Seven years ago I wrote a blog post about 10 southern traditions that everyone should know about. Since then I have heard a few people say how some of those traditions are ridiculous. But our traditions are what bind us as a southern culture. They unite us and give us a common link to each other. I think the world could use a little more of that – looking for what we have in common, instead of how we’re different.
I wanted to repost those southern traditions and share them again. Even if you’re not southern, these are traditions anyone can enjoy and participate in.
Southern Wedding Traditions
Cake pulls have been a tradition for southern weddings that date back as far as Victorian times. A tiny charm with a ribbon attached is placed into a cake and the bridesmaids pull the ribbon and receive their fortune. Southern wedding tradition also says that if a bride and groom go to the site of their wedding exactly one month before the wedding day and bury a bottle of bourbon, then it will not rain on their wedding day. The bottle should be completely full and buried upside down, or so tradition says. To learn more about cake pulls and their meaning, visit Southern Living.
Southern gardens traditionally have a “bottle tree.” Bottle trees were believed to attract evil spirits at dusk. The spirits were supposedly trapped in the bottles, and when the sun rose and shone on the bottles, the spirits were destroyed. Tradition says that as the wind blew across the bottles you could hear the spirits moaning.
Churches in the south aren’t just worship centers. They are a hub for social gatherings and community outreach. You can find churches throughout the Bible belt hosting potluck dinners, selling smoked pork butts as fundraisers, and stocking food pantry shelves to help those in need. The easiest way to see what southern holidays are like, is to find a southern church. Easter, Trunk-or-Treats, and Christmas pageants are all big events. Whether you join the Methodist, Baptist, or Presbyterian church in town, finding a “church home” will fill your social calendar.
Football in the South is not taken lightly. Friday Night Lights in the local high school stadium will bring out the whole town. Even those who do not have a high school student take supporting the local team seriously. Local businesses take pride in the hometown high school football teams, too.
If you think high school football is big in the South, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve met a SEC college football fan. Getting married? You better not schedule that on a game day! College football is almost a religion unto itself. Your neighbor might be a perfectly nice person, but if they cheer for the wrong team, you’ll always deep-down hold that against them. (“She’s nice and all, but she likes Alabama.”)
Tailgating before the big games is almost as big of a deal as the game. Serious tailgaters don’t just serve the basic burgers and dogs. It can get fancy and decadent. Ladies find ways to create the perfect outfits using their school colors. Just because it’s a football game doesn’t mean that pearls can’t go with it! Some men wear polos, button-ups, and even bow ties with khakis on game day.
In the south we will find any excuse to get together, especially for food. A low country boil is an event in itself. Sometimes called Frogmore Stew, a low country boil cooks corn on the cob, sausage, potatoes, and some type of shellfish, whether it’s shrimp or crayfish, in a big pot. Once it’s cooked, it is dumped out onto tables covered in newspapers.
Only the best barbecue comes from the south. We like to cook any kind of meat low and slow with smoke. Add a side of Brunswick Stew, and your BBQ meal is complete. We even eat a meal for good luck on New Year’s Day. It doesn’t matter who your mama is, what neighborhood you’re from, or what you look like, in the south collard greens, cornbread, fried chicken, and mac and cheese are traditional staples.
Southerners don’t use manners “just for show”. We use manners because it shows respect to others. We joke that saying “bless your heart” is really a nice way of saying anything from “that poor girl” to “you fool”. But the point is, even if we don’t like someone or we disagree with them, we can be respectful and simply say, “bless your heart” before moving on. We teach our kids to saying ma’am and sir to show respect to anyone older than us, because we realize that with age comes wisdom. We hold the door open for the person behind us, because why not give your fellow man or woman a hand? Manners are not demeaning; they show human compassion.
In the South, some children and young adults attend cotillion, which is etiquette training that teaches manners, basic dancing skills, and ways to be a conscientious and courteous member of society.
Haint Blue Porch Ceilings
Haint Blue porch ceilings are a long-standing tradition in the south. Haint is the combination of the words Haunted and Saint. In other words, a Haint is a ghost or an evil spirit. Haint Blue has been said to repel evil spirits from entering a home. Some people also believed that it kept the bugs away, which can be bothersome on southern porches on summer evenings.
Haint Blue is a hue that can vary depending on who you’re asking. It can also vary regionally. For our ceiling we selected one of the most popular Haint Blue colors, Benjamin Moore Palladian Blue, HC-144. To see more about our Haint Blue porch ceiling, click HERE.
To summarize, in the South we are proud of our culture, history, and traditions. We love people, food, and football. To read more about Southern Traditions, here are a few other posts that might interest you:
10 Southern Traditions that Y’all Should Know About (original post)