What Are The Turkish Customs?

Turkish traditions are based on the history of the country and its people. Compared to many countries worldwide, Turkish traditions are more genuine and physical. Turks care about their relationships and family. Now, let’s dive into these traditions to know why Turkish culture and people are friendly in general.

Table of Contents

General Turkish Customs

Throwing water from one’s behind

Turkish people throw water from one’s behind if they are going to a long way and won’t meet for a long time. This action can be interpreted as a “Return as smooth as water’s flow”. It is also another sign of having people there who are waiting for you.

Suspended bread

Suspended meals are known all over the world and Turkey is one of them. Not for a meal but for bread because it is the main element of every Turkish meal table. Suspended breads are also an act of social cooperation between individuals.

When a person goes to a bakery and pays more than the bread they bought, they ask for extra paid bread to be suspended. The number of suspended bread available is written on a board in the bakery where everyone can see.

Kissing the hands of elders

To properly pay respects to their elders, Turkish people kiss the elders’ hands and put them on their foreheads. This usually happens during greetings and farewells. Especially during the holidays, not kissing the hands of some elders can be seen as rude. However, if you are not comfortable with this, just say no. As time passes, this tradition is fading slowly.


Bargaining or haggling is one of the innate traits of Turkish people. Especially if you are buying an expensive item or in high quantities, haggling with the seller can be done. Islam religion also has a role in this tradition because it’s known that the prophet Muhammed used to bargain while trading. 

Insisting on offering something

If you are invited to a Turkish house, the host will insist on serving you tea or coffee. It’s a habit of Turkish people to fulfill the needs of their guests and dates back to old times. To convince them, you will need to repeat yourself more than several times to show that you are really okay.

Host pays check

In Turkey, if you are invited to a restaurant or cafe, don’t ever try to pay the bill. It’s one of the widely known unspoken rules of Turkish people. However, expect to go Dutch if the table is crowded.

Pork is a big no

Generally, most people in Turkey are Muslims and eating pork or pig products is inhibited due to their religion. This is because pigs eat their own droppings. Muslims say that this makes the animal foul and unhygienic. For this reason, if you are a big fan of pork products, expect to see it less on the menus.

Starting things with your right hand or foot

Throughout the world, the left is side generally seen as the bad side and the right is the good side. Turkish culture also has this and it’s bad omens if someone starts doing something with their left. In Islam religion, the prophecy Muhammed did dirty work with his left hand while using his right hand to eat and drink.

Blessed nights

There are 5 different blessed nights in Turkish culture. They are the holy nights of the Islam religion and Turks celebrate these nights with crunchy pastry rings. Here are the blessed nights:

Qadr Night: It is the night when the Holy Qur’an began to be revealed to the Prophet.

Bar’ât Night: The night when the Holy Qur’an was revealed to the world, when the lives of the servants for a year are reviewed, and when Muslims are granted divine forgiveness and forgiveness.

Mi’raj Night: The night when the Prophet Muhammad traveled to Jerusalem at night and from there to the top of the sky and traveled to different realms.

Laylat Al-Raghaib: The night when prophet Muhammed’s mother Amine realized that she was pregnant.

Mawlid Al-Nabi: The night of the prophet Muhammed’s birth.

Giving food after someone passes away

When a person passes away from one’s household, remaining household members prepare or order food in high quantities to give to their neighbor in the name of the deceased. You may also come across a vehicle in a street that’s giving away tulumba dessert for this reason. It’s believed that if you do good deeds in the name of the deceased, it will be counted for that person.


Circumcision is seen as the first step of a boy to become a man. It is seen as a masculine characteristic for a boy to grow up “properly” among Turkish people. In fact, sometimes it is done when the baby is not even 40 days old. Generally, the oldest age a kid gets circumcision is around 7.

Turkish Wedding Traditions

Sticking up a spoon in a rice pot

This is not a widely known tradition even for the locals. For Turkish men, sticking up a spoon in a rice pot in front of your family means that you want to get married.

Asking for a woman’s hand

A couple’s first step is to make the man’s family side gather at the woman’s family house. There, both families meet and the oldest man on the man’s side asks the woman’s father for her hand. If agreed, the couple put on their wedding rings that day and became engaged. Some women even put on solitaire rings that day.

Also, these kinds of gatherings can be arranged for men to see the women. This is the most traditional way for families to find a partner for their children and it happens all over the world.

Special Turkish coffee for the groom

When families gather, the bride-to-be is responsible for making Turkish coffee for everyone. Except for the groom’s, everyone’s Turkish coffee will be the same. Groom’s coffee is prepared with salt and served with a special separate tray which is fancier.

Some women also prefer an alternative groom Turkish coffee for a more pleasant option: Flirtatious Turkish coffee. It’s a version of Turkish coffee that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. Prospective brides would make it to the groom during the family meetings. Nibbed almonds and two types of spices are placed on top of the cup, making the coffee quite delicious.

The groom’s reaction to the Turkish coffee

If the groom doesn’t show any reaction, it is considered a good sign. However, for arranged meetings which are still happening in the Eastern Anatolia Region, if the groom-to-be says that he didn’t like the coffee to his father, it means that he didn’t like the woman.

Henna Night (Kına Gecesi)

The henna night is a farewell party for the bride. The party takes place at the bride’s family house, a restaurant, or somewhere outside. At first, the bride sits in the center of the room, wearing all red including a red veil that covers her face. During that, her friends and family move around her with sad music. Then, henna is applied to the bride’s hands and everyone dances joyfully.

