A Lodge meeting is usually formed of several parts.
As in any association, there is a certain amount of administrative procedure - minutes of last meeting, proposing and balloting for new Members, discussing and voting on financial matters, election of Officers, news and correspondence.
Then there are the ceremonies for making new masons and the annual Installation of the Master and appointment of Officers. Each of the three ceremonies of making a new Mason involve dramatic instruction in the principles and lessons taught in the Craft, followed by a lecture or a charge in which the Candidate's various duties are spelled out. The method of teaching is by a series of short plays based on ancient stories and stonemasons customs.
To mention but one aspect of the making of a Mason, Freemasonry is very much about Charity. The Candidate therefore in the story comes into the Lodge as a poor man in rags. In the last century the Candidate did actually change into a suit of rags. Now it is symbolised by rolling up one sleeve and one trouser leg. Taken out of context this could appear humiliating or silly but it has a genuine and sincere purpose. It does not matter who the Candidate is or how important - Prince or pauper, rich man or poor man - each must go through the same ritual. No matter what the differences outside masonry, inside everyone is equal and everyone must pass through the same historic ceremony that has remained essentially the same for hundreds of years. The ritual is a shared experience that binds the members together. Its use of drama, allegory and symbolism impresses the principles and teachings more firmly in the mind of each Candidate than if they were simply passed on to him in matter-of-fact modern language.
After the Ceremony is completed, more administrative matters may take place before the meeting comes to a close.
It is customary after a meeting to have 'Festive Board' which, although a continuation of the meeting, is a relaxed meal among friends. Formal toasts are made to the Queen, the Craft, distinguished Brethren, and to the Worshipful Master and Officers of the Lodge. A collection and raffle are common, with proceeds going to charities supported by the Lodge.