Symbols of Hospitality

Charleston has this amazing pineapple fountain to symbolize it's famous hospitality.

Charleston has this amazing pineapple fountain to symbolize it’s famous hospitality.

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.


Courting Candle:





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?

Spoiler Alert! Are Spoilers Rude?

The ultimate spoiler. [Via]

Dear Uncommon Courtesy,

What is the etiquette on posting TV spoilers on social media? I thought you had to wait until at least the following day? A guy in my feed posted something about Game of Thrones before I got a chance to watch it that same night!


Totally Spoiled


Official Etiquette:

Both Miss Manners and the Emily Post Institute say that the onus is on you to avoid spoilers.

Our Take:

Victoria:  Okay, so spoilers. I have people on my Facebook wall threatening to de-friend other people for posting Game of Thrones spoilers. This is serious business! And should be an interesting discussion because I HATE spoilers and I know you don’t mind them. I think definitely you shouldn’t post anything at all until the episode has aired in all markets (for tv).

Jaya: Definitely, and also I like the point that sometimes popular shows air at the same time. Some people say that if you “really care” you’ll watch the show as soon as it airs, but maybe you wanted to watch two shows and DVR’ed one, and you think you’re safe if you watch it immediately after!

Victoria Hahah just avoid the internet entirely until you’ve watched everything. Ugh no. Personally, I don’t think you should post a spoiler in any kind of headline, ever.

Jaya:  Definitely not in headlines, but that’s more of a journalistic integrity thing. I do think some of this is self preservation. The chances of spoilers happening on social media is so high for really popular shows, so if not being spoiled is important to you, maybe avoid it. Though I don’t want to victim blame here…

Victoria Like it’s fine to say OMG GAME OF THRONES TONIGHT WAS INSANE but not like, this THING happened.

Jaya:  And even writing SPOILER ALERT: SO AND SO DIED is bad.  You read those words at the same time, that spoiler alert does nothing.

Victoria Yeah! I hate sneaky spoilers too- I once had something spoiled for me in a discussion of something completely unrelated.

Jaya:  Within a reasonable time frame, or way after the fact?

Victoria Waaaay after, but still.

Jaya:  I mean, I had lots of stuff in The Wire spoiled for me, but it aired 10 years ago, I should not expect people to not talk about it.

Victoria Yeah, I agree. And I mean, on the internet, its one thing. But I think if you are talking about something with actual people in person, it’s polite to ask “have you seen this, are you going to see it, do you mind if I talk about spoilers?”

Jaya:  I agree to an extent, but I do think there is a statue of limitations. Everyone is busy and may not have gotten around to consuming a show or movie or book they want to consume, but do you have to do it for everything? I haven’t seen Godfather II, should people check with me before discussing a famous movie that came out 40 years ago? If I’m discussing a mutually-enjoyed TV show with a friend, do I have to announce to everyone within earshot that they may want to move to another room?

Victoria I think that it’s fine to talk about old stuff in a general way, but you should still try to avoid real “spoilers” in the sense of things that actually spoil a big twist or surprise. And honestly, I think people do this pretty naturally.

Jaya:  True. I guess part of this conversation taps into my dislike of the idea of “spoilers” in general. I tend to think that a good story should not rely on a “twist,” and that the journey of an art form, not finding out what happens at the end, is what matters. Even if you know every detail of what happens in a story, you do not know how that story is told, and that is the true joy of art. But I get that not everyone thinks that way.

Victoria I see your point with that.

Jaya:  And I make an effort not to reveal anything that isn’t general cultural knowledge. But I’m sorry but if you don’t know the twist of The Sixth Sense you’ll just have to know it now.

Victoria Yeah, I guess some major things are such a cliche at this point that they aren’t even really spoilers. But man, if you are talking about a movie and someone says “I haven’t seen that yet” and you deliberately spoil it- that’s just not cool,

Jaya:  Oh yeah! That’s a dick move. But if you’re talking about Citizen Kane, and reveal something, and a person shouts “UGH way to go dude, I haven’t seen it,” I don’t think that’s my fault.  I think the longer a certain piece of media has been out, the more it’s on you to be vigilant about not getting spoiled.

Victoria And I personally am pretty good at catching them- I saw The Wire without any spoilers! Because I was hyper vigilant about not reading ANYTHING about The Wire, or like, Baltimore in general.

Jaya:  Hahaha, yeah! Like if you know you’re gonna watch The Wire, and someone brings it up, it may be your job to remove yourself from the conversation. Obviously this is harder on social media when things just pop up, but also maybe have a sense of humor. There was a Portlandia sketch that “spoiled” one Wire point for me. Oh well, it’s been 10 years, I’ve had enough time. And it’s not like knowing it made the show worse.

Victoria Yeah, I have actually sought out things after they were spoiled because it made them sound more interesting than I had originally thought!

Jaya:  Hahahaha, yeah! that’s the flip side of spoilers! But yeah, with social media, definitely not that day for TV shows, or probably the first week or two a movie is out. Books I don’t know.

Victoria: Yeah, books, maybe a few months?

Jaya:  Also I feel like books are so complicated that if you say “omg I can’t believe Anna didn’t get the abortion in This Novel” I’d be like okay, I don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Victoria Yeah, the only major book spoiler i can think of is the big Harry Potter one.

Jaya:  You mean that Ron is the last horcrux?

Victoria Basically.