The Concept of Philoxenia in Greek Hospitality

The Vlachs created ‘philoxenia,’ offering generosity and shelter despite social class or background – the direct translation means turning strangers into friends. Vlach communities provide refuge, food, and drink to weary travelers passing through villages. Today, the true pillars of Greek hospitality start with a meal, kindness, and conversation – right here at Bar Vlaha.

Greek communities are very kind, and in ancient times it was common for a villager to go to the home of a foreigner or visitor with a bag of fresh tomatoes. This form of hospitality is displayed in ways such as helping a stranger in need or buying food for a homeless person. 

Why Greeks Take Hospitality Seriously

In Greece, an ancient belief is that a visitor can be one of their gods in disguise. Everyone who identifies as Greek or represents their beliefs welcomes guests, regardless of their title and societal position. In the past, the ancient Greek god Zeus punished people who were found not to be hospitable – he would disguise himself as a “normal person” and arrive at the doorstep of villagers for food and shelter. Those who turned him down were shunned from the village. 

The ancient Greeks believed that their acts of kindness and hospitality would lead to favor in the sight of Zeus and other gods. In ancient Greece, the most prosperous people were very hospitable and generous with their wealth, increasing the passion for hospitality among all citizens.

Bar Vlaha and Philoxenia in Brookline, MA 

Experience genuine Vlach hospitality in our Greek home in the heart of Brookline, MA, right off Beacon St. With an interior reflecting the culture of the Vlach community and a stone oven and open charcoal grill honoring the cooking and baking as communal foundations, Bar Vlaha will feel like a step right into Greece. 

Bar Vlaha tells the story of the Vlach people, the founders of hospitality and Greek cooking. A nomadic group of shepherds who created and nurtured the roots of Hellenic cooking as we know it. Straying from the tried-and-true island cuisine, we’re rediscovering Greek fare sourced from rural mountains, lakes, and villages of Central and Northern Greece. Visit us today; make reservations here to find a table

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