National traditions of Morocco. Habits, mentality and the way of living
Morocco is an African state which displays much of the European cultural characteristics than any other of her fellow continental neighbors. This greatly facilitates and improves the tourists stay in the country. There is however also a traditional way of life in Morocco which should be followed by everyone who comes into the country. Observance of Moroccan etiquette demonstrates respect for the local people. A knowledge of the peculiarities of their mentality helps to reveal the somewhat unfamiliar Moroccan culture. The main feature of the residents of Morocco is their hospitality. Moroccans are a sincere people and are always delighted to meet guests. They are always ready to treat visitors to a warm reception and shower them with affection. Please note, it is not accepted to go on a visit in Morocco with empty hands. Thus, presenting a small gift or basket of fruits can serve as a way of saying thank you for an invitation received.
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During a meal, a large dish of couscous – wheat porridge with meat and vegetables, is placed in the middle of the table. A Friday meal of couscous in the family circle over which discussions of the latest news are carried out is one of the most common practices among Moroccan families. When about to eat, guests in a Moroccan house may be surprised by the lack of cutleries. This is so because residents of the country prefer to eat with their hands, as they are considered to be cleaner. The food is taken with three fingers of the right hand. Bowls with water are pre-served for the washing of hands before and after eating. During the meal, Moroccans never eat too much of bread – their respectful attitude to this important foodstuff obliges that the quantity presented should be more than adequate. Tea is drunk in small portions. However, you should drink a minimum of three cups. The Muslim religion prohibits the drinking of alcoholic beverages. Hence, it is not accepted to keep such drinks in the house.
Moroccans are known to willingly initiate conversations on a variety of topics. They will not fail to include in their conversation, issues concerning their personal lives, business affairs and also stories relating to other people. Residents of this country love to chat and are not shy about this national identity. The only topic that is prohibited to talk on is religion. Moroccans, like other Muslims, are distinguished by their display of a shrewd attitude to the Islamic faith. As a result, criticism of his religion can hurt the Moroccan and may subsequently lead to disagreements. Moroccans are never keen to discuss other religions even if they find them strange, and they expect a similar attitude from others. Copyright www.orangesmile.com
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The rules of conduct in public places in Morocco may seem somewhat unusual. Women are expected to behave in a modest and controlled well-behaved manner with restraint. They are not permitted to smile at men or even wink at them as these acts are considered flirtatious, and henceforth the man will try not to avoid the lady who paid attention to him. The tradition of Muslim women wearing long flowing clothing that cover the body is well-known. Clothes that bare a lot of skin/flesh come across to the locals either as a sign of bad taste and disrespect or as a display of vulgarity. Moroccan women when going outside put on a traditional dress all the way to the floor – “jalabiya”, and the head is covered with a scarf (hijab). Such clothing matches the climate and customs of the country.
Moroccans do not accept tactile communication. They are not supposed to hug and kiss when they meet. If, at the first meeting of persons of the same sex, a symbolic triple kiss and a handshake are allowed to consolidate the acquaintance, then individuals belonging to the opposite sex are never greeted in this way. When greeting, members of the opposite sex usually just nod to each other or occasionally shake hands. Kissing a woman’s hand which is common in the Western countries can be perceived here as an extreme form of flirting.
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Most Moroccans are not what you would consider prosperous, so it is common practice in the country to be required to pay for even the most insignificant services like help with taking a photo or help with giving directions. In public catering establishments, tips, although not included in the bill, are mandatory and perceived as a means of expressing gratitude to the waiters. Tips are never left on the table as this is perceived as indication of a person’s disrespect for the place where he was fed. Tipping is handed personally to the waiter. Other representatives of the service sector such as cleaners, car washers, guides, and drivers, are also to be left few dirhams out of gratitude.
The largest traditional event in Morocco is considered to be the great Islamic holiday, the Holy month of Ramadan. It is based on a tradition which states that in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar Allah gave the Koran to the prophet Mohammed. During Ramadan, life in the country seems to come to a halt. With the commencement of the fast, most shops, cafes and restaurants are closed or operate on a reduced schedule. Moroccans sacredly respect the traditions and customs of this event and never violate them. They understand the sacredness and importance of Ramadan. In the days of the month, everyone is devoted to the full observance of the rites. No one in Morocco remains indifferent to observing the rites of this long festival, regardless of gender, age or social status.
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