What is it about the South?

At the beginning of February I spent a week in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen, a region in the southwest of the Netherlands and the north of Belgium. I was told that this region has a reputation for "eating, drinking, and being merry" -- more so than the rest of the NL. And my experience confirmed that assertion with gusto! The breads, cheeses, and wines that I sampled in that week were some of the best I've had since arriving in Europe 6 months ago.

Which got me thinking ... what is it about the South? Is it just me, or is it true that places that are labelled "South" often feature people and cultures who characteristically celebrate life and the material world with wild abandon? I think of the stories I've heard about the south of France, about Italy, about African and Central/South American cultures, even about "southern hospitality" in the U.S. And I wonder what is up with those of us from "the North" (whatever that means in our various cultural contexts)... Are we just too cold to throw parties?!

A fitting question for this week, when I hear that many of you in North America are surviving blizzards...