If you’ve been around this blog for any time at all now you know that I like to have a little fun. So today I thought I’d share with y’all (I love saying that) some of the things I’ve learned about Southern Etiquette from one of my real life Southern blogging buddies Leslie, at Bungalow Nesting. Leslie is one of the first people I met here in the upstate of South Carolina and she is one of the most delightful gals I know! Her fun attitude is contagious and she has become a dear, dear friend.
When I first met Leslie she began right away to fill me in on proper Southern etiquette. Since I’ve never lived in the South before I take these tips quite seriously and I’m sure that the following list of social etiquette will be KEY to making my way in this strange new land.
- The first time Leslie and her husband Mark invited us to their home she told me that when you are invited to a Southerner’s home you always bring a gift. I listened and I brought along a nice loaf of sweet bread. She graciously thanked me and said that each subsequent time you are invited into someone’s home the gift must be bigger and better. I can believe THAT! They have a lot of company and they have a lot of nice things.
- Southern greetings are very friendly. Always smile and remember that a smile is not only on the face but can be seen in the eyes. If your eyes aren’t smiling the other person will know you aren’t a friendly person.
- Men usually shake hands, women embrace (except for church, church men embrace like women). A woman-to-woman embrace often includes a kiss on the cheek. Only woman-to-woman though. Doncha’ dare kiss another woman’s husband!
- When engaging in conversation it is proper to maintain eye contact. Don’t stare too long though because that can be threatening . . . and don’t let your gaze constantly wander because that shows that you aren’t listening. If you are bored listen for awhile and then find something you must suddenly attend to.
- Speaking of eye contact, don’t gawk! This is especially true for men who should only gawk at their own wives.
- Don’t stand too close when conversing with another person. This can cause the other person to feel uncomfortable, not to mention the fact that you might have offensive breath or even risk “spraying” them.
- Be careful what you say while conversing. Remember, the heart of who you are comes out of your MOUTH. If you want to be nice your words must be nice and that is the goal of every Southerner. Being nice!
- When being introduced to another person always smile and say something pleasant like, “It is good to meet you.” Once you know them you can greet them with, “Hey.” Or, “Hey, hey,” if you are a Finnish Southerner.
- When someone offends you or says something you don’t like never argue or get nasty. Simply say, “Bless your heart.” Say it with a smile too because the good book says that showing kindness to those you don’t like is just like heaping burning coals upon their head!
- Never show up at someone’s house unexpectedly. A Southern woman will feel the need to invite you in and will be embarrassed if there is any little thing out of place.
- Never show up to a party early. In fact, don’t show up on time! At least 30 minutes after the party is set to begin is the real start time of any party in the South.
- Always return the favor. Whether it is an invite, a gift, a card, a kind word, always return the favor . . . if you want to continue the friendship. If you don’t want to continue the friendship don’t return the favor.
- Be Words: Be humble. Be Courteous. Be friendly. Be modest. Behave.
- Courtesy Words: “Please,” “May I,” “Thank You,” “You’re Welcome,” “Excuse Me,” “Pardon Me,” “Yes sir,” “No sir,” “Yes ma’am,” “No ma’am.”
- Southern Cuss Words: Ding dangit; Heavens to Betsy; Dag nabbit; Lard bucket; What in the Sam Hill; Oh my land; Yankee; Shoot a monkey; Jumpin Jehosaphat! These words are acceptable outbursts in place of “real” swear words, except in church. No cuss words in church!
Now in case you’re wondering at the title, How to Make Your Neighbors Jealous of Your Front Porch, it should be pretty obvious by now that you should never deliberately make your neighbors jealous of your front porch or any other part of your life. If they happen to become a little green with envy over your modest porch decor simply invite them in for a glass of sweet tea and all peace will be restored.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these rules of Southern etiquette in social situations. There are of course rules for every situation, church etiquette; shopping etiquette; porch etiquette; bathroom etiquette; etc. Too many to touch on them all in one post! Know this: If you follow these rules your popularity will be sure to increase . . . because people like people with good manners. 😉