Prof. Dr. Metin Ayýþýðý[2]


West Thrace is actually the geographic region between Maritza and Karasu (Mesa) Rivers. It is possible to cross it with a two hours car drive. The region left over to Greece through the Treaty of Lausanne comprises nearly 150,000 Turks living in minority status.[3]





Village youngsters start to roam around by the brook in the late afternoon. While girls go up and down in their glamorous costumes, men “promenade” / roam around with their motorcycles. These meetings are very important to enable youngsters to get acquainted and understand each other[4].

A tradition called “promenade” is still alive in West Thrace where no inter-relative marriages are seen, other than marriages realized by contact of elders, friends or relative’s proposals. Youngsters are free to select adequate spouses for hem during this meeting period. Promenades start before the evening prayer (Namaz) and finish when it gets darker, after the evening prayer. Families do generally not refuse promenades. "Promenade" place is an area well known in the village or quarter, such as an open, empty field, a wood, school yards, mosque environments, street corners, road sidings but however not too far away from the public. Men participate to promenades with their motorcycles called "Papaki". [5]




Man’s Party of youngsters agreed to get married, inform the Girl’s House for a “visit and have a cup of coffee for an auspicious affair”. Girl’s House answer their acceptance by declaring that they “they may come and would be greeted”. 

Sometimes Man’s Party may desire to come and visit as a first contact, without any promenade. Firs of all a research is conducted whether the girl loved somebody in the promenade or not. If the girl has a promenade friend, the contact visit is annulled. Demand for the Girl’s Hand procedure starts by the positive answer to the Man’s Party.

Girl’s mother and father greet their visiting counterparts at the front door. They proceed to visiting room all together and they inquire after their health and general situation. The Girl enters afterwards, drawn in her attractive garments and greets visitors. The bride expresses herself by her careful attention if she prefers and wants the Groom. Candidate Bride kisses hands and inquires about visitors’ health and situations and brings in afterwards coffees she has already prepared, while hosts and visitors are continuing to cause[7]. The Girl’s coffees are sugared in case she wants the Groom or bitter in case she does not want at all. An elder person already defined from the Man’s House opens the subject then and says that "They are asking their Girl’s hand for their Son with Holy God’s permission and Prophet Mohamed’s will”. The Girl’s Party does not comment after having listened to demand and say “Let us think a little bit”, “The Girl’s House being a Coquettish house” in any case[8]. Visitors demand permission to leave after having declared their will. The Girl’s Party invite them “to come again” even though they would refuse the demand.  A second visit to demand the Girl’s hand is realized, after having informed about the visit day. Meanwhile the Girl’s Party conducts an investigation about the Groom and his family in case they do not know them well and try to get enough information about Groom’s character, profession, income, residence, properties and ancestors. If the Girl’s Hand will be given, honor is saved in terms of Girl’s Party and the demand is answered positively during the 3rd visit. If the Girl is not willing at all, go-betweens transfer Girl’s decision and unwillingness.  The Girl’s Party, having terminated their investigation and willing to give the Girl, inform Man’s Party who has visited already twice, “to come and have their handkerchief”.



If the Girl is given, the future Bride brings in handkerchiefs to in-laws representatives after the coffee session, in a circular tray. Handkerchiefs are white and triangularly folded. In-Law’s representative having the handkerchief puts his/her money gift on the tray. It is traditional to present a sum of money for each in-law representative. The Girl’s Party sends with in-laws representatives clothing wear and sweets as their sign of approval, to be presented to Man’s Party, This procedure is called “having handkerchief”. In-laws representatives arriving to Man’s Party are greeted with utter joy by the Groom and his family.



The essential “setting parole” event is realized after two days. The Girl and the Boy agree mutually on a day and gather together to set the parole with their respective families. Each Party purchases gold jewelry and clothing for its counterpart while Man’s Party prepares edible nuts and candies as dessert, to be send to Girl’s House. The Girl’s and the Boy’s every demand and wish is fulfilled during “setting parole” preparation. Man’s Party pays for the Girl’s demands and vice-versa. Gold jewelry and clothing are brought to respective homes afterwards. Girl’s apparels are sent to Boy’s house, to be forwarded to the Girl’s house and those of the Boy’s to the Girl’s house, to be forwarded to the Boy’s House.    



“Parole sewing” step comes afterwards. Relatives, neighbors and expert persons are invited for this activity. All parole sewers should be female. All materials kept on Boy’s House are taken out and large fabrics are laid down on the floor. Materials are namely Irish laced (embroidered) printed kerchiefs, shawls, stockings, perfumes, mirrors, gold items (generally bracelets, ear rings, etc) and embroidered bundles. These items are attached by dowry needles on the fabric; however the first needle should be attached by the Boy, the future Groom. The Groom’s action means fortune as a tradition. The Boy is greeted by present ladies. Parole sewing ceremony is conducted in a merry atmosphere. Sewed Paroles are hung on walls, to be represented to relatives and friends.




