Days Gone By - stories from the past

MONDAY MUSINGS: Is Southern Hospitality dead in Alabama?

Do we still have Southern hospitality?

People in the south are known for welcoming visitors.  In fact the phrase, “Southern hospitality” has been coined to describe this characteristic.

Southern hospitality has long been a tradition in Alabama. Even during Civil War and Great Depression days when Alabamians struggled to put food on their tables, they always shared what little they had with visitors.

According to Wikipedia:

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.

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.

Sharing indianThat past is still within our living memory, a time when neighbour helped neighbour, sharing what little they had out of necessity, as well as decency.” Mary McAleese

I remember my mother telling me that during the Great Depression, her grandmother never turned away a hungry person who came to their doorstep. She simply stretched their meagre meal a little further. That is a tradition we have in the south.

dinner table - southern living

Picture courtesy of

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About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble. She has authored numerous genealogy books. RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE) is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2) is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series) Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1) is the continuation of the story. . For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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  1. Linda Carlson

    No I don’t believe so as no one has any trust left in this society

    1. Pretty sad, that you made this comment in regards to Southern Hospitality and your Facebook page (which, btw, you haven’t used in ages) states you live in MINNESOTA. Maybe, Hospitality is a bit dry around you – and perhaps, because of your personal take on the world – but back here, in the Sunny South, Hospitality is very much alive – and cherished. So, if you need to thaw out, come visit us in the South. Maybe, we can help you shake off that nasty frigid disposition you’ve developed. Hugs, tea on the verandaand and a walk in the garden will do you good.

  2. Heather Martin-Wright

    Meh. Rude drivers, and rude kids who stare at those who look different because of a disability, and churchy types who push their beliefs. I’m an Alabamian, I love the beauty of this state, but many people need to re-learn manners and etiquette. I’ve seen a lot of needy, hungry people being turned away. My family taught me always to be kind and giving.

  3. First, there was no CIVIL war. There was no rebellion. It was an orderly secession as per the colonists in 1776. The Confederacy had no desire to overthrow the government of the United States. Second, no…not only is Southern hospitality gone, it is gone because there are no Southern peoples any more except geographically. We have been thoroughly “yankeeized”. The “South” exists no more and so, none of the things that made her unique culture so recognizable. A tragedy.

  4. I don’t see much of southern hospitality myself. But I love for my husband’s northern friends too come restaurantsf. They love too come too. I welcome them into my home as if they were family. They love and appreciate it. But once they get out on the streets and in the community, I’m very sad to say. They are quiet shocked at how rude the drivers are!!! And some of the people in stores and fast ood restaurants are very unhelpful. My friends from Missouri were cursed profusely over a parking spot. That is the most embarrassed I have ever been over being from the South. I am normally VERY proud of my Southern Heritage!

  5. Carolyn Koeneke

    For sure! My sister is one southern lady in showing hospitality!

  6. Van Smith

    I think for the most part we do!!!

    1. Carolyn Koeneke

      Yes, you do. I live in another state and deep South southern hospitality that I experienced in growing up in Alabama was a wonderful experience. The tradition of hospitality is alive and well!

  7. Donald Wheeles

    Have we got away from our tradition of welcoming others into our community, and into our homes. I CERTAINLY HOPE NOT. At one time, we did share. SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY. I certainly hope Clay County and Alabama never change from this.

  8. My maternal grandfather was born in Tuscaloosa County, and I have deep Alabama roots on both sides of my family. Unfortunately, in going to Alabama to research those family roots, I’ve had several experiences that left me with a bitter taste in my mouth, re: Southern hospitality.

    My ancestor John Green built a house in the early 1830s in Bibb County near Woodstock. Several years ago, I went to see the house. Stopped at a filling station on the main highway to get directions, since it wasn’t clear to me which country road to take to find the house, and I encountered some of the rudest, most unwelcoming folks I’ve ever encountered anywhere, both at the cash register where I asked for directions, and among customers who overheard me asking. One kind person who saw how I’d been treated did tell me how to find the house, and I very much appreciated him. But the impression of rudeness, right where my own roots lie, left me with a bad taste in my mouth about the state, as did several encounters with the clerk of court and other staff in the Morgan County courthouse over a number of years, who refused to let me see estate records that later became available, thankfully, at the county archives.

