Trestles in the medieval
trestle A trestle bridge is a bridge composed of a number of short spans supported by closely spaced frames. A trestle (sometimes tressel) is a rigid frame used as a support, historically a tripod used both as stools and to support tables at banquets. ...
(also ''tressle, tressel'' and ''threstle'') in heraldry is also used to mean hospitality, as historically the trestle was a tripod used both as a stool and a table support at banquets. Hospitality is the relationship between a guest and a host, wherein the host receives the guest with some amount of goodwill, including the reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers. Louis, chevalier de Jaucourt describes hospitality in the as the virtue of a great soul that cares for the whole universe through the ties of humanity.Jaucourt, Louis, chevalier de
The Encyclopedia of Diderot & d'Alembert Collaborative Translation Project. Translated by Sophie Bourgault. Ann Arbor: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library, 2013. Trans. of , vol. 8. Paris, 1765.
Hospitality is also the way people treat others, that is, the service of welcoming receiving guests for example in hotels. Hospitality plays a fundamental role to augment or decrease the volume of sales of an organization. Hospitality ethics is a discipline that studies this usage of hospitality.


Derives from the Latin , meaning "host", "guest", or "stranger". is formed from , which means "stranger" or "enemy" (the latter being where terms like "hostile" derive). By
metonymy Metonymy () is a figure of speech A figure of speech or rhetorical figure is a word or phrase that entails an intentional deviation from ordinary language use in order to produce a rhetoric Rhetoric () is the Art (skill), art of pe ...
, the Latin word means a guest-chamber, guest's lodging, an inn. is thus the root for the English words ''
host A host is a person responsible for guests at an event or for providing hospitality during it. Host may also refer to: Places *Host, Pennsylvania, a village in Berks County People *Jim Host (born 1937), American businessman *Michel Host (19 ...
'', ''hospitality'', ''hospice'', ''hostel'' and ''hotel''.

Historical practice

In ancient cultures hospitality involved welcoming the stranger and offering him food, shelter, and safety.

Global concepts

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a civilization belonging to a period of History of Greece, Greek history from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, antiquity ( AD 600). This era was ...
, hospitality was a right, with the host being expected to make sure the needs of his guests were met. Conversely, the guest was expected to abide by a set code of behaviour. The ancient Greek term '' xenia'', or ''theoxenia'' when a god was involved, expressed this ritualized guest-friendship relation. This ritualized relationship was codified in the
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was the presumed author of the ''Iliad'' and the ''Odyssey'', two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature. The ''Iliad'' is set during the Trojan War, the ten-year s ...

ic epics, and especially in the ''
Odyssey The ''Odyssey'' (; grc, Ὀδύσσεια, Odýsseia, ) is one of two major Ancient Greek literature, ancient Greek Epic poetry, epic poems attributed to Homer. It is one of the oldest extant works of literature still widely read by modern ...
''. In Greek society, a person's ability to abide by the laws of hospitality determined nobility and social standing. The ancient Greeks, since the time of Homer, believed that the goddess of hospitality and hearth was
Hestia In the Ancient Greek religion, Hestia (; grc-gre, Ἑστία, "hearth" or "fireside") is the virgin goddess A goddess is a female deity A deity or god is a supernatural being considered divinity, divine or sacred. The ''Oxford Dictionar ...

, one of the original six Olympians.

India and Nepal

India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest ...

Nepal Nepal (; ne, :ne:नेपाल, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in S ...

hospitality is based on the principle ''
Atithi Devo Bhav Atithi Devo Bhava, also spelled ''Atithidevo Bhava'' sa, अतिथिदेवो भव:)), English transliteration: ''You become the one who considers that Guests are equivalent to God''), prescribes a dynamic of the host–guest relationship ...
a'', meaning "the guest is God". This principle is shown in a number of stories where a guest is revealed to be a god who rewards the provider of hospitality. From this stems the Indian or Nepal practice of graciousness towards guests at home and in all social situations. The ''
Tirukkuṛaḷ The ''Tirukkuṟaḷ'' ( ta, திருக்குறள், lit=sacred verses), or shortly the ''Kural'', is a classic Tamil language text consisting of 1,330 short couplets, or Kural (poetic form), kurals, of seven words each. The text is ...
'', an ancient Indian work on
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, m ...

morality Morality (from ) is the differentiation of intention Intentions are mental states in which the agent commits themselves to a course of action. Having the plan to visit the zoo tomorrow is an example of an intention. The action plan is the ''c ...

