Image Credits: photographed by Miller Mobley

Growing up in the South, I always thought my life and traditions were “normal.” It wasn’t until I was older, married a mid-westerner, and even meeting people from around the states and world, that I realized that my traditions may seem weird to others. So I am here to enlighten people to our traditions, what they mean, and why we carry on the traditions.

Changing Your Name When You Get Married

Plenty of people change their last name when they get married, but in the South, many of us choose to change our names in a different way. Instead of chopping off our last names and replacing it with our partner’s, we chop off our middle names and put our maiden names in their place. That way, we don’t lose our last names.

For example: Jane Nicole Smith would become Jane Smith Jones.

Why do we do this? Our last names are our identifiers. In the South, they are something we are very proud of. The thought of losing my maiden name would’ve been devastating. In fact, even though I am moving it to my middle name, it is still extremely sad. However, we love the tradition. While this isn’t a tradition exclusive to the South, it is definitely more common in the South.

The blue ceilings

This is mainly a Carolina low country and Georgia tradition. The color of porch ceilings are haint blue. This is a tradition that came from Gullah folklore. It would protect people from hauntings because ghosts can’t move through water and the ceiling looked like water. It is also said that certain bugs don’t like that color so they won’t create their homes on your ceilings. It has created for gorgeous porches and a fun story to share.

Wearing seersucker all year long

Seersucker isn’t a regional thing however, it is more prominent in the South. Seersucker is a thin cotton-material that doesn’t stick to you when you sweat in the summer. It’s a favorite in the Southern states because it’s lightweight, but still looks nice. You can find someone in seersucker wherever you go, especially in church or at brunch. We don’t always wear it to be fashionable; sometimes, it truly is just the smart thing to do because of that southern heat, y’all. 

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Saying Sir and Ma’am even when you ask us to stop

Listen, you can say “stop calling me Mrs. _______” or “you don’t have to call me ma’am/sir” but I will never stop calling you that. Mainly because I am not old enough for my Mom to chastise me about manners but also because it is a respect thing. I say “sir” and “ma’am” and “Mr./Mrs.” because I respect your position as my elder or as someone who is my equal. In some cases, we even say it to children. We don’t say it because we want you to feel old, but because we think highly of you.

Shagging

No, not the Austin Powers kind but the dancing kind. Carolina beach music is a specific style of music that you find down on the coast of the Carolinas. It’s happy, uplifting, and dance music. Shagging is a dance style that is specific to our region, but has been spread throughout the nation because it is so widely adored down in the Carolinas. The dance is a partner step that looks similar to the jitterbug but just a little bit slower. 

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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