Hospitality is one of the oldest values in many cultures. The word comes from roots meaning to receive or entertain guests. Hospitality meant welcoming strangers to one’s home, making sure they were cared for and safe. We’ve extended this to mean other ways in which we are open to people or ideas, often with warmth and acceptance. These quotes explore some of the meanings of hospitality.

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There is no beautifier of complexion, or form, or behavior, like the wish to scatter joy and not pain around us. ‘Tis good to give a stranger a meal, or a night’s lodging. ‘Tis better to be hospitable to his good meaning and thought, and give courage to a companion. We must be as courteous to a man as we are to a picture, which we are willing to give the advantage of a good light.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let not the emphasis of hospitality lie in bed and board; but let truth and love and honor and courtesy flow in all thy deeds.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hospitality consists in a little fire, a little food, and an immense quiet.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my doctrine: Give every other human being every right you claim for yourself. Keep your mind open to the influences of nature. Receive new thoughts with hospitality. Let us advance.

— Robert Green Ingersoll

… Nashville is such a fantastic city, with this great creative music energy. Then there’s that Southern hospitality, you can’t beat that.

— Sam Palladio

There are hermit souls that live withdrawn
In the place of their self-content;
There are souls like stars that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran,–
But let me live by the side of the road,
And be a friend to man.

— Sam Walter Foss

Mighty proud I am that I am able to have a spare bed for my friends.

— Samuel Pepys

Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.

— Samuel Pepys

True hospitality is a delicate balance of warmth and form.

— Sheila Ostrander

If you are a dreamer come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar
A hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer
If you’re a pretender come sit by my fire
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Come in!
Come in!

— Shel Silverstein

A couple you do not recognize – visitors, strangers – come to the door. How are you to view these people and what is your responsibility towards them? … To assume that these visitors are really like you, that there are no real difference between you and them, and that the highest goal possible is that you and the other members of your congregation will become intimate friends with them and invite them into the private spaces of your life.

— Thomas G. Long

Culture is simply the hospitality of the intellect. Your mind is open to new ideas and larger views; when they enter, you know how to receive them, and to entertain, to be entertained, and take what they have to offer without allowing them to dominate you.

— Tom Kettle

There is no hospitality like understanding.

— Vanna Bonta

Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.

— Walt Disney

Christmas! ‘Tis the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial fire of charity in the heart.

— Washington Irving

There is an emanation from the heart in genuine hospitality which cannot be described, but is immediately felt and puts the stranger at once at his ease.

— Washington Irving
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