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10 Interesting Facts About The Turkish Culture You Might Not Know

Are you ready to delve into Turkey’s fascinating and rich cultural traditions? This article will explore ten fascinating facts you might not know about Turkish culture. So, whether you are planning a trip to Turkey or want to broaden your cultural horizons, buckle up and prepare for our selection of the top ten fun facts, customs, and curiosities about one of the world’s most fascinating cultures, contributed by a local Istanbul guide.

Here are the top 10 interesting facts about Turkish Culture.

1) Why Is Turkey Called Turkey?

The first question that comes to mind when thinking of Turkey is how this country has the same name as an animal. The truth is that Turkey, officially known as the Republic of Turkey, is not named after the bird, or vice-versa. Turkish people refer to their country as “Türkiye,” derived from the Seljuks of the House of Turkmen, a tribe that initially settled in the region in the 11th century.

Meanwhile, the bird was named “turkey” by Europeans who mistakenly believed that it came from the land of Turkey, when in fact, it was brought to Europe from North America by Spanish explorers in the 16th century.

2) Turks Like To Take Time Easily

Turks see time as a flexible concept that should be enjoyed rather than rushed. In fact, Turkey has a cultural custom known as “saat kulesi” or “tower of time,” which reflects the relaxed lifestyle of the Turkish people and is deeply rooted in their daily routines.

In Turkey, it is normal for meetings to start a few minutes late or for plans to change at the last minute. The flexibility given is a sign of respect and consideration for the time and needs of others; this gives Turks greater spontaneity in daily life and a greater focus on relationships and connections.

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3) The Traditional Turkish Sport Is Oil Wrestling

You probably have never heard of this, but Yağlı güreş, also known as Turkish oil wrestling, is a traditional sport that has been played in Turkey for centuries. In this sport, two competitors, known as “pehlivans,” cover themselves in olive oil and wrestle until one pins the other to the ground; the winner is considered a hero in the community.

There are many competitions held throughout the country each year. The most famous is the Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival, held annually in Edirne since 1362.

4) Turkish Culture Is One Of The Most Hospitable In The World

Imagine walking through the beautiful streets of Istanbul while eating a wonderful Turkish Pide, smelling the scents of bakeries, and being mesmerised by the thousands of colours of the city, when suddenly you can’t find your way back home, and your battery is down. Hence, you find yourself forced to ask for the information.

When a similar scenario occurs in Turkey, you are safe, as you will see people do whatever they can to help you. But here’s the thing: Turkish hospitality is about being helpful and welcoming in many other ways, especially when you come to their house.

Turks are very proud of their cuisine and love to share it with others. Meals are always prepared with love and care, and guests are encouraged to eat as much as they like. In addition to traditional Turkish dishes, they will often treat you to tea, coffee, and sweets.

5) Turkish People Love Tea

Turks love drinking tea, especially black tea. Whichever the occasion, it doesn’t really matter in the end: you will undoubtedly see Turks savouring their tea at any moment of the day. After being in a typical restaurant, you may realise how vital this drink is for them. In fact, before paying the bill, they will certainly treat you to a delicious tea free of charge!

Remember that refusing a cup of tea can be disrespectful to some people, especially if invited to someone’s house.

6) Turks Are Very Fond Of The Nazar Amulet

Known worldwide as the best-selling Turkish souvenir, the Nazar amulet is a blue stone shaped like an eye.  In Turkish culture, it is believed to protect the wearer’s beauty and wealth from others’ envy.

According to Turkish cultural beliefs, one should put the evil eye stone in a visible spot to attract negative energies and destroy them. If you are travelling for your first time to Turkey, don’t be surprised if you see many people wearing bracelets and necklaces with the evil eye stone or in the rearview mirrors of cars and on the doors of houses.

Ps: If you are looking for the perfect souvenir, take a the help of a local tourist guide in Istanbul to purchase the best Evil Eye item!

