Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

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Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by sangi39 » 02 Apr 2016 14:44

So, this seems to be a fairly notable thing in English, especially in the UK, where the names for certain meals differ depending on geography, socio-economic class and a couple of other factors. For example, I have breakfast in the morning, dinner around midday to 2pm, then tea in the afternoon to early evening. Someone I work with replaces "dinner" with "lunch" and my mum says "breakfast, lunch, dinner" instead or "breakfast, dinner, tea". So we all agree on breakfast, and to a pretty large extent we all agree on what "supper" is (a small evening meal).

Now, what I just got thinking on was whether there are similar phenomena in languages other than English, where there are certain names for meals but what words those names actually refer to, either in terms of time of day or in size, for example.

In the UK, for example, we'll be taught that the French words "petit déjeuner", "déjeuner" and "dîner" roughly correspond to what I'd call "breakfast", "dinner" and "tea" and what my mum would call "breakfast", "lunch" and "dinner", but is this true of all French speakers? Can "déjeuner" refer to some other meal of the day for some people or is it always "midday meal"?

I thought it would be interesting to ask because this is usually seen as one of those ways of telling where someone might be from and what they're background is in a similar way to accent, e.g. how they pronounce <bath>, but I've never really heard this being discussed in relation to other languages.

So, if you happen to be a non-English L1 speaker or fully bilingual, it'd be great to hear from you, and hell, even other English speakers since I only really know the situation in the UK. Does the US have a similar mess? Australia? New Zealand? Let's find out [:D]
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by GrandPiano » 02 Apr 2016 15:08

As an American, I'm suprised to hear this. I always thought that breakfast, lunch, and dinner/supper (I call it dinner) was a pretty standard thing in English-speaking countries.

Question: Do you always drink tea during "tea"?
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Snïk » 02 Apr 2016 15:54

As an American, I'm surprised to hear this. I always thought that breakfast, lunch, and dinner/supper (I call it dinner) was a pretty standard thing in English-speaking countries.

Question: Do you always drink tea during "tea"?
In Britain, we don't always drink tea while we have dinner (I'm using dinner so it isn't confusing) but it is quite common to an extent, because I don't drink tea, and quite a few of my friends and family don't drink tea, but I'm not sure how common it is to drink tea while having dinner.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Lao Kou » 02 Apr 2016 15:56

sangi39 wrote:So, this seems to be a fairly notable thing in English, especially in the UK, where the names for certain meals differ depending on geography, socio-economic class and a couple of other factors. For example, I have breakfast in the morning, dinner around midday to 2pm, then tea in the afternoon to early evening. Someone I work with replaces "dinner" with "lunch" and my mum says "breakfast, lunch, dinner" instead or "breakfast, dinner, tea".

In the UK, for example, we'll be taught that the French words "petit déjeuner", "déjeuner" and "dîner" roughly correspond to what I'd call "breakfast", "dinner" and "tea" and what my mum would call "breakfast", "lunch" and "dinner",

Does the US have a similar mess? Australia? New Zealand? Let's find out [:D]
As a US New Englander, I'd agree with your mom in "breakfast, lunch, dinner" as the regular distinction. "Dinner" as a midday-to-2pm meal involves the holidays, where the fare will be heftier: Sunday dinner (if you're church-going folk), or Thanksgiving/Christmas/Easter dinner (and any evening fare that day, if you can still move, will involve a lighter repast composed of a reworking of the afternoon's leftovers). Referring to a midday meal (esp. on a workday) of a sandwich, some carrot sticks and an apple as "dinner" sounds quite strange. That'd be lunch, making the heftier meat-n-potaters meal accompanying the 6 or 7 o'clock news "dinner".

"Tea" as an actual meal strikes one as Commonwealth usage (minus Canada? I dunno). I hear "tea", I think of something at 4:00PM with actual tea and lighter foodstuffs (e.g. finger sandwiches) to hold body and soul together until actual "dinner" (also, you're in a BBC via PBS period drama) ("tea" for an evening meal, and you're in a modern BBC via PBS drama).

