YOUR FUTURE IN A CUP OF COFFEE
Drinking Turkish coffee is a centuries-old ritual, enjoyed best in company and sometimes followed by some fortune telling.
As the poet says,
"Not the coffee, nor the coffeehouse is the longing of the soul
A friend is what the soul longs for, coffee is just the excuse".
Turkish coffee differs from percolator and instant varieties, in terms of the way it is grinded and served. Coffee beans are roasted a few times and then grinded very fine. Turkish coffee is prepared in tiny pots called cezve, which can be used to make two cups of coffee at each shot. For perfect coffee, first put two cups of water in the cezve, and then add two spoons of Turkish coffee. When the coffee starts to boil, a thin layer of foam will appear on the surface of the liquid. Using a spoon, distribute this foam among the cups. Then boil the coffee in the cezve until it foams up again, and break it among the cups. This boiling action gives it its unique taste. Traditionally, each cup of coffee should be served along with a glass of water. Sugar may be added to taste into the cezve right before the cooking stage. One will be asked to specify the amount of sugar when ordering, sweet, sekerli, medium sweet, orta sekerli, and plain, sade.
Yet, the most distinguishing feature of Turkish coffee is neither the way it is grinded nor the way it is boiled. Turkish coffee is unique because it allows your fortune to be told by looking at the cup. This custom of coffee cup reading is at least as old as Turkish coffee itself, and it is repeated with each and every cup consumed. While this can be done casually among friends, it is also possible to consult professionals. So how a coffee cup is read, how can shapes trapped in a tiny cup reveal the future?
Firstly, the coffee should be drunk only from one side of the cup. When the coffee is finished, the saucer is placed on top of the cup, and a wish is made. With the saucer still covering the top, the cup is held at chest level and turned counter-clockwise a few times. Following this, the cup is turned upside down onto the saucer, and left to cool. Sometimes a coin may be placed on top to make the cup cool faster and to dispel bad omens that could be read from it. When the coffee cup is cool enough, someone other that the person who drunk the coffee opens the cup, and starts interpreting the shapes for divination.
Coffee cup reading is a widespread and popular fortune telling method, which speaks of both the past and the future. For divination purposes, the coffee cup is considered in two horizontal halves. The shapes in the lower half talk of the past, whereas shapes in the top half talk of the future. The shapes that feature on the right side are usually interpreted positively, while shapes on the left are interpreted as signs of bad events, enemies, illnesses, troubles, and the like. According to another belief, the coffee cup can tell the past but it can only foretell forty days into the future. Hence the practice of coffee cup reading cannot interpret the future that lies beyond forty days. In addition, if, at the reading stage, the cup and the saucer are firmly stuck, and the person is having trouble separating them, it is believed that this particular cup should not be read. This is a case of “prophet’s fortune telling,” where it is assumed that the person who has drunk from the cup is lucky, and does not need to have their fortune read. Similarly if a large chunk of coffee grounds should fall to the saucer as the cup is being separated, the interpretation is that the owner of the cup will soon be rid of all troubles and sadness. According to another standard interpretation, if coffee drips onto the saucer as the cup is opened, the person who drunk is to soon shed tears.
After the interpretation of the shapes within the cup, it is time to interpret the shapes in the saucer, where the majority of the coffee grounds have dripped. The saucer is generally interpreted as the home of the person whose cup is being read, and it is said to give clues about their domestic life. If there are large blank areas on the saucer where the coffee has not touched, the interpretation is a sense of relief that will be experienced in the person’s home. If however the shapes on the saucer are confused and disorderly, this is taken to mean that there will be a funeral or illness-related crowd in this person’s house. During the reading, the reader holds the saucer straight and waits for coffee grounds and coffee to flow. At the end of the reading, the saucer is flipped over once. At this stage, if a drop of coffee manages to get behind, and half way into the saucer’s radius, this is taken as a sign that the wish made will come true. Another important consideration while reading someone’s coffee cup is not to say things that will make a person too happy or too sad.
