Motorcade for marriage: the culture of turkish weddings

Turkish weddings are an event. Hundreds of guests, celebrations that last for days, gifts of money and gold, marquee-like pomp and circumstance – all this is often part of the event. In recent times, however, weddings of turkish-origin couples in germany have sometimes attracted attention for less festive reasons.

Rough convoys of vehicles block roads and even highways, risking rear-end collisions, and guests shoot guns into the air. What’s behind it?

In turkish festive culture, important family occasions are traditionally celebrated more roughly than in germany. "This applies both to joyful events like weddings and births and to sad ones like funerals," explains caner aver from the center for turkish studies in essen. "Joy and pain should be shared with as many people as possible. And the more people are represented at such occasions, the more coarse is the social status. It means: "my network is rough, i’m integrated in a rough social fabric, i’m popular.""

Wedding processions have a long tradition in turkey. "There always have been," says ahmet toprak, author of the book "muslim, masculine, disintegrated," which will be published in the fall. Several cars are already driving through the area decorated and honking their horns.

The message is clear: people are getting married here! Toprak: "before the invention of cell phones and other modern means of communication, this was very important to make the village society aware of this event". That’s where the push comes from."It had to be loud, so that everyone could hear it.

"In villages, for example, the woman is traditionally driven around on a horse, in the city, of course, in a car," explains migration researcher gulistan gurbey from the free university of berlin. "And the more prosperity and consumption increase, the coarser these cars become. The cars are then upgraded to a status symbol: you want to show what you have. Many cars are rented only for the day."

Turkish traditions arrived in germany with the turkish "guest workers" of the 1960s. In the meantime, gurbey observes: "other population groups, including germans, are increasingly adopting this form of celebration, copying it because it simply attracts attention and makes people feel good."

The strabenblockade also has its origins in an old turkish custom: members of the bride’s party blocked the way for the parade and expected a small gift of money from the bridegroom. He had put envelopes in his pocket for it. "Only when he had paid his way money, so to speak, was the penalty released again," explains toprak. "The bridegroom must pay, as it were, for the bride whom he has taken from her parents."

The blocking of highways or traffic junctions is, however, according to the unanimous opinion of the experts, new and unknown in turkey. "This has nothing whatsoever to do with tradition," stresses aver. "People, who endanger the traffic in this way, can rather be stored as chaotic people". It’s about young men testing their limits."

Provocation could also play a role, especially against the background of the tense german-turkish relations. Toprak also believes that it is about a form of protest: "according to the motto: "we force you to perceive us!"" photos of the action are shared on social networks.

For ahmet toprak, the highway blockades are discrediting something that is already popular – namely the wedding parade: "in the past, parades were something positive, but since the highway blockades, they have suddenly become negative. That’s why not all turkish migrants think it’s a good idea."

Caner aver thinks that you have to double track to discourage the blockers. "On the one hand, the regulatory authorities must clearly take criminal action. On the other hand the information should be spread within the community, that such a thing is not possible in any case. So enforce penalties and create publicity to contain this."

This has already happened to a large extent in the past few weeks. "In the turkish community, the issue is currently very much discussed."Aver therefore dares to prophesy: "i don’t think this will last much longer."

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