After co mutual paroles are brought in and sent, another custom called “conference” takes place. Conference aims families to get acquainted and absolutely takes place in the Girl’s house. Both Parties’ relatives are invited to the ceremony. The Boy and the Girl wear clothes they have already selected and purchased. Coffees are served as usual custom and causeries go on. The Boy’s mother lays down a fabric or velvet on the floor for having seen the Girl. Future Bride walks on this velvet and the tradition is called “get the Bride Walking”. Boy’s and Girl’s fingers to wear rings are attached by a red ribbon. The ribbon is generally cut out by the family’s youngest member. The pair of scissors does not cut the ribbon in the first attempt as a tradition and “pair of scissors is not sharp, they do not cut” acclamation is heard. The Groom, seeing pair of scissors not cutting at all, pays pocket money and the ribbon is cut at the end. Both Parties kiss respective relatives’ hands and the Boy’s Party attach banknote gifts to the Girl’s cloth and the Girl’s Party to the Boy’s[12]. Close relatives do generally attach gold coins and this event is called “attaching jewelry”. Sweets brought by the Boy’s Party (baklava / traditional sweet with nuts in older times, sweet-cake nowadays) are served after jewelry attachment and photos are taken as souvenir. “Opening the Fryer pan” tradition is alive too, taken place several days after the Conference. Sweet tray or chocolate box send to Boy’s House by the Girl’s Party during parole exchanges is opened by the Girl visiting the Boy’s residence. The Boy and the Girl are assumed as engaged after the Conference event. Engagement period was too long in older times where as it is getting shorter and shorter nowadays. Boy’s mother visits frequently the Girl during the period taking place between the Conference and Wedding ceremony and brings clothing garments and edible nuts according to season every times she visits her future bride. Wedding preparations are deliberated during these visits.  



“Parole materials are exchanged” on a night mutually agreed upon. Man’s Party puts all garments and apparels they have bought for the Girl in a suitcase this night, by folding the handkerchief with its “fabric”. A group of 5-15 persons from Groom’s relatives participate to this night. Coffee, fruit juice, chocolate, cookies are served to visitors in the Girl’s house. The Girl’s Party after having received the handkerchief; put all clothing and apparels they have bought for the Groom in the emptied suitcase by folding the handkerchief with its fabric and give to the Man’s Party on the same night and “Paroles are exchanged” in this way. Mutually exchanged handkerchiefs are exposed both in the Girl’s and the Boy’s houses, to enable visitors to contemplate. The Girl’s Party prepares a tray of baklava (traditional sweet with nuts) for the Parole Exchange night, to be presented to Man’s Party for a “sweet harmony”, bundles it in a fardel and delivers.

The Groom opens the tray’s fardle in his house, eats a slice first of all and the baklava is served then to others present and distributed to neighbors and close relatives. Jewelry for the Bride and several gifts are put in the emptied baklava tray when it is sent back. The tray is brought to the Girl’s house, wrapped in a fardle, on an agreed night. Edible nuts such as "koz=nut”, "padem=almond”, hazelnut, peanut, roasted chickpea, dry figs, raisin are also brought in to the Girl’s house on this night. Presents as little nuptial candies, bibelots are purchased to be distributed to Girl’s friends. Edible nuts are distributed to all villagers in paper cones or small nylon bags.  



Religious espousal ceremony (Imam Nikâhý=Muslim Prayer Leader Espousal) is realized in a day between Parole Setting and Wedding. Imam=Muslim Prayer Leader in the Girl’s Quarter or Village is responsible for the ceremony when espousal act is agreed upon, for this is Imam who knows the Girl’s Civil Status. He takes Girl’s and the Boy’s names, conducts a research in Mufti’s Office in terms of any religious countercheck (religious belief, actual marriage), receives Mufti’s Approval Certificate and gets Marriage Certificate from the Municipality. Two assignees both from the Man’s and the Girl’s Party receive both the Girl’s and the Boy’s approvals separately. Imam asks the Groom three times whether he is demanding the Girl or not. “Yes” is not sufficient; the Groom has to say “I demand” loud and clear. The Girl is questioned in the same manner and her approval is received. There is however a slight difference here, for the Speaker sees the Boy while questioning but he cannot the Girl. After the Girl’s approval is received, some gold jewelry is registered for the espousal. The Speaker informs Mufti’s Office after the ceremony and formal espousal is realized. Marriage formalities are acted through Muftis assigned by the Government in Western Thracian Population. Procedures are accomplished with ratification of the certificate within couple of days and Imam submits the certificate to the Girl’s house afterwards.

Meals and beverages are served to visitors present in the Girl’s house and the Girl’s house presents a bar of halvah=sweet dessert and white handkerchiefs to Boy’s household on the espousal night. Halvah package is opened in the Groom’s house and the Groom eats a slice, the remaining is distributed to neighbors as espousal halvah[13].



