A beautiful and fascinating country, Turkey is the place for visitors who want to discover a new, interesting culture. If you are going to be in Turkey soon, you should know some of the main cultural habits in this country.
1. Coffee bars
Coffee bars are the main attractions in Turkey. They are always filled up, but with men. Culturally, women do not enter coffee bars, but they can meet up with friends at their own houses.
Kissing each other’s cheeks is the most common way to greet someone in Turkey. The exception are very religious women, who don’t kiss men while greeting.
Tea is the most popular drink in Turkey. Some statistics have revealed that Turks drink more than 10 glasses of black tea each day.
4. Visiting a Turkish home
When you visit a Turkish home you are expected to wash your hands before eating or directly when you arrive.
5. Remove shoes at entrance
One of the best known cultural habits is that Turks remove shoes when they enter their house. This is why if you spend a vacation in this country, you will probably spot a lot of shoes at the doorstep. The reason is to keep the house clean from all the dirt on the streets.
Divorce is not very common in Turkey, although each couple has this option.
7. Wedding gifts
An interesting custom in Turkey is linked to wedding traditions. Newly wed couples in this country receive a lot of gold gifts. The custom is for the bride to wear all the gold gifts at the party after the wedding ceremony.
In Turkey, the marriage is done at the notary, but people opt to have religious ceremonies and parties, too. This is a secular country, so a man is allowed to wed one woman in Turkey. Still, the religion of Islam allows men to wed at most four women. Nowadays, the majority of Turks are against polygamy.
Another custom is to smoke during meals. Turks commonly interrupt a meal just to have a cigarette and then they continue eating. However, in enclosed public areas smoking is banned.
10. Coffee fortune telling
Even though coffee is not as popular as tea in Turkey, there is a fortune telling ritual that still is common in this country. So, many coffee shops will offer to read your coffee cup, after you have drunk the black liquor.
11. Addressing people in Turkey
The most polite way to address a person in Turkey is by adding Bey to the first name of a man and Hanim to the name of a woman.
Most people in Turkey use the western dress habits, but there is a small number of people who still use traditional costumes. Wearing certain garments that are typical to the Islam was declared illegal in 1920, when people adopted the Western dressing code.
13. Women wear scarves
It is a common thing to see a woman covering her head and part of her face with a scarf in this country. This is considered to be sign of modesty.
14. Turkish desserts
The traditional Turkish desserts include kadayif and muhallebi, which is milk pudding, as well as baklava, which is a dessert from pastry which has become quite popular all around the world.
15. Turkish tea gardens
The Turkish tea gardens are the most popular places for couples and families. These are the places that people prefer to visit for relaxing moments out.
16. Shake hands
It is customary to shake hands when meeting, but not when departing, although shaking hands at the end of the meeting is practiced occasionally.
17. Show respect
When you meet elders, the custom is to kiss their hand and then place the forehand on to the hand. This is a sign of respect.
Turks are well known for their hospitality, so you will most likely be offered something to eat, something sweet or even a 3 course meal during a visit. The cook should always be paid compliments.
19. Body language
There are a series of common gestures that Turks make in order to communicate. For instance, to decline an offer, people put their hand onto their heart, but this can also mean thank you or nice to meet you.
20. Shaking the head
In Turkey shaking the head doesn’t mean no, but it is interpreted as a sign that you don’t understand. Don’t be surprised if the person you are talking to will then try to explain you something.
21. Visiting mosques
One of the most important part of the cultural attractions in Turkey are the beautiful mosques. If you plan to visit one, be careful at customs. The first custom is to remove shoes before entering. Try to dress modestly and make sure that your body and limbs are covered. Women should cover their hair. Shorts are not appropriate for visiting a mosque.
22. Personal space
Turks tend to stay close to you when conversing, a habit that can be found disturbing by foreigners. If you back away, the gesture will be considered unfriendly.
23. Eye contact
Making eye contact with someone during a conversation is considered to be a sign of sincerity.
24. Ask about Turkey
Keep in mind that Turks are proud people. They are proud of their country and of their culture and will be more than happy to answer questions about them both. If you want to discover more about Turkey, don’t be afraid to ask.
25. Pointing at someone
Pointing at someone is considered to be very rude in Turkey.
26. Eating on the street
Muslims cannot eat and drink between sunrise and sunset during Ramadan. As a sign of respect, you should avoid eating on the street.
Kissing in public is not common in Turkey, so it is better to avoid showing your affection.
28. Gift giving
If you are invited to someone’s home, you should bring a gift. Alcohol is appropriate only in case you know that person drinks. Otherwise, you can choose a dessert or chocolates.
29. Personal relationships
Personal relationships are quite important in Turkey. Many businesses are still family run and owned, while the success of a partnership is built on personal relationships.
Nudity might be offensive in Turkey, while toples sunbathing is against the Turkish obscenity law. Visitors are asked to respect this Muslim country, although the law is not enforced to them.
In case a visit to Turkey comes soon, familiarize yourself with the customs specific to this country. Not only that you will be able to better understand its culture, but you will make your visit a more interesting and beautiful experience. Help us complete this list with other cultural habits in Turkey in the comments section below.
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