Whether it happens spontaneously after a meal, or delivered by a professional, the ritual of having one’s coffee cup read is a widespread divination practice characteristic to Turkish coffee. Today, in Turkey, the number of coffeehouses which employ professional coffee cup readers is on the increase. Hence you enjoy a fine cup of Turkish coffee, and get mystical glimpses into your future.
A FEW PROVERBS
Oral tradition continues with proverbs. When considering daily life, proverbs embody the deepest feelings and beliefs of the Turkish people. They reveal a nation's character in its finest details.
Following is a selection of some proverbs from among thousands:
- If God wants to make a poor man happy he first makes him lose his donkey and then allows him to find it again.
- He who handles honey has the chance to lick his fingers.
- When a bald man dies, everybody remembers "what golden hair he had"; when a blind man dies, they say "what beautiful eyes he had".
- Two tightrope walkers cannot perform on the same tightrope.
- A vinegar seller with a smiling face makes more money than a honey seller with a sour face.
- The hunter is sometimes hunted.
- Stretch your legs to the length of your blanket. (Know your limits)
- Water priority to the youngsters, talking priority to the elders.
- You reap whatever you sow.
- A pen is sharper than a sword.
- A tree is bent while yet it is young.
- There is nothing more expensive than what is bought cheaply and there is nothing cheaper than what is bought expensively.
There are certain amount of unreasoning beliefs among people living in a community, arising sometimes from fear, sometimes from helplessness, and sometimes from coincidences. They are called as “superstitions”. These beliefs have been existing since the creation of first human being. Great number of them are not related with any scientific basis, reason, contemporariness and religious faith. Although they have noting to do with wisdom and reason, unfortunately they could not be removed and eliminated from heart, brain, conscience of human being. In emerging of such kind of beliefs both natural structure of persons and illiterate words of elderly persons, as well as of some religious officials have been effective. Even if beliefs have shown variation from person to person they have also some common aspects. Superstitions which we were able to collate are listed hereunder:
- One cannot eat meal by putting his one foot over another, it means disrespect to the table and it is considered as the sign of famine.
- A mirror which is broken may bring bad luck; it is said, house where mirror was broken cannot get well for a period of seven years.
- Thirteenth day of a Month is considered as ill-omen; nothing is done on this day.
- One cannot pass in front of a car.
- It is considered as ill-omen that a rabbit may pass in front of a car.
- To put on trousers by standing up is the sign for poverty.
- Milk cannot be given to nobody in the darkness of night, it is said that if it is given then cow does not produce milk any more.
- Whenever quince is abundant it is said that winter will pass heavy.
- Any child who plays with fire makes wet his/her bed.
- It is considered as the sign of dead when owl sings at heaves of a house.
- It is said that if you say something in forty times it is achieved.
- It is improper to call someone as pig; whoever says such word, it is believed, has no appetite for forty days.
- When giving a milk to somebody, a small piece of coal or a green leaf is put into milk; otherwise it is believed that animal will no more produce milk.
- That crows fly around a house is not considered as a good luck.
- One should not set out at the time of Friday Praying.
- No work is done between “Sala” and “Ezan” (call to prayer) on Friday.
- Laundry is not done on Saturdays and Tuesdays.
- Child cannot be let alone, if it becomes necessary then a broom is put beside the child.
- Laundry vessel is not let to remain on fire for along time, otherwise it is said that somebody dies in that house.
- “Nazar Boncuğu” (bead worn to avert the evil eye) is attached to children to avert evil eyes.
- When cones of pine tree are too many, it is the sign that the winter in that year will pass hard.
- Whoever covers quilt on Wednesday gets ill.
- It is forbidden to jump over a child, otherwise the child remains short.
- That clothes of child remain outside until the sunset causes the child bewitched.
- No sweeping work is done at nights which are considered holly by religion.