    I find that people in Southern states can be selectively hospitable. If you appear to be an outsider or different in some way of which they disapprove, or not the accepted color, Southerners can be extremely unwelcoming. I regret this, because I value my Southern heritage, having grown up in Arkansas with an Alabama-born grandfather, two grandparents born in Louisiana, and one born in Arkansas.

  9. Amelia Wells Klosowsky

    Alabama is a very hospitable state. I believe the majority of Alabamians are giving, helpful and kind. As a whole, all of the USA needs to re-learn manners and tolerance of differing views…..

  10. You want to see southern hospitality let an f 5 tornado come thru.

  11. Yes, we are viewed very polite and friendly by people from other countries. I flew across the pond with a gentleman from Slovian and he had been at Fort Benning, Ga.. His remarks to me when He learned that I knew where Ft. Benning was
    ” I cannot believe how friendly everyone is. From the man in the 3 piece suit to the man without shoes. Everyone was so polite, they all would greet me with a hello and would ask if I needed anything. I have never before seen such polite and friendly peoples in all my travels”. Maybe we are not as polite to each other as we used to be but we are seen very polite to peoples from other countries.

  12. Francine Parker

    I would not say it has died, but southern hospitality is not as alive as it once was.

  13. Deborah Suskey

    I would say it has died out and I am from the south, Moved back there a few years ago and realized my memories were a heck of a lot better than the reality.

  14. Fonda Oldham Grogan

    My mother always wrapped up leftover cornbread from supper, as she told me her grandmother did, in case someone came during the night hungry.

  15. Suzan Hunter Bulaga

    Well I was born and raised in Florida and I have lived all over the U.S. and Europe. My husband and I and our kids moved here to B’ham in 2015 and have found it to be the most wonderful place we’ve ever lived. I am in regular contact with folks who have moved to B’ham for business/work, and I hear the same thing from them. We’re all of us utterly shocked by how nice people are. Maybe to locals it isn’t as nice, but to outsiders it’s heaven on earth. We’re enjoying every minute!

    1. Jakab DannyDarlene

      I miss living in Birmingham…I’m originally from Florida, but lived in Birmingham for 17 years….. I’d move back if I could talk my husband into it..that’s my favorite place.

  16. Priscilla Martin

    There are more people from other parts of the country living here now who do not respect our Southern heritage of hospitality. In addition, there is a generation now which does not respect manners, elders, or themselves.

  17. Jack Williams

    Priscilla Martin ‘s post above says it the best

  18. Barbara Thomas

    no sir it it is still alive and well

  19. Roger Alan Parker

    Hospitality has more to do with the generation it occurred in, than the geographic area that it occurs in…

  20. Catherine Borden Sloan

    I would say its still alive but not quite as active. I find that just the way we were taught to be hospitable and friendly is easily misinterpreted by those that just do not know it is just customary and we do that with everyone. It almost makes everyone else seem rude that they do not do some of the things we do here. However, the respect for elders and ancestors seems to be dying out I’m afraid. It use to be that going to Decorations with Dinner on the Ground was expected. The hugging everyone before you left. Waving at people as you pass them. So much is slipping away.

  21. Jeremy Britt

    I’m from here but spend most of my time in California for work. It may not be what it once was, but it’s a lot better than you’ll get anywhere else still.

  22. Melissa Ayers Hyatt

    It is nothing like it was when I was younger (I’m 51). I still find it in some places but it is rare!

  23. Alice Chamblee

    When “Southern hospitality” is not passed on to our grandchildren as a legacy, then like everything else good, it disappears….

    1. Brenda Holloway

      i refer to the people who were born here in the south. southern hospitality is born in us. this is something that can’t be taught, however, let me warn you. do not take this as weakness. We will help anyone we can, but don’t you dare take that for granted.

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