"Supper" is synonymous with "dinner", but as a child, it always struck me as something that other families said for "dinner" (and was a little confusing for a while). I imagine, now in retrospect, if you did the "Sunday dinner" thang (New England Catholics?), then "supper" would cover the later, lighter evening nosh, and that usage would just carry over to any other evening meal of the week. But that's a guess.
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by clawgrip » 02 Apr 2016 16:42

No one in Canada (or at least Ontario) calls any sort of meal "tea" unless they're some sort of weird person that I've never met. If someone says it's tea time, it means they are going to have some tea. It's breakfast lunch dinner/supper. I think my parents say supper and I say dinner, but I suspect my change in speech may have something to do with where I live, i.e. I think a lot of Japanese people are familiar with the word "dinner" but few are familiar with the word "supper".

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Davush » 02 Apr 2016 17:24

sangi39 wrote: I thought it would be interesting to ask because this is usually seen as one of those ways of telling where someone might be from and what they're background is in a similar way to accent, e.g. how they pronounce <bath>, but I've never really heard this being discussed in relation to other languages.
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In Kuwaiti/Iraqi, breakfast is ryuug which comes from a root meaning 'on an empty stomach' (3alaa riiqin). Lunch is ghada which comes from the root for breakfast. Dinner/tea is 3asha which comes from 3ashaa2 (dinner). I'm sure there will be a lot of variation across Arabic dialects.

Arabic (especially Gulf Arabic) has a lot of pronunciation shibboleths which are telling of whether someone is Bedouin or 'Settled', and sometimes even the particular tribe. These include things like pronunciation of qaaf, stress-placement, and lexical items.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by sangi39 » 02 Apr 2016 17:53

GrandPiano wrote:Question: Do you always drink tea during "tea"?
I'm kind of with Snïk on this one in that I don't drink tea (then again, I rarely drink during a meal at all), but I don't know many people that actually drink tea while eating the meal "tea".


Lao Kou wrote:Referring to a midday meal (esp. on a workday) of a sandwich, some carrot sticks and an apple as "dinner" sounds quite strange. That'd be lunch, making the heftier meat-n-potaters meal accompanying the 6 or 7 o'clock news "dinner".
Yeah, the "dinner is the largest meal" bit made me think a bit while watching The Big Bang Theory. I know a few people who use it like that, but most people I know use the term in reference to a time of day instead. But yeah "dinner" for me is usually the sandwich/snacky meal during the middle of the day, and if we have a bigger meal in the middle of the day, that's still dinner. "Tea" is usually the bigger, cooked meal in the afternoon, but if it ends up more snacky, it's still "tea".
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Salmoneus » 02 Apr 2016 18:22

I mostly have breakfast-lunch-dinner/tea-supper.

Primarily, I have an evening-meal chronology of tea, followed by dinner, followed by supper. Tea is eaten around teatime, never much later. Dinner tends to be after teatime, while supper tends to be late.
There are also expectations of size and form: tea and supper are light meals, while dinner can be heavier.
There are also expectations of attendance: all can be had alone, but tea and supper are less likely to be had with strangers, whereas dinner covers big social occasions.

So 'tea' by itself is a lightish meal, alone or with close friends or family, around teatime. If I have an evening meal with my parents, it's probably tea.
However, 'afternoon tea' is specifically an even lighter meal - generally scones, sandwiches, that sort of thing, eaten in the afternoon, before teatime.
Nobody I know drinks tea with tea, though they may have a coffee after tea (less likely than having coffee after dinner; nobody has coffee after supper). Tea, however, is the central focus of afternoon tea, though imbibing it is not essential.

