Passing The Loving Cup: A Guide

The loving cup ceremony takes place with three diners standing at any one time: one drinking; one holding the lid aloft; one with their back turned, as a symbolic pledge to keep the drinker safe. The neighbour's right hand holds the cup’s lid aloft, because in ancient times the act of drinking was sometimes an opportunity for assassination.

  • The Masters and Wardens first rise to drink their toast, along with the diners immediately to the right and the left of each loving cup holder.
  • The neighbour to the right of the cup holder turns their back on the cup holder.
  • The cup holder turns and bows to their left-hand neighbour, who removes the cup’s ornate cover with their right hand, and holds it aloft.
  • The cup holder holds the cup with two hands, drinks from it, and then applies a napkin to the rim of the cup.
  • The neighbour holding the lid places it back on the cup.
  • The neighbour to the right with their back turned to cup holder sits down.
  • The cup is passed to the left, and the procedure begins again.

When the cup reaches the end of the table, it is passed across to proceed down the other side in the same way.