Bride writes her friends’ names on her shoe

The bride writes her single friends’ names on the bottom of her shoe. At the end of the day, whose name is most blurred and unreadable compared to the others, it is believed that the friend will get married soon.

Bride wearing a colored ribbon

In a Turkish wedding ceremony, the ribbon that the bride wears has a meaning. The origins of wearing a ribbon for wedding dates to shamanic traditions. Here are the different ribbon colors and their meaning that Turkish brides wear for their wedding:

Red ribbon: Nowadays, it represents that the bride is a virgin. But it had meanings of luck and good fate in shamanic beliefs.

Pink ribbon: Sign of romance. This shows that the bride is very in love.

Purple ribbon: Represents nobility. this sash is preferred for weddings in palaces.

Blue ribbon: Symbolizes a woman marrying the same man she loves for the second time.

Green ribbon: Represents the eye of the heart.

Grey ribbon: The symbol of self-confidence. it is a color preferred by brides who want to show that they got married by their own decision and are confident in themselves.

Black ribbon: This means that the bride was married before.

Even though wearing a ribbon is a tradition, both Turkish men and women are highly against it today. Because it labels the woman, modern minds think that it objectifies women.

Turkish Visiting Traditions

Taking off shoes before going in

Turkish people don’t like bringing dirt from the outside to their houses. For this reason, they take off their shoes before going in. Don’t forget to take off your shoes before going inside if you are invited to a Turkish house.

Bayram visitings

During Ramadan and Qurban feast, relatives and friends visit each other to celebrate. Locals buy chocolates, candies, other types of sweets, and colognes to offer their visitors. Also, elders and parents give some pocket money to the children. During Qurban, if one makes a sacrifice, they visit their inner circle first to give some meat and then the outer circle.

Unending Neighbour Exchanges

Let’s say that your Turkish next-door neighbor gave you a plate full of sweets. What you should do is to return the same plate full. This way, you and that neighbor will exchange plates with food. It’s the most common “excuse” for interaction when a Turkish person wants to get acquainted with their neighbors.

Newborns can’t be visited right away

In Turkish, you can’t visit a mom who gave birth before 40 days passed. That is because it’s considered that both the mother and the baby are very fragile. They are prone to get sick and bad energy can affect them easily. It’s an unspoken rule to give the mother and the baby some time to be in good condition. 

Gathering 40 days after someone’s death

Eski Şaman inanışına göre ölünün ruhu, bedenini 40 gün sonra terk eder. “40’ın çıkması” deyimi buradan gelir. Şamanizm’de ölen kişinin ruhu evi terk etsin, göğe yolculuğuna başlasın ve öteki ruhlar etrafına doluşmasın diye, insanlar ölen kişinin evinde toplanıp ayin yapar, yas tutarlar.

Turkish Hospitality Traditions

Serving Turkish tea or coffee

A Turkish house is not a proper house if there’s no tea or Turkish coffee to drink. The host will give tea or coffee with snacks to satisfy their guests. Before the conversation starts, you will hear “Çay koyup geliyorum.” phrase so much. It’s the sign of the host meaning “Don’t start talking about the hot topic without me”. All great conversations happen with a cup of tea in your hands.

Additional portions for the guests

If you go to a breakfast or dinner gathering at a Turkish house, there will always be an extra portion for you to eat. Whether you are full or not, the host will insist on giving you it otherwise they won’t be convinced that you are full enough. It’s the most common rule among Turkish households to give extras the visitors.

Hugs and cheek kisses

Turkish people are physical people when it comes to greetings and farewells. Just a handshake or waving hands is not enough for them if you are connected or it’s a professional environment. They need to show their affection via hugging or cheek kissing to the people they love. If you keep resisting it, they may think that you want to keep your distance and your friendship with that person can face an invisible wall.

Slippers for everyone

Because Turkish people don’t walk in their houses with shoes, they use home slippers. This applies to everyone without any exceptions. Moreover, you may need to switch slippers in the bathroom if the toilet is a squatting one. With this, dirty bacteria is prevented from spreading all over the house.

Turkish Good Luck Traditions

Pouring lead

When Turkish people think that someone was attacked by an evil eye, they pour lead over that person.

The person who does the job is called a “caretaker”. For the ritual, the affected person gets covered from the top. Lead is poured into a copper pot filled with water by the caretaker. Before the lead is taken, the water’s surface is cut by a knife. That water is poured over the affected person with the right hand while praying. For the grand finale, the caretaker takes the lead and talks about the person who affected the person this much by the lead’s shape. 

Nazar (Evil eye)

Nazar is believed to protect one’s self and house from evil spirits to manifest. Even though some cultures see evil eyes as the devil’s gaze and attract bad energies, Turkish people tend to think that it is protecting them.

Knocking on wood three times

Turkish people knock on wood three times if they think of a bad possible outcome or a bad experience someone they know has experienced. It’s believed that wood takes all the bad energy from the person so that the karma won’t hit them for pitying the situation.

Kissing or hugging from both sides

One of the best Turkish superstitions is kissing or hugging someone from each side. Otherwise, that person will be separated from their significant other. Even so, kissing or hugging a friend you care about shouldn’t be bothering you, right?