The Birth of "Southern Hospitality"

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5,599
Location
central NC
#1
pineapples-2d412738bbef504c.jpg

It seems the phrase “Southern hospitality” wasn’t used until the 1820s or 1830s, when national debates about slavery intensified. For many, the idea of “Southern hospitality” became a way of defending the Southern lifestyle and a political system that depended on slavery. Even today, “Southern hospitality” continues to create a sense of solidarity and belonging among many Southerners.

The term, “Southern hospitality” is attributed to journalist, Jacob Abbott. While traveling through the South in 1835, he coined the term “Southern hospitality” to describe the way people opened their homes and shared whatever food and drink they had with travelers. Even then southern culture focused heavily on etiquette, such as “yes ma’am/no sir,” holding the door open for women and the removal of hats upon entering a home. It also focused largely on cooking and eating!

In truth, hospitality was actually an important social norm everywhere during the 19th century. Folks just viewed it differently. Many Northern progressives and abolitionists defined hospitality based on their definition of what they saw as the Biblical command to be open to differences and to welcome strangers, including runaway slaves. This led to a dilemma for some Southerners. It was easy to welcome people who were just like you, but true hospitality was (and is) inclusive.

Nowadays, “Southern hospitality” has become a tourist attraction right along with Southern food and a romanticized vision of a leisurely lifestyle. With this popularity has come some contemporary commentary claiming that “Southern hospitality” is dead or was only a myth. Perhaps these folks were looking for it in the wrong places - a bar, restaurant or hotel. That wouldn’t work because one doesn’t pay for hospitality; it is a gift, freely given just as it was in John Abbott’s time.

Do you think “Southern hospitality” is a myth? Do you think it once existed, but has faded over time? Have you experienced “Southern hospitality” firsthand? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And by the way, y’all are welcome at my house any time. We try to never run out of ice, (adult) beverages, music and dessert.

vintage-woman-holding-baked-pie.jpg

(Southern Living Magazine)
 

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Joined
Nov 26, 2016
Messages
5,599
Location
central NC
#2
Centerpiece%2B031.jpg

(Colonial Williamsburg)

Every Southern belle is taught how to use a hot glue gun in high school home economics classes. It’s a rite of passage (or at least it was when I was in high school). How else could we make the ultimate symbol of “Southern hospitality” – the Apple and Pineapple Centerpiece? While these are most popular at holidays, they are frequently used at parties and socials throughout the year.

Supplies:
Hot glue gun
1 (6- to 10-inch wide) styrofoam floral vase insert
1 (10-inch wide) styrofoam disc, 1 inch thick
1 pineapple
15 to 20 medium apples (we like to build em’ tall)
3 inch finishing nails
1 (12-inch) metal dowel rod, 1/4 inch thick
Herbs, holly (at the holidays), magnolia leaves, other seasonal leaves and herbs, flowers (roses are my favorite addition) for garnish

Instructions:
Using the hot glue gun, glue the square end of the floral vase insert to the styrofoam disc.

Drill a 1/4-inch-wide hole vertically down the center of the vase insert. Drill a similar hole through the bottom of the pineapple and set aside.

Hot glue the largest apples, stems up, around the styrofoam disc. For all subsequent rows, take a finishing nail and insert the nail head into the base of the apple. Stick the apple in place on the foam vase insert. Repeat with all of the remaining apples until reaching the top edge of the vase insert.

Insert the dowel rod into the pre-drilled hole so that 4 to 6 inches are exposed. Place the pineapple on the rod, making sure it is flush to the top of the vase insert.

Garnish the tower with the herbs, holly (at the holidays), magnolia and fir leaves and place on the table. Spritz with water daily to keep fresh. The centerpiece should keep for about a week.

7e045f9adc9f649dc727dc91cb6db264--pineapple-centerpiece-tropical-centerpieces.jpg

(Etsy)
 

DaveBrt

Sergeant Major
Joined
Mar 6, 2010
Messages
2,329
Location
Charlotte, NC
#3
I live in North Carolina, outside of Charlotte, and a daughter lives in Maryland, some 50 miles east of the DC beltway. So, we are both in towns, but not rural.

Inviting a stranger in seems rare -- we rarely run into a stranger to the area who is not already settled or with a local. But the rest of the Southern friendliness abounds -- sir, ma'am, holding doors, helping those who need it (broken down car, fetching an item from a high shelf in a store, mowing the neighbor's yard when they are out of town, etc), taking church visitors to lunch, no hats indoors, greeting a stranger while walking and on and on are normal actions. Are they unique to the South? From my experience, they are (my last job was 15 years of traveling EVERY week to a new customer site throughout the country).
 
