18 Things Every Southerners Can Confirm Is True

There are just some things southerners know to be true, like the Gospel and Mama’s recipes. If you’re a Yank traveling south, just make sure not to have words with a southerner over any of these 18 southern facts.

Sweet tea is the only kind of tea

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Get out of here with your unsweetened nonsense! If you ask for a tea south of the Mason-Dixon line, it’ll have lots of sugar. And as any good southerner knows, “Adding a little baking soda to your tea will clear away any cloudiness left from the mixing process, and it’s also thought to cut down on any lingering bitter tastes from the steeping tea bags, leaving your tea clarified and smooth and providing your get-together with one fantastic pitcher of tea.” Check Southern Living if you don’t believe it.

Manners and respect are a must

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“Yes, ma’am,” “No sir,” opening doors, and just being polite aren’t a show or something people do down there to get someone’s attention; it is a way of life. True southerners are taught to be polite and friendly, even if they aren’t the biggest fans of who they are talking to. Bless their hearts.

Family is everything

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Down in the South, it’s all about family—that’s why they take their traditions so seriously. Family defined how each community functioned, grew, and labored. Family doesn’t end at blood relatives; friends are family, too.

Homecoming mums are a big deal

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Nothing says celebration like petite teenage girls wearing giant, colorful mums. “The homecoming ‘mum’ began as a sweet Texan token of affection given to a girl by her date in honor of the high school homecoming football game and surrounding events,” according to Country Living. It’s been a tradition for decades and the parents and kids can both agree it’s pretty amazing.

College football is a religion

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College sports rivalries are a religion to southerners. You’re a Tarheel, or you’re a Blue Devil. It’s ‘Bama or Auburn. There’s no in-between. Saturdays in the fall revolve around tailgating and cheering on your team.

Casseroles are for every occasion

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Every mom and grandma has a special Pyrex dish reserved for tasty casseroles in the event of a celebration or crisis. Whether someone died, had a baby, or got married, a casserole will undoubtedly reach their door because that is how southern hospitality works.

Pearls are timeless

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You don’t have to clutch your pearls, but you should have them. The Pearl Girls writes about the Mississippi and Tennessee River Pearl Rushes, saying, “Part of our appreciation for pearls could have originated in finding them in our rivers.” Whatever the reason, pearls are timeless expressions of class and beauty in the South and are often passed down through generations.

Thank-you notes are a must

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Don’t even think about sending a thank-you text! If someone gets you a gift or does something nice for you, you’re expected to mail them a thank you note, and bonus points if it’s on monogrammed stationery. Southerners know that a thoughtful, handwritten thank-you note goes a long way.

Rocking chairs are stress relievers

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Sitting on the front porch, sipping sweet tea in a rocking chair or swing, and listening to PawPaw tell stories about “when he was a kid” can be both relaxing and enlightening. If you’re alone, listening to the sound of the rocker on wood against the whisper of the wind can put all your worries to rest. Try that on a city stoop; it won’t work!

Fried food is comfort food

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Does your kale salad take you back to your grandma’s kitchen and fill you with the warmth of 100 laughing babies? Didn’t think so. But fried chicken can. You know, with absolute certainty, that anything can be fried, eaten, and enjoyed, which is why it’s called comfort food.

Barbecue is an art form

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Grilling hot dogs and dried-out hamburgers is not barbecue. And not all barbecue is the same! Every region in the South has its own way of doing sauces, rubs, and specialties. Don’t confuse Texas BBQ with Carolina or Memphis; Tasting Table says they’re very different and beautiful in their own way.

Sundays are for church and dressing up

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Everyone in the South knows that Sunday is the Lord’s Day, and you better dress the part—hence why they call it the Bible Belt. Churches in the South are hubs for social gatherings and community outreach. For decades, southerners have crossed the church’s threshold in their “Sunday best,” but they also keep a “come-as-you-are attitude.”

Southern hospitality is real

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If you’re used to the northern chill and walking by strangers like they aren’t there, the South might hit you like a sudden sunburst through the clouds. People genuinely want to get to know you in the South; they want you to come to their home and make it feel like your own—they want to cook for you and help you out. It’s not an act, y’all.

Grits are a breakfast staple

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Knowing how to make the perfect pot of grits is an essential southern cooking skill.

You can serve them with butter, cheese, or gravy and have them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Monograms are life

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If you don’t understand why southerners monogram everything, Rutherford Source says, “Monograms add a personal touch to items and serve as family keepsakes. Not to mention they add a touch of old-school charm to nearly everything,” from tumblers to sweatshirts, pillowcases, and even underwear. Modern southern monograms’ bright colors and patterns dominate the market for customized items below the Mason-Dixon Line.

The heat and humidity are no joke

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Southerners know the feeling of peeling your sticky skin bit by bit from the boiling leather seats of a car in July and women know the exact amount of hairspray needed to keep the frizz at bay. The reason sweet tea became popular was likely due to the hot southern climate and the need for a cold, refreshing drink.

Pickup trucks are essential

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There’s a reason why there are so many country songs about pickup trucks; owning a pickup truck is almost a rite of passage into southern adulthood. They make sense for those who may go from commuting to work to hauling some hay.

Community is key

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Southern communities, especially rural ones, tend to be tight-knit, where everyone knows each other. Events like church potlucks, town festivals, and football games help bring the community together, and neighbors are there to help in times of need.

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