Daily life is the sum of efforts by family members settled in one place, in order to survive by mutually fulfilling their responsibilities.
Daily life in Anatolia concerns one fixed period, beginning with the rising of the sun and continuing till sunset.
Within this period, the duties of parents and children were shaped by conformity, customs, traditions and conventions that are the legacies of former times. On the other hand, due to changes in social and economic conditions, we can observe some changes in the way individuals carry out their duties, even if their contents stay the same.
Conformity consists of model attitudes and behaviour which often defined as the strict expectations of society. It also represents society and the cornerstones of its common values. In connection with social structure, this system of common values constitutes the basis of a special law or any code within that legal system.
It is able to designate relations, behaviour, attitudes and manners between individuals, individuals and the family, individuals and neighbours or relatives and relations between individuals, people and the nation.
With its coercive sanctions, conformity continually pressurizes every individual in a society to provide some kind of harmony between the individual and the community.
In some societies, refusing to conform is regarded in the same way as violating laws, and can sometimes be punished even more severely.
Like conformity, customs also arrange, manage and supervise many social relations. Customs have an influence on society, encouraging good order and affecting the application of rules. For example, greetings and farewells, meals and table settings, celebrations and blessings, asking a family for their daughter’s hand in marriage, engagement ceremonies and weddings, relations between the sexes, peer groups and professional colleagues, rules to be applied during greeting and inquiring after someone's health, attitudes connected with religious festivals, seasons and other important days, appropriate things to say in expressing and accepting condolences are all evaluated within the framework of customs.
Customs originate and take shape from various origins, some of which may be the way of life in the past, a range of visions, interesting coincidences and events. Beyond customs, which comprise society as a whole, there are also customs which concern a specific group such as professions, religious denominations or ethnic groups. Some religious leaders and association managers have deliberately or otherwise attempted to change a custom into a tradition. Although some customs are quite stable and continual, others may change with time. Still other customs protect their natures with small changes to reflect changing conditions, some others lose their vitality and energy, and disappear like living organism.
Broadly defined, tradition is knowledge, concepts, superstitions and way of life, which can pass from one generation to another. In other words, tradition is non-material culture. According to a narrower definition, it is a society's opinions, valid for generations, on important subjects such as sacred or political issues. Traditions can be oral or written. Like customs but in a stronger way, they play an important role in managing and shaping social life. With their conservative character, traditions influence social institutions such as the family, law, religion and politics. Arts and science are less affected by traditions. When a person goes against his community or society's traditions, he will face sanctions in proportion to the degree of that resistance. This punishment may be ostracism, offence, being scorned or ridiculed. Just as with customs, there are laws originating from traditions. Laws are intended to establish appropriate sentences for violation of traditions. In general, traditions govern a wider area than legal codes.
Compared to conformity, custom and tradition, conventions have less sanctionary influence. Something should be done in conformity, had better be done in custom and tradition and may be done in convention. Briefly, it means to do something in a way which earlier generations also followed. Although it indicates appropriate and necessary behaviour, it does not compel people to comply with these attitudes. Conventions are potential traditions, and may be innovated by changes in the structure of the community or society. Convention may survive or disappear over the time. They play a characteristic role in arranging relations in daily life, in reducing misunderstandings between individuals and in facilitating social relations among members of a group. They help relations to continue smoothly by determining how to behave when visiting neighbors or sick people, getting acquainted with someone or when traveling in a group.
Traditional Institutions - Dervish Orders
Khorasan holy men, including Haji Bektashi Veli, united the Christian residents of Anatolia and Turkoman migrants with their educational and developmental activities and played an important role in the formation of cultural unity and central authority in Anatolia. Some holy men migrated in to Anatolia, settled on mountains and empty crossroads and opened dervish lodges there. These institutions settled on empty land gradually became centers for culture, development and religious thought. In this manner, religious congregations spread everywhere, rules of morals, good breeding, attitudes and beliefs reached a high standard, knowledge and science were both produced and spread in these centers. The administration encouraged such holy men to settle in villages, and their educational activities gave them some privileges. As a result, even in the most desolate places in Anatolia, dervish lodges emerged, and with the effect of the education they provided, a common cultural structure began to form.
Haji Bektashi Veli was one of those figures who came to Anatolia from Khorasan with this purpose in mind. He was born in Nishabur, Khorasan in 1248, spent his childhood in Khorasan, and was trained in philosophy and social and positive sciences at Hodja Ahmed Yesevi’s school. After traveling to Iran, Iraq and Arabia, Haji Bektash settled in Sulucukarahoyuk in 1275/80.
At that time, Anatolia was under Mongol occupation, there was a severe social and economic crisis and fighting for political power. In that difficult climate, Haji Bektashi Veli settled in Sulucakarahoyuk, developed his philosophy and began to teach his students. His tolerance and human love based philosophy reached many people, and were taken up by them in the important center of Christianity of Cappadocia.
