Learning the Turkish culture

Each landscape in Turkey is a backdrop and a context for people and events on the everyday stage of life. Perhaps the most thrilling aspect of travel is to become an active participant in this landscape.

As in all human interaction, the basic rule is equal partnership, giving the roles of host and guest. This rule defines mutual respect and a shared sense of responsibility as the guiding principle in an adventure where the parties involved are, by definition, different in their outlook and way of life.

When Turks entered the tourism arena not so long ago, they were armed with a tradition of hospitality rather than sophisticated facilities or a service mentality. Although Turkey now has an excellent tourism infrastructure, the motivation of most Turks remains one of sincerity and courtesy.

The desire of Turks to be understood and liked, to communicate and learn about people from other lands, and be on equal terms with them as citizens of the world is a much more important motivation. They would rather make long-term acquaintances, spend time together, exchange cards, letters and gifts than receive large tips for help rendered.

This attitude may change as the tourism industry develops more in the coming decades and much still depends on the visitors. But, at least for now, the sweetness of the Turkish people is unspoiled.

Greetings involving welcomes, handshakes, hugging and kissing on both cheeks, followed by a “How are you? How is the family? How is your health? How is business?” are important rituals. It is expected that everyone will inquire about the health and well being of everyone else present before anything else. During religious holidays, greetings are even more important. Young people visit and kiss the hands of the elderly family members. Every friend and family is visited in order to renew bonds and kinship. Children receive pocket money and gifts, and social charity obligations are met. Like elsewhere, these are joyous occasions.

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