girl in yellow dress front of traditional turkish tapestry

7 Of The Most Unique Traditions In Turkey

Traditions in Turkey are a big thing. The country is steeped in old-age rituals and superstitions. In Turkey, there’s nothing more important than family, respect, hospitality, and food. These values have turned into ancient traditions which have been passed down for generations. Here are some unique traditions in Turkey that you might not be aware of.

Unique Turkish traditions

1.The evil eye

The evil eye, or nazar, is one of Turkey’s most well-known superstitions. The tradition is shared with Greece, who call it a matiasma. Tradition holds that the evil eye wards off bad energy and evil spirits. The evil eye is present in most Turkish houses, shops, buses – you name it.

evil eye

2. Kolonya

Kolonya is the Turkish word for cologne and in this case, it’s a fresh, lemony fragrance. It’s not just used as a cologne, it’s a hand sanitising method that dates back to the Ottoman empire. It’s good practice to have kolonya in your house and offer it to anyone who stops by. People also offer kolonya in restaurants, hotels, cafes, mosques, buses, and more. In Turkey, it’s important to keep clean, so using kolonya is a sign of respect as you’re keeping clean and fresh for whoever you’re with.

person offering kolonya in turkey

3. Sünnet

In Turkey, circumcision is a big thing because it marks a boy’s transition into manhood. It’s a huge event – the boy wears a traditional outfit, complete with a scepter, and most importantly, it’s a party. Everyone looks forward to these parties as they do to weddings. To a visitor, it might seem strange at first, but it’s one of Turkey’s most popular traditions.

4. Bayram

As in many other Islamic countries, Turkey also celebrates Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. However, in Turkey, they call them Bayram. The visits are a big part of Bayram, people will be in and out of an elderly’s relative’s home all day and night. Respect for the elderly is a huge thing in Turkey. The younger generation is expected to spend the day with their elderly family, or at least visit them. On Bayram especially, the younger family members will go around the room to kiss the hands of their relatives and place it on their forehead.

5. Turkish Hospitality

Guests are held in the utmost regard, so you’ll always be treated well. Turkish tea is drunk by the bucketload, and you’ll be offered more before you’ve even finished. You’ll also be offered the very best of their cutlery and crockery. But you must be respectful, too. Taking your shoes off is an absolute must when going to a Turkish person’s house. Stepping inside with your shoes on, and bringing all of the dirt from outside in, is incredibly disrespectful. And as we’ve said, respect is a big thing in Turkish culture. Not to worry, they’ll always have slippers for you to put on. Usually, these slippers are especially for guests. Plus, your feet will always be warm and cosy in nice fluffy slippers.

turkish tea in turkey

6. Oil wrestling

Oil wrestling is a traditional Turkish sport that spans all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia. The national championship has been held in Edirne every year since 1362. The wrestlers douse themselves in oil and wrestle until a loser is declared, which is when a belly button faces the sky. It requires enormous focus, patience and constant monitoring of the rival. Because the oil makes it so tough to grip each other, wrestlers take on unusual methods to take down their opponents. That includes sticking their hands inside their trousers! Other wrestlers have caught onto this, so they pour oil inside and outside of their trousers to make everywhere super slippy. While it might be considered an unusual, even bizarre sport, it’s definitely captivating!

oil wrestling in turkey

7. Weddings

Turkish people love a celebration, and weddings are no different! Generally, before the wedding can even go ahead, the groom will ask for the bride’s hand in marriage. This is a ceremony within itself, as the groom brings flowers, chocolates, and presents to the bride’s older family members. And it’s generally the oldest male member of the groom’s family who will ask for the bride’s hand.

When it comes to wedding traditions in Turkey, one of the most popular is the henna night. The bride sits on a chair, completely covered by a long red veil. The future mother-in-law will make gold in her hands and then opens them up ready to be painted with beautifully intricate henna.

Before the wedding ceremony, the bride writes the names of her single friends on the bottom of her shoe. The first name to rub off (from all the dancing – there’s a LOT!), will be the next one to get married. And perhaps the best tradition of all (for the bride and groom that is), is the red sash. The betrothed put on red sashes and guests pin money and gold onto them.

Aleyna Thompson

Aleyna is an appreciator of learning about a culture through its food, whether that's closer to home or being out there in the world. She’s always happiest when experiencing somewhere new, but her base in Manchester is a close second. A blend of her love of writing, food, travel, and culture has naturally led her to travel writing full time.

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