Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia

Philoxenia comes from Ancient Greek. This literally translates to be “friends with a stranger”. Philo – Friend, Xenia – Stranger.

In Ancient Greece, hospitality was ranked highly as a personal virtue. Great honour was bestowed upon a guest by a host. If a stranger was to appear on your doorstep in Ancient Greece, you were duty-bound to offer a bath before the meal and then a generous spread of food and drink. The guest in return, was obligated to be courteous, polite and not too difficult for the host.

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia
Polish: Gość w dom, Bóg w dom

Philoxenia Versus Xenophobia

The hallowed principle of Philoxenia originally turned sour in Homer’s The Iliad. When a guest in the house of King Menelaus of Sparta tried it on with the King’s wife, Helen – the fall out was huge. This transgression was so bad that it needed to be avenged by setting off the Trojan War. This led to a derogatory term, the opposite of Philoxenia (Friend with a Stranger) which turns out to be Xenophobia (Fear of a Stranger).

Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers. For by doing so, you may have unwittingly entertained angels. Hebrews 13:1-2

Polish: Gość w dom, Bóg w dom

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia
Polish: Gość w dom, Bóg w dom. Polish Easter feast Copyright Content Catnip 2019

There is a similar expression in Polish, which still holds true as a cultural tradition today. Gość w dom, Bóg w dom. A guest in the house, God in the house. This expression in Polish speaks volumes about the kinds of hospitality you can expect as a guest in a Polish friend’s house. You can expect to be showered with wine, food, desserts and toasts of vodka until you cant eat or drink any more.

Ancient Word of the Day: Philoxenia
Polish: Gość w dom, Bóg w dom Polish Easter is a big deal in Poland. Copyright Content Catnip 2019

Do you have a similar tradition in your culture?

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