REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

Wedding Tradition

WEDDING TRADITION

MARRIAGE

Marriage is an Association which exists since the earliest times of history and has great importance on life of human. Marriage as a term is a continuous union of a man and a woman as husband and wife under all kinds of conditions of life. That family is the foundation of the social structure has attached the event of marriage ensuring this unity a universal character. The event of marriage which has been realised in everywhere of the World in accordance with certain rules and patterns  each phase of them envisaged by the type of culture to which its bound has been showing a rich table particularly in terms of celebration, customs, common usage and tradition.

It is necessary that a number of preparations and phases have to be performed and followed up in order to realise the marriage. Phases of marriage incorporate also religious and superstitious practices. At each phase implementation of rich accepted practices, customs, common usage and traditions has become obligatory, almost they became rules and principles which manage and direct the marriage. Each and every society, in compliance with certain rules and patterns conforming to their pattern of culture, has been executing the event of marriage. Phases of marriage complete with distinct and very rich customs  in every region, province and even in every village   of Turkey   will be tried to be described by generalising them in chief points.

 

Kinds of Marriage:

Formerly in Turkey marriage within relatives was common. Today such kind of marriages have not been practised so much due to impact of urbanisation.

Another kind of marriage is that in case of death of a brother, marriage of a single or widower brother in law with widow sister-in law. (Levirat) In preference of such kind of marriage the purpose is not to allow properties go out after death of brother as well as situation of children. Similarly it is also possible when sister dies sister-in law takes the place of her sister (Sororat).

Another type of marriage is “taygeldi” marriage. In this marriage while widow can marry widower, marriage of sons and daughters with one another is also possible.

Types of marriage through kidnapping a girl have been taking an important place. It is possible that girl and boy run away on mutual agreement in addition to  a girl is kidnapped by force. In some regions, there is also a type of kidnapping girl and marriage  called custom of “oturakalma”. In this type of marriage girl goes home of the man that she loves and settles there.

Another type of marriage which was often practised in the past is “beşik kertme”. While children were yet in their cradle their engagement was made. In the past rejection of marriage by girl and boy when they reach their age of marriage put the family in difficult situation and caused experience of bloody events. This type of marriage has not been often practised today.

Another kind of marriage experienced in Turkey is marriage of “iç güveysi”. In this marriage man settles in the home where woman lives.

Usually in case of  inability to pay the necessary amount of money for the girl and absence of a son on the part of the family of woman to perform their works this type of marriage is preferred.

In another type of marriage called “Berder” or “değiş-tokuş, değişik” ( exchange, changing) a family with daughter and son gives and takes girl to/from another family who has son and daughter. Such kind of marriages release the obligation to pay money to the bride’s family (Başlık).

Another type of marriage procedure is however marriage of a girl whose marriage age expired with a widower. It is also possible that a single man who was unable to marry because of various reasons may marry a widow.

According to Turkish traditions marriage between foster brothers and foster sisters is not possible. Children who suck breasts of mothers of one another are considered as brother and sister according to the religion.

In some regions marriage with more than one wife at the same time (polygamy) has been also practised. That wife unable to have a baby or she is invalid, sick is the cause for such kind of marriage. In this case solemnised marriage is on the first wife and children from the other wife is registered on the first wife.

Age of Marriage:

Although age of marriage varies according to regions today in areas where traditions are observed same has been varying between age of 17-22 for men, in some places it has been sought that men should complete their military service, and in some places however it becomes important for men to marry before their performance of military service. Similarly in the traditional section girls marry between 17-20, age difference between women and men varies between 4-5 years. Keeping the order of sequence in marriages has been still effective in some regions.

In an attempt for marriage society did not entitle women and men the same right. Man and his family takes initiative in this situation, but woman and her family remain  passive. The first step comes from man and his family.

Act of go-between (Görücülük), To Ask a Girl’s Hand in Marriage:

In the traditional section marriage process starts with seeing and looking for a girl. Families who want to marry their sons begins looking for girl firstly starting from their relatives, neighbours, close friends. In this matter their neighbours and relatives also help them in their effort.