• Any road that doesn’t follow science, ends in darkness,
• Give education to women,
• Control on your tongue, hands and waist,
• The greatest book to read is man himself,
• Honesty is the door of a friend,
• Being a teacher is to give, not to take,
• The universe is for man, and man for the universe,
• Science illuminates the paths of truth,
• We travel in the way of science, comprehension and human love,
• Clean where you’ve settled and deserve the money you’ve made,
• Let’s be one, be big and energetic,
• Don’t hurt anyone, even though you’ve been hurt,
• Don’t ask anyone for anything that would be difficult for you to do,
• Don’t blame any nation or individual,
• Blessed are those who illuminate the darkness of thought,
• Keep on searching, and you’ll find,
• The beauty of the face consists of the words you speak,
• Don’t forget that even your enemy is human,
• The biggest God-given miracle is work,
• In the language of friendly conversation, you can’t discriminate between man and woman,
• Everything God has created is in order,
• To us, there’s no difference between man and woman,
• If you think there is, you’re mistaken.
His thoughts are based on human love and human existence. This vision is similar to the 1948 Charter on Human Rights. His thoughts were also shared by M. Kemal Atatürk 600 years later, and the Turkish Republic was built on the principles of secularism, democracy and respect for human rights. His thoughts are still alive and still lighten the way for many people. It’s not the trivet but the fire gives the heat, The miracle is not in the crown but in the khirkah (woolen garment worn by a dervish) Whatever you’re searching for, search in yourself, It’s neither in Jerusalem, Mecca nor in the Hadj.
“ There is no need to discriminate between religions. Religions cause disputes among people. In fact, all religions aim to provide peace and brotherhood on earth” says Bektashi Veli in his opus “Velayetname”. Bektashism, which originates from Haji Bektashi Veli’s ideas, aims to comprehend the unity of “Universe, God and Man” based on human love. Man is ornamented with divine characteristics. The first step to success is to know yourself and love yourself because man harbours divine qualities within himself, and the man who loves himself also loves God. This quatrain explains Bektashism’s understanding of love in the clearest way:
Students hew stone,
They hew and present it to their master,
In every inch of the stone,
They call God to mind.
Man is independent. His duty is to behave modestly and to feed, refine, mature and fill his spirit with love of God. Bodies are only tools for the main purpose. So discriminating between men and women or classifying people according to their social status or race is a huge mistake. Man or woman, all of mankind are equal. Haji Bektashi Veli’s views are still alive today and celebrated with excitement every year on the 15-17th August in the Haji Bektash region of the province of Nevsehir.
Another institution that contributes to Anatolian culture unity is ahilik. (rules, manners, attitudes of people sharing same profession) Ahi, who came to Anatolia with the Yesevi dervishes, preferred cities to rural areas because they had professions. Ahilik (being an Ahi), is not only a professional organization but also a sacred institution with its own rules, traditions, conformities and secrets. Ahi Evran Veli was a holy man from Khorasan, like Haji Bektashi Veli, who united Anatolian Ahis and made them an organized force. Ahi Evran’s wife, Sister Fatima (known as Woman Mother) set up the first woman’s organization in the world, “Baciyan-i Rum”. Ahis gathered in Ankara and Kirsehir under the sheik of Evran in the 13th century and spread to all Seljuk cities. Ahis played an important role in the formation of the Ottoman state, and to some researchers they even counted Osman Gazi, who founded the Ottoman state, his son Orhan Gazi and Sultan Murad and among their followers.
Equality between members is the first Ahi rule. All members are brothers. On the other hand, the institution has many internal rules, and beginners have a great respect for their elders. To become a member, one must be invited by an Ahi, and people with bad reputations or who have dubious jobs would never being accepted. For example, murderers, people who kill animals (butchers) or people who have committed adultery are not allowed to be members. As with Bektashism, becoming a member is celebrated with a special ritual. In this ritual, the Ahi candidate wears a special belt (Sed) and members instruct him, to treat everyone equally and honestly. Absolute affiliation and eternal obedience is expected from all members. Atheists and religious fanatics are not allowed to join. As with Bektashism, the Ahi goes through many stages in which he learns patience, purification of the soul, loyalty, friendship and tolerance.
In addition to these qualifications mentioned above, there are six important principles:
Open your hand (be generous to everyone),Share your food,Open the door of your house when somebody needs shelter,Close your eyes (don’t be led astray by the artificial beauties of the world),Control your waist (Don’t be a victim of your sexual impulses),Control your tongue.
He who comes with patience and God,
Stands by our side.
He who works with morality and wisdom and passes us,
And stands our side.
