In the north of the African continent, washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, the Kingdom of Morocco is located. Morocco, or in Arabic, Maghreb al-Aqsa, means the far west. In this country, unusual for an Orthodox person, many cultures and traditions have mixed, from Carthage, later conquered by the Romans, to the Spanish colonists. Moorish culture is unique, with hundreds of vibrant colors, music, carnivals and theatrical performances.
Morocco, a state in which the customs of the local Berber tribes, the subtleties of the East and the European values of the Spaniards and the French are mixed. The whole life of Moroccans is built on the basis of the rules and dogmas of Islam. This religion in Morocco is not just the main one, it is actually the only one.
There are very few people professing Christianity; the Christian faith is not welcomed on the territory of the country. For tourists, the behavior and customs of the locals can seem rather harsh. But such norms of behavior are associated with religion and require their fulfillment by the citizens of the country, while Moroccans are more lenient towards tourists.
The inhabitants of Morocco are very hospitable and welcoming people, but since tourism is well developed in the country, it is worth remembering that you have to pay for any hospitality. Taking pictures with colorful locals or asking for directions costs money. For a visitor from the CIS, the Moroccan lifestyle may seem somewhat leisurely, they do everything slowly.
Good manners in Morocco .
Excessive displays of tactility, hugs and romantic kiss are not welcome on the streets. Women should not wear too revealing and defiant clothes. When communicating with locals, it is worth asking politely about health and family, this will be a sign of friendliness.
If you refuse the offered cup of tea, you will greatly offend the owner of the house. At the table, food is not touched with the left hand, it is taken with three fingers of the right hand. Bread is one of the signs of well-being, it is not eaten much and is treated with care.
Moroccan culture is not homogeneous and depends on geographic location. Since many tribes used to live on the territory of the state, their culture, although it has common characteristics, is still different. Life in the desert and on the seaside is different.
Decorative and applied arts in Morocco.
The counters of Moroccan markets and shops are full of real works of art, filled with African motives of local tribes, mixed with the symbols of the Arab world. The main pride of Morocco is carpets and fabrics. No wonder, a Moroccan girl who knows how to weave carpets will be a welcome bride for any Moroccan. All carpets are hand-woven from natural fabrics and sheep’s wool. Moroccan carpets are of two types – Rabat and Berber.
The art of carpet weaving has long been a family tradition. All the secrets of this craft were passed down from generation to generation through the female line. Moroccan women, who do not have much freedom of action, put their feelings and experiences, messages to their beloved into the carpet designs.
Each city has its own secrets of carpet weaving skills. The images on the carpets are invented by women themselves; it can have a plant or animal ornament, schematic images of architecture, symbols of the Islamic world and amulets from the evil eye and damage. The color scheme of the carpets is simply amazing, they are bright and colorful. Rabat knotted carpets are considered the most expensive; a meter of such a carpet can cost a lot of money.
Jewelry is a sign of the high status of women in Morocco . Jewelry is mainly made of silver. Berbers do not honor gold too much, considering it the metal of the devil.
Men are engaged in jewelry making and this craft, like women’s carpet weaving, is a part of family traditions, secrets are passed from father to son.
The style of jewelry can be divided into Spanish – Moorish and Berber. The Berber style is characterized by more restrained colors and simple shapes with bizarre ornaments. The Spanish – Moorish style is famous for its delicacy and the ability of the authors to fill the entire available space with ornament.
Morocco leather goods. Leather processing, in this country, began to be dealt with many centuries ago. The underlying technologies have not changed to this day. The capital of leather production is the Moroccan city of Fez. The dressing and dyeing of the leather is done by hand. Animal skins are soaked in special mixtures and solutions, dyed with natural dyes, washed in wooden containers, dried and treated with a special compound to make the skin soft.
Moroccan leather is one of the softest and softest in the world. Stunning leather products are sewn from it: bags, belts, wallets. In addition to high-quality leather, such products have extraordinary embossing and ornaments, which are made with a special press.
Once in the Moroccan market, the eyes simply run up from the variety of shades. Here you can buy the famous oriental shoes with curved toes, oriental sweets, Aladdin’s lamp, aromatic spices and natural cosmetics.
The medina (old town) of Meknes, Fez or Marrakech is home to the best souvenir shops and workshops. They make amazing tables, the tabletops of which are assembled from colored mosaics.
Despite the Islamic faith, many residents are still practicing shamanism and magical rites. In local shops, you can find all the necessary magical attributes and components for making potions and rituals, as well as talismans that protect against the evil eye, corruption and dark forces.