- It is considered improper to make visits at night for a women given birth a child.
- It is believed that anybody who finds clover with four leaves will bring luck to him/her.
- It is considered that when a dog howls during “Ezan” is herald of death.
- If a baby creeps, a guest will come home.
- Hands should not be bound together, if so that person becomes unsuccessful.
- Finger nail and toe-nail are not cut together, if so it is believed that that person would face with one sorrowful act and one joyful event.
- While yawning mouth is to be closed, otherwise it is considered that the person who yawns without closing his/her mouth cites “Ezan” to the Devil.
- Scissor cannot be passed from hand to hand, because scissor is considered as enemy.
- Yeast for bread is not given to neighbour after “Ezan”.
- The first hair cut from a boy is put in pocket of father believing that it will increase fortune.
- Pieces of bread are not disposed of, if they are picked up and eaten, it is said that home would have much fortune and fertility.
- It is said that whoever folds his/her hands has become non-fertile and unlucky, his/her mother dies.
- Nails cannot be cut at nights
- One should not look at mirror at nights
- Water is poured after the wedding car for bride may return to her mother’s home, turning the water vessel upside down one sits on it.
- Gum is not chewed at nights, it is said that whoever chews gum at nights he/she eats flesh of dead body.
- It is believed that whoever plays with his/her foot at night, his/her father or mother will die.
- It cannot be whistled at nights, for the person who whistles it said that he/she is calling the Devil.
- To take spider at night is considered as a sin.
- It is said that to count stars at night is not good.
- Ash cannot be thrown outside at night, hot ash cannot be poured over water; it is believed that those who perform such act will come across with curse of genie.
- Quilt is not covered at nigh.
- No passage is made over a place where laundry is washed at night, it cannot be stepped on laundry water.
- One cannot sit behind a door at night, if so, it is thought that this person would face with slander.
- Names of girls are written under shoe of bride;, it is believed that the girl whose name was not erased after the ceremony will marry.
- Nobody should pass in front of wedding car.
- It is considered ill-omen when a cock crows before the night
- It is believed that anybody who could pass under rainbow would change his/her sex.
- When somebody has the hiccups, it is said “someone mentioned your name”, and then this phrase is uttered: “he/she is a friend let him/her mention my name, if he/she is hostile, let him/her burst out.
- It is said that if a prisoner wears ring of a dead person, he/she may discharge from prison soon.
- Lead is poured for patients.
- Wedding ceremony is not made between the two Bairams.
- No handiwork is made following afternoon Prayer.
- Underwear of baby cannot be hanged following afternoon Prayer.
- Cloth on anybody cannot be sewn.
- Ash cannot be disposed of anywhere following afternoon Prayer.
- When a black cat passes in front of a man, it is considered as ill-omen.
- Spider cannot be taken following the afternoon prayer
- It is said that if someone does not finish his/her work, then his/her dead would be hard.
- Two babies cannot be let alone in a room without completing their 40th day; otherwise, it is believed that one will become tall and the other will become short, which is called “kırk basan”.
- A marriage cannot be solemnised between the two Bairams.
- If oleaster shoot, stork excrement and blue bead are tied together and placed under the armpit, that person will not be affected by the evil eye.
- Two brides are not brought into the same house.
- It is not proper to pass in front of a man going to his job.
- A man who passes through two women cannot make his wife obeyed.
- It is bad luck to hear bark of a dog; when heard it is said “ It may bark to its owner”.
- If girls eat something between two meals, their luck to find a husband becomes impossible.
- Handiwork is not made in the course of first three days of “Kurban” Bairam.
- Stepping on ash is not good, which act may cause the person to be paralysed.
- One cannot pass through a dark place, if it becomes necessary then the Turkish word “destur” (with your permission) must be cited.
- Do not step on threshold of door which stands for being subjected to slander.
- When excrement of a bird falls on the head, it means that the person is lucky and will earn money.