Joined
Mar 3, 2017
Messages
9,901
Location
Chicagoland
#4
We lived in the south for 25 years and found southern hospitality to be sporadic. In Georgia and Louisiana (where my wife and I lived), people were very hospitable and also in San Antonio, Texas. In Dallas, Texas it was much less so - big city, big business, big egos - not nearly as friendly. We spent a lot of time in the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and Florida. Both Carolinas were very hospitable like Georgia and Louisiana. In the other states it was hit or miss. Some folks were friendly and others seemed suspicious of strangers.
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
9,298
Location
on the long winding road
#8

It seems the phrase “Southern hospitality” wasn’t used until the 1820s or 1830s, when national debates about slavery intensified. For many, the idea of “Southern hospitality” became a way of defending the Southern lifestyle and a political system that depended on slavery. Even today, “Southern hospitality” continues to create a sense of solidarity and belonging among many Southerners.

The term, “Southern hospitality” is attributed to journalist, Jacob Abbott. While traveling through the South in 1835, he coined the term “Southern hospitality” to describe the way people opened their homes and shared whatever food and drink they had with travelers. Even then southern culture focused heavily on etiquette, such as “yes ma’am/no sir,” holding the door open for women and the removal of hats upon entering a home. It also focused largely on cooking and eating!

In truth, hospitality was actually an important social norm everywhere during the 19th century. Folks just viewed it differently. Many Northern progressives and abolitionists defined hospitality based on their definition of what they saw as the Biblical command to be open to differences and to welcome strangers, including runaway slaves. This led to a dilemma for some Southerners. It was easy to welcome people who were just like you, but true hospitality was (and is) inclusive.

Nowadays, “Southern hospitality” has become a tourist attraction right along with Southern food and a romanticized vision of a leisurely lifestyle. With this popularity has come some contemporary commentary claiming that “Southern hospitality” is dead or was only a myth. Perhaps these folks were looking for it in the wrong places - a bar, restaurant or hotel. That wouldn’t work because one doesn’t pay for hospitality; it is a gift, freely given just as it was in John Abbott’s time.

Do you think “Southern hospitality” is a myth? Do you think it once existed, but has faded over time? Have you experienced “Southern hospitality” firsthand? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

And by the way, y’all are welcome at my house any time. We try to never run out of ice, (adult) beverages, music and dessert.

View attachment 217953
(Southern Living Magazine)
Those beautiful Williamsburg pineapple and apple decorations were popular loooong before slavery became controversial. Got to have those magnolia leaves in there too!

15A57D2B-A84C-474C-B5DE-1C6A03CB41A6.jpeg
 
Joined
Aug 30, 2011
Messages
551
Location
NC Piedmont
#10
I can tell you in the more urbanized part of North Carolina where I live, it has almost
disappeared with the influx of transplants from other sections of the USA and other
countries. Whether it's an indifference to or a complete lack of knowledge about manners
and the polite behavior that my folks and fellow residents taught me as a youth, I do
not know, but people around Raleigh these days look at you like you're crazy if you wave
at a stranger, hold a door for a woman or someone elderly, change lanes on a four lane
highway to let someone pull out, acknowledge someone when they do something nice
for you and saying please or thank you when you are waited on at a grocery store or
restaurant.

My wife amuses me sometimes when we are out in public. If someone crosses a crosswalk
when we let them go and they do not put up their hand, she has been known to roll down
the window and yell "You're welcome!" to my chagrin sometimes. She will also greet a
cashier at grocery store with a loud, sarcastic "Hello" if a clerk fails to acknowledge her in
the checkout line. I know her attitude leaves a little to be desired sometimes when she
does things like this (I tell her it's that school teacher coming out in her) but the rudeness
and impolite behavior of many in today's society is annoying, especially being raised in
a place where people used to be more genteel and polite when in public around their
fellow citizens.
 

Zella

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
2,431
#11
My favorite meditation on this topic is this article. It makes me laugh every time I think about it.
https://www.rd.com/funny-stuff/southern-hospitality/

I agree with the folks who have noticed a rural/urban divide. I've spent most of my life in rural Arkansas, and I think people here tend to be really friendly. I had a coworker who was from Buffalo, NY, and she told me it took her family months to adjust to strangers smiling at you in the store after they moved here.

