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 the 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.