The Crimean peninsula is a multi-ethnic territory, representatives of more than 175 nationalities live here. This mixture has caused an interesting symbiosis of traditions and customs that travelers can observe in the Crimea. Various religions, cultures and rituals are closely intertwined in the region, sometimes they contradict each other, but peacefully coexist and create a special unique atmosphere.
In the Crimean architecture, one can still observe a pronounced Tatar line. The object that attracts tourists from all over the world is the Bakhchisaray Khan’s Palace. But there is another unique architectural creation here – the Juma-Jami mosque, which can be seen in Evpatoria.
In the Crimean Khanate, it was considered a shrine, and to this day it is an outstanding example of Islamic architecture. Juma-Jami was built back in the 16th century, but it impresses with its architectural ensemble: the central huge dome is surrounded by 12 domes of different sizes. On both sides of the main complex there are minarets with sharp peaks. This is the largest multi-domed European mosque.
After the pretender to the Khans received the right to join the Khanate, he came to this mosque and underwent the rite of passage. Then he put his signature on a scroll, which was considered an official document and was kept in the mosque throughout his reign.
Now many Muslims come to Juma-Jami during the Tatar holidays, where services are held. It is believed that the origins of Muslim culture are concentrated here, to which the Crimean Tatars are trying to introduce their children.
The concept of unisex was formed only at the end of the 20th century, but Crimeans could see it for several centuries in a row before that. The fact is that in the Crimean Khanate, men’s and women’s clothing almost did not differ from each other. It was something in between: a shirt, over it – a caftan with sleeves. There were buttons on the front of the caftan to fasten up to the very throat. From below, they put on spacious trousers, and put on shoes. Caftans were worn in the warm season, and in winter they were replaced by fur coats. Such versatility for both sexes was very convenient and beneficial from a practical point of view. Growing children wore the clothes of their elders, regardless of whether it was a girl or a boy.
But the Crimean traditions implied a different approach to hairstyles and headdresses of different sexes. Men shaved their heads, and the crowns were protected from the sun or frost with skullcaps. In winter, they also “warmed up” with a round-shaped hat with a sheepskin trim. Women had long hair on their heads, they were braided into 2 braids. Unmarried girls, who had more free time, instead of braids weaved many thin braids. The more such braids on the head, the better. They hung down the back and swayed with every movement. In the presence of strangers, women’s heads should be covered, so before leaving the gates of their courtyard, the head and neck were wrapped in muslin.
Love and poetry
One of the most beautiful traditions of the peoples of the Crimea is poetry when talking on heartfelt topics. All writers admit that the special manner in which the Crimean Tatars spoke to their lovers is a form of folk art in the most talented manifestation.
Such delights are connected with the fact that, according to the tradition of youth, they were not allowed to speak directly about their feelings: they had to do it allegorically. As you know, a heart in love is inventive, so allegories and metaphors became really amazing and beautiful. The courtship process, like the feelings themselves, only benefited from such a ban, since there was simply no room for vulgarity or rudeness.
One of the main entertainments of the youth was the throwing of short verses, which were immediately created. It is clear that the one who achieved success in this business deserved high praise in the company. This custom was called “ranks”. Sometimes poems were immediately superimposed on the motives of famous songs.
One of the wonderful traditions of the Crimean peoples is associated with the diversity of ethnic groups and cultures in such a small area. Representatives of other peoples have long been treated with respect here, they have been given the right to cherish their rituals and ceremonies, even if the group is quite small. This made it possible to coexist peacefully in a benevolent atmosphere.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the Crimean People’s Republic was proclaimed here, headed by Noman Chelebidzhikhan. He decided to make traditional good neighborliness one of the internal political strategies of the young country, saying that he intends to focus on the example of Switzerland, which presents equal rights and conditions for people from different nationalities.
Alas, the Soviet government stopped these plans. A few months later, an apologist for such a cosmopolitan position was captured and sent to Simferopol in custody. After that, he was shot, and his body was thrown into the waves of the Black Sea.
During the forced deportations, the Tatars unwittingly began to show some hostility towards those who were settled in their homes. But even here they demonstrated the absence of vindictiveness and appeasement. All tourists visiting the Crimean peninsula know how glad they are to see guests here and how open the local population is in communication.
The traditions and customs of the peoples of the Crimea have not bypassed such an important milestone as the reception of friends, relatives and acquaintances at home. For all this, special customs have developed that reign on the peninsula.
For example, a person who has come to the owner should not go inside the house, even if the owner steps back a few steps. And relatives must wait for an invitation, and only then cross the threshold. Strangers do not go inside, even if the weather is bad outside: with them, all issues are decided outside. But if the invitation is received, then you need to go at least for a couple of minutes. An invitation is a special honor, and neglecting it is considered almost an insult.
Another interesting tradition is connected with the shoes of the people who came. They must take off their shoes before entering or on the very threshold, and give the shoes to the owner of the house. He cleans the couple when necessary, which shows deep respect. The guest also greets the elderly and the elderly by kissing their hand. Now this custom is almost a thing of the past, but in some places in the villages it is still preserved.