'Dinner' is any size meal that isn't very light, and anytime from teatime onward. It's not normally late, unless it's the sort of dinner you have at a dinner party, which can indeed be late.
However, 'dinner' can be earlier. I think big events for many people can be dinner. And robust sunday lunches [the sort you have instead of dinner] can be sunday dinners too.
Also, institutional lunches are often dinners. We talk about "school dinners" in the sense of what children are provided with at lunch, and it used to be monitored and provided by "dinner ladies". Actually, there's maybe a closest classist issue there: at school, we had a choice between "school dinner" (provided by the school) and "packed lunch" (provided by the parents), perhaps suggesting the socioeconomic distributions of these two strategies?

'Supper' is for me mostly a late, light meal. I don't use it to describe the late, light snack I often have late in the evening - but I would if I were sharing it with others, and I probably would if I had skipped dinner (for instance, after a large or late lunch).
However, 'supper' can also be a much bigger affair, even an event. For me, the idea of "supper" as a formal meal is associated with the upper class and ye olden days, when a college might put on a formal dinner, but people would invite sir whatsit and the reverend so-and-so around for supper. Neglected children in old stories had - or failed to have - their supper, rather than their dinner. I think I might also use 'supper' if I were inviting someone over for food too late for it to be tea, but intending to make clear that i was only thinking of something light and informal. "come over for dinner" suggests a big thing with place settings; "join us for supper" suggests something friendlier; although I wouldn't use 'supper' for takeaways, which limits its use these days. Supper can also sometimes be provided by hosts of an afternoon or all-day event, indicating that it won't be very big. And 'supper' in the abstract can refer to all evening meals, or even food generally: as in the expression, to sing for one's supper.

Also worth noting that 'lunch' also has a counterpart, 'luncheon'. Luncheon can be a very old-fashioned thing, but it's still used for big events, particularly corporate in nature (often buffets).

Completing the daily cycle of potential meals, there is also brunch, which is chronologically similar to elevenses, but differs in connotations (having brunch is modern, corporate, and thrustingly proactive, whereas having elevenses is decadent, pusillanimous and tweed-wearing). In the cases of particularly thrusting corporate sorts, brunch can be as late as early afternoon, though is normally lighter than lunch.

------

For context, I'm an SSBE speaker, and I think most of my cohort are lunch-dinner or lunch-supper people. However, my father's working class and Northern and I think was a dinner-tea person; my mother's middle-class Irish and I think probably a lunch-tea or maybe a lunch-supper person, but I grew up in a basically lunch-tea household with optional dinner for larger teas (and we never hosted tea parties or supper parties, but we did have dinner parties); over time I think I've moved from tea to dinner.
My impression is that the hierarchy is lunch-supper > lunch-dinner > lunch-tea > dinner-tea > dinner-supper, but it varies depending on local conditions to some extent.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Ephraim » 02 Apr 2016 18:30

For most Swedish speakers, I think "frukost, lunch, middag" would roughly correspond to the three meals mentioned above. But these terms have changed meaning over time and some speakers may preserve an older use of the words.

Before the industrialization, frukost (borrowed from Middle Low German vrōkost) was usually eaten around 08:00–09:00, but it was usually not the first meal of the day since work starts early in an agricultural society. I think this corresponds to a second breakfast in English and the term andra frukost is occasionally used in Swedish as well. With the industrialization, frukost either became the first meal of the day or it was moved forward to around midday. For most Swedish speakers today, frukost is the first meal of the day. But it used to be more common to use frukost for the meal consumed around midday (which most speakers today would call lunch). I think this use of the word has survived in Finland Swedish, and perhaps among some older speakers in Sweden. At least in Finland, many speakers apparently use morgonmål (morning meal) for the first meal of the day. I think this word was used in Sweden as well, but I've also seen the terms första frukost (first breakfast) and morgonmat (morning food). In Danish, morgenmad is the first meal and frokost is eaten around midday.

