In the US and elsewhere, workers may have their morning break, a fifteen to twenty minute period when they might grab a cup of tea or coffee and perhaps a light snack before heading back to the daily grind. In the UK, and in places like New Zealand and Australia, this break is normally taken at approximately 11:00 AM. It may be referred to as elevenses or elevensies, though some consider these terms outdated, and refer to this meal as morning tea.
Elevenses or morning tea, no matter what it is called, usually consists of a cup of tea, sometimes coffee, and a light snack. Biscuits or cookies might be the order of the day, or others might have a piece of fruit. Children in lower grades frequently have an elevenses break, which may be called a playlunch, with a simple snack of a cookie and milk or tea. This is similar to the tradition in kindergarten classes of doling out graham crackers and milk to kindergartners a few hours into the school day.
Morning tea is sometimes more elaborate that the average workaday elevenses. Morning tea could include a variety of cakes, toast, crumpets, scones, and the like and be created for social gatherings. There are a number of morning tea events in the UK, and these differ from similarly timed events in the US like morning brunch. However, morning tea can be extensive, particularly if the event planned is special.
Some may wonder at the timing of elevenses in regard to the timing of lunch. If elevenses occur at eleven, wouldn’t lunch at noon seem like too much food? Actually, lunchtime may happen later, or alternately elevenses may occur sooner. Lunch in the UK often is lighter, especially if people take food at elevensies, or it may occur as late as between 2-4:00 pm, and be called dinner. The later meal taken at night may be referred to as supper. When people have switched primarily to a three meal a day lifestyle of breakfast, lunch and dinner, these may still be served somewhat later, with elevenses and afternoon tea making up small snacks during the day.
There are a number of fictional references to elevensies. Hobbits, known for their great feats at the table at any time of day often take breakfast, second breakfast, elevensies, lunch, tea, and supper. Other beloved fictional characters like Winnie the Pooh must have honey for elevensies or it isn’t considered a proper meal.