunch: a light midday meal between breakfast and dinner.
Got that? I think the key designation is dinner being the main or large meal of the day. People eat their large meal of the day at different times. In the old farm days, the big meal was generally eaten at midday to give the workers a rest and enough food to get through the rest of the day, so this was called dinner.
In fact when I was growing up, we had breakfast, dinner and supper — my mother was raised on a farm.
Also, in the small town in Germany where I once visited, the big meal of the day is at noon.
They close up shops and schools for a two-hour dinner break. In the busy cities, folks tend to eat lighter noon meals (lunch), so supper for them is dinner — which might be fashionably late.
The time of the main meal of the day has changed historically, particularly in England.
Henry VIII had his big meal at midmorning. During the reign of Queen Victoria, it was fashionable to have dinner as late as 10 p.m.
As a result, the English got a bit hungry in the afternoon and invented tea time — tea and crumpets to tide you over.
So, call it what you will. The moral of the story: bring on the food!
C.P.S. (Curious Postscript): “Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half have never voted for president. One hopes it is the same half.” — Gore Vidal