But when I lived in a larger college town in Arkansas, I didn't find people very friendly at all. I always found it hilarious to watch people obviously try to avoid making eye contact when they passed you on the street or in the parking lot of the apartment complex. I was not above targeting them with an especially friendly smile and greeting out of pure meanness. :smile: (The irony is I'm really introverted. I don't always want to be friendly, but I still am because that's how I was raised. I wait until I get home before I can be unleash my inner anti-social hermit. :D)

It surprised me, though, the number of people who were from elsewhere who thought that town was friendly. Guess it just depends on what you're used to!

My wife amuses me sometimes when we are out in public. If someone crosses a crosswalk
when we let them go and they do not put up their hand, she has been known to roll down
the window and yell "You're welcome!" to my chagrin sometimes. She will also greet a
cashier at grocery store with a loud, sarcastic "Hello" if a clerk fails to acknowledge her in
the checkout line. I know her attitude leaves a little to be desired sometimes when she
does things like this (I tell her it's that school teacher coming out in her) but the rudeness
and impolite behavior of many in today's society is annoying, especially being raised in
a place where people used to be more genteel and polite when in public around their
fellow citizens.
:laugh:

I have been known to do this with people when it comes to doors. I've always operated under the assumption that the person who gets to the door first and has less stuff in their hands should open it, regardless of who is behind them. The world doesn't always operate according to my rules, so I have sarcastically thanked a few men and women who let doors slam in my face.

On the flip side, I went to college with a really weird guy who would literally run to a door to open it for you, even if he was nowhere near the door. It really irritated me because it seemed so over-the-top, so when he tried to do that to me, I started running, too, and beat him to the door, so I could hold it open for him. I thought his head was going to explode. :roflmao::rolleyes::smoke:
 
Last edited:

Zella

Sergeant Major
Forum Host
Joined
May 23, 2018
Messages
2,431
#12
I think some of it is generational, too. I'm in my late 20s, and the way my friends who are my age are hospitable is very different from how my relatives/friends who are older than me are hospitable. It's not that they are not kind and welcoming, but it is so much more informal. I'm not sure I've ever sat down at any of my friends' dining room tables, even though I've eaten at their homes frequently. That would be absolutely unthinkable in my grandmother's house.
 

diane

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Jan 23, 2010
Messages
20,373
Location
State of Jefferson
#14
Southerners are just about as hospitable as Westerners! (Seeing as a good many of them transplanted out here.) When I went to LA for a while I was very bemused by the stone-faced people who just stared straight ahead as if you were a parking meter. Hi, there! Nice weather! Silence... :unsure: Haven't been to the South recently but it was always nice to me. I've never had one racial incident there but plenty everywhere else! (I do know you can't get out of the South without somebody feeding you. Pretty good, too!)
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
19,620
Location
Laurinburg NC
#15
I don't remember the author or the title, but the premise was that the origin of hospitality, had a lot to do with avoiding a duel. Men were polite to avoid a duel and women to avoid saying or doing something that might draw their men into a duel. In Charleston, an area behind St. Michael Church was a favorite place to settle questions of honor. Rudeness can still get you into a fight around here.
 
Joined
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Messages
9,298
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on the long winding road
#17
Because they’re wearing shoes?
Pretty funny, Back in about 1960 our family was vacationing at Gulf Shores, Ala., where we had a cottage on the beach. An ignorant, rude bunch of Yankees rented another nearby. My brother and got to know their kids; the first thing one of them said was “we didn’t think you wore shoes down here.” True story. Was that you, Tom?
 
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
9,298
Location
on the long winding road
#18
Southerners are just about as hospitable as Westerners! (Seeing as a good many of them transplanted out here.) When I went to LA for a while I was very bemused by the stone-faced people who just stared straight ahead as if you were a parking meter. Hi, there! Nice weather! Silence... :unsure: Haven't been to the South recently but it was always nice to me. I've never had one racial incident there but plenty everywhere else! (I do know you can't get out of the South without somebody feeding you. Pretty good, too!)
I agree. Real westerners are probably the most honest, open people around.
 
Joined
Apr 27, 2017
Messages
983
Location
NC
#20
Do you think “Southern hospitality” is a myth? Do you think it once existed, but has faded over time? Have you experienced “Southern hospitality” firsthand?
It's been my experience down south that hospitality increases as the size of the town gets smaller, and also as you get closer to the Mississippi River.

Up north, it's a mixed bag. Some parts of central Pennsylvania are quite rude and cold, but not Harrisburg, one of the friendliest and most helpful cities I've ever visited. It was also in central Pennsylvania where we ate in a restaurant that had a large communal table, and the nicest, friendliest, most polite individuals at the table were visiting from New York City. Philadelphia has a jungle mentality, survival of the fittest and meanest.

Don't know much about out west.
 



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