A country of passion: Funerals, Football and Romeo & Juliet

When I’m sad I become inconsolable, when happy I create a positive energy around me and it radiates and doesn’t go ignored, when I am angry I am feared, I wear my heart on my sleeve… I am turkish.

I can be so erratic sometimes feeling all my emotions so strongly that people take it to mean anger, irritation or intimidation when I am passionate about something. At first I found it a struggle to understand why people couldn’t understand when I was overly excited or couldn’t sympathise with the degree of sadness I could feel. Later I found that this inability to get people to understand that all my extremes were a display of passion was something inherently part of my genetics. Turkish people are so passionate about everything, they are loud, they are blunt and abrupt but in a very endearing way. For many this can be quite intimidating, for many don’t make their emotions clear. If there is one thing that is for sure if I think something, I say it. This doesn’t make me rude, its just how I am, I tell it how it is, and theres definitely a turkishness to that.

I thought I would display many examples I have connected with turkish passion that I found help me to understand my own reactions to situations in my life.

Cultural difference between East and West

English people are known outside of their country as quite cold people, and as someone who grew up in London I did not fully understand how that conclusion was made. It is only when I moved to turkey that it became clear. It is not that we are cold it is that we are less passionate people, in someways still very victorian-esque it is deemed not proper form to blurt feelings and over share emotions. If you are ill, you be quiet and push through, when in love it is not in a overt kind of way just a more subtle and unspoken.

Funerals and Mourning

An example of this difference is in mourning for ones death. In turkish culture screaming and crying loudlyis seen as a natural retaliation to someones death. English on the other hand have a more prude display of emotion, trying to hold in their tears and upset during the funeral out of respect. To a turkish person this is ludacris and means a void of emotion and lack of love, for an english person a turkish response would be overly dramatic and unnecessary.

The art of Conversation

Passion is displayed in the turkish in many ways, the first is in conversation. Noticeably a family dinner would consist of people talking very loudly, sometimes what seems to be an aggressive nature, and always talking on top of one another. For someone who does not understand turkish they would immediately be taken back by a polava of noise and take their language and gestures to be negative towards each other. Yet this is normal form for turkish people and is not taken to be aggressive or intimidating. A mutual understanding is present that it is a conversation, not an argument (even if this is not what it seems.)

Sport and Football

Another passion is seen in men and sport. Football hooligans are from England? You obviously haven’t met a Fenerbahce or Galatasaray supporter. These teams rival each other like chelsea and manchester united, but to such an extent that if a Galatasaray supporter walking into a turkish coffee shop, with their team uniform on, during a Fenerbahce game would be the end of him. The teams are rivals to an extent that they act like gangs, with their own club supporters seeking out each other for violence and arguments.[example] Such anger and passion driven from a mere ball game? But to discuss their team is like talking about their family, they are very passionate about their team and the people who support their teams.

Romantic Gestures

The most dominant form of passion can be seen in love. This can be seen as very overwhelming for a non turkish with a turkish partner or sometimes the non turkish partner actually appreciates and values the relationship because their turkish partner loves so strongly. I will love you forever, until I die in for someone who is english may make them run a mile or at the very least it is very strong language, but this is normal speech to ones partner in turkey. They can be jelous but also they love so much that it is something that many can be unprepared for. I would say this is the biggest display of turkish passion. For us the story of Romeo and Juliet is a wonderful lovestory but tells the tale of something rather unrealistic, whereas I know many turkish men to have watched the film version, and have connected to Romeo as a character, probably feeling the same strength of love and happy to go to the same lengths to achieve it. If overwhelming it is an impressive way to love.

The same sort of love is displayed for family. The lengths one would go to retaining a families respect and the love people have for their parents and siblings is very strong, a bond we do not cherish to the same degree in england.

So next time you feel you meet someone in Turkey and are finding it hard to understand their opinions, or responses to certain situation, just remember they are passionate people, and approach all things that they could be passionate about (love, family and their country) with respect.

It means that sometimes their passion becomes something negative which stereotypes into football hooliganism or obsessive, jelous relationships but it can also mean a cherishing of family, an undeniable and strong love towards their partners and patriotism towards their country that has been lost our society today.


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