Raising a Pinky Finger When Drinking: Why Do We Do That?

Fingers on a hand hanging out in a moment of love.
Spread the pinky love!

This blog is all about asking the important questions. Such as why the hell we raise our little fingers when picking up certain beverages. Here we go.

A Raised Pinky Finger For Drinks

Right, so this is one of those hotly debated things in the world. For some, it’s a sign of refinement. For others, it means you’re a precious, lefty, snowflake, feminist liberal.

Barack Obama was snapped doing it while drinking a coffee. He was slammed with “man card revoked” by hot blooded real men.

Other folks just think the pinky lifting thing is a sign of elitism.

The confusion over this minor thing has led to all sorts of myths. Including:

  • It’s a sex thing, with women using the pinky finger to identify their lovers at gatherings and whatnot.
  • It’s a sex thing—as in, the issue is caused by syphilis (there’s a horrifying bit about that in Roy Porter’s Blood and Guts: A Short History of Medicine). In the olden days, it was such an issue in the upper classes the disease (and pinky raising) was seen as a class thing.
  • Another is back when spices were hard to come by and a sign of the upper class (see Over the Edge of the World by Laurence Bergreen), one would use careful finger choreography to avoid dipping one’s pinky into spices like a jackass. As that would be gross and most rude.
  • Others suggest it dates back to the Middle Ages and the knighthood as part of the courtly etiquette there.
  • Another is that, for ages, tea cups didn’t have handles (see The Book of Tea by Okakura Kakuzō). They were only added in the 1750s in England so that feeble women didn’t scold their hands. As such, the pinky lifting was to ensure one didn’t burn one’s little finger.

That all means it’s unclear why we raise our little pinky. It seems to be for all manner of potential reasons.

But as humans, we’ve assigned class status and all other stuff to its. Superfluous meanings, in many respects, as it’s merely a tiny, often involuntary gesture.

As it’s kind of an involuntary act. You must consciously think about not raising your pinky, if you’re that way inclined.

Especially after reading this post. You may now feel the need to lower your pinky, so as not to come across as a haughty bellend with a superiority complex.

For your see, in the distant past, the serf peasants would eat their food with all five fingers. Like pig dogs!

Whereas the superior rich people used three fingers, with pinky aloft to avoid dirtying it and contaminating other’s foods (such as when dipping in and out of spices, which the peasants could never afford).

Pinky Raising in Modern Society

So, what of modern life? It’s not the Middle Ages, syphilis isn’t quite as devastatingly omnipresent, and even working class scumbags can buy some nutmeg if they want to.

Ultimately, we think there are three common reactions to it in the modern era:

  1. Pinky raising is seen as an effeminate act, possible one of sophistication. It’s just something some refined, intelligent people do. And not the working class rabble!
  2. Pinky raising is something that posh people do.
  3. Pinky raising is for women only—if a man does it, this means he’s cursed by the leftist cult and is a communist and the reason why society is imploding.

So there we go. Pinky raising, eh? In one tiny little human gesture, we have an entire socioeconomic, polemic, and pretty tedious reason to go around labelling people.

We’ll raise a cup of tea to that! And we may, or may not, raise our little finger when doing so.

40 comments

  1. It’s gotta be a sex thing. Plus, I can confirm that for some reason this whole habit didn’t make its way into Brazil. Perhaps it’s a mating ritual that is not suitable for a tropical climate? I am sure there’s some scientific research about this.

    Liked by 1 person

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