Southern hospitality

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Southern hospitality is a phrase used in American English to describe the stereotype of residents of the Southern United States as particularly warm, sweet, and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.

Hospitality relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable

Hospitality refers to the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt describes hospitality in the Encyclopédie as the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.

American English Set of dialects of the English language spoken in the United States

American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. It is considered one of the most influential dialects of English globally, including on other varieties of English.

Stereotype thought that may be adopted about specific types of individuals or certain ways of doing things

In social psychology, a stereotype is an over-generalized belief about a particular category of people. Stereotypes are generalized because one assumes that the stereotype is true for each individual person in the category. While such generalizations may be useful when making quick decisions, they may be erroneous when applied to particular individuals. Stereotypes encourage prejudice and may arise for a number of reasons.



Southern hospitality "first existed as a narrowly defined body of social practices among the antebellum planters classes". [1] As such, the origin of the practice was intimately tied to slavery. One analysis notes:

Slavery in the United States Form of slave labor which existed as a legal institution from the early years of the United States

Slavery in the United States was the legal institution of human chattel enslavement, primarily of Africans and African Americans, that existed in the United States of America in the 18th and 19th centuries. Slavery had been practiced in British America from early colonial days, and was legal in all Thirteen Colonies at the time of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It lasted in about half the states until 1865, when it was prohibited nationally by the Thirteenth Amendment. As an economic system, slavery was largely replaced by sharecropping.

African Americans had little place in this initial conceptualization of hospitality beyond the role of servant. Yet, it was the labor and hardships of the enslaved that allowed southern planters to entertain their guests so lavishly and seemingly so effortlessly. Southern hospitality from and for whites was in large part achieved by being inhospitable and inhumane to African Americans. [2]

Over time, however, the concept "developed into a discourse that stretches far beyond the image of the planter class", and the principles of Southern hospitality were eventually adopted by African Americans in the South, and incorporated into materials used to advertise destinations in the South to African American tourists. [2] The concept of Southern hospitality has also been examined as a reflection of the religious beliefs of the region; the idea that one should be good to strangers is an outgrowth of such Biblical parables as the Good Samaritan. [3] Early travel writer Ernest Hamlin Abbott wrote in 1902, "as religious observances are in the South as naturally included in the hospitality of the home as anything else, so, conversely, hospitality in the South is an integral part of the church services". [4]

Planter class

The planter class, known alternatively in the United States as the Southern aristocracy, was a socio-economic caste of Pan-American society that dominated seventeenth- and eighteenth-century agricultural markets through the forced labor of enslaved Africans. The Atlantic slave trade permitted planters access to inexpensive labor for the planting and harvesting of crops such as tobacco, cotton, indigo, coffee, tea, cocoa, sugar cane, sisal, oil seeds, oil palms,hemp, rubber trees, and fruits.

Parables of Jesus one of the parables told by Jesus according to one or more gospels

The Parables of Jesus are found in the Synoptic Gospels and some of the non-canonical gospels. They form approximately one third of his recorded teachings. Christians place great emphasis on these parables; which they regard as the words of Jesus, they are believed to be what the Father has taught, indicated by John 8:28 and 14:10.

Parable of the Good Samaritan didactic story told by Jesus in Luke 10:25–37

The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. It is about a traveller who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First a priest and then a Levite comes by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveller. Samaritans and Jews despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man. Jesus is described as telling the parable in response to the question from a lawyer, "And who is my neighbour?". In response, Jesus tells the parable, the conclusion of which is that the neighbour figure in the parable is the man who shows mercy to the injured man—that is, the Samaritan.


Some characteristics of Southern hospitality were described as early as 1835, when Jacob Abbott attributed the poor quality of taverns in the South to the lack of need for them, given the willingness of Southerners to provide for strangers. [5] Abbott writes:

Jacob Abbott American childrens books writer

Jacob Abbott was an American writer of children's books.

[T]he hospitality of southerners is so profuse, that taverns are but poorly supported. A traveler, with the garb and the manners of a gentleman, finds a welcome at every door. A stranger is riding on horseback through Virginia or Carolina. It is noon. He sees a plantation, surrounded with trees, a little distance from the road. Without hesitation he rides to the door. The gentleman of the house sees his approach and is ready upon the steps. [5]

Abbott further describes how the best stores of the house are at the disposal of visitors. [5] Furthermore, says Abbott:

Conversation flows cheeringly, for the southern gentleman has a particular tact in making a guest happy. After dinner you are urged to pass the afternoon and night, and if you are a gentleman in manners and information, your host will be in reality highly gratified by your so doing.
Such is the character of southern hospitality. [5]

Food figures highly in Southern hospitality, a large component of the idea being the provision of Southern cuisine to visitors. A cake or other delicacy is often brought to the door of a new neighbor as a mechanism of introduction. Many club and church functions include a meal or at least a dessert and beverage. Churches in the South frequently have large commercial style kitchens to accommodate this tradition, but many "fellowship suppers" are "covered dish": everyone attending brings a dish. However, if a newcomer arrives without a dish, he or she will be made to feel welcome and served generously. When a death or serious illness occurs, neighbors, friends, and church members generally bring food to the bereaved family for a period of time. A number of cookbooks promise recipes advancing this concept. [6]

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  1. Anthony Szczesiul, "Re-mapping southern hospitality: discourse, ethics, politics", European Journal of American Culture (2007), Issue 26, p. 127.
  2. 1 2 Derek H. Alderman and E. Arnold Modlin Jr., "Southern hospitality and the politics of African American belonging: an analysis of North Carolina tourism brochure photographs", Journal of Cultural Geography (December, 2012).
  3. Anthony Szczesiul, The Southern Hospitality Myth: Ethics, Politics, Race, and American Memory (2017), p. 216.
  4. Abbott, Ernest Hamlin (1902). Religious Life in America: A Record of Personal Observation. Outlook Company. p. 111.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Abbott, Jacob (1835). New England and her Institutions. John Allen. p. 223.
  6. For example, Winifred Green Cheney, The Southern Hospitality Cookbook (1976) ISBN   0-8487-0417-7; Sara Pitzer, Enjoying the Art of Southern Hospitality: Menus, Recipes, and Suggestions for Entertaining Simply and Graciously (1990) ISBN   0-87483-121-0; Lisette Verlander, Susan Murphy, The Cookin' Cajun Cooking School Cookbook (1997) ISBN   0-87905-784-X (stating "I learned to love the tastes and smells of good food, and that true Southern hospitality begins in the kitchen, the soul of a home"); James Villas, The Glory of Southern Cooking (2007) ISBN   0-7645-7601-1 (discussing "the sacred tradition of preparing and serving lots of good food and drink to large numbers of family, friends, and even strangers — better known as Southern hospitality").