Hospitality as a social phenomenon has existed for many centuries, it is a special kind of cordiality, involving the gratuitous provision of food, shelter and protection to a stranger. Each country has its own traditions of hospitality, modest or incredibly hospitable, including simply friendly gatherings at the table or magnificent ritual ceremonies of receiving guests, even if it is a casual passer-by.
Meeting guests with bread and salt is considered a hallmark of Russia, and the traditions of Russian hospitality are a vivid manifestation of the cordiality and kindness of our people. In Russia, they try to surround the guest with care and respect, and they always generously treat them to the best that is in the house.
Some of the ancient customs are no longer observed in our time. For example, the ceremonial table in Russian houses usually stood in the “red corner”. Guests were seated in places of honor, under icons, so that they would be under the patronage of the saints. Each owner of the house served a slice of bread with salt: salt was a very expensive product, and was put on the table only on special occasions. Another measure of attitude towards the guest was the strength of the brewed tea, since tea leaves were bought in limited quantities, and usually brewed several times.
Before leaving, the guest was offered a glass “on the road”, it had to be drunk to the bottom, leaving a few drops that should have been splashed over the shoulder. The popular expression “good riddance” in the old days was a sincere wish for a good journey. And the custom to sit down for a moment in front of the road has pagan roots: in ancient Russia, the owner of the house was considered a brownie, and, having lingered for a while, the guest, as it were, is waiting for the permission of the guardian of the house to travel.
Hospitality in Europe
In many European countries, an invitation to visit does not mean that you will sit down there at a richly laid table and you will be fed heartily. The European feast is often very modest, since the main purpose of such meetings is friendly communication. In England or France, huge portions of food are not served at the table, and if you are invited to tea or coffee, then you can not count on more than a cup of drink with a cake or a piece of cake. Therefore, you should go to visit either having a snack at home, or taking some treat with you.
It is not customary to visit European countries without an invitation, but if it really happened, and you got to a family dinner, you will have to wait until the hosts finish it – they will not call you to the table. And in Holland, Norway and Germany, they prefer to meet even with their closest friends not at home, but in a cafe or restaurant, while the invitee will pay for himself.
But such rationalism is not inherent in all European nations. In Spain, Ireland and Italy, it is advisable to visit on an empty stomach: there is a lot of food at the table, and it is delicious. Moreover, you will have to taste all the dishes that were offered to you, even if it doesn’t fit anymore – refusal will seriously offend the hosts.
How guests are received in Asian countries
The traditions of hospitality in different countries of Asia differ significantly, but in each of them even an uninvited guest is considered welcome in the house, and he will certainly be invited to the table.
In Turkey, you can get an invitation to dinner even from a recent acquaintance, but it’s normal to come to a neighbor’s for coffee and talk about random topics. You will definitely be treated to national dishes and delicious homemade pastries, for which Turkish women are great craftsmen.
In Malaysia, for anyone who comes to the house, they will also certainly set the table, at least with a light snack, but at the same time, it is customary to take food here only after the invitation of the owner. In no case should you refuse treats, even if you are not hungry. Moroccans and Egyptians are distinguished by the same cordiality, in honor of the guest they will even arrange an unplanned gala dinner.
Hospitality is considered one of the main cultural traditions of the peoples of the Caucasus. In Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Abkhazia and Ossetia, it is a sacred duty to receive guests well. Any traveler here is considered the Messenger of God, so they are always ready to provide him with a table and the best room in the house.
The ancient Kazakh traditions of hospitality include many different customs, some of which are no longer used today. For example, in the Kazakh yurt, the guest was seated in the most honorable place, in the center, and treated with koumiss and horse meat dishes. The hosts presented gifts to especially important and honored guests (most often a warm caftan – shapan).
In Japan, being invited to visit is a great honor. And not because the Japanese are too proud, but, on the contrary, out of modesty: they consider their homes unworthy of receiving guests. It is not accepted in this country to come to the house by invitation for lunch or dinner without a beautifully wrapped gift. Usually the hosts try to give a return gift, which, according to etiquette, should be politely refused.
Preparing to receive guests, the owners sprinkle water in front of the front door so that the earth is not too dry, and incense is lit in the hallway. Before entering the house, you should take off your outer clothing and change into geta (wooden sandals in the form of benches). The Japanese eat at low tables, sitting on special mats – tatami. An important ritual is table setting: all dishes are carefully decorated before serving, and served in a strictly defined sequence,
The Chinese are a very hospitable nation, they go to visit with pleasure and cordially receive guests. At the dinner party, you will be offered a wide variety of delicious dishes, all of which you will need to try, and be sure to praise. Food in China was usually taken from common dishes in the center of the table, although individual plates are often used today. One of the unusual features of Chinese table etiquette is that eating here is done noisily and sloppily. If a person eats slowly and silently, this means that he does not like the treat.
In America, the attitude towards receiving guests is much simpler than, for example, in China or the Caucasus. Spending the whole day in the kitchen to cook a lot of dishes is not accepted; in the first place is a pleasant joint vacation, and not a magnificent feast with delicious treats and expensive dishes. Therefore, dishes here are often cooked on a barbecue, and the food is sorted into plates by the guests themselves. Catering is also popular, when the company takes over the preparation of food, its home delivery and table setting.
However, each of the countries of America has its own customs and traditions of hospitality. For example, Brazilians are open, very friendly, and always welcome guests, even uninvited ones. And when the guest leaves, the owner will open the door for him – this is a sign that he will come to the house again. But in Argentina, the door will not be opened to a stranger – for security reasons.
In Bolivia, guests, if they are not relatives, are not customary to sit at a common table. A separate table is laid for them, where he can taste all the dishes in a comfortable environment, without being embarrassed. In Mexico, the guest, before sitting down to the table, must greet all those present personally, each separately.
Latin Americans, since they themselves are not too picky about food, can also offer guests light sandwiches or pizza, in special cases they will cook meat on the grill. But the traditional drink – “mate” – is treated here everywhere and always, and they drink it from a special dish, a hollowed calabash pumpkin through a straw.
Hospitality in Africa and Australia
In the welfare ratings, African countries occupy one of the last places, but the traditions of hospitality of the peoples of this continent are far from poor. And if there are no gourmet treats in the house, this will be compensated by attention, care and kind attitude. It is better to come to visit an African family with gifts, they will also see you off with some kind of gifts. And if you came to the country for a long time, they will offer to help you choose a good day of departure, after consulting with a local shaman healer.
Regarding the hospitality of the Australians, we can say that they are friendly, sociable, but they do not pay much attention to the splendor of the feast and the variety of dishes. They will certainly pour you a cup of excellent coffee, invite you to a bottle of wine, and if you come for dinner, they can offer you to fry meat on the grill in the backyard together with the owners.