There are many degrees in Ahism. In these, the student learns professional skills, sufism and religion, reading and writing, Turkish, Arabic, Persian, music, mathematics and the Constitution of Ahi “Futuvvetname”
The nine degrees of the Ahi are:
• Young fellow
• Experienced Apprentice
• Grand Sheik
Although the Ahi institution has now weakened, it is still officially celebrated every year on the second Monday in October.
Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi is another Anatolian holy man who gave hope and inspiration to humanity. Mevlana was born in 1207 in Khorasan, and died in 1273 in Konya. He took his first lessons from his father Bahaeddin Veled, who was known as “sultan of scholars”. While he was studying Sufism he met Ahi Sems Tebrizi, and after this meeting his own ideas began to emerge. It is his poems about Sufism, however, for which he is chiefly remembered, respected and admired today.
The branch of love comes from ancient times, and its root from immortality,
That greatness is too much for this mind and morals,
Fade away, pass through your existence. Your existence is murder.
Love is nothing other than finding the truth.
According to Mevlana, love is the only thing necessary to attain God. A plant or an animal may also love, but it is only man who has the capacity to love with his body, mind, thoughts and memory. Mevlana exalts the state of being in love with a woman because if someone loves someone else, he also loves himself, humanity, the universe and God. The most beautiful love, “Love of Truth,” begins when someone reaches this level of wisdom. Followers of Mevlana (Mevlevi) spin around and around in a ritual called “sema.” This ritual symbolizes a world united in love and keeping step with the world’s universal rotation. While one of their hands points to the sky, the other hand points to the ground meaning “Love from God spreads to the earth”. The spirit bursts forth from God and is immortal. The sound of the nay (a reed flute) tells of man’s longing to return to his initial source.
He means that the universe is an endless place within the existence of God, and as a small part of the whole, man keeps that divine essence inside him by saying, “You who search for God, it’s you that you’re searching for....”
Come, no matter what you are,
Whether atheist or sun worshipper.
Whether you’ve backslid a thousand times,
Come, no matter what you are.
As we see, all mankind are brothers, and differences between religions do not square well with the divine presence. Mevlana attaches great importance to women and maintains that men and women are equal, saying, “The more you insist women should cover themselves up, the more you incite people’s desire to see them.
Like a man, if a woman’s heart is good, she will chose the path of goodness independent of your prohibitory actions. If her heart is bad, you can’t influence whatever you do.” Mevlana’s students were called Kitap-el Esrar (Clerks of the Secret). There were Muslims, Christians, Jews, Iranians, Armenians, Rums and Turks among them. His students from different cultures and religions collected his poems and gave them as a gift to later generations.
Folk or traditional medicine originated from primitive man’s reactions or attitudes to natural events. Magic and witchcraft played an important role here. In these societies, where witchcraft and religious beliefs were of great importance, disease and health were explained by external factors penetrating and harming the body. People’s efforts to find solutions to these diseases set up the basis of folk medicine. Consequently, in traditional societies opinions on disease and health were born as a part of folk culture. For this reason, practices related to this issue are the realm of anthropology, ethnology and sociology, while technical analysis falls under the disciplines of medicine and pharmacology.
Folk medicine is different rather than to modern medicine. Traditional medicine lives among the people as a part of their culture. In traditional societies, any information about a disease is shared by others. This information is passed through the generations. People learn popular medicine in the same way and they learn other cultural components.
Popular medicine perfectly harmonizes with cultural components. In most cases, the patient either recovers or dies. If he gets well, it is believed that the method of treatment used was a valid one, and this method becomes permanent. However, the death of the patient does not mean that the method of treatment method was unsuitable, only that the patient was beyond its scope.
The main difference between modern medicine and traditional medicine is the causes of disease. While modern medicine tries to explain the causes of disease by germ theory, traditional medicine, which also accepts the existence of germs, explains disease by magical and supernatural events. The traditional medicine still present today is the sum of diagnosis and treatment which people have recourse to in underdeveloped or developing countries where modern medical facilities do not exist or because of their religious beliefs. The main reason for traditional medicine's acceptability can be explained by the fact that beliefs change very slowly. In Turkey, especially in conservative communities, we still can see examples of traditional medicine, although fewer than formerly. People who have methods of treatment of their own are known as ''old women'' in Turkey, and are in fact traditional physicians. Their medicines (known as old woman's medicine) sometimes have a positive effect on disease and sometimes don't. These experienced people learn treatment methods from their parents, and try to cure diseases by using their own drugs based on animal, vegetable and mineral products. Most of them apply treatment in their own homes, while others treat patients in laces which can be considered ''folk hospitals.'' Folk physicians use plants for their drugs. These medicinal plants and herbs are commonly used in Turkey. Some of these are very popular among people and are often used in homes, while others can only be recognized and used by folk physicians. There has been considerable research into these medicinal plants and drugs, and large numbers of publications about them issued by faculties of pharmacology.