Lunch is borrowed from English (first used in Swedish around the mid 19th century) and means or less the same thing. Lunch in Sweden is often a warm meal, although it may consist of microwaved leftovers. For some people, it is the largest meal of the day. It is common for restaurants to have special lunch offers starting somewhere between 10:00 and 11:30 and ending somewhere between 14:00 and 16:00.

Middag literally means midday, which made sense before the industrialization when it was eaten around noon. Middag was, and still is, the largest meal of the day for many or most people. However, with the industrialization, the largest meal of the day was often eaten after work, in the late afternoon or early evening. The name middag remained, but the time was moved. Today, middag can be served very late. However, some speaker still use the word with the older meaning (lunch for most speakers), especially in Southern Sweden apparently.

There are other words such as aftonmål, aftonmåltid, kvällsmåltid, kvällsmat, kvällsvard and supé which are similar to middag, with some variation in meaning and with varying levels of formality and archaicity. I think it's quite common to eat kvällsmat instead of middag, but kvällsmat often refers to a smaller or simpler meal. If lunch is the primary meal of the day, you might eat kvällsmat instead of middag. The word supé is borrowed from French and is cognate with English supper. According to some sources, it's an elegant but lighter meal eaten after 20:00. You could eat both middag and supé. However, in practice it seems like the word supé is often used as a more formal (some would say pretentious) word for middag. Perhaps there is some geographic variation as well. Just from a quick Google-search, it seems like word supé is particularly frequent in Halland and perhaps Skåne, where it seems to refer to a dinner that's not necessarily light or late, but it may be more elegant than a regular middag.

The word middagstid (=midday time) is somewhat ambiguous in Swedish. It either means ‘noon’, or the time when you eat middag. However, förmiddag means ‘forenoon, the time between morning and noon’, and eftermiddag means ‘afternoon, the time between noon and evening’.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Lambuzhao » 02 Apr 2016 20:30

I'm from SE :us-pa:, and here it's breakfast / lunch / dinner.

Supper...hmm. "Supper" sounds like a word my grandparents and my great-uncles and great-aunts would use for 'dinner'.
On another note, we had good friends up the street who always ate dinner late (9:00, sometimes 10:00 pm). We had the habit of referring to that meal as 'supper', but it was basically a dinner much later than when my family would normally eat.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Dormouse559 » 02 Apr 2016 21:06

sangi39 wrote:In the UK, for example, we'll be taught that the French words "petit déjeuner", "déjeuner" and "dîner" roughly correspond to what I'd call "breakfast", "dinner" and "tea" and what my mum would call "breakfast", "lunch" and "dinner", but is this true of all French speakers? Can "déjeuner" refer to some other meal of the day for some people or is it always "midday meal"?
My understanding is that in Belgium, Quebec and Switzerland, the morning meal is "déjeuner", the midday meal is "dîner" and the evening meal is "souper". And in France, "souper" is a light evening meal eaten after the main one (dîner).

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Creyeditor » 02 Apr 2016 21:42

Okay, so in Germany it depends on your region/Bundesland/whatever. I'm from northern German and I'm used to Frühstück , Mittagessen, Kaffe and Abendbrot.
Frühstück [ˈfʷʁ̞ʷyː.ʃʷtʷʏ̆kʷ.]~[ˈfʷʁʷʏ̟ʃʷ.tʷʏkʷ] is eaten in the morning, usually before going to school/work, but sometimes also at work/school. It usually consists of bread with sweet and savoury spread/filling. Sometimes people also eat muesli or nothing at all. People usually drink milk, juice coffe or tea. Traditionally, this is the meal where people would eat a a lot.
Mittagessen [ˈmɪ.ɾaχ.ˌʔɛ.s̬n̩] is eaten at noon or afternoon. Traditionally this is the only meal, where you eat hot food. People drink cold beverages like sparkling water. Nowadays people often skip that meal or eat a snack instead.
Kaffe [ka.fə̹̆] (und Kuchen) is a meal only for special occassion or the weekend usually around 15:30/3:30 P.M.. People drink coffee or tea and eat cake/pie/cookies/pastry. They tend to talk a lot, especially gossip.
Abendbrot [ˈaːm.bʷʁ̞oʷːtʷ]~[ˈa.bm̩t̚.ˌbʷʁ̞ʷoːtʷ] tradionally consisted of only bread with savoury spread/filling and happened roughly at 18:00/6:00 PM. One would not eat that much and only drink sparkling water, sometimes beer or wine. Nowadays, because people tend to work all day, this is the only meal where the whole family meets and the only meal where hot food is served.