- Ringing of ears are accounted for ill-omen.
- A bird’s knocking on the window with its beak is the sign of news to be received.
- Nail which is cut cannot be dropped on the ground, and cannot be stepped on.
- To sit on threshold is not good; anybody who sits thereon will not be lucky.
- To see a black cat means ill-omen.
- Flight of a shooting star stands for dead.
- A baby who has not completed its 40th day is not removed from home, is not passed by graveyard; otherwise it is said in Turkish “kırk basar”.
- A boy who drinks coffee do not have moustaches, he becomes beardless.
- If a baby clenches its fingers firmly, it becomes stingy in future.
- When a baby is kissed under its foot, it is believed to walk early, when kissed on lips early to speak early, when kissed on back of the neck to be obstinate.
- If a small child looks through the space between his/her legs, it means that a guest will come home
- To enter a room with right leg stands for good luck.
- That a cat turns towards South (direction to Mecca) and scratches its head with its fore legs is accounted for rain.
- In order that a person suffered accident should not experience a new accident, salt or coin is circulated around his/her head.
- Whoever sees stork flying passes the year by travelling continuously, whoever sees it on a land stays in his/her home.
- Waste water cannot be poured in sewer, whoever pours it will be paralysed.
- It is not considered good that lying-in woman (woman who gave birth a child) may leave her home for a period of forty days.
- It is believed that if a scissor remains open in a home, a fight will start.
- To pass under a ladder is considered as ill-omen.
- It is believed that Angel stays on the right hand side of shoulder, and Satan on the left hand side of shoulder.
- When somebody dies among people of the district, water vessels which are full are discharged.
- No finger is directed toward Grave and Graveyard; if it is directed, the finger must be bitten and put under the foot.
- Blue bead prevents effects of evil eye.
- Whenever scissor is left open, it means that mouth of enemy may open.
- Candle is lighted for seven nights at place where corpse is washed.
- Do not look at nails while dead body is carried to Cemetery.
- To catch spider leads poverty.
- If eyes of dead person are open, it is believed that shortly after another person will die.
- To crack the joints of the fingers is accounted for telling beads to the Satan.
- At a market place, money for price of goods bought first of all from the Seller should be thrown on the kiosk; this action brings good luck.
- Anybody who cracks the joints of his/her fingers invites Satan.
- To see minaret in a dream is a joyful news; death brings alive, green is desire, to see having been hung is the sign that may be obtained assistance from great personalities.
- To see eggs in a dream implies bad words and gossip.
- To see white sheep in a dream construed as winter and snow
- A relative of a woman who sees penis in her dream will die.
- A person who sees a human excrement in his/her dream receives money.
- A person who sees a girl child in his/her dream receives bad news.
- A person who sees a boy in his/her dream receives joyful news.
- Anybody who holds gold in his/her hand in a dream earns money.
- Anybody who sees white horse in a dream accomplishes his/her desire.
- A twitch in right eye implies health, in left eye implies wealth.
- Hair in comb after combing is not thrown to street; if it is thrown, it may entangle in a leg of chicken, so you may have headache continuously.
- If your left palm is scratched you will receive money, if your right palm is scratched then you will spend money.
- Any work started on Tuesday is suspended, therefore do not start working on Tuesday.
- Soap is given to somebody on top of hand.
- Anybody who remains under eaves is got paralysed.
- Anybody who sews his/her dress worn would sew his/her wisdom.
- Thorn which is hung behind the main gate protects family from ill effects of evil eye, if ear is hung it brings wealth.
- Left hand is put on the head while drinking water.
- Do not set out on Tuesday.
- Woman does not pass in front of man who goes to work in the morning, if she passes that man’s business does not go well.
- It is ill-omen to boil water without purpose.
- Laundry is not washed on Tuesdays and Saturdays
- Firstly old men sit on the table of meal, otherwise the meal loses its productivity.