Forms and lengths of treatment in folk and modern medicine are sometimes quite similar. For example asprin used as a painkiller appeared as a development of quinine and cocaine, which had been used by folk medicine for a long time. In the same way, research has proved that some herbs used in folk medicine were really effective in curing disease.
In general, we can say that modern and folk medicine interact with each other. While focusing on the causes of disease, modern medicine benefits from folk medicine in order to improve the range of treatments available. Also, folk medicine uses every opportunity to benefit from developments in modern medicine. Within this framework, in some cases folk medicine has given way to pharmacological drugs. However, some people do not trust modern medicine in cases like the evil eye or when someone is under the influence of an evil spirit. Both folk and modern medicine are used in some diseases, like asthma or to deal with heart problems. Cancer and other diseases which requires a surgeon are totally left to modern medicine.
As a result, in conservative regions, the attitudes of residents towards disease are shaped by cultural factors. Research shows that not only educational levels but also peoples’ economic situation influences this attitude. Contacts with big cities, and the availability of transport also enhance the tendency towards modern medicine. This tendency is most commonly seen in the young. Whether educated or not, rich or poor, some people still use folk medicine for specific diseases, and visits to shrines and folk methods of dealing with fractures or dislocations can still be observed.
In spite of this, researchers point out that there is a general movement in the direction of modern medicine, and this tendency may be slow or fast depending on the region’s socio-cultural and economic profile.
a) Ice is put on the sting. If ice is not available, the wound is washed with cold water or mud is smeared on it.
b) A bunch of parsley is wrapped around the affected area.
c) The victim rubs garlic on the sting.
a) A towel is moistened with vinegar and pressed onto the brow, neck, hands, feet and the whole body. This operation is repeated until the patient’s temperature gone down.
b) An aspirin is dissolved in lemon juice and rubbed on the patient’s body, beginning with the forehead.
c) A mixture of grain alcohol, aspirin and few drops of olive oil is rubbed on the articular parts of the body.
A pigeon egg is consumed every morning for 40 days as the first meal of the day.
a) The leaf of a black cabbage is heated and placed on the affected area. This operation is repeated frequently.
b) A mixture of boiled and mashed linen seeds, henna and naphtha oil is rubbed on aching parts of the body. This operation continues a few times a day.
c) A cream is made from dry tobacco and raki. The affected areas covered with this cream.
d) Thin sand is roasted, a few olives are added and the affected areas are covered with this mixture while it is still warm or hot. This operation goes on for three or four days.
Unrefined salt is dissolved in hot water, and the feet are washed in this solution for ten minutes.
An onion is mashed with either salt or olives and placed on the sprained area.
a) A potato is cut into slices and coffee sprinkled on them. These slices are placed on the forehead.
b) Round lemon slices are placed on the forehead.
c) The patient covers his head with the gall of an animal, mixed with henna, for a few hours.
a) Linen seeds are mashed with sugar and eaten.
b) A piece of bread is roasted, moistened with vinegar and placed on the chest.
The throat is covered with a piece of cotton with pepper and grain alcohol.
a) Medlar leaves are boiled and drunk as tea. This continues until the stone is ejected.
b) Water with parsley or yogurt is drunk every morning.
The shell of an egg is burned till it becomes ash. The victims breaths in this ash when his or her nose starts to bleed.
a) Garlic is rubbed on every morning.
b) The middle parts of wild roses are boiled and drunk as tea.
Okra is cooked in milk and placed on the finger.
Mint and dried linden flowers are boiled with lemon and drunk as tea.
Garlic is rubbed on the sty.
a) Diarrhea will end if a glass of soda pop with an asprin inside is drunk.
b) A spoonful of coffee is mixed with lemon juice and eaten.
c) A small cup of yogurt is mixed with a similar cup of baking soda and eaten.
In summer fresh and in winter dry stinging nettles are boiled and drunk as tea every morning before breakfast.
The patient eats red halvah (a sweet prepared with sesame oil, various cereals and syrup) and fat is rubbed on the ears.
A mixture of vinegar and bran is heated, and the stomach covered with the mixture.
The patient uses fish oil for calcified areas.
A little leek water is poured into the ear.
The bite is covered with a bread poultice.
a) The patient drinks milk with honey.
b) Inula is boiled and drunk as tea.
c) The patient eats sesame oil as the first meal of the day.
d) Verruca flower leaves are chewed and swallowed.
a) Eggplant is cooked in hot ashes and mixed with powdered henna. The ointment is placed on the affected area and covered with a clean towel.
b) Peach leaves are boiled and drunk as tea for ten days.
c) The patient eats hedgehog meat.
d) The patient swallows the seeds of the elderberry plant.
