Customs and traditions
According to Abbreviationfinder, everywhere in Turkey, images and statues are reminiscent of the Republic’s founder Kemal Atatürk. Among other things, he is portrayed on the banknotes of the country. Offending Atatürk is prohibited by law. The center for the cult of the person around the country father is his mausoleum Anıtkabir in Ankara.
Some rules of etiquette: It is alleged that you should not cheat in public, show your soles to someone or at the same time look at a person and have your arms crossed.
- Countryaah: Overview of the capital city of Turkey, including information about its population, economy, geography, history and map.
The intercourse between the sexes can be a bit problematic. For some women who emphasize their Muslim identity, it is considered inappropriate to shake hands with men, while other women expect to be treated as in the rest of Europe. Yet, among educated people in the big cities, everyone knows that socializing is changing. It can be more difficult to behave correctly if you end up in conservative small-town or rural environments, and it can be valuable to have someone ask for advice.
Tips are not included in restaurant notes – you usually give five to ten percent. Excursion guides, hotel cleaners and other service staff also expect tips. In 2009, smoking bans were imposed on workplaces, restaurants and bars.
Perfume is popular. Spreading your hands with a little perfume is regarded as good upbringing and is also perceived as hygienic due to the high alcohol content of perfumes. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, perfumes in Turkey have received a sales boost, such as hand spirit, in the hope that the alcohol will bite against the virus’s cell membrane (protective cover) consisting of fat.
The 20th century history of the Republic of Turkey is reflected in the country’s secular holidays. January 1 is celebrated as New Year’s Day and as the day when the Gregorian calendar was introduced. April 23 is Independence Day and Children’s Day.
May 1, the traditional day of the labor movement, was abolished as a holiday after the military coup in 1980. Following demands from some secular parties, May 1 again became holiday 2009 in the name of the workers’ and solidarity day.
According to Countryaah, May 19 is called Atatürk Memorial Day. Then Atatürk landed on the coast of Anatolia and began the rebellion against the occupying forces after the defeat of the First World War. At the same time, it is the day of youth and sports.
August 30 is the day of liberation, when Atatürk troops after the First World War expelled the occupation forces from the country. Like May 19, public buildings with huge Atatürk portraits are adorned this day and young people are parading by, singing the Youth March. (The tune is Three thrilling girls. It was introduced by a Turk who studied in Sweden.)
October 29 is the Republic Day, when the Republic of Turkey was founded (1923). November 10 (1938) is Atatürk’s day of death. At 9.05 he gave up his breath, and then on this day sirens sound all over Turkey. Traffic stops and people get out of their vehicles, radio and TV broadcasts are silent and everyone unites for a minute.
Turkey is also a traditional Muslim country, where nearly nine out of ten claim to participate in the fast during the month of Ramadan. At the same time, since the Ottoman period, the Turks have embraced tolerant forms of Islam, and according to opinion polls, around half think that you can be a good Muslim even if you sometimes taste alcohol.
Islam has two major weekends, the ID parties (bay frame in Turkish; the sugar and the sacrificial feasts in Swedish). They last for three and four days, but the first day is most important. Both are official weekends in Turkey but are moved in accordance with the Islamic lunar calendar ten or eleven days back for each year. (The year is shorter by Islamic than by Christian times.)
The sugar party (şeker bayramı or ramazan bayramı) is a happy party that marks the end of the fasting month. Goodies belong. The feast or sacrifice (kurban bayramı) is the larger of the two ID parties. It is associated with the pilgrimage to Mecca and is celebrated in memory of how the patriarch Abraham let go of sacrificing his son to God and instead slaughtered a baggage. During the sacrificial feast, the believers should slaughter a male cloven-hoofed animal – usually a baggage or a goat. After all the blood has been drained, the meat is divided into three parts – one for the family, one for the friends and one for the poor. In the time of Prophet Muhammad, when livestock was a major industry, this was nothing strange, but for today’s city dwellers, the sacrifice causes some problems. Livestock herds are led into the cities, often to empty parking lots where, under the supervision of the authorities, men buy sacrificial animals and slaughter them on the spot. Turkish animal lovers object to the procedure, and critics question whether a sudden abundance of meat is what the poor need best. The sacrifice party is also a commercial celebration, as the shops sell all kinds of accessories for the accompanying party meals. More and more people now refrain from carrying out the slaughter themselves and donate money for charitable purposes.
