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TURKISH CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

TURKISH CULTURE AND TRADITIONS

09.08.2020

Greetings

Greetings maychange according to gender and how well people know each other. Typically, menshake hands in a formal meeting or when they are meeting for the first time.However, if they are good friends or know each other for a long time, theyshake hands and half-hug each other. They may also pat each other on the backsoftly or toss their heads softly.

Women lightlyshake hands if they are meeting each other for the first time. However, if theyare friends or know each other well, they tend to hug and kiss each other onthe cheek.

The greetingbetween women and men may change from person to person. If both parties don’tknow each other they lightly shake hands. If they know each other well they maytouch their cheeks together while giving a handshake or a half hug.

Sometimeswomen or men do not want to shake hands due to their religious beliefs. In thiscase, it is best to wait for a sign from the person. If they do not offer theirhand, then simply nod your hand lightly and smile as a form of greeting.

Gifts

Turkishpeople love giving gifts. If someone has just moved or got married or hasaccomplished something, their loved ones tend to give them gifts as a part ofthe celebration. Especially when visiting someone’s house, they always bring insomething. Whether it is a box of chocolate or baklava, or a cake, or adecorative object for the house, they do not go into the houses they areinvited empty-handed. If you are visiting a friend in Turkey, bring them asmall gift. They will be both surprised and happy to see you know about theirtraditions.

Shoes

Turks do notenter their homes with shoes on. Shoes are considered dirty, therefore comingfrom the Islamic tradition, one cannot pray somewhere dirty. This traditionstill continues today. When visiting a Turkish home, take your shoes off beforeentering the house. They will immediately give you some slippers to wear in thehouse. As a side reminder, you are also required to take off your shoes whilevisiting the mosques. Many mosques in Turkey offer places to put your shoes onor provide a bag for you to put your shoes in.

Sharing

Sharing is anextremely important part of Turkish culture. They love offering food or drinkto the people around them. They always share their food with their neighbors,they bring food to the elderly or the ill people that they know. Similarly,many restaurants or cafes share their extra food with stray cats and dogs.Butcher shops always have cats and dogs around them because they share theextra meat with them.

Neighbours

Neighboursare not much different than family to the Turks. They always visit each otherand share their food with them. It is very common for a Turkish woman to bake acake and immediately share it with her neighbor thinking that the neighbor musthave smelled the baked cake and craved it. The neighbors are always invited toimportant events like a wedding or circumcision ceremonies. They ask theirneighbors to take care of their pets, plants or even children when going awayfor a while. Therefore, it is safe to say that the Turks trust their neighborsand see them as family.

Etiquette

There aresome things that you should be aware of about etiquette in Turkey. Being drunkin public or drinking in public such as squares or public transportation is nota welcomed behavior. Kissing or making out with your partner is also consideredprivate and is not always welcomed among the Turkish people. If you do so, youmay be warned by them.

Expressions

There aremany expressions unique to the Turkish tradition. When entering a store or ahouse, you will always hear them say “hoşgeldin” or “hoşgeldiniz” which simplymeans welcome. Turks answer this by saying “hoşbulduk” or “hoşbuldum” whichindicates that you feel welcomed and you are happy to be there. You could alsosimply say “teşekkürler” as a response if you want to say thanks.

As an Islamicexpression, many Turks greet each other by saying “As-Salamu alaykum” whichmeans “peace be upon you”. You can respond by saying “wa alaykumus-salam”  which means “and peace be upon you, too.”

Turks alsohave some expressions that have no corresponding expression in English. If theysee someone working on something or if they are going into a store or leaving aworkplace, they say “kolay gelsin”. This is a way of saying “may it be easy”, wishingwhatever the person is doing may become easy for them.

You may alsohear Turks saying “Allah’a emanet ol” while saying goodbye to someone. Thisroughly translates into something like “may God protect you” or more simply“God bless you”.

Personal Space

In Turkey,personal space is lesser than the European countries as Turks love closecontact. People usually have conversations from a close distance and they maytouch your arm or pat you lightly on the back during the conversation. You canalso see women walk hand in hand or men putting their arms on each other.However, the opposite genders do not come into close contact unless they are ina romantic relationship. The Turkish people may also want to kiss you on thecheek and hug you as a part of their culture. Do not be alarmed as it is a wayfor them to show affection and love.

Respect forthe Elderly

The Turkshave enormous respect for the elderly. It is not appreciated to put the elderlyin nursing homes but their children are expected to take care of them. Duringthe important days such as “bayrams”, the Turks visit the elderly and anyoneyounger from them kiss the hand of the elderly and put it to their forehead asa gesture of respect. Do not be surprised if you see strangers helping theelderly to carry their groceries or help them cross the street. Even on thebus, young people are expected to give their seats to the elderly to sit. Notdoing so is considered rude.