Turkish Hospitality

To follow up on Leah’s last post, I also have had times of selfishness since we arrived. I tend to be pretty laid back, but sometimes I’m so laid back that I can view her concerns as petty, worry-some, or not that big of a deal, which is wrong. It should be “a big of a deal” because she is my wife and it is my responsibility to show her love. To shrug off her concerns like they’re unimportant is telling her she’s unimportant. This week it is my goal to make sure I am putting the concerns of my wife before my own.

On Thursday of last week we got our first taste of Turkish hospitality. Our neighbor across the hall brought us a plate with food a couple of days previous. Fortunately, we were informed it is customary to return the plate with food on it. So we bought some baklava and situated it decoratively on the plate with some grapes.


Turkish Sweets

Şeker Bayram is a holiday including lots of sweets!


It was about 8 pm when we made our way across the hall to knock on the door. We figured with it being so late, we would be arriving after dinner. We were welcomed into their home, and the family scattered everywhere. I noticed plates in the living room which they quickly relocated to the dining room table and added two more places.

As we sat in the living room while dinner was prepared, we began our attempt to communicate with the father and three kids. We found he and the two oldest children learned a little English in school. During the very broken conversations that followed before, during, and after dinner, we were able to communicate that:

  1. We are from Michigan and Michigan looks like a hand on a map.
  2. We are both teachers.
  3. I grew up on a farm.
  4. How much we liked the food.
  5. We were done drinking çay (tea).

Our neighbors were able to communicate that:

  1. Leah was very cute.
  2. We should drink more tea.
  3. They were happy we came.
  4. We should eat more.
  5. We should drink more tea.
  6. The father has lived  in Turkey his whole life.
  7. The mother makes the best baklava.
  8. We should drink more tea.
  9. We were invited back on Sunday for Şeker Bayramı.

The two hours we spent with our new neighbors was definitely a learning experience. I’m not going to lie, it was also awkward at times. Turkish people are a lot more comfortable with silence than we are. When there’s such a big language barrier, you don’t have a whole lot to talk about. But we tried… and tried… and tried. And we won’t give up. Turkish is not easy, but we are hoping to learn the basics with a little practice and interaction.

Yesterday we spent another few hours at our neighbors house for Şeker Bayramı. From what we gather, this holiday is celebrated at the end of the Ramadan. In Turkey, it is as major a holiday as Christmas in the United States. This holiday lasts three days and is filled with visits to family and friends. Since many have been fasting throughout the hours of daylight, Şeker Bayram is a time filled with eating sweets (Şeker = sugar!). That being said, yesterday we found out that Turkey has delicious chocolates, and our host does indeed make the best baklava.

We have found the Turkish people to be very friendly and hospitable. They will drop anything or miss a scheduled event to spend time investing in relationships. Often I get so rushed and busy that I forget to invest in relationships. Our neighbors have unknowingly reaffirmed the value of quality time and fellowship with others.

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  • Reply Holly McKee

    Love the posts! Keep them coming. I also really love Baklava … I’m pretty sure I would just eat my way through Turkey 😉

    August 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm
  • Reply David

    Thank you! It’s hard to say no to good Baklava!

    August 21, 2012 at 10:13 am
  • Reply Hillary Leatherman


    August 22, 2012 at 11:57 pm
  • Reply simge

    Great post 🙂 Actually this is the Ramadan festıval but due to an old tradition people also call it ‘şeker’. Every child during the festıval, comes to your apartment and celebrates the festıval just to take the candy that you will offer them! 🙂 İf you ever need any turkish help you can find me at ‘talkingturkish’ in skype or in twitter. Bol şans! 🙂

    November 6, 2012 at 3:59 pm
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