In great cities of Turkey  where cultural changes are more effective marriages through directly meeting and agreement have been gradually spreading; and “Görücülük” has been still the main type of marriages which are witnessed at places where traditional procedure is more effective. “Görücülük” is that several women elected among  members of family of the man wants to marry, relatives and neighbours pay a visit to the home of the girl who was formerly proposed by relatives and examine the girl closely and reveal their intention. This procedure is called “seeing a girl, to send woman to see girl, woman sent out to inquire about a prospective bride” (“kız bakma”, “görücü çıkma”, “dünür gezme” in Turkish). After their affirmative judgement about the girl time is granted to the prospective bride’s family both for their thinking and gathering information about the prospective bridegroom. As the result of affirmative agreement by both parties task of such persons come to end. Inasmuch as the fact that the work of seeing prospective bride is done by women in the process of asking the girl's hand in marriage assume the duty as well.

In the process of asking the girl’s hand in marriage care is taken to include among those who will visit the prospective bride’s family such respectful persons who could not be refused by the bride’s family, together with close relatives of the prospective bridegroom’s family. Because the prospective bride’s family is reluctant, visit for asking the prospective girl’s hand in marriage is repeated several times.

Agreement to Marry:

Agreement to marry (söz kesimi) follows the process of asking the prospective bride’s hand in marriage. Both families who reached an agreement by way of “Dünürcülük” (women sent out to inquire about a prospective bride) agree on marriage before crowded guests, which is called “Söz Kesme” (agreement to marry). Engagement is completed by attaching a ring and an embroidered kerchief bought by the prospective bridegroom’s family. In some regions “Söz kesimi” is also called small engagement ceremony. Sweet dessert (ağız tatlılığı) brought by prospective bridegroom’s family is distributed to guests immediately after agreement by both parties to marry their children. Even today in some regions the prospective bridegroom is not present at the time of this ceremony. According to the attitude of the prospective bride’s father the bridegroom who is present in the bride’s home and the prospective bride both kiss hand of guests. Thus ceremony held for agreement to marry is completed.

In this meeting jewellery to be bought for the bride and amount of money to be paid to the bride’s family or amount of money to be paid for the pride’s mother are decided in an agreement. Today, in various regions the tradition for receiving money from father of bridegroom has ceased to exist, but instead of it  a certain amount of money changing according to poorness or richness of the family, which is given to the bride’s mother as called “mother’s share” has been given.

Engagement   

The step coming after the ceremony for  agreement to marry is engagement. Engagement ceremony is held in the bride’s home. Costs of engagement in some regions are borne by the bridegroom’s family.

After designating  the date for engagement ceremony an invitation called “invitation to neighbours” is made. Guests who gather together on the day of engagement in the bridegroom’s home go to the bride’s home. In the traditional sections of the community women and men separately sit in the bride’s home, and after having lunch jewellery called “takı” is given to the bride who dressed in special dress for engagement ceremony by her mother-in law and relatives of the bridegroom . In some areas the bridegroom does not come to the bride’s home. In this case engagement ring is worn by the bride via a woman coming from the bridegroom’s home. In an engagement ceremony where the bridegroom is present rings worn by the bride and bridegroom are placed by an old man on ring  fingers of their right hand with accompaniment of standard words and wishes.

It is known that residence of towns rich and susceptible cultural changes rent wedding hall for engagement ceremony  and women and men sit together during celebration of engagement. In cities however this celebration is performed more freely.

No definite rule is imposed for period of engagement. This period depends upon agreement of both sides. While it is considered natural that engaged couples may meet each other in cities, in districts preserving traditional proceedings such meetings are allowed only through permission of members of the family or some one may accompany them. In case of breaking off an engagement it has not been so easy for girl and man to marry others in the same area. If  the party who broke off the engagement is the girl all jewellery given as wedding present must be returned back. If the man’s family break off the engagement nothing is returned. 

Wedding:

Wedding ceremonies are generally start on Tuesday and end on Thursday, or start on Friday and end on Sunday. Costs and expenses of wedding are met by the bridegroom’s family. Despite differences in accordance with various locations wedding may be classified mainly as planting a flag, women’s entertainment of the night next before the wedding day the bride’s fingers freshly tinged with henna (Kına Gecesi), fetching the bride, bride’s veil.

