Welcome to Greece! Opa!

4 December 2019

Hospitality («philoxenia» in greek) is a basic characteristic of greek culture since antiquity.

by Kristallenia Gavriilidou

It is associated with the welcome of a foreigner («xenos» in greek), the offering of food and shelter and the creation of a feeling of safety.

If we check the etymology of the word, it comes from two words: «philo» that means love and «xenos». In english the word hospitality contains the word hospital as hospitality is a cure, and includes the care and attention of a foreigner in someone’s home making him feel like a friend instead of a foreigner. The hospitality of a foreigner was called «estian» or «xenizein» or «xenodoxein».

Greek people are known for their hospitality. In Homer’s time, the foreigner was not a tourist, but a messenger, an «exiled» or a traveler. Foreigners were protected by Xenios Zeus and Athina Xenia. Hospitality used to follow a certain ritual and the guest regardless his social status, received a special treatment and a room was given to him, the guestroom, «xenonas» in greek.


In Ancient Greece hospitality was an act of virtue. It was believed that the foreigners were sent by the Gods, for that so they were considered to be sacred and respected. There was a divine requirement for the care of the foreigners and their inappropriate treatment was considered as a sin.