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For other uses, see Hospitality (disambiguation).
This article is about the social phenomenon of hospitality. For the commercial activity of travel services, see Hospitality management studies and Hospitality industry.
Bringing in the boar's head. In heraldry, the boar's head was sometimes used as symbol of hospitality, often seen as representing the host's willingness to feed guests well.[1] It is likewise the symbol of a number of inns and taverns.[2]

Hospitality is the relationship between the guest and the host, or the act or practice of being hospitable. This includes the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.


derives from the Latin hospes,[3] meaning "host", "guest", or "stranger". Hospes is formed from hostis, which means "stranger" or "enemy" (the latter being where terms like "hostile" derive).

Current usage[edit]

In the West today hospitality is rarely a matter of protection and survival, and is more associated with etiquette and entertainment. However, it still involves showing respect for one's guests, providing for their needs, and treating them as equals. Cultures and subcultures vary in the extent to which one is expected to show hospitality to strangers, as opposed to personal friends or members of one's in-group.

Hospitality ethics is a discipline that studies this usage of hospitality.

Hospitality may also refer to good caring. By metonymy the Latin word 'Hospital' means a guest-chamber, guest's lodging, an inn.[4] Hospes is thus the root for the English words host (where the p was dropped for convenience of pronunciation) hospitality, hospice, hostel and hotel.

Global concepts[edit]

Classical ethic world[edit]

To the ancient Greeks, hospitality was a divine right. The host was expected to make sure the needs of his guests were seen to. The ancient Greek term xenia, or theoxenia when a god was involved, expressed this ritualized guest-friendship relation. In Greek society a person's ability to abide the laws to hospitality determined nobility and social standing.

Celtic cultures[edit]

Celtic societies valued the concept of hospitality, especially in terms of protection. A host who granted a person's request for refuge was expected not only to provide food and shelter to his/her guest, but to make sure they did not come to harm while under their care.[5]


In India hospitality is based on the principle Atithi Devo Bhava, meaning "the guest is God". This principle is shown in a number of stories where a guest is literally a god who rewards the provider of hospitality. From this stems the Indian approach of graciousness towards guests at home, and in all social situations.


Judaism believes in the principle of Hachnasat Orchim, or "welcoming guests," based largely on the example of Abraham in the Book of Genesis. Hosts provide food and drink for their guests, as well as tend to their general comfort and entertainment.[6] Additionally, many have the custom of offering their guests a chance to cool down, or warm up.[6] Others have taken so far as to offer air conditioners, either for free or for a nominal fee to their guests.[7] At the end of the visit, hosts customarily escort their guests out of their home, wishing them a safe journey.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wade, William Cecil (1898). The Symbolisms of Heraldry. London: G. Redway. pp. 31, 67. 
  2. ^ Lower, Mark Anthony (1845). The Curiosities of Heraldry. London: J.R. Smith. p. 73. 
  3. ^ C. Lewis, Elementary Latin Dictionary (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), p. 371.
  4. ^ Cassell's Latin Dictionary, revised by Marchant, J & Charles J., 260th. Thousand
  5. ^ Charles MacKinnon, Scottish Highlanders (1984, Barnes & Noble Books); page 76
  6. ^ a b Kagan, Yisrael Meir (1888). Ahavath chesed : the Love of Kindness (2nd, rev. ed. ed.). Warsaw: Feldheim. p. 284. ISBN 0873061675. 
  7. ^ Dean, Sara (2007). Guest Who's Coming for Shabbos?!. New York, Boston: Feldheim. ISBN 0873061645 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  8. ^ Babylonian Talmud Sotah, 46B

Further reading[edit]