- If wood burn in a stove or oven by emitting sound, it is believed that gossip has been made about the resident.
- Red dress is not worn while lightning flashes.
- Slippers and shoes being upside down are not good.
- Do not speak in WC, it brings ill-omen.
- Cackle of hen implies to bring a bad-luck.
- It is believed that to knock at a wood three times will ward off all evils.
- If slippers and shoes are upside down, someone will die in home.
- A sheep is sacrificed in foundation of a newly built house.
- Water is poured behind a person who sets out.
- If anybody washes laundry on Saturdays in the course of seven weeks, then someone will die in the home.
- Do not sleep in the bed with your stocking.
- Do not burn outer coat of onion and shell of egg.
- Do not lay your face down, if so, you would be like a non-Muslim.
- Wherever umbilical cord of a baby is thrown, it is said that baby would choose that profession exercised in that place. Therefore, it might be necessary to throw it on top of tiles for getting higher ranks at its profession.
- The first person who is come across with the traveler would bring either good luck or bad luck.
- A boy baby is placed on lap of a new bride.
- A pencil is caused to be attached in hands of a new born baby for the purpose of its being in good humour and study well.
- It is not considered proper to wear ring on the left hand.
- In the first entrance of a newly married husband after marriage ceremony, it is considered a good luck for him to break a glass.
- A new born baby cannot be washed on Friday.
- If someone blows to the mouth of a new born baby, it is believed that this baby would be cordial.
- If water is poured out of a glass, it means that guest will come home.
- A bread is circulated around the head of a person who perjured himself in order to release the perjury, and then it is given to a dog.
- If a person rises his right leg at the time of taking oath, then his oath becomes unacceptable.
- If bread is circulated over a wound and thrown into graveyard before the morning “Ezan”, and then if the person throwing it into the graveyard returns home without looking back, it is believed that wound will get better.
- It is said that anybody who sleeps in bed stretching out widely will earn too much money, on the contrary anybody who sleeps in bed by shrinking will have less revenue.
- Bread or sugar is turned around a wound, and if it is given to a dog before the morning “Ezan”, wound will heal.
Families are divided into several types according to social, economic and local conditions. The traditional extended and nuclear families are the two common types of families in Turkey. The traditional extended family, generally means that three generations live together: grandfather, adult sons and sons' sons, their wives and their unmarried daughters a married daughter becomes a member of her husband's family and lives there. There is a unity of
production and consumption together with common property. This type of family is becoming more and more rare today. The nuclear family, parallel to industrialization and urbanization, replaces traditional families. The nuclear family consists of a husband, wife and unmarried children and is more suitable to modern Turkish social life today.
There are some economic, traditional and emotional conditions that form the duties and responsibilities of the modern nuclear family member. As for the economic conditions, each individual is supposed to play a part in supporting the continuation of the family. The father is usually responsible for making the basic income, the mother may perhaps contribute by working and if not, will assume full-time take care of the home. Grandparents may also supply help with incomes from their pension or returns from owned property and rents. Younger children help with the housework (re-pairing, painting, cleaning) and when older contribute by usually covering at least their own expenses. Tradition places the father as the head of the family, but the mother has equal rights. The father is the representative and protector of the family whereas the mother takes care of all the day to day things.
As Turkey is essentially an Islamic country, Islam plays an important role in the lives of women. Having begun in Arabic countries in 7C AD, Islam was influenced by the traditions and customs of these countries and the way in which women were treated. Men could marry or live with as many women as they liked, kill women and even bury new born girls alive. When Islam made marriage laws and put a limit on the number of wives allowed, it was accepted as the first system to give some economic rights to women by saving them from the sole sovereignty of their husbands.
In Turkey, following the declaration of the Republic in 1923, one of the most significant elements in the social revolution planned and advocated by Ataturk was the emancipation of Turkish women, based on the principle that the new Turkey was to be a secular state.
