Filoxenia

If there is one Greek word that everyone should know...

Xenia means hospitality, or guest-friendship, especially to guests who have traveled.

One of the many names of the ancient Greek god Zeus who was the protector of hospitality [Φιλοξενία/ Philoxenia] and the afar travelers.

Filoxenia today can be something as simple as a treat for the guest

In Ancient Greece, hospitality was considered an act of virtue. The foreigners were protected by Xenios Zeus and Athena Xenia, as well as the Dioscuri Castor and Polydeuces. There was a divine requirement for the care of strangers and their mistreatment was considered a sin. The hospitality followed a ritual and was provided to any foreigner, who, regardless of the class he belonged to, could stay in a special room in the “ξενώνα/xenona”, the guestroom.

Cretan Hospitality

Hospitality had considerable social power because it could connect people of any class, even ordinary citizens with kings.

In the years of Homer, in whatever house a stranger went, he would find hospitality.

This was the case in all the Cities and States of Greece, although the Thessalians and the Athenians were especially famous for their hospitable feelings.

Of course, the foreigner of Homer’s time was not a tourist, but a messenger, an exile, a traveler, etc.

Respect and honor, from host to guest

The acceptance of a foreigner for hospitality was called “εστίαν/estian” or “ξενίζειν/xenizin” or “ξενοδοχείν/hotel”.

Upon arrival, the stranger wished the host family and received gifts upon departure. When a stranger appeared, the owner of the house or in the case according to the ancient Greeks “ξενοδόχος/hotelier” or “στεγανόμος/waterer”, invited him to his house and set a meal in his honor.

“Filoxenia is literally translated as being "friendly with the stranger" but it is a lot deeper than that...”

In ancient Greece hospitality was a value ranking high on the list of virtues – there was great respect and honor bestowed from host to guest. “Filoxenia” today can be something as simple as a smile, helping a stranded motorist, buying a meal for a homeless person or opening your home to friends and family. Filoxenia is a value that can be practiced everyday at home, at work and everywhere else.