If you intend to move to Turkey, you should definitely inquire on what life is all about in this foreign country. Find out in this article.
The Turkish society is known to be multicultural, combining old traditions with modernism. Hence, the Turkish lifestyle goes beyond that, speaking through the population's hospitality and warmth which is best described by religious views and gastronomy. You daily life in Turkey should be as interesting every day if you are planning to move there.
Turkish, the country's official language, is spoken by 220 million people. It is written in the Latin alphabet with six additional letters. As regard writing, Turkish is completely phonetic: each letter refers to a particular sound and every word is written exactly as it is pronounced.
Secularism in Turkey distinguishes clearly between state affairs and religion. The country's religious diversity is still protected. Note that Turkey hosts some 236 churches and 34 synagogues which are open to the public.
Turkey has two major holidays as per the Islamic calendar: Eid and the Sacrifice of Abraham which are celebrated respectively at the end of Ramadan and around two months later.
Moreover, the Turkish society is marked by numerous superstitions originating from pre-Islamic traditions. Hence, Turkish people are said to be protected from 'bad luck' through the representation of a blue eye called 'boncuk' which is manufactured by Izmir gypsies from empty raki bottles. Tourists often bring back the 'boncuk' home to be offered as souvenir.
Tea and hookah are almost essential aspects of the Turkish society. Moreover, the hammam is not only a treat but also a necessity. In fact, many Turkish houses do not have a private indoor bathroom. Hence, Turkish steam baths is deemed to be a public bath as well as a socialization site.
Several religious and secular events are celebrated in Turkey. The Turkish festive calendar goes as follows:
April 23rd: Independence and Children's Day (Public holiday)
May 1st: Labor Day (Public holiday)
May 19th: Youth and Sports Day (Public holiday)
May 27th: Constitution Day (Public holiday)
August 30th: Victory Day (Public holiday)
October 29th: Republic Day (Public holiday)
Seker Bayram: End of Ramadan feast which rhymes with four days festivities including pastry and confectionery
Kurban Bayram: a holiday which commemorates the sacrifice of Abraham. It generally takes place during the Mecca pilgrimage period and lasts four days. These festivals are held on fixed dates according to the lunar calendar and are shifted by ten days every year according to the Gregorian calendar.
Second week of June: Turkish wrestling championship in Edirne, Thrace
End of June: St. Peter Day in Antahya (Antioch)
Mid-June to mid-July: Istanbul International Festival (music, theater, traditional arts)
Late June to mid-July: Nasreddin Hodja festival in Aksehir (near Konya) and caricature festival caricature
Last week of September: Harvest Festival in Cappadocia (music and dances)
Last week of October: Asik Day (troubadours, poetry, folklore) in Konya
First week of December: St. Nicolas festivities in Demre
Mid-December: Mevlâna memorial celebrations (it was the founder of the Order of the Whirling Dervishes in Konya).
Foreigners are often surprised by Turkish hospitality. They are always willing to spend a few hours to help them or share some good times with them. Hospitality occupies a prominent place in the Turkish society and foreigners are considered as guests who are sent by God. Hence, their enthusiasm during foreigners' visit: a fruit seller will offer you a fruit, people will guide you if you are lost and you might even be invited for a tea.
However, you are strongly advised to take note of the following:
- remove your shoes before entering a Turkish house
- blowing your nose at the table is considered as being rude
- it is deemed to be impolite to stay more than two days even if at your host's insistence
- missing a meal or refusing to taste a dish is also considered to be rude. However, it should be impolite to serve yourself more than twice
- remember to return the favor once you are back to home country. You might as well send a gift or some photos.
The Turkish cuisine is considered among the three best cuisines in the world, consisting of a huge cultural diversity with abundant use of natural ingredients, bringing harmonious flavors. Just like the country and its society, Turkish cuisine bears the influence of neighboring regions such as Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It is considered to be a bridge between Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.