A group from the Groom’s Party goes to the Girl’s house to acquire dowries. The Girl’s house greets the Groom’s Party on the front door. The Bride’s brother or a boy from relatives sits on the dowry case after coffees are served and negotiates with somebody from the Groom’s Party (generally the Father-in Law). The boy delivers the case when he finds sufficient the pocket money given by Father-in-Law and the case is put on carts to be transported to the Man’s house. Young Men claim that “dowries are quite heavy and that they cannot carry at all” and receive pocket money in handkerchiefs. The Groom greets the dowry in his house and gives pocket money to those who unload. 


The Bride goes early to hairdresser in the morning of the first wedding day and puts on her bridal gown. She kisses her mother’s hand when she returns back from hairdresser and jewelries are attached to her. She then visits close relatives who reside in the environment, accompanied by a young lady from her relatives. The Bride kisses hands and relatives give pocket money.

Preparations for the wedding banquet start this day in the Groom’s house while entertainments start in the Girl’s house in the afternoon. Male and female close relatives arrive to the Groom’s house. Rice with Meat and Ayran=Yoghourt Shake are served to them. The Groom and relatives go in a convoy to the Girl’s house after dinner, to attach jewelry. Only young boys participate to this ceremony, Mother and Father-in-Law and elders are not present. The Bride and her relatives greet the Groom and friends on the front door. The Bride and the Groom dance afterwards, Karþýlama=Greeting Folk Dance is performed and jewelry ceremony takes place. The Groom and friends leave the Girl’s house after jewelry ceremony and the first day closes by.



The second day starts very early in the Groom’s house. Youngsters arrive by performing folk dances, accompanied by Drums and Pipes by the early noon. The Groom greets his friends on the front door and invites them to tables. Youngsters dine, dance and entertain in the house till the night. Young girls and young brides from close relatives put on laced “crepes”, a Western Thracian shawl, accompanied with two lanes of tinsel called “bride tinsel” and “wear tinsel=tellenmek”. This activity adds a beautiful atmosphere to weddings on villages situated on the Plain. The Groom’s house serve to women visitors Rice with Meat, Ayran=Yoghourt Shake and Tahina=Sweet with Sesame Oil. Entertainments go on till very late in the night.  

Entertainment start in the afternoon in the Girl’s house and go on till very late in the night. Young girls and young brides “wear tinsels” in the Girl’s house too, in the second wedding day and perform folk dances accompanied with music. Rice with Meat, Ayran=Yoghourt Shake and Baklava are served to visitors. Female visitors carry presents to wedding hosts. These are mainly glass and cup sets, dishes, quilt cover. Close relatives supply whatever young couple need or give money as wedding gift.



The Boy’s Party is greeted when it arrives to take the Bride. A visiting Room is already prepared in the garden fort Mother-in-Law and her close relatives. When they are hosted over there, the Bride passes her last hours with her household and relatives present in the house. Nobody speaks and most of them cry. The Girl acquires the Groom Father’s name after espousal and is called by her Father-in-Law’s name from there on.  

Bride Convoy, taking the Bride from the Girl’s house and accompanying her to the Groom’s house is greeted with a big ceremony. The Man’s Party arrives to the Girl’s Party in cars, wearing wedding ceremony suits. Number of cars identifies the richness of the Groom’s Party. The Bride’s relatives serve Turkish delight and Sorbet to visitors[17].

The last wedding day is the most active and animated day in the Groom’s house. Visitors put their gifts on a table in the garden. The Grooms face is completely covered with shaving cream after he is shaved. Male visitors form a long queue and put money or jewelry on a drapery on the Groom’s lap. Moneys are generally accompanied with a slap in the face[18]. 



Everybody gets excited when wedding time closes by. Weddings were starting on Wednesdays and finishing on Thursdays with taking the Bride, in older times. This ceremony is realized generally on Saturdays and Sundays nowadays. Relatives and Friends were invited to the wedding and invitation was performed by visiting each house.

Henna is applied=Kýna yakmak, to the Bride in the Girl’s house. Girls sit on wooden stools called “sýra”, sing folk songs and perform folk dances. Wedding in the Girl’s house is more populated and more active. The Boy’s Party goes to the Girl’s house, taking the Groom with them, in a rather late time in the night. The Groom’s most close and cordial friends accompany him in this ceremony



The Bride’s girl friends, women and visitors from the Man’s Party are gathered together in Henna Night. Women generally sing folk songs and recite poems, playing tambourine and taborine.  Coffees are drunk and causeries go on. The Bride enters to the room accompanied with her one or two girl friends to put on her Henna Gown when Henna Ceremony time closes by and returns back wearing red satin pajamas. A rug is laid down in the open court if weather conditions are suitable. The Bride sits on the rug or in a chair. The ceremony is performed within the house if weather is bad. “Henna Shawl”, a big red shawl, embroidered with paillettes and glass beads is put on Bride’s head. Lightly plasticized (mixed with water) Henna, brought from the Man’s house is put in front of the Bride. The Bride holds two corners of the drapery, her palms open upwards and on the lap. A tray or a nice, decorated empty basket is put on her lap.

