21 Things People Do in the South That Northerners Won’t Understand

Written By Jill Taylor

The South has its own special charm, traditions, and lifestyle that might seem strange to Northerners. Many of these quirks leave those from up north wondering what it’s all about. Here are 21 things people do in the South that Northerners won’t understand.

Sweet Tea Obsession

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According to Garden and Gun, sweet tea is loved in the South because sugar used to be a preservative for food, and now they love a sweet taste. Northerners might think it’s too sweet, but Southerners love it with every meal, especially during hot summers. This cold, sugary beverage is a must-have in both homes and restaurants.

SEC Football Fandom

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One thing Northerners find hard to understand is the Southerner’s love for sports, especially football. College football in the SEC is like a religion and game days are massive, with tailgating and die-hard support for teams. People from up north might be shocked by the intense loyalty and rivalries here.

Saying “Y’all”

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“Y’all” isn’t just a contraction, it’s seen as a classic part of Southern culture. The word is a friendly and inclusive way to talk to groups and while Northerners might find it odd, it really reflects the warm hospitality of the South. It’s a small word with a big sense of community and welcome.

Bless Your Heart

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This phrase can be confusing, especially to Northerners. For those living in the South, it’s a versatile expression of sympathy, pity, or passive-aggressiveness. If you don’t live in the South, then you could misunderstand its true meaning by thinking it’s always a kind remark, while it can sometimes be a gentle insult.

Front Porch Sitting

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Southerners love their porches and use them to hang out. Sitting outside, chatting with neighbors, or just watching the world go by is a favorite way to relax. Those living in the north might not get why this laid-back activity is so appealing, but it’s a cherished tradition down south.

Grits at Breakfast

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Grits are a popular Southern breakfast, usually served with butter, cheese, or shrimp. This corn dish is cozy and filling. For someone from the North, it might seem like a weird swap for oatmeal or toast, but it’s a tasty and comforting choice.

Boiled Peanuts

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One favorite Southern snack is boiled peanuts, often found at roadside stands or fairs. They’re soft and salty, quite different from the roasted peanuts common up North. People from the North might think they’re a bit strange in texture and taste, but they’re a beloved treat in the South.

Driving Everywhere

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In the South, public transportation isn’t as common, so people rely on cars a lot. They love the road trip culture and often drive long distances for daily outings. All this driving might surprise Northerners who are used to subways and buses, especially if they’re living in a large city.

Church on Sunday

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Going to church is a big deal in the South, with lots of folks attending every Sunday. The social side, like potlucks and gatherings, is just as important as the spiritual side. This kind of regular attendance isn’t as common up North and is therefore something Northerners may find strange.

Monogram Everything

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In the South, monogramming is super popular. People put their initials on everything, from clothes to home decor. It’s a way to show off a bit of personal flair. Northerners might find it strange since they don’t have the same love for personalization.

Southern Politeness

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Southern manners are legendary, with phrases like “yes ma’am” and “no sir” taught from a young age. This is how people are taught to address anyone older than them. Politeness and respect are deeply ingrained in Southern culture, which might come off as overly formal to those from the North.

Fried Food Galore

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Northerners don’t get the South’s love for fried food. Frying food is an art form in the South, extending far beyond chicken to include pickles, green tomatoes, and even desserts. Northerners may not understand the appeal of this crispy cuisine, often considering it too indulgent.

Slow Living

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Life moves at a slower pace in the South. People take their time to enjoy the moment, whether it’s a conversation, a meal, or a walk. Northerners, used to a faster tempo, might find this leisurely lifestyle hard to adjust to, especially if they live in a city.

Southern Hospitality

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The genuine friendliness and hospitality of Southerners can be surprising. Visitors are treated like family, and there’s always an open invitation to join for a meal or a chat. This warmth can be unexpected for those from the more reserved North who are reluctant to invite strangers into their homes.

Big Family Gatherings

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Something that’s incredibly important to Southerners is family, with large gatherings common for holidays and special occasions. These events are filled with food, laughter, and storytelling, something all Southerners look forward to. Northerners might be unaccustomed to such frequent and extensive family interactions.

Hunting Season Traditions

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Something that’s a popular pastime in the South is hunting, with specific seasons dedicated to various game. It’s a tradition passed down through generations and seen as a skill. Northerners might not understand the cultural significance and community aspects of hunting.

Dressing for the Occasion

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Southerners often dress more formally for events like church, dinners, and even shopping trips. There’s a pride in appearance that might seem out of place to Northerners, who often prefer more casual attire. You won’t catch a Southerner heading out in their pajamas.

Respect for Elders

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A core value in the South is to respect your elders. Young people are taught to address their seniors with titles and show deference in conversations and actions. This level of respect can be surprising to those from regions where informal interactions are the norm.

Year-Round Gardening

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The Southern climate allows for year-round gardening, which many Southerners take full advantage of. Fresh produce and beautiful flowers are a common sight in gardens, which become a home owner’s pride and joy. Northerners, dealing with harsher winters, might envy this perpetual growing season.

Celebrating Everything

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In the South, every occasion is a reason to celebrate, from minor holidays to personal milestones. There’ll always be huge birthday parties and weddings. These celebrations are often elaborate, with plenty of food and festivities. Northerners might find this enthusiasm for frequent parties unusual.

Southern Accents

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Northerners may find it difficult to understand the variety of Southern accents. Each region within the South has its own distinct twang, which can sometimes be hard to decipher. This linguistic diversity is a rich part of Southern culture and something that isn’t so common in the North.

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