The Culture of Turkey
If you’ve ever been around people from another culture, you know that they tend to do things differently than you. You might be thinking about traveling to Turkey soon or already living there and want to understand the local culture better. Either way, this guide will assist you in understanding the unique characteristics of the Turkish people and how you can integrate into their society more smoothly. In this guide, we’ll go over some helpful tips so you can understand the Turkish people better. This document is meant as a general overview of what you should know about Turkish culture if you plan on living there for an extended period or are just traveling for a short time. Keep reading to learn more!
Who are the Turkish People?
The original Turkish people are from Central Asia, and a small group still lives there today. However, over the past century, the Turkish people have expanded to most of the Middle Eastern area and into parts of Europe. This includes countries such as Turkey, Azerbaijan, and more. The Turkish language is the official language of Turkey, and it’s written in Latin script. There are around 83 million Turks living around the world, and they make up the majority of the population in Turkey. There are other ethnic groups in Turkey too, with the largest being the Kurds, comprising almost 18% of the population. Turks are Muslim, with Islam being the official religion in the country.
The Culture of Turkey
Like many Middle Eastern nations, the culture in Turkey is based on the idea of “being one family”. This is an essential part of Turkish culture and is the reason why you’ll find that people will get very touchy-feely with one another here. It is considered normal for strangers to hold hands, put their arms around each other, or even kiss each other on the cheek. When you are invited to a Turkish person’s house, the family members will very likely sit together on the floor (rather than in chairs). While you may find this odd, it’s important to remember that you are not expected to sit on the floor with them. It is a sign of respect for family members if you do.
Respecting the Culture
When you visit or move to a new country, you may be tempted to do things the way you would normally do them back home. This can lead to some cultural faux pas, so it’s important to be aware of the differences in culture between your home country and Turkey. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning to visit or live in Turkey.
- Avoid being critical of the government or Turkish culture. Criticism of the government is frowned upon here, and you could be taken into custody if you go overboard. Complaints should be kept to yourself.
- Avoid being critical of Islam. Criticizing Islam is forbidden in Turkey, and you run the risk of getting deported.
- Avoid public displays of affection. Turks are very touchy-feely, but this does not extend to PDAs as it does in the West. - Don’t eat with your left hand. This is a sign of uncleanliness. Instead, use your right hand for eating.
Relationships and Touching in Turkey
As we mentioned previously, physical contact is common in Turkish culture. However, this does not extend to romantic relationships. If you are in a romantic relationship with a Turkish person, you’ll want to avoid any unnecessary touching. Hugging is fine in most situations, but avoid kissing on the lips. You may want to steer clear of holding hands in public, and it’s best to keep your relationship under wraps.
Food in Turkey
The Turkish diet is dominated by vegetables, grains, and legumes. Rice is common here, as are olives and other types of fruit. Turks love meat, too, and you can expect to see lamb, chicken, fish, and beef in most meals. Every day is a holiday for meat in Turkey! Because of the hot climate in Turkey, it’s not surprising that many Turkish foods are served cold. Of course, there are plenty of hot meals as well. If you order a soup, it’s likely to be served lukewarm. It’s not a bad thing; it's just how it is. If you’re invited over to a Turkish person’s house for dinner, they will probably serve a wide variety of dishes, with many different tastes, colors, and textures. This is to show that they are generous and have a lot to offer.
The Turkish people are warm and welcoming, and you’ll find that being around them is very pleasant. They can be a bit touchy-feely, so be prepared for lots of hugs and kisses on the cheeks! When visiting or living in Turkey, it’s important to keep these tips in mind. Doing so will help you to better assimilate into Turkish society. Hopefully, this guide has given you a better understanding of the cultural differences between Turkish culture and your own.