America is called the melting pot because, as a nation, we are made up hundreds of nationalities, backgrounds and customs. But, fortunately, we somehow manage to come together in our little corners of the world and create a culture that is all our own. After 400 years, Virginia has seen changes and evolutions in her culture – but there are definitely a few little quirks and oddities that remain. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty proud of the things that make me a Virginian…even if they are a little weird.
1. We streak the lawn, we kiss on bridges, we pit cadets against civilians in the snow…and the list goes on. I am talking, of course, about our college traditions.
From streaking the lawn and kissing the bum of Homer's statue at UVA, to the traditional cadets vs. civilians snowball fight on the drillfield at Virginia Tech, to locking down our love life by kissing on the Crim Dell Bridge at William and Mary, Virginia's colleges are full of traditions and ceremonies - from weird to wild to romantic.
2. We support the Washington Redskins. It's a complicated love affair, but it's ours.
And yes, we know they are the WASHINGTON Redskins. But we do not care. We also know they play in Maryland. Still, don’t care. HTTR. End of discussion.
3. Even with some of the most beautiful coastline in the world, we have a strange obsession with the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (#OBX..woohoo!!)
Don't get me wrong - we also take advantage of our beautiful beaches. We love Virginia Beach and the Eastern Shore. But somehow, many, many, MANY Virginians find themselves heading to OBX for a getaway.
4. We haven't quite let go of the war of north vs. south…that's Northern Virginia and Southern Virginia to be exact.
The Great North vs. South (vs. East vs. West) Debate rages on in Virginia as we all like to claim that our corner of the state, with its unique culture, customs and accent is the best.
5. And speaking of accents, WE don't have an accent. Everyone else does.
I don't know why this is. Can we not hear ourselves? The funny thing is that we like to talk about how OTHER parts of Virginia have accents but we most certainly do not. It's one of life's simple ironies.
6. We have a strange thing for pineapples.
It’s hard to say exactly how a fruit indigenous to South America ended up being a significant part of colonial design, decoration and architecture in Virginia – but it did. Today, especially in Williamsburg, pineapples are a traditional part of the Christmas holiday décor, as well as serving as an ongoing symbol for Virginia and as a sign of welcome.
7. We think nothing of playing dress-up.
Re-enactments, from full scale Civil War battles to period costumes at local fairs or historical homes, are just part of life in Virginia.
8. We don't always give the most direct answers when it comes to geography.
You don’t ask a Virginian where they’re from without expecting a detailed explanation. We’re not just “from Virginia.” We’re either from “DC”, but actually Northern Virginia, but actually a suburb that’s just outside of another suburb that maybe you’ve heard of. Or we’re from Southern Virginia, but it’s an hour outside of Richmond, just east of another town. Or we’re from Southwest Virginia. No, no, no, not Southern WEST Virginia. [Insert detailed explanation here.] Sigh.
9. We like to douse a perfectly good piece of ham in coffee and pork drippings (a.k.a. Red-Eye Gravy).
It sounds sketchy, but ham and red-eye gravy is a Virginia classic. Add some grits or mashed potatoes on the side and you've got a proper meal.
10. We love our crabs.
If you grew up anywhere near the Chesapeake Bay or the Potomac River, chances are you’ve known how to crack and pick a crab from the time you could walk. And if you’ve ever sailed the inlets of the Potomac or Chesapeake, you know how to weave in and out of the “crab pots” that decorate the water as far as the eye can see.
11. And we really, REALLY love our Oysters…roasted, baked or raw.
You have to wonder who first looked at an oyster and said, "Hey, that's a slimy mess…I think I'll eat it." But oysters have been part of the Virginia diet beginning with Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Today we are known as the Oyster Capital of the East, with 7 oyster regions, oyster-themed festivals and events and the world’s only Oyster Museum on Chincoteague Island.
12. We put peanuts in our Coke.
Step 1: Open a bag of peanuts. Step 2: Pour peanuts into your Coke. Step 3: Enjoy. I have to admit, I've never understood it, but it's just how things are done.
13. We say, “Yes, Ma’am”, even if the person is younger and it annoys them. And we do this because we can picture our mother’s face if we didn’t.
The weirdest thing is that this would be considered weird. Unfortunately, these days, too many folks don't remember that manners matter…thankfully, most Virginians haven't forgotten.
14. We don't even notice that our flag has a half-naked woman on it.
Our flag, of course, shows “Virtue” stomping on Tyranny. And yes, she's having a bit of a wardrobe malfunction, but, hey, dress standards were different back then.
15. We will order a Coke when standing in front of a Pepsi fountain
And then we’ll look confused when the waitress says, “Is Pepsi, OK?” Of course it is. Isn’t that what we just ordered?
Weird is definitely a relative term. Personally, I think that these are just a few of the things that make us special, but hey, I’m a Virginian. What are some things we may have left off of our list? Let us know what you think sets Virginia apart in the comments below!