The Lost Art of Waving- It’s a Southern Thing

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The Lost Art of Waving- It's a Southern Thing

The Lost Art of Waving- It’s a Southern Thing

Almost thirty years ago when visiting my husbands hometown in the South, I noticed many differences between the common folk (locals) and the tourist (Yankees- AKA me). One of the main things that stood out was their friendliness and Southern Hospitality. I was convinced everyone was related because they all called each other honey, darling, and sweetheart; words that were reserved for those closest to us in the northern states.

When traveling down the roads of memory lane I noticed my husband kept waving to everyone that we passed by, at first I didn’t pay it a lot of attention but then I started to get a jealous tinge because happenstance, most of the people he was waving to were women. “Do you know her? Was she a girlfriend? What is her name?” He replied “that is what you do down South, you’re friendly to each other and wave when you pass someone” Well I never! I was certain he was lying and covering up some sort of past life he didn’t want me to be a part of.  I spent a great deal of people watching for the duration of our vacation, low and behold, everyone was doing this waving thing. Either everyone knew everyone on a first name basis or my husband was actually telling the truth, people down South are friendly to strangers and go out of their way to express this kindness.

A wave is a movement of the hand that people commonly use to greet each other but can also be used to say goodbye, merely acknowledge another’s presence

Shortly after our return I thought long and hard and decided I wanted to raise my family in a town where children respect adults, doors are held open for each other, ‘mam’ and ‘sir’ are still used, and strangers wave to each other. So I made the move and completely embraced myself in the Southern culture, laid-back lifestyle, waving and y’all.

Now I am the one who gets the laugh when my family comes from out of town and ask why I am waving to everyone, holding doors open and my children call them “Mam and Sir”, it’s a Southern Thang and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


  1. Julie Pruett on June 16, 2016 at 11:11 pm
    I loved this story.... it was warm and respectful. It reminded me of my grandfather and how when driving down the road he would take his pointer finger and kind of wave it toward an oncoming driver. (We lived in a farming community where everyone pretty much knew everyone else,) I thought it was a friendly endearing greeting. It almost made you feel "safe" and at ease, especially when you would ask "who was that?" Grandpa would say it was a local farmer, or a neighbor that had asked him to plow their garden. Thank you for these heartwarming stories that bring back happy memories!
    • The Coastal Homestead on June 16, 2016 at 11:48 pm
      Julie, Thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to leave a reply. I grew up in a very small village and everyone did know everyone so we would wave, but if we went into another city- no such thing. I love showing this small gesture of recognition and kindness to others, I think everyone should- it would make the world a better place :-)
  2. Laurie on June 19, 2016 at 9:11 pm
    Oh WOW!! I LOVE this post!!! I am definitely from the south...and I had NO idea that people everywhere DIDN'T wave to each other!! I really enjoyed your take on it and more importantly, your appreciation of it!!! I love being a Southerner!!!
    • Susan on June 20, 2016 at 5:41 am
      I loved your story..I have traveled to many different areas of the country and also have witnessed similar gestures in the south. I really enjoyed the greetings and welcoming front porches of the south. When my friends ask me about the different places I have traveled I always comment on the friendliest of the south and how they make you feel right at home from that first "welcome ya'all to tge heartfelt good by
  3. Elizabeth on October 21, 2016 at 5:35 am
    I live in Michigan but in a rural area and we can always tell the people who moved here from some city. They don't wave. They're confused when we wave. They actually look shocked when the checkout girl at the market calls them "Sugar." I think this may be a country vs. city thing rather than North and South. But no matter the reason I love it!
  4. Erny on June 7, 2017 at 11:13 pm
    A beutifull aproach to the golden rule. I loved it

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