In 1926, a new code of Turkish civil law was adopted which suddenly changed the family structure. Polygamy was abolished along with religious marriages and divorce and child custody became the right of both women and men. A minimum age for marriage was fixed at 15 for girls and 17 for boys. Perhaps most importantly, the equality of inheritance was accepted as well as the equality of testimony before a court of law; previously, under Islamic law, the testimony of two women was equal to that of one man. With the secularization of the educational system, women gained equal rights with men in the field of education as well and no longer had to wear the veils and long garments required by the old religious beliefs. The right to vote for women was granted at the municipal level in 1930 and nationwide in 1934. Theoretically, Turkish women were far ahead of many of their western sisters at that time, for instance in France where women only gained the right to vote in 1944.
The charter of the International Labor Organization adopted in 1951, declaring equal wages for both sexes for equal work was ratified by Turkey in 1966.
Although all the new regulations brought the status of women to a very improved level, the actual status of women within the family institution did not provide for proper equality between men and women. Still today, the husband is the head of the family. A woman does the housework, and if a woman needs to work outside the home she has to get the approval of her husband. As a Turkish proverb says "a husband should know how to bring food and the wife to make it suffice" confirming once again a woman's place in the home.
Social life consists of two different places: Inside and outside the home. Women leave the outside world to the men, generally remaining in the home. Women get married at an earlier age than men and settle into their role of housewife and home maker. As the education level of women increases, the fertility rate decreases. Nearly every female university graduate has only one child.
9 million of the 21 million working population of Turkey are women. In the rural areas, the rate of working women, especially in agriculture, is very high. However, women work in this sector as an extension of their housework and not to make a living. In urban areas, women hold important posts in both public and private sectors, the arts and sciences. Today, Turkish women are bank managers, doctors, lawyers, judges, journalists, pilots, diplomats, police officers, army officers or prime ministers.
Nearly two thirds of health personnel including doctors and pharmacists, one quarter of all lawyers and one third of banking personnel are women.
As for the politics, in the elections of 1937, the number of woman MP's was 18, which meant 4.5%. Today, unfortunately, this rate is much less than before. However, Turkey has also seen Tansu Ciller as the first woman Prime Minister.
Although men and women are equal before the law, men are tolerated in regard to adultery and women are more advantageous in terms of working conditions.
A package called "Democratization of the family" is a new law preposition awaiting parliamentary discussion and enactment and it will include changes in the position of women, some of which are as follows:
- The cancellation of former obligatory permission from their husbands for women to work.
- Equality in the case of adultery.
- In the case of divorce, equality in the sharing of belongings which were acquired after marriage.
An important stage of feminism in Turkey started in the 1980s and is different from the previous stages because it was initiated by women who spoke for themselves, rather than by men who had manipulated the female image for their own political agenda. At this stage of feminism women spoke for themselves, beginning by arguing the reality of their bodies and their physical needs as opposed to the idealization and the symbolization of the female body as used for the national image.
Feminism strongly challenges the image of some Turkish women as covered, almost sexless beings and also as sacrificial mothers who would do and endure anything for their children and family.
To very briefly summarize the position of women in Turkey today, it can be said that unless you are a woman living in a metropolitan city and financially independent, life is still likely to be bound by the customs of traditional family life.
In the traditional family, marriage is still a family rather than a personal affair. Marriages are not conducted by the imam anymore as they were before the republic. By law they have to be civil. Approximately 40% of marriages are only civil, 50% are both civil and religious, 10% are only religious which means they are not legal. Polygamy is very rare and only in some villages with a rate of 3%.
It is legally forbidden to marry before the age of 15 for women and 17 for men. The average age for girls to marry is around 17-18. Early marriages are more frequent in rural areas. For young men in big cities the problems of receiving an education, military service and acquiring a job are among the reasons that delay marriage.
The continuity of a family is provided by children. With the development of people's educational levels, the belief in the continuity only being provided by sons is losing its effect.
