Just a few traditional symbols we associate with hospitality.
Since pineapple was tropical and difficult to import it was very rare. So a sailor would come home and impale one on the fence of his house to show that “the man of the house” was home and people could come visit.
Since it was expensive and hard to come by, colonial families would serve pineapple as a special dessert when guests came to visit and then the guest would sleep in the bed with pineapples carved on it.
It is also said that when a guest had overstayed his welcome, you would place a pineapple at the foot of his bed and he would know that it was time to leave.
From this history, pineapples became a very popular motif, especially in the South where you can find pineapple designs on everything.
A courting candle was used back in the day to mark the amount of time that a suitor was allowed to visit. Once the candle burned down to the top of the candle holder, he had to leave. The trick was that the candle could be adjusted so that it could be really tall, giving the suitor a lot of time, or really short so his stay would be brief.
Bread and Salt:
This is a real thing in Slavic countries, with special decorated ritual bread and salt dishes. The women of the family present the bread and salt to the guest and the guest dips the bread into the salt and eats it.
However, when I had it in my head as a traditional historical custom that meant that the guest could come to no harm in the host’s house, it turns out that I was thinking of the custom from Game of Thrones and not a real thing. Maybe we are due for a post on etiquette in fiction?
There is a good chance that all of these are folklore more than historical fact, but they are still pretty interesting, no?