Before the wedding as is done in the course of engagement ceremony invitation is distributed and everybody is invited for the wedding. While the bride’s family tries to complete preparations for trousseau, the bridegroom’s family tries to complete articles which required to be bought for the bride and which have been previously determined.

A wedding flag is planted by men coming from the noon prayer and friends of bridegroom at the bridegroom’s home. At some regions such thins as apple, onion, mirror, etc. are placed on top of the flag. Thus the wedding gets started.

Night Next Before The Wedding Day, A Women’s Entertainment Where Bride’s Fingers Are Freshly Tinged With Henna ( Kına Gecesi):

This night in which the bride will be together with her family, relatives and friends all of which are women is just before the day of fetching bride as known the main wedding day. This night which is called “Kına Gecesi” is celebrated in the bride’s home. The bridegroom’s family and other guests are met and hosted in the bride’s home.  

Usually dry henna brought by the bridegroom’s family  is broken to pieces in a silver or cupper vessel by  a woman whose father and mother alive, not experienced any separation. After preparing the bride, veil ornamented with red flake is placed over her head, and she is brought into the middle with accompaniment of hymn, folk songs about henna. Hands and feet of the bride are dyed with henna. The bridegroom’s side is under the obligation to put money in the hand of the bride. Dying ceremony of henna is different according to regions. The henna so dyed has such names and types as “iplik kınası” (henna for yarn), “sıvama” (smearing), “kuşgözü” (bird eye).

After leaving woman who came together for dying henna close friend of the bride remain with her and enjoy themselves till morning. 

In some of our regions henna dying ceremony for bridegroom is also held in the bridegroom’s home.

Process To Fetch The Bride (Gelin Alma):

This day is named as “Gelin Alma” (to fetch the bride), “kız alma” (to fetch girl), “gelin götürme” ( to carry the bride), etc. Everybody is invited to fetch the bride. Guests go to fetch the bride on foot if not far, or by cars if too far to go. In some regions the bridegroom has not been allowed to accompany the bridal procession. Wedding flag, drum-pipe is included in the bridal procession. In some regions the bride is prepared by elderly women (yenge) who help and attend the bride, but today generally in hair dresser, and then she is taken by those who came from the bridegroom’s side.

“Maidenhood Belt” (Bekaret kuşağı) is tied around the Bride’s waist by her brother or her close relative and then the bride says good-by to those who stay in home. The bridegroom’s family, having paid money for chest and money for door, causes the bride to get into the car.

After travelling around the village with the accompaniment of drum-pipe the wedding procession arrives in the home of the bridegroom. Mother-in law gives a gift to the bride when she comes in front of the door. After sequence of implementations believed to affect humour of the bride, the bride in the bridegroom’s arm is taken inside. After a while the bridegroom is taken out by his friends to bring him back at night. After bridegroom’s shaving, bath and dressing ceremonies the bridegroom is taken to the mosque for prayer at night (Yatsı Namazı) and then he is brought back home with ceremony. Religious marriage ceremony is performed for the bride and the bridegroom who is brought with accompaniment of hodja (preacher). Upon performance of this celebration which confirms the marriage the bridegroom is allowed to enter the nuptial  chamber.

Nuptial Chamber (Gerdek)

An elder woman in the nuptial chamber causes the couple to hold each other’s hand. The bridegroom performs his ritual prayer, and then opens the bride’s face after giving her present to see her unveiled face. They eat the meal offered by the bride’s family.

In traditional communities virginity is extremely important. A certain mark is sought. Absence of such mark is the cause for the bride to be sent back. The elder woman who comes to make the bed receives the money left by the bridegroom.

In some regions in the morning of the night of the nuptial chamber the bride is elaborately dressed and a ceremony is held with participation of women only. This is called “duvak” (veil), “gelin ertesi” (after the day of bride), “gelin sabahı” ( morning of the bride). In this ceremony the bride is caused to dance, her sheet is showed to those who are present. This is a tradition which has been no longer practised in some regions today.