At the pregnancy of a new bride, an excitement among family members grows. Upon hearing the good news, a golden bracelet comes immediately as a present from the mother-in-law. In rural areas a pregnant woman declares it with some symbols mostly on her clothing; her scarf, motifs on it and suchlike.
For the births, in rural places midwives are present, whereas in big cities hospitals are common. After the birth, the new mother receives presents of gold and the child gets all manner of gifts. The mother is not supposed to go out from her house for 40 days. If she works, she has a holiday of 40 days automatically. Relatives, friends and neighbors are all helpful. In the first three days only close relatives come to visit, but in the following days the others also come to visit with lots of presents. Breast-feeding continues normally until the age of two or even later and then weaning is sudden.
In Anatolia there is a custom of planting trees in the names of newly born children. Chestnut, mulberry and apple trees are planted for girls, poplar or pine trees for boys. Planting trees for boys is a kind of investment for him to be used in his marriage when he grows up.
Turkish names always have meanings. Some of the children's names may derive from the time in which he was born; Bayram (Feast), Safak (Dawn), Bahar (Spring), Ramazan (the holy month, Ramadan), or the events during the birth; Yagmur (Rain), Tufan (Storm), or express the parents' feeling about the child, if they want him to be the last one; Yeter (Enough), Songul (Last rose) and sometimes names of elder people in families are chosen as displays of respect.
When a name is selected, it is given by an imam or an elder person in the family by holding the child in the direction of Mecca (Kible) and reading from the Koran into his left ear and repeating his name three times into his right ear.
Circumcision is an operation in which the foreskin of the penis is removed. It is a practice of great religious significance among certain religious groups, notably the Jews and the Moslems. Circumcision is known to have been practiced in ancient Egypt even before it was introduced to the Jews as part of God's covenant with Abraham. In Islam, however, the authority for circumcision came not from the Koran but from the example of the Prophet Mohammed. In Islam, whatever the prophet does or says is called sunnet; therefore this word stands for circumcision in modern Turkish.
Urologists claim that circumcised males have far fewer urinary tract infections and are less at risk for catching sexually transmitted diseases than are uncircumcised males. On the other side, pediatricians say that the medical risks attendant upon the surgery far outweigh the possible future consequences of foregoing the operation.
As an Islamic country, in Turkey all Moslem boys are circumcised between the ages 2-14 by licensed circumcising surgeons. From the social point of view, the most prominent feature of circumcision is the introduction of a child to his religious society as a new member. This explains the reason for circumcision of people who convert into Moslems as a first step. It is impressed on a boy at a very early age that circumcision is a step for transition to manhood. As long as they are accepted as very important events in people's lives, circumcisions are generally made with big ceremonies in festive atmosphere.
If a family has more than one boy, they wait for an appropriate time to perform it altogether. In this case the younger child might be less than 4. In some rural areas, villagers sometimes share expenses of a circumcision feast like they do with the work. Wealthy people may take poor boys or orphans together with their children for circumcision. Charity organizations make collective ceremonies for poor boys and orphans. Considering school periods of children, circumcisions are held in summer months while the children are on vacation, from June through September at weekends.
When a family determines a date for their feast, they invite relatives, friends and neighbors by sending invitation cards in advance. Depending on the economic position of families, feasts might take place in a ceremonial hall or a hotel instead of a house. They prepare a highly decorated room for the boy with a nice bed and many colorful decorative things. Boys should also wear special costumes for this feast; a suit, a cape, a scepter and a special hat with "Masallah", meaning "God preserve him", written on it.
In the morning of the feast, the children of guests are all taken for a tour around in a big convoy with the boy either on horseback, horse carts, or automobiles. This convoy is also followed by musicians playing the drums and the clarinet.