Shortness of Breath
a) Stingling nettle tea is drunk every day.
b) Black radish is hollowed out and filled with honey. A small hole is opened in the radish and a cup put under it. The patient eats the honey that flows out after waiting for a night.
c) Cones are boiled and drunk as tea.
a) The patient drinks a spoonful of honey mixed with a spoonful of lemon juice every morning for a few days.
b) Apple and lemon peel and linden flowers are together boiled and drunk every morning.
c) The patient eats raw parsley.
Dry cat tail is heated and the ashes rubbed onto the affected parts of the body.
a) The patient eats a mixture of mashed chestnuts and sugar.
b) A pot of barley is boiled in a large cauldron of water. Once the temperature of the water has gone down to an appropriate level, the patient climbs inside the cauldron and waits for an hour. This application is repeated for a few days.
c) A bunch of the herb sultan is put in a cauldron full of water and boiled. The patient climbs inside the cauldron and remains in it for an hour. He repeats this procedure for a few days.
d) The patient is buried up to his neck in animal faces and stays there for an hour.
e) The patient drinks one cup of grated celery root.
For healthy hair and to avoid baldness, vine stems are chopped in the spring time. The liquid that drips from these stems is collected in a bottle and the hair washed with it.
The patient's forehead or chest is scratched with a razor blade.
a) A strong massage is applied using a cup.
b) Honey and pepper are rubbed on the affected areas. This is covered with a perforated newspaper and a towel, and the patient spends the night like this. The operation is frequently repeated.
A small herb with pink flowers known as "malaria weed" is boiled and drunk as tea.
Cuts and Boils
a) The wound or boil is covered with poaceae, if this is not available, cabbage leaves or tomatoes may also be used.
b) Soap and a small pinch of salammoniac (ammonia) are together cooked with an onion and applied to the boil when the ointment is warm.
Bites by Poisonous Animals
The head of a match is scraped and this is rubbed on the affected part.
In more conservative regions, economic life mostly depends on agriculture and raising livestock. Barnyard animals are the main source of money and food for the people of Anatolia, so they value their animals and consider them as a member of the family. Popular or folk veterinary medicine means the methods and practices employed by Anatolian people when they are unable to reach to a veterinarian in order to cure and protect their animals from disease. Some examples of these methods and practices are following;
The animal's ear is cut. The capillary vein under the eye is also cut with a knife.
Fractures and Dislocations
In the case of a fracture, dough composed of flour and egg is spread out on a clean towel and the fracture covered with it. In order to avoid any kind of contact with the ground, a bandage is made with the help of a splint which is 1-2 cm longer than the leg.
Internal and External Parasites
Yellow tar is very good for this disease. One can produce this tar by using dry parts of the juniper tree. These are put in a pot while a hole under the pot is opened. The resin which trickles out of the pot is called yellow tar and used for both internal and external parasites.
This disease is also treated with yellow tar. Tar and oil are mixed and heated. The affected parts are covered with this paste.
A swollen throat or chin on an animal is known as butterfly disease. When the animal coughs, people decide that there are parasites inside it.
When an animal’s abdomen swells, people feed it with milk and sugar. The animal may also eat soil. On the mountains, when an animal’s abdomen swells, the shepherd takes milk from the animal, mixes it with soil and feeds it with this mixture.
Folk Calendar And Meteorology
We may define the Folk Calendar as a systematic arrangement of time and life, assuming the task of remembering religious, historical, traditional, educational, religious, legal, agricultural, political and economic ties established by relationships based on long-term experiences between natural events, social institutions and events inherited by the people of a particular region; in essence as a cultural inheritance. Apart from the popularly used calendars, folk calendars, also known as local calendars, give different names to the parts and divisions of the year, and sometimes ascribe positive or negative features to them and to various natural events.
According to widespread belief, not complying with the folk calendar and ignoring its stipulations leads to significant losses, since the folk calendars are products of the natural and cultural environment in which they form. In local calendars, while some divisions of times are explained by natural events which happen on a regular, cyclical basis, these divisions may also be accounted for by social events within a community, such as religious ceremonies, relationships with other communities that affect that society, a novelty introduced to the society, a change in forms of production, the death of an esteemed person etc.
We can define the majority of principal factors that go to make up folk calendars as type of production, and related elements and institutions of the social structure; the economic occupations concerned, practices accumulated around emphasized elements of production in the society, related occurrences and the belief system. In principle, it is observed that the economic structure of the society and the occupations in it, which determine its economy, appear most influential in the formation of folk calendars.
In Turkey, where the great majority of the population is Muslim, people use two different calendars today:
1. The “kameri calendar” that divides the year into 12 parts in the light of the changing phases of the moon every 29/30 days. This calendar regards the year as consisting of 354/355 days.
2. The “semsi calendar”, the solar calendar which is generally used all over the world and which is based on the movement of the earth around the sun that lasts 365/366 days.
