Having the responsibility of being City of Culture, Gaziantep makes an indelible impression and city keeps the traditional city culture alive with its cultural centers, roads and restored immovable property.
Traditional Folk dances, having the most important place in the intangible cultural heritage, are an important element of culture that combines the history and today. Gaziantep Regional Folk Dance has been an indispensable element of Gaziantep Urban Culture with its rich music, colorful costumes; each moves tells different feelings and experiences.
Hıdrellez is one of the seasonal festivals celebrated in Turkish world. It is also called as Ruz-ı Hızır and Hıdrellez day is celebrated on the day on which when Khidr Prophet (Hızır) and Elijah Prophet (İlyas) met. Hıdırellez starts on May 5 night and falls on May 6 in the Gregorian calendar and April 23 in the Julian calendar. Starting from May 6 until November 4 it composes the summer season known as "Hızır Days" and from November 8 until May 5 called "Kasım Days" represents winter season. That’s why on the night of 5th May it indicates that the cold winter is over and the hot summer is starting.
Some studies were initiated in 2010 in order to integrate Hıdrellez day into UNESCO Intangible Humanity Cultural Heritage List. In Gaziantep Alleben region, after some rituals performed like writing the wish on a piece of paper and throw it into the water or attached to the branches of a tree, then it is believed that the wish will come true.
Wool scouring is an event that duvets, cushions, pillows with sheep wool are taken to the river or creek side and wool is taken out and being washed. It is also called "yün yuma" in Gaziantep and it is usually repeated every year. In fact, in wool scouring, there is serious effort. Because when bride side is preparing the dowery, the mother of the bride buys a lot of wool and duvet materials, gives lots of efforts for days and weeks to prepare the dowery, cutting, sewing, etc. However, there is no longer worth to give some effort in recent years, and now they buy ready products. Fiber brand duvets and mattresses are preferred instead of wool. Well, why wool is washed? Wool is sheep product. It will smell if you do not take care, clean and ventilate. Because of these reasons, wool has to be washed every year. For wool scouring, first of all women have to be well organized. They inform each other including their relatives. Women try to find stony and inclined place and they go those places. Today, most of Gaziantep’s women use the flat roofs of their homes to wash and dry wool.
Marriage and weddings in Gaziantep
Marriage is the most important stage of the socialization process. It is outstanding to provide new social status for men and women and solidarity between the families. In addition, wedding ceremonies are significant ceremony richly reflecting traditions and customs.
Go and see a marriageable girl
If mother and father have a son at the age of marriage, parents are going to see girl's family, which is equivalent to their family. Previously daughter and her family are checked out and then they go to the daughter's home without letting anybody know. If the boy likes her, his parents tell her parents that they will come again to have a tea or coffee.
Asking daughter's hand
It is the first step of the wedding process. The mother of the boy who would like to get married takes a few women with her and they all go to girl's house. During the conversation they say "We would like to be relative with you." However, girl's parents do not immediately respond to this request. Her parents say that "We will think about it". Later her parents check out boy's family and they consult to their grandparents. If family elders approve and respond as "whatever will be, will be", in fact, this sentence means that they give their daughter in marriage.
On an arranged day, boy's parents and family elders go to girl's house. Before going, women from the boy’s side send food then the rest id done between the men. Meanwhile their visit, they all talk about promises and what boy's parents will buy for bride and groom.
Kalın; it is a tradition that groom gives some amount of money to bride's father in order to spend on her dowery. It is also called as bridewealth. Nowadays, this tradition is found as a shame.
It is the ceremony that the engagement rings have being put. Before the engagement people go for shopping. All necessary food and clothes are sent to the girl's house, because engagement is held in girl's house. If the engagement takes for a long time, sacrificial lamb and candies are sent to her home in religious festivals.
Yatak is a day combineing cooperation and fun. It is done in bride's house. Women coming from both sides prepare the dowery, and at the same time they eat, drink and have fun.
Girls have become synonymous with their dowry in Gaziantep. Therefore dowery ceremonies are very important. The doweries are collected in bride's house before dowery day. On the day of dowery, these doweries are taken to the groom's house. When the dowery chest is taken bride's brother or her male cousin will sit on the chest and asks for the pocket money from groom's family. After he gets the money, he gets off the chest and then people carry the dowery. After that home is arranged with the dowery, lahmacun or lentil köfte is given for the guests.
In general henna night is done one night before the wedding ceremony in the both bride and groom's home. Groom side sends the henna to the bride's home, the henna is kneaded and it becomes like dough. These hennas are placed on the henna tray with some candles. Groom side goes to bride side and asks for the henna after groom had fun. They chear like "yaaaahh , yaaaaahhh”. This use is based on a very old tradition, according to various writtings and oral sources. Henna nights are the nights when wedding entertainment reached its peak. The henna was organized wednesday night in the past but nowadays it is generally on saturday nights. When the henna is arrived to bride's home, bride, her friends and her female relatives come together and have fun. Decorating the henna tray with flowers and green branches is a tradition to. Besides this kind of tradition, there are different various henna nights in Turkey. The bride will be seated on the hard pillow, her face covered with a large prayer cloth and the henna is placed on her both hands. All the young people put the henna in their hands like the bride. Henna and veil are considered as a symbol of virginity, that’s why if the girl does not have any henna then she is assumed as a widow. Therefore, the henna must be put. If there is a widow in the community then she is not welcomed for henna.
The groom and bride have their best man and bridesmaid. All the needs of the couple is made by their bestman and bridesmaid. The henna is done by the bestman and bridesmaid: they put the henna in their hands. Later people shout as "Your turn is next".
Gelinçi is a women day because there are only the women. This tradition is only seen in the villages of Gaziantep. In the wedding day, groom side prepare food with big cooking pots (mahsere kazanları) and offer the food to the wedding guests.
On the gelinçi day maşta is the woman who organizes everything and welcomes the guests. Everybody has to obey the decision that maşta had taken.
The bride gives the power of attorney to her father for the marriage. Father asks three times like "do you give the attorney"? Father goes to the mosque and marriage is done. Nowadays marriage is done in homes and that’s why the attorney is not given anymore.
Kiss One's Hand
A few days after the wedding, bride side invite groom side for having a evening together. The purpose is to get to know each other including mother and father in law and other relatives. They eat and have fun together. The groom is kissing the hand of his father in law. Then the father -in -law gives valuable gifts to the groom.
This time, the bride’s side goes to the groom's home. The bride kisses her father-in-law hand and gets gifts. The relatives have a chance to know each other better.
The tradition called "Go and See a Marriageable Girl" is a use to forget, because it is such a bad situation for a young girl. You are offered to the customers as you are a good for sale. There would be great problem if the person is presumptuous. Sniff, insultations, gossips; these must be very frustrating. However, the situation is chancing. Young girls and boys can decide about their futuremore freely as before.