7) Turks Aways Greet The Elderly First

Respect for elders is an essential part of Turkish culture; it reflects the values of family, community, and wisdom of older generations.

When you are in a room with several people, you should always start greeting the oldest person in the group. If the person you greet is elderly and you are much younger, you should kiss the elder’s hand and place it on your forehead as a sign of respect. This gesture is called “önünde eğilme,” a way of showing reverence to an older, more experienced person.

Another gesture of respect towards the elderly in Turkish culture is to stand up when they enter a room or leave. This shows that you recognise their status and value their presence.

8) “Fal” – The Turkish Coffee Fortune Telling

You have certainly heard of Turkish coffee, a world-famous beverage prepared by boiling coffee powder in the typical Turkish cezve. However, you will be pleased to know that coffee is not only a drink but a symbol of hospitality, friendship, and even fortune-telling for the Turks.

Indeed, coffee is so essential to them that they have associated seer powers with those who can read its signs. The practice – named “Fai” – originated during the Ottoman Empire and has since become a beloved tradition.

It works this way: after a cup of coffee is finished, the mug is inverted onto a saucer and left to cool. Once the cup has cooled, the person able to read the coffee’s signs will look inside the cup and interpret the patterns and shapes formed by the remaining coffee grounds to reveal insights into the drinker’s past, present, and future.

9) Hygiene Is Essential For Turks

Turks place a high value on personal hygiene and find it strange to enter a house wearing shoes.

When you enter a Turkish house, take off your shoes to demonstrate respect for the host and help maintain the home’s cleanliness and hygiene. Some homes may provide you with slippers or socks to keep your feet warm and comfortable. This tradition is also observed in Turkish mosques and other religious spaces.

Also, to respect their hygienic habits and not be rude, remember not to blow your nose when sitting at the table or in a meeting with other Turkish friends and perhaps choose to go to the bathroom.

10) Turks Are Very Superstitious

Turks are pretty superstitious, and in addition to believing in the evil eye, they believe in ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. Here is a list of the ten most curious behaviours adopted by Turks to ward off evil spirits and attract good ones:

1.    Knocking on wood

When someone is talking about negative things, like an illness, according to Turkish cultural beliefs, you should grab your earlobe, make a kiss sound, and knock on a piece of wood so that the lousy energy goes to the wood and the devil can’t hear it.

2.    Biting the tongue

Turks bite their tongues when they recognise they are about to say something that might drive evil spirits. The purpose of this custom is to remind them to “speak no evil.”

3.    Itching Of The Right Hand

According to a Turkish cultural belief, if your right hand is itching, it’s a sign you will soon receive an expected amount of money.

4.    Cutting Nails At Night

Turks tend not to cut their nails during the night; it is seen as a sign of attracting bad luck.

5.    Lending Sharp Objects

Turks are very careful when lending a knife to someone. Before giving it, you must put it down or spit on it.

6.    Eating In a Bathroom or Bed

Some Turkish families believe eating in a bathroom or bed attracts evil spirits.

7.    Using The Right Foot When Entering a New House

As a wish of good luck, Turkish culture wants you to enter a new house with the right foot first.

8.    Pour Water On The Street

When someone is taking a long trip by car, Turks tend to pour water behind them as a wish to give the driver a safe journey.

9.    Kissing the bread

When someone drops bread on the ground, they must pick it up, kiss it and place it on their forehead three times as a sign of respect for the greatest staple of Turkish cuisine.

     10. Stepping on new shoes

According to Turkish cultural beliefs, every time you buy a new pair of shoes, you should let the first person who notices them step on them, as a wish for a good journey.


In conclusion, we have learned many new things, but remember that we have explored only a selection of the many fascinating curiosities of Turkish culture. Turkey is a country that has much to offer, and we hope this article has inspired you to explore the wonders of its culture for yourself.

So pack your bags, brush up on your Turkish phrases, and prepare for an unprecedented adventure. Turkey is waiting for you!