People use both these two calendars when referring to special traditional days. They use the lunar calendar for religious festivals, and the solar calendar, which indicates the seasons, for other rites and activities.
We can observe differences due to various causes in the naming and division of the months. In some regions, February is called “Gücük (küçük)” (small) because it is shorter than the other months. Planting, livestock raising and fruit growing also lend their names to various months in popular calendars, such as Koç Ayi (the month of the ram), Orakayi (the month of the scythe) or Kiraz ayi (the month of the cherry).
The year is divided into two parts, Kasim and Hidrellez, in most folk calendars. Kasim begins with the month of November as per official calendar and lasts until May 6. This period is the winter. Hidrellez begins on May 6 and ends in November, representing the summer. The winter period is divided into three main parts, each of which has 45 days: Kasım, Zemheri, and Hamsin. The first 135 days of the winter period, that is regarded as consisting of 180 days, are called “numbered” or “counted”. This is the period when the winter is harshest. There is another 45-day period, which completes the winter, starts on March 21 and ends on May 6. This period is called “dokuzun dokuzu” (nine of nine), “april beşi” (fifth of april), “leylek kışı”, (winter of the stork), or “oğlak kışı” (winter of the baby-goat), etc. This calendar is of vital importance for those sections of society dealing with agriculture and livestock raising. They need to know the “counted” days to protect their animals and plants from severe cold.
Low levels of technology leads some societies to use experiences and observations going back to hundreds of years in order to predict atmospheric events, and a high success rate can attract considerable attention. In traditional communities, in which the most important element affecting life is nature, information regarding weather forecasting assume an important place within the cultural whole. Determining weather conditions before setting out to fish or on migration becomes a precondition for the proper fulfillment of the activity.
In societies dealing with agriculture, information related to the phases of the moon is of great importance. For example, if the moon is in crescent form and its open end is pointing up, this is interpreted to mean that it will soon rain. The time for sowing seeds in the field is also determined by looking at the phases of moon. The first phase of the new moon is called “ayın aydını” (moon bright), and the form it takes after a while is called “ayın garangısı” (half moon). People avoid sowing in the first days of the new moon and wait for a while.
Observing the activities of human beings, animals and plants is effective in weather forecasting, which is of vital importance for people in rural areas. For instance, if poplar trees start to shed their leaves from the top, this means it will be a harsh winter. In the same way, if pine trees a great many cones, it means the winter will be long and difficult. Animal behavior also gives clues about the weather. Rain is to be expected if sheep lie down facing the qibla (the point toward which Muslims turn to pray, esp. the Ka‘ba, or House of God, in Mecca).
Since lack of rain in the rainy season carries with it serious consequences, people tend to think that they should do something about it. Ceremonies held to encourage rain are among the elements of Turkey’s rich folk culture heritage. These come under two main aspects:
a. “Rain prayers” which adults attend,
b. Game-like ceremonies in which children also participate.
The rain prayers in which grown-up people attend are usually performed in open air where there is a grave or shrine and it is led by an imam. The imam prays and the people attending the ceremony joins the prayers; and then an animal is offered as a sacrifice; and then a meal is given to the attendees. A specific number of stones are collected and people pray over these stones. Then, the stones are thrown into water. If it rains sufficiently, these stones are taken out of water.
In the rain prayers which children attend, the youngsters usually gather together and visit all the houses in the vicinity, collecting cooking oil, flour, sugar, etc. Food is then prepared with what they have collected. Meanwhile, they also play and arrange festivities among themselves.
We may define Folk Calendar as a systematic arrangement of time and life, assuming the task of remembering religious, historical, traditional, educational, religious, legal, agricultural, political and economic ties established by relationships based on long-term experiences between natural events, social institutions and events inherited by people of any region, in essence as a cultural inheritance. Apart from the popularly used calendars, folk calendars, also known as local calendars, give different names to the parts and divisions of the year, and sometimes ascribes positive or negative features to them. According to widespread belief, there are some powers that need to be avoided or else abided by in the seasons, months, weeks, nights, days and even hours of the folk calendar. In local calendars, while some divisions of times are explained by natural events which happen on a regular, cyclical basis, sometimes these divisions may be explained by social events within a community, such as religious ceremonies, relationships with other communities that affect that society, a novelty introduced to the society, a change in forms of production, the death of an esteemed person etc.
In forming folk calendars, numerous factors play an important role.
Geographic Factors: Mountains, rivers, valleys, vegetation and domestic and migrating animals that are to be found in the settlement area affect the formation of the folk calendar.
