Turkish Customs: The Social Event of a New Home
Recently one of my fellow native English-speaking teachers married a lovely Turkish woman, who also happens to be one of my close friends since moving to Turkey about a year ago. There is no better way to understand a culture than to date a native. In fact, there is even a Turkish idiom that goes along the lines of “You won’t truly learn the language until two tongues meet.” Ironically my Western friend barely knows a word of Turkish.
Naturally after getting married they found an apartment and began filling it with furniture and wedding gifts. Then finally they went to IKEA to grab the last essential things for the apartment before they would be able to move in and finally call it home. And lucky for me—I got to help build.
In fact, there is even a Turkish idiom that goes along the lines of “You won’t truly learn the language until two tongues meet.”
In the beginning of the day, it started out easily. We had some coffee and began casually putting together a few small items, but as the day drew on, the bigger items began to taunt us and we decided to dive in.
Unfortunately one of their rooms is a tad small so it only made logical sense for two people inside to build and then move on. So I jumped in, ready to help.
Turkish Culture: The Social Event of a New Home
About an hour later the doorbell rang, it was Gamze’s (my Turkish dostum, or good friend) male friends ready to help. Once they came in and saw that I knew what I was doing, they were a bit confused but waited around in case they were needed.
About a half an hour later the doorbell rang again. It was Gamze’s brother. He doesn’t even check the progress and walked in to check out the brand new TV. To be honest, his laid-back nature is one of his best traits—and one that is quite different from most Turkish family members.
Once they came in and saw that I knew what I was doing, they were a bit confused but waited around in case they were needed.
About another half an hour later the doorbell rang and it was another friend of Gamze’s, who herself was recently married. She wanted to check out their new house, and apparently insisted that it would be better to see it before it was all set up. She walked in and saw me helping Alex, my fellow teacher, and was immediately muddled to see a girl helping while all of the men sat in the living room and relaxed in front of the TV.
About ten minutes later the doorbell rang yet again, and this time it was Gamze’s mother and father. And at this point, I thought that I’d punch someone if I heard the doorbell ring again. What started out as a casual “let’s get your house ready” turned into a full-fledged house party.
In Turkey, as I am still learning, when someone gets a new house, apartment, or anything–there is no grace period for one to set up all of the equipment and furniture. Everyone wants to see the house through all of the stages–even if this means literally getting in the way of setting up the house. Once you have guests over, you must stop everything to serve coffee, tea, and anything you could possibly have in the house.
In Turkey, everything is a social event: from building furniture in your new apartment to getting a wax at the salon.
While the house became full of people, Alex and I kept hammering away at the furniture, getting frustrated at IKEA’s lack of directions, and just getting plain exhausted from the lack of fresh air inside. Every once in a while someone would come in, and in broken English, ask if he could help, or he wouldn’t ask and instead just start moving things, which can be extremely aggravating if you aren’t used to it.
After everyone had been there for about an hour, an entourage was sent out to get food, which therefore completed the Turkish family’s stereotypical house visit.
In Turkey, everything is a social event: from building furniture in your new apartment to getting a wax at the salon, and there is no way around being force-fed tea, coffee, and the endless questions of “Why are you doing it that way?”