Arts & Life
7 extraordinary traditions in Turkey
7 extraordinary traditions in Turkey
Traditions reflect the characteristics of every culture. Every country has traditions unique to them, that may be found odd by foreigners. Turkey, being the “bridge” between the East and the West, has traditions that are influenced by both cultures. Click through for seven traditions from Turkey that some may find peculiar, as compiled by İnci Hazal Özcan.
Gold Day: This is a social gathering that is organized between Turkish women. Women from all ages get together with their friends or neighbors and collect gold coins. In every event, a participant becomes the host and prepares meals for her guests. Every guest brings a gold coin for the host, and this process is done for every member of the group on other days. It is an excuse for women to get together and enjoy each other’s company, but also a way to save money for the women, since purchasing gold is seen as a great investment in Turkey.
The Ramadan Drummer: The month of Ramadan is holy for the Muslim community. It is the month of fasting and understanding what the famished go through. During Ramadan, Muslims fast until sunset and can eat until sunrise. Muslims wake up before the dawn to eat for the day. And waking up before dawn is not quite easy. Here, the Ramadan drummer weighs in. He marches the streets, plays his drum, and yells out different things, including poetry verses. Neighborhood residents are expected to tip the drummer for his services at the end of Ramadan. It is a tradition from the Ottoman times, but a fading one now. Nowadays, people use their smart phones to set alarms, hence, the need for drummers has vanished.
Henna Night: Henna nights can be considered as the Middle Eastern equivalent of a bachelorette’s party. It is done before the wedding between the bride, her family, the groom’s family and her friends, consisting only of women. During the night, henna is applied on the bride’s hands. Some say that henna symbolizes virginity, while others see in it a sign of blessing and prosperity. On the night, guests dance and laugh, but also cry, because even though the night is a celebration for the bride’s marriage, it is also the night she bids farewell to her parent’s and the house she grew up in.
Asking for a woman’s hand in marriage: This is a ceremony done within the bride’s and groom’s families, after their decision of marriage. Following the groom’s proposal, his parents visit the bride’s parents’ house, generally with a box of chocolates and a bouquet of flowers, and ask the elders of the family for approval. Mostly, the elder is the family’s father, but not a must. In this ceremony, Turkish coffee is made for the guests and salty coffee is presented to the groom.
Pouring Molten Lead: Turks believe in the power of negative energy and the evil eye. In every Turkish house, one can see the evil eye figure, generally made out of glass, which is believed to ward off the “nazar,” meaning the evil eye. But another way for Turks to repel negative energy is to pour molten lead. The person who believes is under the gaze of the evil eye generally sits on the ground under a table cloth. A wide bowl, held above the participant’s head, has a cup of water in it. Sometimes a pair of the participant’s shoe is placed in the bowl along with other things. Then, a spiritual expert comes and drops the molten lead into the water. After the procedure, the expert recites prayers and interprets the lead by looking at the shapes that are formed when the molten lead meets cold water.
Sıra Night: Sıra Night is an entertaining tradition exclusive to Turkey’s southeastern provinces, particularly Şanlıurfa. During this night, where no women are allowed, men get together, make “çiğ köfte” (raw meatball) and drink “rakı”- an alcoholic beverage flavored with anise. They eat, drink, sing songs, and play instruments and games. Yet, the sıra night is not all about fun and games. Participants of the night collect money to help the poor. Every occasion, from weddings to funerals, is a reason to organize the sıra night. It is an event where feelings of friendship and benevolence are dominant.
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