Traditions and customs Turkey

Traditions and customs Turkey


Modern Turkey is much less cosmopolitan than the Ottoman Empire was. It is also much smaller.

Today, just over 90% of the population is Muslim, with a large majority of Sunnis. Alevi and other heterodox branches are estimated at nearly 20%. Christians, Jews and other small groups make up a small percentage.


Doctrine preached by Muhammad, Islam is resignation to the will of God. It is recorded in the Koran.

During Ramadan, at the end of the day. Note, however, that in Turkey, everyone is free to do Ramadan or not; no social pressure as in some Arab countries.

The alevi

It is a considerable fraction of the Turkish population, estimated at 15 million people. This religious minority, considered heretical by the Orthodox (Sunni) majority, has often been ostracized by traditionalists.
The alevi do not recognize the succession of Mahomet and are attached to the obedience of the 6th imam, Cafar. There is no revealed truth for an alevi, the Koran being considered as the word of man (of Muhammad). It can therefore be interpreted.
Another striking feature: a trinity (Allah, Muhammad, Ali), in complete opposition to Sunni dogma. Alevi do not go to the mosque, consider women to be equal to men, and can drink alcohol. They are often referred to as “Protestants of Islam,” but in fact they constitute a full religious community and not a branch of Islam.


The Sufi brotherhoods were banned by Atatürk in 1925, but since the 1950s there has been a certain tolerance. The whirling dervishes, howler dervishes and bektasi are the most famous.

The Christians

It is very difficult to make a precise estimate of the number of Christians living in Turkey, especially since they are divided into several dozen groups, whose rites, even dogma, are very different.

The Armenians form the main group. The Greek Orthodox are few (30) and the community is aging. Roman Catholics are mainly present in cities. The Jacobite Syrians or Assyrians form an important Christian community and live in the region of Tur Abdin.

The Jews

They are just under 20, most of them in Istanbul. The Sephardim expelled from Spain in the 000th century still speak Ladino and form 90% of the community. The rest is divided between Ashkenazi, Marranos and Caraïtes. There are small communities in Bursa, Edirne, Çanakkale, İzmir, Antakya and Kuşadası.

Know-how and customs

Good manners

Is it not for someone by name but by first name, to which we add a polite or affectionate qualifier? We say Ayşe Hanım (Mrs. Ayşe) or Turgut Bey (Mr. Turgut). We also say for example “sister” saleswoman (abla) or “big brother” butcher (ağabey).

In all circumstances, the Turks have a appropriate polite phrase.
When someone is sick, they say geçmiş olsun (“let it be”). If he brings good news, he is offered - symbolically - to “kiss his mouth”. For the newlyweds, we want to "grow old on the same pillow".

Throwing a little water behind the car of someone who is leaving is a gesture of care and protection.

Don't photograph people who don't want to, like everywhere in the world, for that matter.

Don't be surprised to see men hugging each other in the street. It is a simple manifestation of camaraderie and friendship.

Lucky charms (nazar boncuğu)

If you intend to give a compliment, don't forget to add maşallah (“Koran or a piece of jujube branch, all considered protective.

Alaturka, alafranga

Alaturka designates the traditional Turkish way of life, alafranga (= à la française) everything that has been copied from Europe since the Ottoman Empire.

From the XNUMXth century, foreigners flocked to the court of the sultans. With the Empire declining, Europe became fashionable. The elite began to speak French, and the Enlightenment became the darling of Istanbul intellectuals. The great chic is to be alafranga, while retrogrades remain alaturka.

Today, we can be alaturka in terms of gastronomy and alafranga in the education of children.

Turkish hospitality

She is a powerful hostess. This is only valid, of course, in the countryside.

Know that :
- You have to challenge yourself If you are incredibly rude It is rude to stay more than 2 days, but it is also rude to miss a meal or not to taste You will have to return politeness in France, or at least send a gift or photos.

Audio Video Traditions and customs Turkey
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