Mother-in-Law or her assignee in case she is absent comes and puts money on empty drapery hold by the Bride. Close relatives and neighbors give money as far as they might afford afterwards. One of the Girl’s close relatives “applies Henna” = "Kýna hurmak” in the right hand first of all, reciting “Bismillah=With the Name of the Holy God”. Hands are bandaged with red Henna cloths after Henna application. Feet are bandaged from ankles downwards in a patterned way with combed cotton fabrics and Henna is applied on blank surfaces and are re-bandaged with red Henna cloths. Remaining henna is distributed to those who are present. The Groom waiting outside is invited to enter in after "Henna Application” is accomplished. The Groom carries the Bride with bandaged hands and feet, by his arms to her bed and leaves her and Henna Ceremony ends.   



Head and Feet of animals butchered for the wedding banquet are used to prepare a special soup and livers are sliced into cubes and fried. Dinner is served to Groom Party’s visitors, household and to close relatives and neighbors arriving in the second Henna night.

Only girls sit on sitting places prepared around the play ground. Nobody else sits over there even there might be empty places. Anybody who sits or takes a chair is warned by those who are present and is criticized, for these places are reserved for girls who perform folk dances and sit some time to rest.  

Chairs for both the Groom and the Bride take place in the beginning of girl’s sitting place row. The Bride generally wears her Harballý = Bindallý in this night and wears a bridal veil called “hotoz”. The Bride’s girl friends wear Harballý = Bindallý too, whereas other girls wear long dinner dresses or evening gowns and pay utmost attention to their hairs and make-ups. 

Single boys take place in a row just opposite of girls’ sitting place. Married men’s participation to this night is not welcome. Women contemplate the entertainment gathered at both sides, generally standing up

The Bride’s make-up is done according to color tones Harballý = Bindallý she will wear. She may look at the mirror only after make-up is finished and slight changes are performed in case she might desire so. 

Tinsel Woman combs out Bride’s front hair towards the front with four fingers thickness. Bride’s hairs combed towards the front are divided into 25-35 parts, from one ear level to the other, each part is conditioned with a little jelly and thin curls are formed with a special slightly hot instrument, each conditioned in for 5-10 seconds. Curled hair lanes are raised and pinned in a ribbon and Harballý=Bindallý is worn. The Bride’s wearing a lot of gold chain necklaces, pearl rows =”külte”, gold jewelry sets, bracelets and ear rings form a specialty in putting on Harballý=Bindallý. Gold jewelry attached to the Bride is called “seeing price”. These may be borrowed and given back after the wedding. Bride tinsels of a nearly one hand span are attached on the ribbon already put on during hairdressing.  

“Hotoz” = Bridal Veil, already prepared and pinned up with gold coins, pearls and flowers is placed on Bride’s head and fixed with pins in order not to be too heavy and disturb the Bride. Long backward part of Bridal Tinsels of Bridal Veil=Hotoz are put together and attached on the Bride’s right arm, up from the elbow. Bridal Tinsels = “Silver Tinsels”, dangling from upper parts of both ears are attached to the bosom with big, gold ornamented collar pins, called “bird branch”. Pins having bird or peacock decorations are more favored than simple ones. Another Bird Branch pin is attached between two breasts. Earrings called “Rose Earring” “Calf Nose” or “Lady’s Hand”, transferred from elders to younger generations is put on. Antique Bride’s specialty is the presence of a great amount of jewelry. Rings are Rose Ring” or “Almond (Shuttle) Ring”. Rich people prepare “Lady’s Hand” earring and “Almond Ring” for the Bride.  A final make-up touch is performed for the Antique Bride, after jewelry is attached, preparations are finished and the Bride is henceforth ready for the night. Brides generally wear embroidered velvet slippers colored according to Harballý=Bindallý tones. Claret Red =”güvez”, black, ultramarine, blue are used for Bindallý colors. When one asks whether this veils falls down or not, it is customary to answer that “Such a Bride should act as a Bride and has not to cavort around”. One has to say “that the Veil is really wonderful” and wish “a good harmony” for the Bride whose Veil=Hotoz is terminated to be ornamented[21].  



