Ancient hospitality was a sacred duty almost akin to a religious sacrifice. Any stranger that “rang the bell” could be a god in disguise, there to test the mortal homeowner’s hospitality. Among the most popular monikers attributed to Zeus, the leader of Greek gods in antiquity, is Xenios, “the stranger’s god”, as he was the proclaimed protector of all visitors in need, indicating that they had to be protected.
The spirit of Greek hospitality can be found across the country, in every person who is or feels Greek. Philoxenia (hospitality) –literally translated as “friend to the stranger” – is the ancient Greek concept of welcoming and caring for all visitors coming to your doorstep.
The Uniqueness of Greek Hospitality
Whenever you visited someone’s home in Kefalonia, in the past decades, you were consistently treated with kindness and generosity; almost without fail, there was a glass of cool water and some homemade spoon sweets. This was often followed by coffee and amygdaloidal (almond cake), and often cooked food followed as well. Whenever you declined to be fed on the spot, you were regularly sent away with parcels of meat pie or other delicacies for later.
Philoxenia can be as simple as a smile, helping a stranded traveler, buying a meal for a homeless person, or opening your home to strangers, friends, and family. There are countless articles and stories describing the hospitality of Greek people, in Greece and outside Greece.
Hospitality in ancient Greece was an important ritual because it encouraged social, political, and military socializing, or “networking.” It was a sacred responsibility that came under the watchful eye of the Olympian gods. Zeus ruled as the hospitality chief protector, and many referred to him as the stranger’s god. Believe it or not, behaving inhospitably was an offense worthy of punishment because hospitality was actually governed by a code of conduct. Duties fall on both the guest and the host.
Greek Hospitality at Saloniki Greek in Boston, MA
Are you located in or around Boston, MA, and craving that special Greek hospitality? Don’t worry, we may be far from Greece but we have plenty of authentic restaurants that offer up genuine philoxenia. Saloniki Greek brings a variety of different aspects of Greek hospitality to Boston, MA, and beyond. From our code of values to our generosity and welcoming nature, you will feel right at home.
Regardless of a guest’s identity, in traditional Greek hospitality one had to welcome them with food, drink, and shelter before asking questions. We know, seems a bit daunting to do something that extreme in our day and age. But with that being said, chivalry isn’t dead. At Saloniki Greek, we thrive on reinvigorating the sense of Philoxenia, to give you a place to come hang out, eat authentic Greek cuisine, get cock-tails on the go, and more! Visit us in Fenway, Central/MIT, or Harvard today.