Climatic Conditions-Seasons: There are numerous examples of reflections of climatic conditions and season in folk calendars in Turkey, such as “Zemheri” (intense cold), “Hamsin” ( the period of fifty days that follows the coldest days of winter), “Erbain” (forty days of winter), “Eyyam-ı Bahur” (the hottest days of summer, the first week of August), “Cemreler” (it is believed that warmth falls from the sun first to the air, in February, and then to the air and water) “Mart Dokuzu” (nine cold days of March, still considered as winter, not spring), “Leylek Kışı” (winter of the stork), “Oğlak Kışı” (Winter of the baby goat), “Kocakarı soğukları” (winter of the old woman, the middle of March), “Hıdırellez” ( May 6th, generally considered as the beginning of summer time), “Ekim Zamanı” (Time of planting), “Hasat Zamanı” ( Time of reaping), “Bağbozumu” (harvesting of grapes, end of summer), etc.
Natural Events: Reflections of major events may also be observed in folk calendars, such epidemics that lead to significant numbers of deaths in the human or animal population, flood, drought, the earthquakes in Erzincan and Gediz.
Celestial Incidents: The visual forms of the moon, stars, star clusters and the falling of shooting stars have influenced the formation of some folk calendars. Some beliefs and practices in Turkey in relation to the North Star, the “ülker” star and lunar and solar eclipses are examples of this.
Religious Factors: Various sacred nights (Kandiller) of the Muslum community, sacred months, points related to the Hadj pilgrimage or benevolence, religious bairams (festivals) celebrated in Turkey on the basis of Islamic principles are some examples of the formation of local calendars.
Economic Factors: Economic activity defines social structure, implementations and practices accumulated around production. Events and beliefs related to economic life create the framework of folk calendars. The best example of this is the names given to months in some regions:. “Döl tökümü” (the shedding of semen, March), “Çift ayı” (month of farming implements, April), “Göç ayı” (the month of migration, May), “Kiraz ayı” (month of the cherry, June).
Social Events: Social events such as revolutions, periods during which various political parties were in power, victories and defeats and migrations also affect the folk calendar.
Naming of days, Weeks and Months:
In Turkey, where the great majority of the population is Muslum, people use two different calendars:
1. “Kameri calendar” that divides into 12 parts due to the changing phases of the moon every 29/30 days. This calendar regards the year as consisting of 354/355 days.
2. “Semsi calendar”, the solar calendar which is generally used all over the world. This calendar is based on the movement of the earth around the sun. According to this calendar, the years lasts 365/366 days. People use both these two calendars when referring to special traditional days. They use the lunar calendar for religious festivals, and the solar calendar which indicates the seasons for other rites and activities.
The most frequent traditional method used to show the time of a specific event is taking that event as a historical landmark. For example “Seferberlik” (Mobilization for war, the 1914-1918 War), “93 Harbi” (The war of 93, 1876), Balkan Wars (1912), The Erzincan Earthquake (1939).
Day and night are periods of time beginning with sunrise and lasting until dawn. In contrast to the practice in the West, in Turkey a new day is considered to begin when the sun goes down. For instance, when the sun goes down on Thursday, it is accepted that Friday has begun.
Altough everybody knows and uses the general names of the days of the week, in some regions and villages some days also go by different names. For example, in the Cal district of Denizli, Thursday is known as “Friday night” and Wednesday is known as “lighty”. Different names used for the days depends on the locations of market places.
In calendars used by agricultural and livestock raising communities, the seasons and the divisions within these seasons over the year need to be set out in a systematic way to reflect the same weather conditions. Therefore, in these regions folk calendars do not vary much from the solar calendar, since both of them share the same principles. Still, we can observe differences with various causes in the naming and division of the months. For example, in the Cal district of Denizli, the year is divided into eight months and each season consists of two months.
Spring: March (22nd March-5th May)
Hidirellez: (5th May-21st June)
Summer: Solstice (22nd June- 13th August)
August (14th August- 21st September)
Autumn: Autumn (22nd September- 5th November) November (6th November- 21st December)
Winter: Zemheri (intense cold) (22nd December-21st January)
Extreme Winter (1st February-21st March)
In Giresun, too, we see that there are different names for the months:
Zemheri (January), Gücük (February), Abrul (April), Kiraz (June), Orak (July), Haç Ayi (September), Avara (October), Koç Ayi (November), Karakis (December). Karakis means “blackwinter” , the word black has a negative meaning here. Karakis is often used in all folk calendars to define a month or some parts of the winter. Agricultural workers are unable to work at these times of the winter, and these are particularly difficult times for them. One period of time, called avara (vagabond), indicates that planting activities are over and that agricultural workers now have a lot of free time on their hands.
In most folk calendars, February is called as Gücük (small) to to the fact it is comparatively short. Planting, livestock raising and fruit growing also lend their names to various months in popular calendars, such as Koç Ayi (the month of the ram), Orakayi (the month of the scythe) or Kiraz ayi (the month of the cherry).