The Bride goes to hairdresser after the night ceremony with Harballý=Bindallý and her hair is combed and conditioned; she puts on her white wedding gown afterwards with veil, bridal coronet, gloves and becomes a real “Bride”. The Girl’s household lunches with courses prepared in the Girl’s house. Groom People, composed out of females only arrive to the Girl’s house before the evening prayer. Mother-in-Law gives a gold coin and relatives attach jewelry as “price for seeing the Bride’s face” to the Bride who kisses hands of her Mother-in-Law and other members of Groom’s People. Newly married brides put on their bridal gowns too, make their hairs and sit together with other girls. Wedding Meals are served then to guest group. Henna Entertainment starts again after the evening prayer. The Groom and his friends arrive afterwards and participate to this entertainment. Mixed groups of girls and boys perform folk dances, accompanied with music. This night is called “Groom Dancing”. Groom’s friends attach jewelry to the Bride in intervals and take photographs. The Girl’s house prepares triangle folded handkerchiefs and pins in a tray for jewelry attachment ceremony. A triangle folded handkerchief is pinned to every Groom friend’s shoulder, dangling down nearly 3-4 finger length; who attaches jewelry. Meanwhile Groom attaches jewelry to the Bride and vice-versa. Afterwards, Groom’s relatives and neighbors first of all and then those of the Bride’s attach their jewelry gifts. Folk dances are performed after this ceremony. Wedding Courses are served to the Groom and his friends in the wedding house.



Wedding Convoy was organized with animal carts in older times. Private cars are used nowadays. Cars participating in the Wedding Convoy are decorated and preparations start early in the morning. Cars are covered with rugs or draperies called “kepe”. Only the Bridal Car is decorated in our times and the number plate is covered with “WE ARE MARRYING” poster, banners bearing couple’s names or initials are posted on rear window. Female members get off cars and enter the Bride’s house. Visitors are invited to sit down after greeting ceremony; candies and Eau de Cologne are served. Meanwhile, the Bride does not show herself to the convoy.

Normally youngsters are invited to Bridal Convoy. A group of young girls go to Girl’s house and take articles called “Pillow”, before Bride Takers depart. Bridal Convoy departs as soon as youngsters return back to the Boy’s house. Bride Takers who arrive in the Girl’s house are invited to separate premises as Men and Women.  Coffees are served and the group waits in there till the Bride’s appearance. Generally the Boy’s Father, uncle or a very close relative leads the Bridal Convoy. The Convoy Leader’s coffee cup is returned upside down while coffees are served and pocket money is requested. 

The Bride taken outside by a Boy’s relative and gets in the car.  Headlock pin is disguised by the youngest boy of the family, in case Bridal Convoy is formed by animal carts and pocket money is requested from Convoy Leader. A very hard negotiation goes by for the sum of money. The lady who will take and lead the Bride by her underarm gets in the same car with her. The Girl’s mother or a relative spills a cup of water containing rice after Bride car’s departure. Bridal Convoy’s route is blocked several times by ropes and pocket money is requested. Bridal Convoy never uses its initial way while returning back. Convoy using the same route in its return is believed to create misfortune. It is customary to cross over a brook on the way back and handkerchiefs are thrown out. Bridal Convoy approaching the Boy’s house is greeted with drums and pipes and proceeds in slowly.  Bridal Convoy’s arrival to the Boy’s house takes several hours and may be even be finished by evening. Young men block Convoy’s route during the way and perform folk dances.

It is customary to answer that Bride’s mother is resting in her bed. Women taking part in the Convoy demand after a while that their “Daughter Bride shows herself, wherever she might be”. The Bride comes, kisses hands and sits in a specially manufactured Bride Chair brought from the Boy’s house with the group to take dowries.  Women taking part in the Convoy declare “Let us take our Bride” after some time. The Bride stands up; her brother (if any) takes and leads her by her underarm. Money is put in the Bride’s stocking before she leaves. One says “Forget this house but not us” to the leaving Bride.

The Bride’s brother asks and has the Bride car’s key by the Convoy’s arrival to the Girl’s house. The Groom has to pay again pocket money when he has to get his Bride in the car. Sometimes Bride’s neighbors ask for head tax. Cars leave the Girl’s house by blowing their horns. The Convoy stops while crossing over a brook or river. The Bride throws a coin bundled in a handkerchief and wishes happiness. Convoy returning back from the brook uses compulsorily another route to “complicate and confuse roads, in case the Bride might wish to return back to her house”. The Bride waits in the front door when the Convoy arrives in the Groom’s house. The Grooms enters solely, and Groom’s Sister-in-Law or Bride’s Sister-in-Law take the Bride by underarm. This tradition is called “Taking by Underarm”. Only women enter in the open yard. The Groom comes out with a nylon bag full of candies, fried chickpeas, raisin, and coins and throws contents towards women while he walks over. Women hardly compete to have some of these edible nuts, for these articles traditionally mean “Ampleness and Abundance”. The Groom takes his Bride in the house. A person from the household prepares a Sorbet with water and sugar and serves it both to Groom and Bride. Meanwhile Groom’s friends knock on the front door continuously and call the Groom outside. Bridal Chair is taken out to the yard and the Bride sits in it, to be contemplated by women, while the Groom goes to the Coffee House with friends, to drink coffee and eat sweet desserts. A young boy takes the money already put in the Bride’s stocking and a boy kid is put on the Bride’s lap. It is declared that “the girl will belong to somebody else’s but the boy will continue the blood” and pocket money is given to the child.  .  