The culture and traditions of the Crimea prescribe hospitable reception of guests. As a rule, they set the table right in the presence of those who came, but it is still impossible to eat at this time. Only when the last dish is displayed, and the hosts sit next to each other, does the meal begin. Up to this point, they talk about business, relatives, health, etc.
The variety of Crimean cuisine attracts tourists. Everyone knows that even in the smallest cafe or tea house you can have a delicious meal here. Dishes from lamb, poultry and beef are prepared here in such a way that you will lick your fingers. Traditionally, men were involved in cooking meat dishes. And now the chefs in cafes and restaurants are predominantly male. Of particular note are sweets. Churchkhella, Turkish delight, baklava and lots of delicious jam will not leave indifferent even those who are not particularly fond of sweets.
It is also necessary to say goodbye here in accordance with traditions. In Crimea, you don’t have to leave immediately after the feast – this is disrespectful. Another half an hour or an hour they talk, often sing.
Before saying goodbye, it is customary for Crimeans to give a gift or a small gift to the relatives of the hosts. Also, before leaving, there is an exchange of good wishes.
A few decades ago, there was an erasure of national customs inherent in the nationalities inhabiting the Crimea. But now the time has come for the growth of national self-consciousness, which is manifested in the return of rituals and characteristic holidays. One of the interesting traditions of the people of Crimea is the celebration of Navruz. This holiday is one of the most ancient among Muslims that have survived to this day. Like other religions, this is a special day when the awakening of nature and the entry of the annual cycle into a new circle are celebrated in spring.
On this day, you need to forgive even those who were considered eternal enemies, show kindness and compassion to those in need. Preparation for Navruz consists in cleansing the soul and the surrounding space: they put things in order in their home, in the yard, on the street next to their house. In fact, Navruz is a familiar Soviet spring subbotnik with spiritual overtones.
This day, in the traditions of the Crimea, is also associated with the beginning of gardening and horticulture, as preparations for the sowing season, pruning of trees, etc. begin with it. In this regard, the main place on the table is occupied by a dish made from wheat germ.
Another beautiful Navruz custom is tying a bright ribbon on a branch of a young tree. You cannot remove this ribbon all year, and then it will be fruitful and with favorable weather for agricultural work. But this will come true only if, during the tying, a person is free from evil thoughts and resentment.
Attitude towards women
For many centuries, a patriarchal way of life was preserved in the Crimea among representatives of different nationalities. But traditions have developed in such a way that women here were not an oppressed sex, but protected from the hardships of life. The beauty of Crimean women was known far beyond the peninsula. And now tourists note how many beautiful girls can be found on the Crimean shores of the Black Sea. Maybe this is due to the genetic diversity of the population, which often contributes to the appearance of beautiful children in couples.
The Crimean girl had much more rights in the 17th-19th centuries than her European compatriots. Since childhood, keepers of the hearth have been raised here, who will be treated tenderly and with respect in the family all their lives. Only in this case is she able to create a favorable environment at home so that she herself, her husband and children are comfortable.
Birth of children
As for any people, the birth of a child in a Crimean family is one of the most important events in life. In earlier centuries, large families were a common occurrence. Particularly interesting traditions associated with birth among all the Crimean peoples were observed among the Karaites. Close relatives immediately after the baby was born gave a raw chicken egg. The first bathing was carried out in salt water, and if the family lived in the coastal zone, then in sea water. The yolk from the donated egg was used to wash the head of the baby so that he was smart and healthy.
A woman in labor with a newborn was especially guarded for the first 40 days. It was believed that the wooden cradle, made by the father of the child, keeps him from unclean forces. In Muslim families, circumcision was performed on the eighth day, but in the Crimea, rituals and traditions were so closely intertwined that this was also performed in some Christian communities. On the same day, the boy was given a name. In honor of this event, a feast was held. Women were the first to sit at the table, and only then – representatives of the male sex. Now circumcision is no longer performed in Crimea.
If a girl appeared in the family, then for the first 2 weeks they tried not to spread this, and only on the 15th day they held a holiday. At that time, to the first name given by the parents, the second one, chosen by the Karaite clergyman, was added. Therefore, the Karaites most often encountered double names.
The dried umbilical cord and the hair of a newborn, which they kept as a relic, were considered a special shrine in the family. If the baby was seriously ill, they practiced renaming it in order to deceive the unclean forces. Even when the child recovered, the former name was no longer returned.
The Crimean traditions of treatment are closely connected with natural resources: there are Saka mud, medicinal salts, medicinal plants that are harvested in mountainous areas. And if many methods of traditional medicine cause bewilderment among modern doctors, then in Crimea they have long used techniques that are often used in sanatoriums, health resorts and wellness hotels.
Respiratory organs and pulmonary diseases were treated here with coniferous poultices and baths, and chronic diseases were treated with walks through coniferous forests. And now, on the territory of the wooded slopes of the mountains, they successfully undergo rehabilitation or are treated with the healing air of the Crimea.