Article by Julie Lynn from the group The Turkish Eye.
When visiting Turkey you will soon realize that a huge part of the Turkish culture involves being very sociable. Turkish people love to meet new friends and they will think nothing of spending half of the day talking to complete strangers, this over friendliness is very difficult to understand from people that come from more reserved countries.
Hospitality is the Turkish way of life. Turkish people invite anyone and everyone around to their house and are the most gracious and generous hosts. They will open their houses to every guest with a smiling face, they will give up the best seat and will cook the best food for their guest.
On entering the home you will be greeted with the words "Hos Geldiniz" (meaning "welcome") you should return the greeting by saying “Hos bulduk”" (meaning "we feel welcome")
Shoes are not worn in the house and so it is polite to take off your shoes on the mat as you enter the home - you will usually be given a pair of slippers to wear.
If you have been invited for a meal you can expect quite a feast which will be served either at a table, or you may sit on floor cushions to a low down wooden table - if the family are from small rural villages then it is more than likely that the meal will be served on a large tablecloth on the floor, if this is the case then be sure to sit with your lap under the tablecloth.
You will be given a fork & a spoon and be expected to help yourself to the many dishes on offer, it is not unusual for everyone around the table/cloth to break off pieces of bread and scoop food from the dishes.
If you want to help by washing the dishes, remember that Muslims do not believe in bathing or washing items in stagnant water. Dishes will be washed in a bowl with detergent, but, it is very important to rinse the plates and cutlery under a running tap, dishes are usually left to dry by themselves before being put away.
Turkish people are very understanding when it comes to different customs and they will try to communicate in any way possible to make you feel welcome. The Turkish mentality is "whatever religion you follow, whichever country you are from, whatever language you speak, you are 'God's Guest' and so you deserve to be welcomed in the best manner.