A view of happy people while having a meal as a part of southern hospitality. A view of happy people while having a meal as a part of southern hospitality.

6 Fascinating Insights into Southern Hospitality

Southern Hospitality is a term that expresses its meaning in itself. It might not be a tangible thing, but it runs in the blood of Southerners.

It is not something that a person usually does, but it is something you should do in a certain way.

In simple words, southern hospitality is a feeling of treating people in a best-welcomed way. It is a way of life where people treat other human beings, be they a guest, long-lost friends, or a stranger, most respectably and kindly.

A view of a family in a dining room.
By Annie Spratt/Unsplash.

Plus, in Southern America, Southern hospitality is not a choice; it is an institution. Therefore, all must follow that.

1. What Does Southern Hospitality Mean?

Although racial prejudice clouded its history, the expression now has a wide range of good connotations that are still traceable to its biblical roots. These connotations also vary from person to person.

To state a few, politeness, charm, friendliness, helpfulness, and generosity are among the most typical characteristics of Southern hospitality. These characteristics are viewed as fitting the definition of a good host.

Excellent home cooking is a further trait that Southern culture values.

And because Southerners think a good meal is equally as essential as everything else, Southerners appreciate assisting visitors in finding the best local eateries, pubs, and cafés.

2. Interesting Facts about Southern Hospitality

A top view of the dining table where people are going to have a meal together.
By Nicole Michalou/ Pexels.

2.1. Origin of Southern Hospitality

Hospitality associated with Southern America has been present for over two centuries. However, the origin of this trait seems to be unclear.

However, many historians have offered various explanations for the source of the Southern hospitality trait.

According to economic historians, it is showcased as the symbol of remarkable consumption and competitive spirit among the wealthy planters.

According to cultural historians, on the other side, it is showcased as a symbolic demonstration of the Southern code of honor.

Despite having different opinions, they still agree on one aspect, i.e., the mythological criteria of Southern hospitality in the fullness of time outdistanced its traditional practices.

2.2. Used in a Strategic Way

In historical times, southern hospitality was even used in a strategic way to impress extended families.

At times, at any family function or funeral, the host family used to seek the opportunity to portray their way and tradition of southern hospitality to the extended family members.

They used these events to showcase their wealth, power, and code of honor to portray their superiority over the guests and other people.

They used these events and their way to showcase southern hospitality to find a perfect spouse for their suitable children.

2.3. Portray Power and Wealth

Southern hospitality, in historical times, was even a medium to portray the power and wealth of reputed families. The glory and elegance of the plantation homes were a delight for people to watch and visit.

Along with the glory of the plantation house, it even showcased all the luxuries from all around the world.

Southern hospitality was that medium for plantation homes to make people aware of their wealth, standard, and welcoming nature.

2.4. Dependence, Expansion, and Promotion of Slave Labor

Though the concept of Southern hospitality is awe-inspiring, it is all based on the ways and methods to welcome guests and other people and treat them never to forget.

But it even led to dependence on the exploitation of slave labor. At the end of the day, it was the slaves who did all the workings and arrangements.

Therefore, the concept of Southern hospitality even led to the expansion and promotion of the slavery concept.

2.5. Resulted in the Exploitation of Slave Labor

In the wake of competition to showcase who was better at Southern hospitality, the rich, wealthy, and prestigious people forgot that the slaves were also human beings.

This practice even led to the exploitation of slaves.

The slaves were exploited to their last breath and were considered robots, not humans. However, some households remembered that slaves were also living beings and had emotions.

However, the majority of families in that era treated the slaves brutally.

2.6. Present-Day Scenario

In the present times, we see that the meaning of Southern hospitality has come a long way.

However, it is still considered an obligation to follow if you belong to Southern America. But still, it is now a more respectable code of honor for the Southerners.

It is now a form of practice to treat people in the most respectable and honorable way. Be it neighbors, relatives, and even strangers, yes, you read right; even strangers are welcomed and respected.

3. Southern Hospitality in Modern Day

A person serving wine on a dining table.
By Nicole Michalaou/Pexels.

As we have read above, modern-day southern hospitality is a lot different from the historical days. Therefore, it is something that every person can practice.

Here are some ways to follow it if you want to teach yourself.

The six major qualities according to the modern-day are listed below:

3.1. Kindness

Kindness is a binding force in the institution of Southern hospitality; it is one of the roots.