Holidays, festivals and ceremonies in Morocco.
In the Kingdom of Morocco, the entire system of holidays depends on the dates of the Islamic calendar. Civil holidays – Independence Day, Revolution Day, Labor Day, Youth Day, European New Year, are celebrated quite restrainedly. Unlike Muslim festivals, which are accompanied by interesting rituals, lavish preparations and noisy festivals.
The most sacred and important holiday of the entire Muslim world is Ramadan. During the day, Muslim believers observe the strictest fast, do not drink or eat, and pray several times a day. After sunset, restaurants and entertainment establishments open. During the period of Id as – Sagir, theatrical performances, carnivals and bright street processions take place until dawn.
Marrakech hosts an annual two-week Folk Arts Festival. It begins in mid-summer or early autumn, in the ancient ruins of the El Badia palace. Folk troupes, artisans and artists come from all over Morocco. The Folk Arts Festival is a grand show and one of the country’s main celebrations.
A large number of festivals are held in Morocco. The most interesting and famous of them are the International Rabat Festival, the Wax Festival, the Camel Festival in Gulimin, the International Festival of Sacred Music in Fez, the Equestrian Festival in Tisse, the Sand Marathon in the desert.
Mussem is a local religious festival. They are dedicated to specific events and are held on specific days of the calendar. Almost 650 moussems can take place in Morocco every year.
Religious rituals and pilgrimages are held in Moussem, numerous fairs open and unusual theatrical performances take place. Mussems are dedicated to Islamic prophets, famous characters or various symbols of the Nord. The most famous and brightest of them: Seti Fatma moussem, Sidi Bonatinana moussem, milk moussem, almond moussem, rose moussem.
Moroccan weddings are amazing events, as if descended from the fabulous pictures of “A Thousand and One Nights”. All rituals, from matchmaking to marriage, are separate and interesting ceremonies. Nowadays, young people can independently choose whom to tie the knot with. But still in the Muslim faith this process is taken very seriously. After all, marriage is a combination of two families and the opinion of young parents means a lot.
An integral part is the engagement rite. This is a kind of verbal agreement on the marriage. The groom must prove his ability to provide for his wife and bring gifts. It is customary to give the best, expensive fabrics, jewelry, as well as gifts that have a symbolic meaning – sugar, as a sign of a happy life, milk, as a sign of the groom’s good and pure intentions.
The bride’s parents are obliged to pay the dowry to the groom’s parents a month before the wedding ceremony. The groom’s family must provide the future family with separate housing, furniture and appliances.
Before the wedding itself, several more important rituals are performed. The bride takes a milk bath to symbolize the beginning of a happy family life. Before the ceremony, the bride’s bridesmaids and sisters paint ritual patterns on her hands with henna, which protect the bride from the evil eye and evil spirits.
Traditional bridesmaid dresses are sewn from natural silk and expensive fabrics, trimmed with exquisite embroidery. Throughout the ceremony, the bride changes outfits about seven times! After each dressing, the bride sits on a special throne in front of the guests, the guests can come up and take photos with her. The change of wedding dresses ends with a grandiose white dress.
A Moroccan wedding begins with a religious ceremony, reading the Koran, and ends with a festive feast, songs and dances. Traditional Moroccan food, fruits and drinks are served. The only exception is alcohol – it is strictly prohibited in Islam.
The wealthier the groom’s family, the longer the festivities can last. Some weddings can last for a week. At the end of the wedding, accompanied by a cortege, the bride and groom, as well as guests, make a festive procession that ends at the groom’s house.
Morocco carefully preserves its history. It is not uncommon to find folk storytellers and street singers on the streets of towns and villages. They pass on myths, legends and tales from generation to generation. Folk storytellers are treated with great respect.
An interesting fact is that when a new king comes to power in Morocco, the pattern on the banknotes is also changed. Moroccans respect and love their king.
The population of Morocco is made up of Arabs and Berbers, but since Morocco was a French colony, French is the second language after Arabic. Many Moroccans speak the ancient Berber language, the writing of which has already been lost.
Arabs and Berbers are natural traders, so once you enter the Moroccan market, bargaining is an important activity. If you bargain skillfully, which gives pleasure not only to the buyer, but also to the seller, you can bring down the price several times.
Morocco is a land of contrasts, a mixture of cultures, bright colors and friendly people. The majestic desert and sea coast amaze tourists with their beauty. Having visited Morocco, you can plunge into an East African fairy tale and see characters from Scheherazade’s fairy tales.