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Southern hospitality

Southern hospitality

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Southern hospitality is a phrase used in American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 to describe the stereotype
A stereotype is a popular belief about specific social groups or types of individuals. The concepts of "stereotype" and "prejudice" are often confused with many other different meanings...

 of residents of the Southern United States
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

 as particularly warm and welcoming to visitors to their homes, or to the South in general.

Southern hospitality described

Some characteristics of southern hospitality were described as early as 1835, when Jacob Abbott
Jacob Abbott
Jacob Abbott was an American writer of children's books.-Biography:Abbott was born at Hallowell, Maine to Jacob and Betsey 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. Abbott writes:
Abbot further describes how the best stores of the house are at the disposal of visitors. Furthermore, says Abbott:
Food figures highly in Southern hospitality, a large component of the idea being the provision of Southern cuisine
Cuisine of the Southern United States
The cuisine of the Southern United States is defined as the historical regional culinary form of states generally south of the Mason Dixon Line dividing Pennsylvania from Maryland and Delaware as well as along the Ohio River, and extending west to Southern Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.The most...

 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 recipe
A recipe is a set of instructions that describe how to prepare or make something, especially a culinary dish.-Components:Modern culinary recipes normally consist of several components*The name of the dish...

s advancing this concept.

Other features of Southern Hospitality include proper local etiquette
Etiquette is a code of behavior that delineates expectations for social behavior according to contemporary conventional norms within a society, social class, or group...

 (i.e., calling one "Sir" or "Ma'am," opening doors for women (as well as men removing their hats when in the presence of a woman or inside her house), cooking enough for everyone who might be around at mealtime, inviting one to church functions, etc.) While persons from outside the region often mistake many of the southern hospitality customs as being disingenuous or fake in some way, in actuality the customs are often a way to make the visitor feel as comfortable as possible in an unfamiliar setting. Additionally, although some customs may be seen as odd or even offensive by people not from the South, they are considered polite in local culture and usually meant as an expression of traditional warm greeting.

Critical examination

Southern hospitality has been examined by sociologists and other social scientists, one of whom has characterized the practices as a masquerade designed to cover deficiencies in southern culture, such as slavery, discrimination, and widespread poverty.

Said author writes:
Southern hospitality has also been examined, however, as a reflection of the deeply-held religious beliefs of the region; the idea that one should be good to strangers is an outgrowth of such Biblical parable
Parables of Jesus
The parables of Jesus can be found in all the Canonical gospels as well as in some of the non-canonical gospels but are located mainly within the three synoptic gospels. They represent a key part of the teachings of Jesus, forming approximately one third of his recorded teachings...

s as the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Good Samaritan
The parable of the Good Samaritan is a parable told by Jesus and is mentioned in only one of the Canonical gospels. According to the Gospel of Luke a traveller is beaten, robbed, and left half dead along the road. First a priest and then a Levite come by, but both avoid the man. Finally, a...

. Indeed 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".