There is no loss for us if we treat people with respect and honor. If we open a door for our elders, talk to people respectfully, and treat everyone like ours, there is no harm in it.

In the South, there is no difference between a family member and a guest. Even a very famous saying that all strangers are our friends we have to meet them.

The Southerners spread this kindness to every person they knew or strangers.

3.2. Politeness

If Southerners are known for anything, it is their politeness. We know that it isn’t easy to believe that politeness is still a thing in the modern world. But in the South, yes, it is!

The children here learn to speak “yes ma’am,” “okay sir,” and “I am sorry” before they learn to speak any other counting or alphabet.

There is nothing wrong if we inculcate the habit of speaking politely with others in our lives. It not only makes us better people but also better role models for our younger generations.

Additionally, we never rush through talks with family members and guests since we like their company and, honestly, conversing. “What’s the hurry?” is the Southern way of life.

A man talking politely with a smile.
Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

And how we communicate to and interact with others reflects that unquestionably (as does the speed at which we do it).

We know that words hurt a person more than any physical pain, and they are impossible to forgive. So why be rude? Just be polite, and you will win every person’s heart no matter what you do or how you do it.

3.3. Hospitality

Here in the South, hospitality is the other important. What is a Southern home without perfect hospitality?

In the Southern culture, people welcome guests into their homes with full respect and honor. They provided the most comfortable hospitality that the household possesses.

What can beat incredible home-cooked food? Nothing is always the answer. They serve home-cooked food here, which exceeds the good food ordered from all the other fancy restaurants.

The food items like peach cobbler, hummingbird cake, and whatnot will make your mouth water just after hearing about it.

Southerners don’t apologize for our love of lard or our commitment to legacy in the kitchen, and the best part is it’s not only just the mother-daughter team where we frequently cook tried-and-true dishes that have been handed down through the centuries.

Here, you do not have to worry about washing your dishes; people in the south would do that for their guests.

They carry immense pleasure in treating you like royalty for the time you spend in their home.

3.4. Helpfulness

Having a nature to help others is just a perfect combination when you are polite and kind, and with this, southern hospitality is talk of honor.

They feel immensely proud of helping others. Be it helping with the navigation or guests assisting in washing dishes, Southerners would never let you down.

Even the neighbors here feel immensely proud to lend a helping hand to the people. If you require anything in Southern America, you do not have to worry.

Their people do not even think twice about helping the needy. This quality is a must for people to make this world a better place to live.

3.5. Charm

Charm is a gifted quality of the Southern people that works as a cherry on the cake in Southern hospitality.

They have got every quality that a perfect person should have in themselves. They are always cooperative, even when they are in the post office.

A happy woman with a charming attitude.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

The more admirable quality is that they never let their grace down, even in the toughest situations.

They take their pleasantries very seriously, and they always hate saying goodbye to guests, which increases their charm.

3.6. Charity

The biggest and the most honorable trait of Southern people is that they never take their hand back in serving others. This trait in them makes Southern hospitality more special and respectful.

Here, they do not have the habit of doing favors as an obligation or expecting anything to get in return, which is a big reason for a good non-profit organization to exist.

They believe in doing it out of courtesy, self-satisfaction, and kindness for others. They even do it out of their regular habit and hope that they get the honor of serving you again and again.

3.7. Bringing Food

It’s a huge one every time!

One of the sweetest things Southerners do is bring good food and a home-cooked dinner to relatives in need, whether there has been a new baby or the loss of a family member.

Everyone is aware that a satisfying dinner may alter your entire outlook on the day. Southerners make sure you serve it in a disposable bowl so that the guest does not have to worry about returning the dishes.

3.8. Pay It Forward

Although most of us are used to seeing a male hold open a door for a woman, it can go beyond!

Not just for a lady but can be done for an older person or children or just for your fellow mates.

Holding the door open when someone is behind you or standing up to allow someone to sit down are both polite gestures. Your small gesture of kindness will last and make many people’s days happier.

A group of people cheering drinks as a part of southern hospitality
By Askar Abayev/Pexels. Copyright 2022

End Note 

It does not matter how you define Southern hospitality or how you feel about it.

One thing is for sure, and through the ages, Southern hospitality has evolved. It has come a long way from being a conservative and hypocritical institution to becoming a social and welcoming institution.

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