Turkish culture

The culture of Turkey combines a heavily diverse set of elements from the days of the Byzantine, Ottoman, European, Asian and Middle Eastern traditions. The nation’s culture has undergone a deep change over the past century as it transitioned from the Ottoman Empire into today’s Republic. Turkey’s culture is somewhat unique in that it has been and has influenced cultures ranging from Austria to China, Russia to Africa.

National holidays

January 1st - New Year’s Day

April 23rd - National Sovereignty Day and Children’s day – commemorates the first opening of parliament.    

May 1st - Labour Day

May 19th - Commemoration of Ataturk, Youth and sports day

August 30th - Victory Day – commemoration of the final battle of the 1922 Turkish war of independence

September 9th - Liberation of Izmir- Observed only in the city of Izmir

October 6th - Liberation of Istanbul- only in Istanbul

October 29th - Republic day- celebrates the proclamation of the republic in 1923.

Ramadan – Religious holiday lasting 3 days

Turkish customs

Several customs in Turkey are related to body gestures and it’s important to know how to avoid embarrassment or cause offence. In Turkey, people shake hands when meeting although this may be classed as inappropriate if between sexes. When sitting with Turkish people it is considered rude to show the soles of your feet, be sure to point your feet away from people. Turks traditionally sit crossed legged on the floor which can be uncomfortable for foreigners. Pointing at someone is also considered exceptionally rude.

Yes and No can be confusing. In Turkey it is customary to nod your head to indicate yes; however shaking it will give people the impression you don’t understand as this is what it means in Turkish culture. The way to indicate no is to nod your head whilst raising your eyebrows.  You should also be aware that overt displays of affection towards members of the opposite sex are frowned upon. It’s also classed as rude if you blow your nose in public; it is customary to cover your mouth when doing it.

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