2THE ORIGIN OF TURKISH PEOPLE Turkish people (Turkish: Türkler) are a Turkic ethnic group speaking Turkish and primarily living in Republic of Turkey, and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities have been established. Indeed, the Turkish minorities are the second largest ethnic groups in Bulgaria and Cyprus. In addition, as a result of modern migration, a Turkish Diaspora has been established, particularly in WesternEurope, where large communities have been formed in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. There are also Turkish communities living in Australia, the former Soviet Union and North America.
4Religion in TurkeyIslam is the largest religion of Turkey with 99.8% of the population being registered as Muslim, while other sources give a little lower estimate of 96.4%. Most Muslims in Turkey are Sunnis forming about 72%, and Alevis form about 25% of the Muslim population. There is also a Twelver Shia community which forms about 3-5% of the Muslim population. Among Sunni Muslim presence in Turkey there is a small but considerable minority of Muslims with Sufi heritage and affiliation. Christians (Oriental Orthodoxy, Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic) and Jews (Sephardi), who comprise the non-Muslim religious population, make up 0.2% of the total.
5As of today, there are thousands of historical mosques throughout the country which are still active. Notable mosques built in the Seljuk and Ottoman periods include the Sultan Ahmed Mosque and Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul, the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, the Yeşil Mosque in Bursa, the Alaeddin Mosque and Mevlana Mosque in Konya, and the Great Mosque in Divriği, among many others. Large mosques built in the Republic of Turkey period include the Kocatepe Mosque in Ankara and the Sabancı Mosque in Adana.
7Other religionsThe remainder of the population belongs to other faiths, particularly Christian denominations (Greek Orthodox, Armenian Apostolic, Syriac Orthodox,Catholic and Protestant), and Judaism (mostly Sephardi Jews, and a smaller Ashkenazi community.) Turkey has numerous important sites for Judaism and Christianity, being one of the birth places of the latter.
8There are many churches and synagogues throughout the country, such as the Church of St. George, the St. Anthony of Padua Church, theCathedral of the Holy Spirit, the Neve Shalom Synagogue, the Italian Synagogue and the Ashkenazi Synagogue in Istanbul. There are also many historical churches which have been transformed into mosques or museums, such as the Hagia Sophia and Chora Church in Istanbul, the Church of St. Peter in Antakya, and the Church of St. Nicholas in Myra, among many others. There are probably 10 to 20 thousand Bahá'ís, and around a hundred Bahá'í Local Spiritual Assemblies in Turkey.
10SecularismTurkey has a secular constitution, with no official state religion. The strong tradition of secularism in Turkey is essentially similar to the French model of laïcité. The constitution recognizes the freedom of religion for individuals.
11Despite its official secularism, the Turkish government includes the state agency of the Presidency of Religious Affairs (Turkish: Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı), whose purpose is stated by law to "to execute the works concerning the beliefs, worship, and ethics of Islam, enlighten the public about their religion, and administer the sacred worshiping places". .
13Weddings in Turkey: Colorful, Traditional and Lavish Gold, banknotes and the color red are the dominating elements of a Turkish wedding ceremony. No expenses are spared to make the occasion special for bride, groom and honored guests. A lavish and cheerful atmosphere is characteristic of the unique wedding ceremonies of Turkey.
15A 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.
16When 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.
18The 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
19The engagement itself is usually carried out by the bride’s family, whether at her home or at some outside location. On the engagement day the members of each family and the friends of the couple 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 as seen to be appropriate. 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.
21The 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.
23The wedding day itself, as everywhere, is usually quite chaotic The wedding day itself, as everywhere, is usually quite chaotic. The bride wears a bright wedding dress and veil, adorned with a red sash around her waist and red bows on her dress or in her hair. The bridal veil is also important, but nowadays, traditions are changing and even the traditional marriages have brides wearing dresses without bridal veils. Bright colors are worn because they reflect joy and happiness. The groom is dressed in a tuxedo or dark suit.
25During the ceremony the couple signs the marriage registration book in front of the mayor or an official acting on behalf of the mayor. As soon as the book is signed, the bride and groom race each other to step upon the top of his or her spouses shoe, which brings immediate cheers from each side of the family. The winner of the race is believed to be the person who will dominate the family from that moment on.
26The wedding dinner, which consists of many courses, follows The wedding dinner, which consists of many courses, follows. During the meal, traditional music is played, and often, professional dancers perform. An important part of the celebration is the 'Dance of the Fathers', where the fathers of the bride and groom dance around each other and are equally showered with banknotes and gold coins.
27Finally, the bride and groom cut the wedding cake.
29BIRTH TRADITIONSBirth, the first of the turning points in life, is almost always regarded as a happy event, in Turkey as in the rest of the world.
30After birth: Practices after birth can be grouped as regarding; The child’s umbilical cord and placenta,Accouchement,The forty-day threshold,The forty-day precautions.
31Child’s Umbilical Cord; There is a belief that the food and drink a pregnant woman consumes, and the people, animals and things she looks at all affect the child, the same belief applies to the relation between the child and the umbilical cord and placenta. That is why the child’s umbilical cord cannot be thrown away haphazardly without, it is believed, influencing the infant’s future, employment and life.In the light of this belief, the umbilical cord;is buried in the courtyard of a mosque. (For the child to be a devout person)is thrown over a wall or into a school garden. (For the child to be an educated person)is buried in a stable. (For the child to be an animal lover)is thrown into water. (For the child to search for his/her destiny elsewhere)
33Accouchement;Women who have just given birth are referred to as “loğusa”, “lohsa”, “emzikli”, “nevse”, or “kırklı”. The length of time a woman who has just had a baby will stay confined to bed depends on her own physiological condition, the question of whether the birth was a difficult or an easy one, climate, environmental considerations and how much the woman is loved by her family.It is a common belief in Anatolia that women are under the influence of various supernatural forces during accouchement. “The grave of woman in accouchement is open for forty days” (the accouchement period is believed to last forty days), is a saying commonly used in traditional areas that supports this belief.
35The forty-day threshold belief; People in Anatolia call any sickness experienced by the mother or the baby and any failure to regain health within 40 days of giving birth as “the falling forties” or some similar name such as name; “kırk basması”, “kırk düşmesi”, “loğusa basması”, and It is a common belief that a number of living things and objects will harm mother and newborn baby in the forty-day period after birth. Practices and measures to prevent the ‘falling forties’ are very common.
36Forty-day precautions; Washing the mother and child within 40 days of birth to prevent them falling ill within that period is known as “making the forties”. It is commonly referred to as “kırklama”, or “kırk dökme” and “kırk çıkarma”.“Making the forties” is still a common practice today as in the past among those customs and practices related to birth.