A banquet (/ˈbæŋkwɪt/; French: [bɑ̃kɛ]) is a formal large meal or feast,[1] where a number of people consume food together. Banquets are traditionally held to enhance the prestige of a host, or reinforce social bonds among joint contributors. Modern examples of these purposes include a charitable gathering, a ceremony, or a celebration. They often involve speeches in honor of the topic or guest of honour.[2]

Mosaic of the Last Supper in Monreale Cathedral.

The older English term for a lavish meal was a feast, and "banquet" originally meant a specific and different kind of meal,[3] often following a feast, but in a different room or even building, which concentrated on sweet foods of various kinds. These became highly fashionable as sugar became much more common in Europe at the start of the 16th century. It was a grand form of the dessert course, and special banqueting houses, often on the roof or in the grounds of large houses, were built for them. Such meals are also called a "sugar collation".[4]