, explains the ethics of hospitality through its verses 81 through 90, dedicating a separate chapter on it (chapter 9).


Judaism praises hospitality to strangers and guests based largely on the examples of
Abraham Abraham, ''Ibrāhīm''; el, Ἀβραάμ, translit=Abraám, name=, group= (originally Abram) is the common patriarch of the Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic ...

Lot Lot or LOT may refer to: Common meanings Areas *Land lot, an area of land *Parking lot, for automobiles *Backlot, in movie production Sets of items *Lot number, in batch production *Lot, a set of goods for sale together in an auction; or a quantit ...
in the
Book of Genesis The Book of Genesis,, "''Bərēšīṯ''", "In hebeginning" the first book of the Hebrew Bible The Hebrew Bible or Tanakh (; Hebrew: , or ), is the Biblical canon, canonical collection of Hebrew language, Hebrew scriptures, including the ...

Book of Genesis
( and ). In Hebrew, the practice is called , meaning "welcoming guests". Besides other expectations, hosts are expected to provide nourishment, comfort, and entertainment for their guests, and at the end of the visit, hosts customarily escort their guests out of their home, wishing them a safe journey. Abraham set the pace as providing 3 things: * ''Achila'' ("feeding") * ''Shtiya'' ("drinking") * ''Linah'' ("lodging") The initial letters of these Hebrew words spell
AishelAishel (or Eshel), is a Hebrew language, Hebrew word found in Book of Genesis, Genesis 21:33. The full passage says, "He
braham Braham may refer to: * Braham (surname) *Braham, Minnesota Braham is a city in Isanti County, Minnesota, Isanti and Kanabec County, Minnesota, Kanabec counties in the U.S. state of Minnesota. The population was 1,793 at the 2010 United States Cens ...
planted an ''aishel'' in Beer-Sheba, and there he proclaimed the name of Names of God in Judaism, God of the Universe." ...
(Book of Genesis, Genesis, 21:33).


In Christianity, hospitality is a Theological virtues, virtue, which is a reminder of sympathy for strangers and a rule to welcome visitors. This is a virtue found in the Old Testament, with, for example, the custom of the Maundy (foot washing), foot washing of visitors or the kiss of peace. It was taught by Jesus in the New Testament. Indeed, Jesus said that those who had welcomed a stranger had welcomed him. Some Western countries have developed a host culture for immigrants, based on the Bible. John Paul II writes: "Welcoming our brothers and sisters with care and willingness must not be limited to extraordinary occasions but must become for all believers a ''habit'' of service in their daily lives." Individuals are also treated as favored guests in the liberal Catholic tradition. Honored guests receive first parlance, religious clergy second parlance, and very important persons third parlance. Clergy and followers of Christ received parlance, and some may have turned away from hospitality, welcoming and serving, since active service requires detachment from material goods, family connections, and physical comforts. Hospitality is a meeting of minds, it is an openness to the familiar and meet to discuss and question the mystery of self, social events, experiences, nature and to God. Any guest should never made to feel or see that they are causing undue extra labor by their intrusion or presence. It is always polite to ask about religious convictions. John Paul II said: "Only those who have opened their hearts to Christ can offer a hospitality that is never formal or superficial but identified by 'gentleness' and 'reverence'." In reference to Biblical scripture as a sign of politeness to always come to the defense and aid to those who give an account of hope and those interested (see ). Christ expanded the meaning of brother and neighbor to include the stranger, that he or she be treated like a follower with and for hospitality and mutual help, if the believer in Christ or whom may be a messenger of God either needed help, circumstances made it difficult to interpret and being uncertain of whether an individual is a believer in Christ and God.


One of the main principles of Pashtunwali is Melmastia. This is the display of hospitality and profound respect to all visitors (regardless of race, religion, national affiliation or economic status) without any hope of remuneration or favour. Pashtuns will go to great lengths to show their hospitality.