After they come back, the boy wears a loose long white dress and, is circumcised by the surgeon while somebody holds him. This person who holds is called kirve, and has to be somebody close to the boy. In the eastern parts of Anatolia, this is the first contact of a big relationship which will continue for lifetime. He will play an active role in the boy's lifetime and have nearly equal rights with the father in decisions. This is similar to a godfather in Christianity. Although there is no blood relation to his kirve, the boy will not even be allowed to marry his kirve's daughter in order not to have incest because he is considered to have become somebody from the family.
After the circumcision, the boy is in pain and has to be kept busy with music, lots of jokes or some other animation. Presents also are given at this time to help him forget his pains. In the meantime words from the Koran are recited and guests are taken to tables for the feast meal which is a special one laid with different food changing from region to region. After a few days the boy recovers and festivities end.
Today, there is a small group of people who prefer their children to be circumcised in hospitals while they are in hospital after birth, whereby ignoring the traditional side.
Divorce is not very common. Although many women are not satisfied with their marriages, they do not have the courage to divorce. Therefore they continue their lives for their children's sake or not to suffer from the social pressure it may evoke.
The other reason is economic. If a woman does not work, she does not have many alternatives when divorced. After a certain age, in a country where employment is a problem, it is really a risk to survive.
From the legal point of view, when couples divorce, each of them gets his own belongings without taking the things obtained together into consideration. A new law proposal is waiting to be enacted in parliament. The change will allow the sharing of everything equally.
DEATH AND BURIAL
Throughout the ages in Anatolia, many different rituals regarding death and burial have been applied. Types of graves have differed. Graves under the floors of houses, wooden rooms, tumuli, chamber-like graves, rock-tombs, sarcophagi, domed or conical tombs (turbe, kumbet) and mausoleums are some places where the dead have been laid.
Although it is difficult, death is considered to be as a natural part or aspect of life. There are many people who prepare themselves for death by putting necessary amount of money for funerals in their bank accounts, keeping winding sheets ready, or buying land in a cemetery in advance. Dying as martyrs is an honorable thing. In Islam, it is believed that martyrs go directly to heaven.
When somebody dies, the corpse is laid on a bed in a separate room, the head facing the direction of Mecca, eyelids closed, the big toes are tied to each other and the two arms rest on both sides next to the body. Burial has to take place as soon as possible during the daytime. If somebody dies in the late afternoon, he is buried the next day. The corpse might rest for a period of time in a cool place or a mortuary but only if there are close relatives coming from a far away place.
According to religious belief, if somebody is buried without an ablution, he is not allowed to enter heaven. Therefore, dead people have to be washed by authorized people, and always women by a woman, men by a man. Meanwhile the death is declared from a mosque minaret by a muezzin with some words from the Koran together with his name, funeral time and place. After the ablution the corpse is dressed in a white shroud, put in a wooden coffin covered with a green piece of cloth. A martyr's coffin is covered with the Turkish flag. The coffin is carried to the table outside in the courtyard of a mosque on people's shoulders before prayers. Nobody stands in front of the funeral procession and people in the street stand up and salute the funeral motionless and in silence.
While the coffin rests guarded on the table outside, people perform their regular prayers. From within the mosque, following the prayers, they all come out and line up in front of the coffin to take part in the funeral service under the leadership of the Imam. Women are not allowed to join this service. At the end of the service, the Imam asks people what they thought of the deceased and answers are always positive: "He was good. May God bless him. Mercy be upon his soul, etc." Funeral services are not held for parricides or the stillborn.
The coffin is carried to the cemetery by a hearse followed by a long convoy. Graves are rectangular in shape and designed to accommodate only one person. The deceased is buried in only the shroud not the coffin. The body is laid on its right shoulder facing the direction of Mecca. The tombstone is on the head's side.
The Imam's prayers signify the end of the burial. The deceased is commemorated on the seventh and fifty-second days of his death with Islamic readings; mevlit. Sometimes big funerary meals or halvah are offered to the poor and surrounding people.