1. Endless summer
The heat is something Alabamians complain about . . . until they’re not in Alabama anymore.
The hot-hot summers mean that the winter isn’t so cold, and temperatures are pretty tolerable all year around. Alabamians are notorious for wearing heavy winter gear in not-so-cold winter temperatures. (A parka in 40-degree weather? Really?)
When you leave the state behind, the heat doesn’t go with you you’ll experience staggeringly cooler temperatures in other parts of the world. It’s safe to say that Alabamians don’t know what true, sustained cold is, even if there’s a little dusting of snow here and there. That warmth is something you’ll long for in the dead of winter when, when it’s a -40 degree wind chill just outside your door.
2. The lack of snow and ice.
Alabama has its share of bad weather: thunderstorms, squalls, hail, and hurricanes. It’s not a cakewalk living in a place where extreme weather is never far afield. However, it’s only extreme in one direction. The state doesn’t really experience ice storms. Snow is practically a myth (no abominable snowmen here)!
That means that Alabamians don’t understand the perils of winter driving. The state isn’t prepared for it, because it doesn’t often happen. No salting the roads with brine. No rust maintenance on cars. No winter tires. No black ice.
3. Sandy, white beaches
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There are other white beaches around, but they’re pretty rare outside of Florida. The Atlantic coast is mostly gray sand and stone. The Alaskan coast is about the same, and the water is far too cold to really enjoy it.
Gulf Shores is Alabama’s own little slice of paradise. It’s a place Alabamians frequent during the spring and summer months to sunbathe and relax, all as part of an in-state getaway. You can visit other beaches when you leave, but you’ll never find one quite like it.
4. Living a cultural civics lesson
Whether you’re for or against any of the civil liberties being thrown around in politics today, Alabama culture is practically a modern-day civics lesson. It’s a very pronounced part of the cultural history, with the Civil Rights Movement, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and other major black activists rising out of the south in one of the most defining eras of Southern politics.
In other states, this sort of things gets mentioned, but in Alabama, that heritage surrounds you all the time. It permeates everything, and it’s a conversation far from over.
5. The rivalry culture
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Other states have their sports and their teams and their own major events, but nearly all of them pale when compared to the insanity that shows up every year around November. Alabamians love their college ball, more so than almost any other state. The Michigan – Ohio State thing can be a close, but it’s just not the same.
6. Southern hospitality
Proprietary and hospitality are big things in Alabama. It’s almost biblical, right up there with, “Love thy neighbor.”
In Alabama, manners and politeness are more about respect than about knowing which fork to use at the dinner table. If you’ve been around it all your life and you leave, that sense of propriety doesn’t cross the state line. It’s something you’ll miss when you’re gone.
7. Deep fried food
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Someone else will have to explain why deep fried food is the cultural staple it is, but a fat frier is almost always at home in an Alabama kitchen. Sometimes, even if you’re a health nut, you just want that greasy, terrible-for-you, feel-good food for your cheat day.
Leaving the state, that becomes much more rare the farther north or west you go. Sure, you’ll find fast food joints dropping their fries in grease but for all those random, homemade Alabama delicacies that you can get at the mom and pop diner down the road? Yeah, those are gone baby, gone.
8. General Alabama weirdness
Most states are a little weird, but Alabama is a particular kind of strange. There’s a statue to the boll weevil, the cotton-eating insect that got the state out of cotton production. There’s the Vulcan statue (the largest cast iron statue in the world), celebrating industry. You’ll find a giant chair in Anniston, Alabama.
Every little state has their quirks, but Alabama’s quirks are insights into its unique cultural heritage as a classic anchor in deep south statehood. Except for the giant chair. That was just an office supply chain mogul with some steel to spare and a big seated dream. (I’ve been saving that one.)
9. Camo culture
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It’s everywhere in Alabama, brought forth from the halls of the Bass Pro Shop like a year-round Christmas decoration that all wild forest critters know to fear: camouflage.
In Alabama, you’ll see it on trucks, cars, jackets, houses, laptops, office supplies. Anywhere, really. Designs range from US Woodland to RealTree hunting patterns in a variety of different colors and arrangements. Your florist probably has a camo option for the flowers they’ll deliver on your behalf.
Outside of Alabama, it still exists, especially in other parts of the South but it’s not the staple you’re used to and it’s something you’ll remember fondly when you’re gone.
10. Churches and religious iconography
If you’ve lived in Alabama all your life, you might be wondering what I’m talking about. The truth is, outside of Alabama and the South, the number of religious establishments drops tremendously from two or three per street to maybe one every five or ten city blocks. You don’t often see a Methodist Church, across the street from the Baptist Church, across the street from the Catholic Church, and so on down the road.