Although most people in Turkey count as Muslims, not all Sunnis are. The Alevites (see Religion), like other Shia Muslims, celebrate the mourning festival of ashura in memory of the Battle of Karbala in 680, when the Prophet’s daughter Hussein was killed. Ashura is not an official holiday, but in some cities in the east where Aleppo dominates, business is kept closed. Politicians from the CHP party, which gathers many alevit voters, usually appear and speak during the ashura. In 2009, then-Prime Minister Erdoğan from the AKP also turned to the Alevites with a speech regretting the grief over Hussein’s death.
Kurdish New Year
A holiday that has received strong political overtones in Turkey is the Kurdish New Year, newroz. It is celebrated around the spring equinox in March, with outdoor fires, food, gifts and festive socializing. Historically, it is the same spring celebration as the Persian New Year, nouruz, with ancient traditions of, among others, Zoroastrianism, and the same is also celebrated by Kurds in Iran and Iraq. In Turkey, however, New Year’s traditions had begun to fade before being revived by Kurdish nationalists in the 20th century, and particular emphasis was placed on myths which say that the party is celebrated in memory of the Kurds in the past being freed from a tyrant. Celebrating Kurdish New Year was banned in Turkey until 2000. After that, the celebration is allowed, but then applies to be a general Turkish spring party that is required by law to be spelled nevruz.
Traditional Turkish family parties such as weddings and boys’ circumcision celebrations are celebrated with wildly honking cars driving around with the party items. Muslim boys in Turkey are circumcised between the ages of six and eleven and are sometimes dressed as little princes.
Even young men who are about to begin their military service, often far from their hometown, are publicly celebrated by friends and family. Since the Kurdish guerrilla PKK began its uprising against the state in 1984, it has not been a matter of course that everyone returns alive and unharmed from the military service. The celebration therefore has a serious undertone, but it is not considered appropriate to openly show its concern. The military service has elements of manhood rites, and in many parts of Turkey, a young man cannot marry until he has “done the trick”. However, the nationalist and militaristic elements in the celebration of the conscripts have been muted in recent years.
Food and drinks
A trip in Turkey can provide memorable dining experiences. Turkish cuisine is often regarded as one of the foremost in the world. In the big cities and the tourist resorts, it can be easy to get caught up in the grill restaurants’ fast food, but a little more careful searching – or a visit to a private home – reveals a great deal of variation.
Turkish food is influenced by traditions throughout the Old Ottoman Empire from the Middle East to North Africa and the Balkans, but there are also traces of Central Asia, such as the frequent use of yogurt.
A meal is often started with a soup (çorba), often based on red lentils, also preferably with bulgur, red pepper, vegetables. İşkembe çorbası, intestinal soup, is usually eaten for breakfast as it is considered good for hangovers.
Along the coasts there is of course a large selection of fish and seafood, otherwise you eat a lot of lamb, beef and chicken. Grilled meat is available in a variety of forms: döner kebap (rotating kebab) spread throughout the world, shish kebab (şiş kebap, small pieces of meat on skewers) and malted meat on skewers with different spices and whose name shows from which province the dish comes from. Popular variants are Urfa kebabı and Adana kebabı. Shaped to oblong meatballs patties called kofte.
Despite a lot of meat, it is the vegetables that form the basis of every well-composed meal. The most popular vegetable is eggplant (eggplant, in Turkish patlıcan), which can be cooked endlessly in many ways – stuffed, cooked, fried, as a base in vegetable stir fry, for salads. Also tomatoes and peppers are often filled with rice and maybe minced meat as dolma (the same word as in Swedish cabbage dolm and one of relatively few Turkish words borrowed into Swedish).
Yogurt is present in an amount context, in soups, as accessories for the meat and vegetable dishes, as a base for the ravioli-like right mantı, diluted with water and low-salt as the popular meal beverage ayran, garlic, grated cucumbers and dill entree cacik (like Greek tzatziki).
Turkish desserts are often milk-based and very sweet. “Turkish confectionery”, locum, is made from starch and sugar and flavored with nuts and / or dates.
Because Turkey is a Muslim country, it can be difficult to find alcohol for food in simpler restaurants, especially in rural areas. But here still a lot of wine is produced, usually of simpler variety, and beer. Anise brandy rakı (much like Greek ouzo) is very popular.
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