Two understandings of hospitality


One of the things I’ve noticed in reflecting on our practise of hospitality is that there are a couple of different ways of understanding and practising hospitality. Some folks practise hospitality by focussing all attention on the guest and offering an extravegant experience of food, comfort and entertainment. Other folks practise hospitality by treating the guest as a regular member of the household, encouraging them to come inside through the backyard instead of knocking at the front door. Guests will know they can offer to make tea and coffee themselves and see who else wants one too.

I think our understanding of hospitality is heavily influenced by our experiences growing up. We might base our own practice of hospitality on what we learned growing up, or we might react against what we learned.

Did you grow up with one of these understandings of hospitality? What is your preference now?

2 thoughts on “Two understandings of hospitality

  1. Hospitality was very performative in my household, perhaps especially because my parents aren’t particularly social so having guests wasn’t a routine thing. Politeness was very important in all situations; giving hospitality meant cleaning everything before the guests came, trying to anticipate their needs and making everything perfect for them. Receiving hospitality meant being helpful, accommodating and unobtrusive when in someone else’s space (i.e. not being a burden). When I moved to Melbourne and got involved with the Seeds mob it took me months to teach myself to walk into friends’ houses without knocking. Trying to learn a less performative style of hospitality is going to be a long journey I think.

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