A banquet called “Groom Table” is prepared for the Groom who has entered in his house and those who are present. Courses already present in the house are served along with wedding meals. Onion Stew was the most important dish of Groom Table in older times. A tray of “Groom Baklava” sent from the Girl’s house is put on the table too. The person delivering the Baklava receives also his pocket money.

The Groom opens the Baklava’s drapery and cuts the sweet alongside. This operation is called “the Groom mixing the tray – the Baklava”. Another tradition called “Cajoling the Bride” takes place in Groom Table too. The Groom serves his Bride with a fork or a spoon and eats himself when the Bride opens her mouth. She has however to grasp and eat quickly this bite but Brides are cajoled most of the time. Those who are present on the Table wish happiness after the banquet, by declaring “All the Best, May Holy God gives you Happiness, We wish you a long life on the same Pillow, May Holy God keeps you from Misfortune”. Sometimes even jokes are heard such as “Here! Women, let us go then! Don’t you know, it is said that wedding is for two and the remaining for the fool”. The Groom and the Bride perform the ritual prayer (Namaz) two times and the Groom attaches “the price for seeing the face” to his Bride and they both enter the bridal chamber. A girl not virgin was sent back to her father’s house by playing drums on wedding night and the Girl’s father’s house front door was painted in the past as an old tradition.



Old wedding ceremonies were customarily finishing with Wedding Convoy realized on Thursdays and Friday after the nuptial night. Though the day for this tradition has already changed, it is always called “Friday Morning”. The Bride waking up on “Friday Morning” kisses hands of her Mother-in-Law she did not see since Convoy day and of household’s elder persons. Tinsel Woman prepares the veil early in the morning and the Bride puts on her White (Bridal Gown) and sits in the yard in summer days. She covers her head with a shawl if Mawlid (Poem about the Prophet Mohamed life and actions) will be recited. Generally married and old women are invited to Friday Morning ceremony but girls attend sometimes too. The Groom goes towards noon to the Girl’s house with his friends, to kiss hands and to have lunch. Father-in-Law and the household greet visitors on the front door. Hands are kissed, meals are served, coffees are drunk and causeries go by.  Meanwhile Groom’s shoes are disguised. He has to pay pocket money to have them back.

The Bride’s veil is attached on a Rose tree branch. A small boy runs after the Bride with a wooden rolling-pin. It is believed that she would be quick and active in managing her house, if the Bride is quick enough and succeeds to take her veil and enter the house before rolling-pin strikes her.  Sometimes a handful of rice is split on the floor and the Bride is asked to sweep it and her ability is examined through this small experience.  The Groom and his friends take away small items such as spoon, salt cellar, etc when they visit the Girl’s house in “Friday Morning” and they joke and laugh when they return to Groom’s house, by taking out these one by one. Sometimes one gives an axe and a log to the Groom to experience his strength and he is asked to cut the log with a single stroke.  



Another new tradition is performed when Bridal Convoy arrives and gets off. Village hunters gather together, go to an open place and get in a row. An egg is attached on a tree branch, nearly two hundred pace apart.  All hunters shoot, to begin from the first in the row. The objective is to hit the egg and let its content spill out. The contest goes on till the egg is hit. If nobody succeeds, the distance is decreased. Hundreds, even thousands of cartridges are spent and the egg is finally hit and its content spills out. Successful hunter is heartily applauded and the Groom gives him some gifts such as shirt, socks and hunter attire. This event is caused longtime in coffee houses.



The Groom should be taken to the Bride, when it gets darker and generally after the night prayer. Persons are especially invited for Groom Closing ceremony and only males can participate in. Dinner is served first of all after evening prayer; such is the case in wedding. Village Speaker invites guests to Groom Closing after dinner and leads the people by taking the front place and takes the Groom to one side, the Groom’s father and uncle to other side. Several prayers are cited. The Groom kisses his father’s and the Speaker’s hands and is pushed towards the Bridal Chamber, by slight knocks on his back. When the Groom enters the Bridal Chamber, he is accompanied by the Bride’s closest relatives. The Groom and the Bride eat Baklava brought earlier by the Girl’s Party. Eating does not take a long time. A small kid takes the Bride’s stocking out and there is always money in it by tradition. The Groom and the Bride are left alone after a while. It is customary that the Groom and the Bride perform the ritual prayer (Namaz) twice in this step.




Respective families visit each other couple of days after wedding ceremony. Groom’s Party is invited first of all to Girl’s house. Very close relatives and friends are gathered again for this ceremony and Groom and Bride are among the firsts to enter in the Girl’s house. Girl’s father greets both the Groom and the Bride on the front door and kissing hands is repeated once again. Meanwhile the Bride and her mother embrace each other and cry. Arriving guests are invited to enter in the house. Greetings are exchanged, coffees are drunk. Courses similar to wedding banquet are prepared again. Small kids disguise Groom’s shoes when leaving time arrives by. Shoes are brought back against pocket money and this tradition ends like that.