Islam highly recommends one another to say peace be upon you Assalamu Alaikum to one another as Muhammad had said, Muslims are obliged to treat their guest with kindness and peace, even prisoners (in war), as Muhammad had said in authentic sources and verses from the Quran. Abu Aziz ibn Umair reported: "I was among the prisoners of war on the day of the battle of Badr. Muhammad had said, 'I enjoin you to treat the captives well.' After I accepted Islam, I was among the Ansar (Islam), Ansar (Inhabitants of Madinah) and when the time of lunch or dinner arrived, I would feed dates to the prisoners for I had been fed bread due to the command of Muhammad." Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. Good hospitality is crucial in Islam even in business. According to another report, Muhammad passed by a pile of food in the market. He put his hand inside it and felt dampness, although the surface was dry. He said:
"O owner of the food, what is this?" The man said, "It was damaged by rain, O Messenger of God." He said, "Why did you not put the rain-damaged food on top so that people could see it! Whoever cheats us is not one of us." (Saheeh Muslim)

Celtic cultures

Celtic societies also 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 for his/her guest, but to make sure they did not come to harm while under their care.

Current usage

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 ingroup.

Anthropology of hospitality

Jacques Derrida offers a model to understand hospitality that divides unconditional hospitality from conditional hospitality. Over the centuries, philosophers have devoted considerable attention to the problem of hospitality. However, hospitality offers a paradoxical situation (like language), since inclusion of those who are welcomed in the sacred law of hospitality implies that others will be rejected. Julia Kristeva alerts readers to the dangers of "perverse hospitality", which consists of taking advantage of the vulnerability of aliens to dispossess them. Hospitality serves to reduce the tension in the process of host–guest encounters, producing a liminal zone that combines curiosity about others and fear of strangers. In general terms, the meaning of hospitality centres on the belief that strangers should be assisted and protected while traveling. However, not all voices are in agreement with this concept. Professor Anthony Pagden describes how the concept of hospitality was historically manipulated to legitimate the conquest of Americas by imposing the right of free transit, which was conducive to the formation of the modern nation state. This suggests that hospitality is a political institution, which can be ideologically deformed to oppress others.Pagden, A. (1995). Lords of all the worlds: ideologies of empire in Spain, Britain and France c. 1500 – c. 1850. Yale University Press.

See also

* Asylum (antiquity) * Bread and salt * Hospitality service * Hospitality management studies * Hospitality law * Hospitium * Hotel manager * Maître d'hôtel * Nanawatai * Reciprocal altruism * Reciprocity (social psychology) * Reciprocity (cultural anthropology) * Sanctuary


Further reading

* Danny Meyer (2006) Setting the Table : The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business * Christine Jaszay (2006). ''Ethical Decision-Making in the Hospitality Industry'' * Karen Lieberman & Bruce Nissen (2006). ''Ethics in the Hospitality And Tourism Industry'' * Rosaleen Duffy and Mick Smith. ''The Ethics of Tourism Development'' * Conrad Lashley and Alison Morrison. ''In Search of Hospitality'' * ''Hospitality: A Social Lens'' by Conrad Lashley and Alison Morrison * ''The Great Good Place'' by Ray Oldenburg * ''Customer Service and the Luxury Guest'' by Paul Ruffino * Fustel de Coulanges. ''The Ancient City: Religion, Laws, and Institutions of Greece and Rome'' * Bolchazy. ''Hospitality in Antiquity: Livy's Concept of Its Humanizing Force'' * Jacques Derrida (2000). ''Of Hospitality''. Trans. Rachel Bowlby. Stanford: Stanford University Press. * James A. W. Heffernan (2014). Hospitality and Treachery in Western Literature. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. * Steve Reece (1993). ''The Stranger's Welcome: Oral Theory and the Aesthetics of the Homeric Hospitality Scene''. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press. * Mireille Rosello (2001). Postcolonial Hospitality. The Immigrant as Guest. Stanford University Press. * Clifford J. Routes (1999). ''Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century''. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. * John B. Switzer (2007). "Hospitality" in ''Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions''. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. * Immanuel Velikovsky (1982). ''Mankind in Amnesia''. Garden City, New York: Doubleday. * Christian Hänggi (2009). ''Hospitality in the Age of Media Representation''. New York/Dresden: Atropos Press. * Thomas Claviez, ed. (2013). ''The Conditions of Hospitality: Ethics, Politics, and Aesthetics on the Threshold of the Possible.'' Bronx: Fordham University Press. {{Authority control Etiquette Hospitality industry, Cultural anthropology