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.
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
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.