A Turkish Tradition – Throwing Water

As I awoke this morning, I thought about how long it has been since I posted a blog.  The thing about writing for me is that I need to write the moment a thought comes to me!  Otherwise, my posts are dull or I just can’t think of a topic.

As the morning proceeded, I continued with my normal routine of coffee on the balcony while watering my plants and flowers.  I love to spend time there.  It’s cooler before the sun comes around.  Most of my flowers are blooming.  The small grape tomatoes are slowly ripening.  The herbs are holding their own in the hot sun.

I read recently that a person only needs to spend a short amount of time gardening each week to be happy.  I sometimes think I create “gardening needs” just to be able to call myself “gardening.”  It does make me happy.

And so I found myself this morning, as everything had been watered, picking at my geraniums when I heard a woman yell, “Güle güle.”  Goodbye!  

My eyes lowered to the street below the balcony.  A black car was pulling away.  The Istanbul license plate immediately encouraged a little boiling blood – they are even more irate drivers than Ankara’s!  But that heat was quickly cooled by the sound of splashing water.

The woman who had called goodbye behind the Istanbul visitor was about my age; not old, not young.  As she looked behind the car, her outstretched arm dropped to her side, an empty glass in her hand.  I could see a small stream of water where the car had been.  She had tossed the water behind her loved one as they had pulled away.

Water Vessels
Water Vessels

Tradition.  Many Turkish traditions are still followed by both the young and the old . . . and those in between.  The traditions cross lines, cross barriers. Both the rich and the poor often honor them . . . and those in between.

I had heard of this tradition, but don’t recall having seen it personally.  My husband is not available at the moment to ask about it. So I have googled it for you:

This is the traditional way in Turkey to bid fond farewell to loved ones who are setting out on a long journey by road vehicle.  Actually any container can be used to throw the water from…a glass or a cup would serve just as well. The tradition itself serves to express a wish — that the long journey will go smoothly, without mishap.As smooth as water.



So there you have it.

14 thoughts on “A Turkish Tradition – Throwing Water

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  1. . . I remember being some what perplexed when this happened to J and me as we left the home of our Turkish ‘mother’ in Denizli many a yaer back now. I though she was washing her hands of us which caused great hilarity with our native passengers. Thanks for the memory revival.

  2. not many people know why we ( Turks ) do this but its from our Religion Tengri that is pre-islamic before we where forced converted as a people ,in the true Turkish religion water is sacred , the religion may be gone , replaced with Islam but the traditions have never died.

  3. My Anne is from Turkey & aside from growing up with this tradition, as well as carrying it on with my family & friends; she told us when we were young of its origin (as she had learned from childhood, anyway). So, the story was told that the tradition dates back to ancient times when women would see their loved ones, be it husbands, sons, brothers, uncles, etc. off to sea as they were usually fishermen going on journey. The women sent the men off by throwing a pail of water for good luck, safe travels, and safely return with a journey as smooth as water.

  4. In Uruguay where I cone from some families still follow this tradition.
    My family is of Spanish descend and I know the south of Spain was under Morrish control for nearly 400 years. So that’s where the tradition comes from for us. My grandma used to do that when the loved ones left on long trips , and at the end of the year as well. Wishing that all sicknesses and bad things should leave the house and travel away like water does.

    1. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing. I had the opportunity, on the spur of the moment, last month. We had a family member from Turkey visiting us in Philly. At the end of his trip, I stood on the sidewalk while he and my husband loaded the car. As they pulled away, I realized I was holding a bottle of water in my hand. So I quickly took off the cap and tossed the water behind them as they drove off. Something about it was very soothing to me.

  5. Thank you.
    Here it is, your post 4 years later and you’ve reminded me of a tear jerking moment in Istanbul.
    I stayed in one boutique hotel through Ramadan, Christmas and New Year. With the transaction was an assigned assistant if I needed him, and I did.
    I’m a stickler about customs and acted accordingly.
    After a loud night with some Russians and Brits I met I was summond to the terrace where last night’s festivities took place…”Here we go something’s nroken or missing” only to arrive at a terrace beautifully decorated and a live tree hauled up 4 flights, decorated.
    “Your assistant.told us you fasted and did not smoke during Ramadan. It moved them to want to make you feel at home”
    By this time I lost all macho manhood and was blubbering like a divorced drunk.
    It was time to go home. We came down the stairs and our bags were at the bottom, off to the left. The owner said one of the bags had opened on the way down and would I check it?
    I bent over, bags were fine. I stood back up and all the staff from both shifts were lined up to say goodbye…..I get to the car and 25.glasses of water were tossed behind me.

    I was home.

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