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Why should I take my hat off?

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Friday, February 11, 2011; 1:20 PM

Taking your hat off indoors developed in part as a sign of peace -- think of knights removing their helmets after a match -- and of cleanliness. Hats used to get dirty on farms and in factories. Your hat could get soiled even as you walked down the street: People used to throw trash (or human waste!) out their windows.

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Manners are culture-specific. Just because it's okay to burp loudly in one country doesn't mean it's okay here. "Use the rules of your own group," said manners expert Pier Forni.

The word "manners" comes from the Latin word "manus," which means "hand." "Manners are a way of handling things," Forni said.

The word "manners" comes from the Latin word "manus," which means "hand." "Manners are a way of handling things," Forni said.

An old book on manners from the Middle Ages explained that "when you blow your nose into your handkerchief, you shouldn't look into it as though rubies and pearls had fallen from your brains," Forni said. Well put!


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