Mar 4, 2008

Traditional Turkish Wedding

A traditional Turkish wedding consists of several different parts such as going to bride’s house, the engagement, the henna night and the wedding ceremony. There may be some differences from region to region (for example in the eastern region the wedding lasts 40 days and 40 nights or in another region the henna night takes more than one night ). The Turkish wedding ceremony also has some similarities with the Christian wedding such as the bride and the groom being introduced to each others’ families.

When a man and a woman decide to get married, the very first thing they have to do is to arrange for the families to meet. It is a custom for the groom’s family to go to the bride’s house to ask for the girl’s hand in marriage for their son. Before visiting the bride’s house, they buy a large box of chocolates and a well arranged bouquet of flowers. The meaning of the chocolates is “let’s eat sweet and then talk sweet”. The two families start a polite conversation in order to get to know about each other, and while they are chatting the bride offers Turkish coffee to the members of each family. She then presents the chocolates brought by the groom’s family, and the polite conversation is carried on to the climax of the ultimate intention of the visit. It is also acceptable for the members of the bride’s family to ask personal questions about his education, where he works and what his intentions are for the future.

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After this, the eldest member, if not a grandparent then the groom’s father, opens the subject by saying that the young people have met and have decided to be united, and as tradition states, they officially want the girl’s hand in marriage with the permission of her family. In reply, an elder member of the bride’s family speaks, nowadays usually stating that the young couple has agreed amongst themselves and it is now only natural that the family agrees. The bride and groom-to-be kiss the hands of the eldest members of each family, and they begin to talk about the engagement, henna night and the wedding date. When they have decided on the date, they begin to talk about the arrangements like how and where they will get engaged, when the henna night will take place and then, of course, details about the wedding ceremony. It is also a custom for the groom’s family to ask what is required by the bride’s family regarding jewelry or endowment money.

The engagement itself is usually carried out by the bride’s family. On the engagement day the members of each family go to the arranged place of the engagement. The groom’s family are responsible for buying the gold band which will be placed on the ring finger of the right hand and also either a solitaire or a three, five or seven stone diamond ring, a gold or diamond set (comprising of necklace, earrings, and bracelet), and close relatives such as aunts and uncles will also give a gold bracelet or some other types of jewelry. An appointed elder member of the family will make a short speech as each gold band is placed on the fingers of the couple. The rings are connected by a red ribbon, and when the rings are placed the red ribbon is cut, making the engagement official. The newly engaged couple then kisses the eldest members of each family, and the younger members of each family bring the engagement cake to the room. It is also traditional that if the engagement takes place at the bride’s home, the younger members of each family go out with the couple for the evening.

The most important part of the Turkish traditional wedding is the “Kına Gecesi”, or Henna Night. This night belongs to the bride, so only the women come to the bride’s house that night. The bride-to-be is sat on a chair with a veil over her head (usually red) to hide the bride’s tears. Next, young girls with candles set in henna-filled dishes in their hands walk around the bride and sing traditional songs. When the songs end, the prayers start. After the prayers are completed a female member of the family prepares the henna and puts some of it into each palm of the bride. The bride closes her hand and doesn’t open it until the mother-in-law places a gold coin in her palm. This represents wealth or luck or sometimes both. Afterwards both hands are covered and tied with a red cloth-glove and the celebrations begin. Everyone eats the home-made meals, and afterward all dance together and have fun. This is the last night of that bride will stay with her family and enjoy her single life.

It is also traditional for the groom to have a stag night with his friends in order to say goodbye to bachelorhood. The groom usually gets together with his friends and goes out to a place with entertainment where they usually get the groom quite drunk and stay out until the early hours of the morning.

The wedding day itself, is usually quite chaotic. The bride is off to the hairdresser where she will be prepared and pampered while the groom is collected by his friends and the wedding car is sent to the car wash and florist. The groom is taken to the barber, and the same treatment of being prepared and pampered is carried out on him. Once ready, the groom and the driver go off to the bride’s home and collect her from her father’s house. Then they are off to the location of the wedding ceremony. The wedding registry is carried out by the marriage official. Once the ceremony is over the bride and groom go to the family elders first, where they are congratulated as the elders present them with “takı”, this being the normal gift of gold or diamonds as is deemed suitable.

The service of the meal begins and entertainment is followed until late. The official dancing is started off by the bride and groom with a slow dance and then other family members join in. Gradually the floor is filled by the other guests at the wedding. Traditional dances continue throughout the evening. The wedding cake arrives later in style. It is normal for the bride and groom to stay until a majority of the guests have left.

Although the times have changed and some customs are not as strict as they were in the past, there are still a lot of traditional ways that continue, such as the family meeting, the engagement and the henna night.

More Wedding Traditions

1 comment:

Amazon said...

Excellent description of a Turkish wedding.