A banquet (//; French: [bɑ̃kɛ]) is a formal large meal or feast, where a number of people consume food together. Banquets are traditionally held to enhance the prestige of a host, or reinforce social bonds among joint contributors. Other purposes of banquets include serving as a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration, frequently involving speeches in honor of the topic or guest of honour.
Banquets feature luxury foods, often including animal meat. Feasts can be divided into two fundamental types: solidarity (or alliance, or empowering) and promotional (or aggrandisive, competitive, or diacritical). Solidarity feasts are a joint effort in which families or communities bring equivalent contributions together to reinforce the social ties of all concerned. Promotional feasts are intended to enhance the social status of the host, who provides the food in order to create obligations to themselves among the guests.
Communal feasting is evidenced from the early Neolithic in Britain. In Ancient Greece, symposia, formed a routine part of life involving the celebratory drinking of wine, conversation and performances of poetry and music.
A luau is one variety of traditional banquet originally used in Hawaii.
Many cultures have developed structures for banquets. In the European Middle Ages, comprehensive ritualised elements were involved in a traditional three-course menu, having up to 25 dishes in each course (this structure persisted into the 19th century). The structure was later altered to two courses, with the pre-existing third course changed to the serving of fruit and nuts.
Banqueting rooms varied greatly with location, but tended to be on an intimate scale, either in a garden room, banquet hall or inside such as the small banqueting turrets in Longleat House.
Contemporary banquets serve many new purposes in addition to their traditional purposes. These can include anything from during workplace training sessions and formal business dinners to birthday parties and social gatherings. It is common for a banquet to be organized at the end of academic conferences.
Banquets held over time
A banquet for Babur
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