I know other regions in Germany have Brotzeit, Vesper and Abendessen, but I know next to nothing about it.
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by alynnidalar » 03 Apr 2016 00:57

For me in rural Michigan, dinner and supper are mostly interchangeable on an ordinary weekday, although "dinner" sounds more formal. A formal meal in the evening would always be called a dinner, I probably would call it a dinner at midday too but "dinner" definitely implies evening (and who has a formal meal at noon, anyway?). Sunday midday meal is always Sunday dinner, and thus the Sunday evening meal is always supper.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Not Napoleon » 03 Apr 2016 22:06

Living in Missouri, I hear dinner and supper used interchangeably, and usually just lunch for the mid day meal, though my dad's side says dinner. Never heard Tea used to describe any meal, and I assume it's mainly used in the UK and maybe some really southern places in the U.S. Also, supper, for me, has always been the largest meal of the day, with lunch and breakfast being small. Is this the same all throughout America, or just the Midwest and/or southern regions?

How common is it to drink tea in the UK? I've never had hot tea, only iced, and I still don't drink it much. Can't imagine having it every day. Especially if it were hot. Not that it would be bad..just different.

Weird how the culture of America and the UK have grown apart like that after about 200 years of separation (and not even total), isn't it?
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by sangi39 » 03 Apr 2016 22:32

Not Napoleon wrote:How common is it to drink tea in the UK?
I think it's dropped of in the last couple of decades, but I'd still say fairly common. My mum, for example, has at least one cup of tea a day and I know a few people who will have a cup of tea roughly four or five times every single day.

It's nice to see that this isn't just an English-language phenomenon as well, so thanks to Creyeditor, Ephraim and Dormouse so far [:)]
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Salmoneus » 04 Apr 2016 00:46

Over the last 40 years, tea consumption in the UK has fallen about 2/3rds. But we're still one of the top handful of tea-consuming nations per capita. Consumption of green tea, rooibos and tisanes is growing, too.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by CMunk » 04 Apr 2016 12:08

Ephraim wrote:For most Swedish speakers, I think "frukost, lunch, middag" would roughly correspond to the three meals mentioned above. But these terms have changed meaning over time and some speakers may preserve an older use of the words.
In Danish it is :dan:morgenmad, frokost, aftensmad. We also have the word middag, but it may vary from area to area to mean lunch and dinner/supper.