In Anatolian calendars, apart from the mating of rams, there are also other specially-named periods defining seasons or months, such as “the shedding of semen”, “the month of the lamb” (this refers to March in the Kars region) and “head of semen”. Of course, these particularly named periods do not coincide with the official calendar.
The commonest way of dividing a year into seasons is to divide it into two parts: Kasim and Hidirellez. Kasim begins with the month November as per the official calendar and lasts until the 6th May. Hidirellez begins on the 6th May and ends in November.
In eastern parts of Anatolia and some other regions largely inhabited by Alawite communities, Nevruz (22nd March, or 9th March old-style) is considered as the beginning of the new year. This date is also celebrated and considered as the beginning of the spring and the new year. In some parts of eastern Anatolia, the belief is encounterd that that on Nevruz the Prophet Noah left his ark on Mount Ararat and walked to the Sürmeli temple with people gathering around him. According to the beliefs of the Narlidere Tahtacilari (an Alawite group), His Grace Ali was born on Nevruz, and Nevruz is the beginning of the days of summer. “God created long days in summer so that endless work might end, and created short days in winter so that insufficient food should become sufficient”. The Tahtacilar also regard Friday as the birthday of Ali.
In most parts of Anatolia, during the countdown from winter to summer, some days in a two month period are referred to within a countdown system begin with nine and then seven, five, three and finally one.
The following explains how these days are listed in Gaziantep:
Seven: end of January and three weeks of February, five: end of February and three weeks of March, three: end of March and first week of April, one: end of April and first week of May. These numbers (nine, seven....) also show how many days are left until the next new moon. This tradition of the Turkish folk calendar was set down in a Turkish-Arabic dictionary written in 1551 on Ottoman territory. In this dictionary, December is referred to as “nine”.
At the same time, the division of the year is also linked to the stars. The star ”Ulker” begins to appear in November and fades away in May (hidirellez).
Examples of Names Given to Days (Diskaya village in Usak)
Monday: Gula Bazari
Tuesday: Gula Bazar Ertesi
Wednesday: Esme Bazari
In folk law, the residents of a village form a court to solve a problem in the event that they face an issue that requires the presence of a court in their village, and they are either unable to attend one elsewhere or for some reason do not want to go to the official courts.
Folk law orders, arranges and orients social life, and can have a wide sphere of competence, including marriage, divorce, matters of ownership and inheritance, relations between relatives and neighbours, disputes over boundaries, honor, robbery and questions of debt.
Sanctions that are applied in folk law include condemnation, accusation, social pressure, ostracism, fines, etc.
It is obvious that folk law contributed to the formation of many elements of modern law.
Folk economy is one of the main components of popular culture, and also plays a major role in cultural structure. In rural parts of Anatolia, economic life mostly depends on agriculture and livestock raising.
The term of folk economy refers to the all various ways in which people try to make a living. Although popularly regarded as a single factor, in fact, it covers the whole of social life, including even folk architecture or beliefs, and directly shapes social structure. Beekeeping, activities in mountain pastures, migration, hunting and handicrafts are supplementary parts of the folk economy.
The folk economy also influences popular beliefs, as in the examples below:
- Seed sowing must be carried out in April. Approximately one month before sowing, the different seeds are taken from the house and placed in the garden. (In order for the crop to be plentiful)
- People do not give seeds to their neighbours before they sow their own gardens. (It is believed that this will protect the prosperity of the household)
- The seeds of sweet-tasting foods are put in the garden first, and hot and bitter-tasting food seeds are put in after. (in order to make the year sweet and peaceful)
- Woman do not sow seeds or plant young trees if they are menstruating. (In order for the crop to be plentiful)
- Ribbons of different colors are tied to cows’ tails. (In order to maintain the cow’s milk output)
- Old people go outside their houses when it is hailing, shake to the noise of the thunder and shout: “Let my churn be speedy”
- During, and three days before religious festivals, people do not cut branches off trees, since they believe that the branches are performing their ritual prayers.
- People let their oxen enter the house on New Year’s Eve. If the ox enters the house with its right hoof first, it is believed that whole year will be plentiful.
- On New Year’s Eve, women throw beans at the walls. (In order to live in prosperity)
- People come together and pray for rain. If there is too much rain, however, then they pray together for it to stop.
- Anyone who draws water from a fountain on New Year’s morning is believed to become rich.
-A few days before the New Year, mills are prepared and all flour pots are filled. It is believed that if the pots are full on New Year’s Day they will remain full for the rest of the year.
Folk mathematics means the way people use their own measuring units in their daily lives, when shopping, bartering, or in any other activities that require measurement.
In folk mathematics, people use their cups, pots or any other equipment available as measurement units.
Some examples of this are;
A kalbur (approximately 5-6 kgs) A yarim 16 kgs A sinik An okka (1 kg) Iki tas A tekne A masraba