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American meal times were introduced by Old World settlers and evolved independently accordingly to fit cultural norms. , History Magazine Ancient Greek meal times "Meal times are variable, but a midday meal was usually called ariston lunch... The latter was perhaps typically the biggest meal of the day, and for some the only meal." ---Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece, Andrew Dalby [Routledge: London] 1996 (p.
12) British meal times (overview) "In the beginning of the sixteenth century in England, dinner, the main meal of the day, used to begin at AM.
Meals tended over time to be eaten later and later in the day: by the eighteenth century, dinner was eaten at about PM...
By the early nineteenth century, lunch, what Palmer in Moveable Feasts calls "the furtive snack," had become a sit-down meal at the dning table in the middle of the day.
Three meals a day were accepted as reasonable by most later sixteenth-century writers, such as Andrew Borde, although he thought that this was only good for the labouring man: anyone else should be content with two.
It has been suggested that breakfast was only eaten by children and workmen, but certainly by the fifteenth century it was quite commonly taken by everyone....although the 1478 household ordinance of Edward IV specified that only residents down to the rank of squires should have breakfast, except by special order...
When meals were taken, or even how many meals a day there were, varied according to the calendar, social class, and personal preference.
An ealier meal than dinner or supper is referred to--the undernswoesendum. In contrast to the monastic regimen where the main meal was at or around midday, it is possible that in a secular time-table, main meals were at the third hour and again at supper time, to allow a full day's activity between them.
These meals consisted of breakfast at a very early hour to allow for dinner at about 9 a.m., or not later than 10.00 a.m., and supper probably before it got dark, perhas at 3.00 p.m. The times and number of meals were originally derived from the hours of devotions of the Church.
Monks ate the main meal of their day after the celebration of nones, which was nine hours after daybreak.
The Regularis Concordia mentions the prandium ad sextam at noon, and a cena between Vespers and Compline allowed daily from Easter until Whitsun.
From Whitsun until September 14 (apart from certain fast days which included Wednesdays and Fridays) and on all Sundays and feasts of twelve lessons there were also two meals a day but the prandium was not taken until none (3 p.m.).