There are some really amazing places in the world. Places that are full of culture, tradition, and beauty. I’ve done my fair bit of traveling and there’s one place that I just can’t see myself without: the South. From the mountains of Tennessee, to the beautiful beaches of Florida, to the bayous of Louisiana, and the thousands of places in between, there’s something about the South that stays with you. Maybe it’s the heritage in the sprawling plantations of South Carolina or the sweetness of the peaches from Georgia. Whatever it is that makes someone love the South, there are a few things that can be found in every city, every one-stop-light-town, and every soul that lives in the South.
1. Sweet Tea
Truly only found in the South, sweet tea is basically a way of life. It’s offered in every restaurant, made in every home, and can never have enough sugar. For those of you who aren’t familiar with sweet tea, yes, it is drunk at nearly every meal, including breakfast. Southerners drink it like water. After all, it’s basically just as easy to find.
You hear all the time from older generations how our generation has lost all respect for their elders and have no manners anymore. Well, for the believers of this sentiment, just travel south of the Mason-Dixon a few miles and I guarantee that you’ll be proved wrong. Everyone says “yes ma’am and no sir” to their elders, and “please and thank you” to literally everyone. Doors aren’t just held open on dates, they’re held open even if you’re halfway down the block. We Southerners like to mind our P’s & Q’s.
I pity the soul who has never had food Southern style. Or food that’s only found in the South. Until a few weeks ago, I had no clue that fried okra wasn’t a thing across the country. But apparently, there are a lot of things that are local to the South. Like biscuits and gravy. What??? But true. I have at least two West Coast friends who have never had biscuits and gravy. I basically grew up on that stuff. Included in this list are: grits, boiled peanuts, fried green tomatoes, and of course we’re perhaps most famous for our BBQ and fried chicken.
Ha! This is one of my favorites because there have definitely been times where I get a few stares from those unfamiliar with a few key Southern phrases. For example, “I’m gonna tan your hide.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard this from my parents. Translation? I’m gonna spank you until it hurts to sit down. Also, a fan favorite, “yall.” Some people but an apostrophe in there, I don’t, it really just depends. “Bless your heart” can be used two different ways. One is when someone actually pities your poor soul. The other is typically used as a condescending statement about how stupid you truly are. My personal favorite? “I’ll do it for a Yankee dime.” Translation: I’ll do it for a kiss. As a kid, my grandma always promised me a Yankee dime if I went and picked apples for her. Imagine my dismay when all I got was a peck on the cheek instead of an actual dime.
I’m just going to go ahead and say it: nobody does football quite like the South, and that’s just the simple truth. You can’t beat the tradition, the all day tailgates, the insanely loyal fans, or the rivalries. Some have said that tradition and rivalry are the very lifeblood of Southern football, particularly the SEC. Rolling Toomer’s Corner, running through the “T” at Neyland Stadium, perfecting the Gator Chomp, screaming Rammer Jammer at the top of your voice, and Locking the Vaught are perhaps some of the most well-known and most beloved of traditions, just to name a few. Let’s not get started on the rivalries because the list just goes on based off history, incidents, fans, and downright hatred. Think they aren’t real? I know plenty of couples who have to watch football games in different houses to keep their relationships together.
Oh, the accents. You can’t really hear accents if you’re from the South, unless someone just has a super strong accent. And there is a difference between having a country accent and having a Southern accent. If you pay close attention, each state has their own particular brand of accent. I can almost always tell when someone is from Mississippi. Their accents are normally the strongest out of everyones. Georgia’s has this slow draw to it, and Louisiana typically has a subtle Cajun influence. Types of accents aside, it’s pretty hilarious when someone not from the South asks you to repeat a word because they just want to hear your accent, which you didn’t even realize you had. It’s like when you stumble across people from another country, and you just want to listen to them talk for the sole purpose of hearing their accent. Ditto for the South. Or so I’ve been told by someone from New Zealand.