Santa’s less than two weeks away so chances are, if you celebrate Christmas, you’re on the hunt for gifts. Although Christmas isn’t traditionally celebrated in Turkey, many Turks do give presents to friends and family at New Year. So, when in Turkey, why not give something a little special? Something traditional that friends and relatives would struggle to find back in the UK or Europe. There’s lots of traditional gifts from Turkey so lots of choice on offer. Here’s a few ideas:
- Leather Goods. Handmade leather jackets, handbags, wallets, gloves and purses are fabulous gifts for loved ones. The Turkish love for lamb results in a wealth of leather goods in Turkey, many at reasonable prices if you shop around. In Fethiye, head for the town centre off season and browse the shops in Paspatur, or look at the Tuesday market but be prepared to haggle. During the summer there’s plenty of shops in resorts.
- Turkish Kilim Rugs / Cushion Covers. A Turkish Kilim Rug or cushion cover is a wonderful gift – plus it makes a fabulous show piece for your property in Turkey. A popular souvenir, they make a fabulous addition to your home. The making of a kilim rug is widely regarded as a folk art. Most are handmade using natural dyes and wool sourced locally. Woven into intricate patterns and designs, the result is a thin, flat woven rug that looks more like a tapestry. Often seen as too special to simply pop on the floor, many people now choose to mount them and hang them on walls or use as throws over arm chairs and sofas. Most regions of Turkey have their own style of kilim rugs using colours and symbolism developed over many years and associated with the area. You can pick up kilim rugs and cushions from many of the carpet shops. In Fethiye head to Paspatur Old Town and have a look around there, failing that then the Tuesday market may have a few.
- Turkish Towels (Peshtemal). Don’t think thick fluffy towels – traditional Turkish towels are thinner with stripes and tassels. They are ultra practical and light weight so quick drying and pack away into beach bags easily. Peshtemals are the traditional towels used in the Hamam (Turkish Bath). You now also find them supplied at some boutique hotels and spas. They are used to protect modesty. For men they are simply wrapped around the waist, for women draped around the torso and tied around the neck in a similar fashion as a sarong. Fairly in-expensive, you can find on stalls at most of the weekly markets.
- Olive Oil Soap. Another product used in the Hamam to help keep your skin baby soft. Turks have made the most of the many benefits of olive oil for centuries. Wonderful for both normal and dry sensitive skin, olive oil is known for it’s natural moisturising and antioxidant properties. It’s claimed to help fight the dreaded ageing process so what could be better as a stocking filler?! The Soap Lady shop in Fethiye town centre sells different versions plus all sorts of other traditional soaps, many souvenir shops, markets and even the larger supermarkets generally stock a good range.
- Turkish Baklava. Real Turkish baklava tastes unlike any other you’ve tasted abroad. You can’t escape baklava in Turkey. You find them in most large supermarkets alongside the cakes and breads, and the lovely pastanesi’s (cake shops) all sell different varieties priced by the kilo. Traditionally baklava is given at celebrations, birthdays and Turkish holidays. The rich, sweet, filo pastry layers are filled with nuts and ooze sweet syrup or honey. Baklava is the perfect traditional Turkish gift to give to guests that pop by or take when visiting friends over the festive period here in Turkey.
- Kese Hamam Mitts (Traditional Turkish Bath Exfoliating Gloves). A great, cheap and traditional gift found on the markets. Hamam mitt’s or kese as they are called in Turkey, are the rough linen gloves that the masseur uses to rid your body of dead skin at the Turkish bath. Leaving skin super soft, tingly and smooth, they are a must for the Turkish bathroom.
- Iznik Turkish Ceramics. (Traditional blue and white pottery). Many of the souvenir shops in Turkey and Fethiye sell ceramics based on traditional Iznik designs. Originating from the town in western Anatolia, Iznik pottery dates back to the 15th century. The striking designs stand out due to the cobalt blue ottoman arabesque patterns and Asian elements. Lovely mounted on walls or as display pieces in your Turkish home, they are a lovely gift sure to be appreciated by any recipient.
- Copper. A strange gift you may be thinking, but during the Ottoman era, plates, cups, bowls and trays made from copper were common in Turkey. You can still find a wide variety of household items in the markets and antique shops in Turkey. Copper is poisonous when not treated or covered so they are not the most practical of presents, but they do look great placed by your open fire place or wood burner as an ornament.
- Nazur Bonjuk (Evil Eye). Possibly the most popular gift from Turkey, the nazur bonjuk has been used by Turks for centuries to ward off the much feared ‘evil eye’. You will see these blown blue glass and white eye charms at the entrance of most properties in Turkey. The idea is that it protects the property by repelling the bad thoughts and wishes of others that want to enter. There are many designs in lot’s of shapes and sizes. You can find the nazur bonjuk on jewellery to protect the wearer, little baby cot charms or bracelets to protect a child, pottery, ornaments, trinkets and a whole heap of other goodies. Fairly cheap and readily available, they are a wonderful stocking filler or traditional gift idea from Turkey.
- Gold and Silver Jewellery. Turkey is a great place to buy silver and gold and there are many shops in resorts, towns and cities that stock a wonderful selection. From big and bold statement pieces, to intricate handcrafted bracelets, necklaces and rings, there’s sure to be a piece to suit every taste and style on offer. If Santa is feeling really generous this year, jewellery from Turkey is the ideal gift – just be sure to check for a hallmark and haggle before purchase.
Have we missed anything out? Can you come up with some more ideas on traditional gifts from Turkey? If so, please comment below.
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