Morgenmad simply means "morning meal". There is also the old word davre, but it is very archaic and has only survived in some areas. In Southern Jutland for example, but it is dying out here as well. (My girlfriend is from Southern Jutland, and her grandparents might say it sometimes).
Ephraim wrote:Before the industrialization, frukost (borrowed from Middle Low German vrōkost) was usually eaten around 08:00–09:00, but it was usually not the first meal of the day since work starts early in an agricultural society. I think this corresponds to a second breakfast in English and the term andra frukost is occasionally used in Swedish as well. With the industrialization, frukost either became the first meal of the day or it was moved forward to around midday. For most Swedish speakers today, frukost is the first meal of the day. But it used to be more common to use frukost for the meal consumed around midday (which most speakers today would call lunch). I think this use of the word has survived in Finland Swedish, and perhaps among some older speakers in Sweden. At least in Finland, many speakers apparently use morgonmål (morning meal) for the first meal of the day. I think this word was used in Sweden as well, but I've also seen the terms första frukost (first breakfast) and morgonmat (morning food). In Danish, morgenmad is the first meal and frokost is eaten around midday.
Yep, and one even funnier thing about frokost: Around the holidays we Danes invite eachother to julefrokost "christmas lunch" and påskefrokost "easter lunch", and while it may be a midday lunch, it can also be held in the evening. That means frokost has shifted all the way from "morning meal" to "evening meal".
Ephraim wrote:Middag literally means midday, which made sense before the industrialization when it was eaten around noon. Middag was, and still is, the largest meal of the day for many or most people. However, with the industrialization, the largest meal of the day was often eaten after work, in the late afternoon or early evening. The name middag remained, but the time was moved. Today, middag can be served very late. However, some speaker still use the word with the older meaning (lunch for most speakers), especially in Southern Sweden apparently.
Same in Danish. I think middag is generally accepted as "evening meal" (maybe a bit of a formal meal), but it can still refer to the time of day "noon", whether or not any meal is being eaten then, so it can be confusing. Therefore aftensmad is more common (but also a bit less formal - if you are invited to middag, you should dress up, but if you are invited to aftensmad, come as you are).

Then there is nadver, but that is almost exclusively used for The Last Supper. But again in Southern Jutland, the older generation might use the word.
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by CMunk » 04 Apr 2016 12:20

Creyeditor wrote:Kaffe [ka.fə̹̆] (und Kuchen) is a meal only for special occassion or the weekend usually around 15:30/3:30 P.M.. People drink coffee or tea and eat cake/pie/cookies/pastry. They tend to talk a lot, especially gossip.
I have never thought of kaffe (og kage) as a meal in Danish. It does happen, that you invite people over for coffee at around that time in the weekends, but I have always thought of it as a light snack of sorts - or maybe as "you eat different things at different times when you have guests".

My girlfriend, however, is from Southern Jutland (or Nordschleswig, as you might know it [;)] ), and her family seem to perceive kaffe as a meal in line with the other three. It is funny because it is not that we do things very differently, it is just categorized in different ways linguistically:

My girlfriend might say "Hvad skal vi have til kaffe?" ("What are we having for coffee?" i.e. the meal "coffee"), while I would say "Hvad skal vi have til kaffen?" ("What are we having for the coffee?" i.e. the substance "coffee" - or "What are we having in addition to coffee?")
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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Sglod » 04 Apr 2016 12:26

I would say dinner is a cooked midday meal, such as a roast or beans on toast, and lunch is just a sandwich and a packet of crisps; something small and uncooked.

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Re: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Tea

Post by Creyeditor » 04 Apr 2016 14:09

CMunk wrote:
Creyeditor wrote:Kaffe [ka.fə̹̆] (und Kuchen) is a meal only for special occassion or the weekend usually around 15:30/3:30 P.M.. People drink coffee or tea and eat cake/pie/cookies/pastry. They tend to talk a lot, especially gossip.
I have never thought of kaffe (og kage) as a meal in Danish. It does happen, that you invite people over for coffee at around that time in the weekends, but I have always thought of it as a light snack of sorts - or maybe as "you eat different things at different times when you have guests".

My girlfriend, however, is from Southern Jutland (or Nordschleswig, as you might know it [;)] ), and her family seem to perceive kaffe as a meal in line with the other three. It is funny because it is not that we do things very differently, it is just categorized in different ways linguistically:

My girlfriend might say "Hvad skal vi have til kaffe?" ("What are we having for coffee?" i.e. the meal "coffee"), while I would say "Hvad skal vi have til kaffen?" ("What are we having for the coffee?" i.e. the substance "coffee" - or "What are we having in addition to coffee?")
Well, maybe it's something cultural even across language and national boundaries. It is a meal here I guess. At my grandparents house there was a strict rhythm for meals, something like Frühstück 9:00, Mittag 12:30, Kaffe 15:30, Abendbrot 18:00, at least for the weekend.
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