The Rubicon Masonic Society conducts formal Festive Boards involving the use of traditional toasts, seating arrangements, and other protocol as combined from research of the earliest account of such events in the United States, England and Scotland.
History and Background of the Masonic Festive Board
In the 14th century, operative masons came together to celebrate various religious festivals. Later these gatherings were arranged for Masonic purposes.
On special days operative masons gathered in an area of a building they were constructing, or in a temporary structure near the building site called a lodge. They dined on meat and spiced ale, but as the tradition grew, so grew the menu. Later, the meal came to be held in a formal setting at which the Master would preside over the ceremonies and direct a series of toasts and celebrate in fellowship their operative guilds.
Continuing this tradition by sharing a formal meal in fellowship, offering toasts, singing traditional songs in unity and celebrating the Masonic spirit, remains a welcome and uplifting event within the Fraternity today.
In 1717, when the Grand Lodge of England was formed to revitalize the lodges in and around London; one of the reasons given was to revive the Quarterly Communication and to hold the Festive Board Feast with a theme of fellowship and continued education.
The "Charges of a Freemason" in the first Book of Constitutions, clearly alludes to the practice of partaking of a common meal where it provides:
“You may enjoy yourselves with innocent Mirth, treating one another according to Ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any Brother to eat or drink beyond his Inclination, or hindering him from going when his Occasions call him.”
Thus, the Masonic Festive Board continues to offer Brethren the opportunity of collective and fraternal union outside the Tyled meeting, combined with important Masonic education
There are varying practices of Festive Board protocol used throughout the world by Freemasons in their respective jurisdictions. While structure, attire, decorum, toasts and etiquette are essentially universal in practice, some events are designed with an eye on other additional particulars contributing to the fraternal spirit offered by the traditional Festive Board.
The Rubicon Masonic Dinner Club’s Festive Board is a formal event. Black tie is optional - coat and tie required. The program includes a reception and refreshments, dinner, the 7 Traditional Toasts, formal music, songs accompanying the spirit of the evening, and a special Masonic education presentation.
Festive Board Protocol
- The Festive Board is not a Tyled meeting.
- The Festive Board proceeds with dignity, good humor, without undue haste, and will finish at a reasonable hour. Gentlemanly and Masonic conduct is not only expected, but required.
- Due guard and penal signs are not used.
- Dress is formal - black tie optional, coat and tie required.
- All invitees are Masons.
Festive Board Music and Song
Music is an integral part of Festive Boards. Background music is always instrumental.
Songs are led without instrumentation by a Brother familiar with the melody for the songs.
Written lyrics are provided for all in attendance so they may join in the singing of the selected songs.
Festive Board Table Arrangements
The Festive Board table is traditionally arranged in a “U” shape representing the universality of the Craft.
The head table is reserved for ceremonial officers, members of the Grand Line, special guests and educational speaker.
Festive Board Chain of Union
The Chain of Union is a symbol of the fraternal connections and union of all Masons.
The Chain of Union is performed during the opening and closing prayer sand conclusion of the Festive Board while singing Auld Lang Syne.
All attendees make up this chain by crossing their arms and holding hands in an symbolic unbroken chain. The Chain of Union is formed by Brethren crossing their right hand over their left hand and joining hands with the Brother to their right and left.