The Girl’s Party takes along its relatives to the Groom’s house this time, a couple of days after the Great Roam. Courses are served, causeries go by.


Neighbors start to visit newly weds, few days after wedding ceremony. Visits are realized without informing at all. The objective is to see the Bride in her new home and to “Bless” the Bride’s family.



Wedding Meals (Banquet Meals) are the tradition the most remembered when we think first of all in terms of West Thracian Wedding Ceremonies and they conserve their liveliness even in modern times. “Contracting with” cooks and dish washer women “çanakçýlar” selected separately by the Man’s and the Girl’s Parties is one of the important steps of preparations once the wedding date is agreed upon.  Wedding cooking is a kind of tradition we meet. A man from the cook woman’s household helps her with his car to carry heavy materials and copper large kettles. Close relative and neighbor men are always in cooperation with wedding host to butcher and cut into pieces animals needed for banquet meals.

Materials to purchase, cooking and service places are defined before wedding. Wedding ceremonies celebrated in houses are very populated; 1500-2000 people attend in the average. Nearly all neighbors open their courtyards without any scruple, the wedding host’s yard being insufficient for the event. Either tables or large floor trays are prepared, breads are ordered to bakeries, Ayran=Yoghourt Shakes are regulated, by mixing yoghourt with water or purchasing in bottles. Cooking place and firewood are set up for the cook, trivets are placed. Hoses are connected to village fountain or fountains for cooking process, small canals are dug to discharge cooking and dish washing waste waters.  

Materials are checked one day before cooking, chickpeas and rice are sorted. Chickpeas are doused for Pilaf a day before the banquet; Semolina Sweet is prepared and laid down on trays with 1-1.5 cm thickness. It is chilled and cut into parts having nearly a matchbox size. The Chief Meal in weddings is the well known, delicious Wedding Soup = “Düðün Çorbasý” or Ground Meat and Rice Soup = “Kýymalý Pirinçli Çorba”, prepared with rice conditioned and boiled with large quantities of bone consommé, minced liver, ground meat and at last but not the least, the woman cook’s expertise.  The Main Course is served in plates of 5-6 persons; meats being laid on thick fried potatoes and added with meat consommé. Veal, cow, sheep and goat meats are primarily used for the wedding banquet. Cooks prepare a course for themselves with heads of butchered animals[28].  

Pilaf with Chickpeas is served afterwards, made more delicious with addition of bawled out chickpeas. Semolina Sweet, prepared earlier and chilled is served as the final course and dessert. Banquet is finished after Semolina (War Veterans) Sweet. Dinner Table Prayer and Fatiha= The First Sura (Chapter) of Koran are absolutely recited before leaving the table. People eat their last bites after prayers and stand up by saying "May God Finds it Acceptable”. Empty dishes and spoons are sent with those who help to serve, to dishwashers.

Banquet goes on through all the day. Nearly nobody, close relative or not is left who did not dine. Cooperation seen during preparation of meals continues for serving meals, gathering together trays, slicing breads and washing dishes and plates.  



“7 Girls Meal= 7 Kýz Aþý” is a kind of visit within Western Thracian traditions, objecting to continue solidarity and union of the society and to unite people for a common aim. A group of volunteers from the Village or the Quarter organizes the event and there is mutual aid from the very beginning till the end. “7 Girls Meal” name comes from the selection of 7 bachelor girls gathering together meal materials. Girls have nylon bags or cups according to materials they should gather (7 materials, namely rice, salt, sugar, edible oil, chickpeas and money are gathered). Girls visit every house in the Village or Quarter and demand the material they have to gather on the front door, explain the reason of “7 Girls Meal” (sickness, rain prayer, Koran Recitation Termination Prayer, etc) and tell the date and place of the event and invite the house owner. The House owner gives some materials girls are demanding, according to his/her capacity. Invited guests may take along with friends, other guests or relatives. People contributing to materials girls are gathering for “7 Girls Meal” do believe that their donation would return back as health and abundance.

7 Girls Meal is organized generally in the end of spring and beginning of summer. People gathering together in this period recite “rain prayer” for fertility and abundance. Materials girls have already gathered are separated and sorted by voluntary women. Money is used to purchase missing materials and to hire a cook. Tasks are distributed for helping and serving. Meal is served after Mawlid and prayer, recited before the noon prayer[30].

Minorities obliged to live within the majority have the sole alternative to look after their customs and traditions and act all together in unity and solidarity, to be able to continue their existence.  



Holy Feast Days arrive after drums played along the whole month. Drums are played on the First Feast Morning too and people is invited to Feast Prayer=Bayram Namazý. This tradition continues also nowadays. Drum Players do not return back home after the prayer, visit each house to greet the Feast and gather gifts such as embroidered handkerchiefs and pocket money. Gathered handkerchiefs and shawls are fixed on top of a long post and waved like a flag. Village youngsters organize several entertainments afterwards, with some part of money gathered. The Balance is used for different Village necessities.



Camel tradition is organized on the first night of Sacrifice Feast and generally youngsters and middle aged people participate. A rather long wooden ladder is found to form the “camel” and two people get under it. A long rug dangling till the floor covers the ladder and is raised in some parts, to imitate a camel. A camel-man to guide the animal is assigned. There are several types from the normal life such as bride, groom, Arab, girl, boy, physician in the camel convoy. Camel tradition is an event just for entertainment and drums and pipes are absolutely present. Camel Convoy visits houses one by one and gathers pocket money. Presents may be meat due Sacrifice Feast but money is preferred too. A boy dressed like a bride and the groom kiss hands in each house the convoy visits.

One of spectators tries to kidnap a girl from the convoy as a joke. Character called “Arab” reacts to this attempt and tries to release the girl. Only men may participate in the camel convoy. People get crowded when the convoy starts to visit houses. Assemblage does not proceed quickly, it rests time to time. Everybody participates to dances and entertainments during these intervals and a great joyful event is realized. Camel Convoy goes on till very late in the night and pocket money is subdivided among participants at the end. People gather together in a house and dine in case foods are received as present.



Preparation start, houses are cleaned, buying is performed, sweet dessert are cooked, patties and buns are distributed to neighbors for charity, animals are prepared for the First Morning of Sacrifice Feast in Western Thrace. 

Elder people, relatives and sick persons are visited during feasts and one gets informed about their health and general conditions. Closest relatives are visited before the Feast lunch, those who are not so close afterwards. Kids are the most happy and joyful ones in Feast days. They visit all houses in the village and gather presents and pocket Money. Handkerchiefs and candies were rather presented in older times, pocket money is preferred nowadays.

Feast Greetings differentiate in terms of regions. Village men greet each other while leaving the mosque after the noon prayer in Þapcý Town for example.  Those who leave the mosque get in a row and everybody greet one another.



One pays great attention to Circumcision Ceremonies (Circumcision Feast). Guests load gifts and money circumcised kids. A person by the kid(s) announces loudly the amount of money presented by everybody.



Guests are assumed as “Guest of God”. They are hosted and presented with whatever hosting family actually has in heartily way. One believes that this approach will increase blessings and abundance. Every village has one or more “Guest House”.  



Especially women lament and cry on Mourning Days. Men participate to funeral march to the cemetery while women stay at dead person’s home and support the family. Women put black and red napkin over their skirt, while white shawls are worn rather in ceremonies such as burial or wedding.



This is a traditional prayer and reminds “toy” tradition of original Turkish tribes of Far East. Village people gather in front of the grave and pray, sacrifice cows or sheep and fry the meat in large kettles and prepare Pilaf with Meat[32]. These ceremonies are rather organized in weekends and guests arriving from the environment are hosted and meals are distributed to poor families. People participating to “Mahya” ceremony fry livers of animals butchered and cleaned for the event and dine by reciting the opening prayer”

“Mahya” starts with Mawlid recited by Speaking and Guidance Team members in the Village Mosque. Noon prayer (Namaz) is performed after the Mawlid and people go all together to “Mahya Ceremony” place. Pilaf with Meat and Ayran=Yoghourt Shake are served to guest over there.

Tradition says the existence a Saint’s remains resting in the grave in front of which “Mahya Ceremony” is organized. Guest visiting the place every year pray, sacrifice animals or present food to guardian family to enable their several wishes be realized.




Ø     This paper was presented in Sozopol, “University of Sofia  St. Kliment Ohridski,  Faculty of Geology and Geography, The forth Geography Conference, “Regional Development and Policy”, 19th -23th September, 2007, Bulgaria


[2] Balikesir University, Science & Literature Faculty, History Department

[4] Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 181

[5] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://


[7] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://



[10] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://


[12] Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 192

[13] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[14] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[15] Sevil Þerifoðlu, “Gelenek ve Göreneklerimiz”,

[16] Sevil Þerifoðlu, “Gelenek ve Göreneklerimiz”,

[17] Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 191

[18] Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 193

[19] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[20] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[21] Ýlknur Haili,Batý Trakya’da Yaþatýlan Gelenek-Görenekler ve Folklorik Çalýþmalar I,

[22] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[23] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[24] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://


[26] Batý Trakya’da Düðün, b

[27] Þöhret Ahmet, “Batý Trakya’da Evlilik Ýle Ýlgili Gelenekler”, ttp://

[28] Düðün Yemekleri,

[30] Düðün Yemekleri,

[31] Mahya Duasý, Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 172

[32] Mahya Duasý, Meriç’in Öte Yakasý:Batý Trakya Türkleri”, Atlas Aylýk Coðrafya ve Keþif Dergisi, Sayý: 129-Aralýk 2003, s. 172