The magnificent traditions of Tunisia | Erasmus blog Tunisia
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The magnificent traditions of Tunisia

Tunisia is quite a culturally rich country, thanks to its strategic location between the eastern and western world, represented by the European countries located close to the country and, in addition to the colonization by the French for years and years, the country is very diverse and truly a mix of many cultures within one. However, some of the country's cultural traditions remain till this day and that is what gives this marvellous country its extra charm, both culturally and artistically. In fact, lots of travellers get the feeling while visiting Tunisia for the first time that it is a country which is open to the West and that it somewhat resembles some European countries like France, for its elegance and beauty, its breath-taking landscapes.

The main tradition which the Tunisians upkeep and give a big importance to is the tradition of weddings.

The traditions of the Tunisian wedding

The Tunisian wedding is done according to a set of traditions that we have previously inherited from our ancestors who gave this beautiful event an unprecedented designation which is the joy of life, which means that someone's entire destiny rests on this one wedding night, which should be perfect on all levels. Both the family of the bride and the groom must this event as the most beautiful and prestigious event. That is why some families choose to have a wedding which spans along seven days and seven nights, all of the family members are invited to stay with the family of the bride, and both the adults and children spend seven days and seven nights taking part in celebrations.

Traditions before the wedding day

Each day represents a really meaningful celebration and has a really particular name. The first day, the family gathers and all the young girls of the family must be in charge of the stereo system and of the music to ensure the establishment of a festive environment throughout those seven days in a row. On the tenth day the bride usually starts collecting the set of utensils she has made the effort to buy with her own money and that should be used in the couple's new house. In fact, one should know that in Tunisia, the husband usually buys the furniture of the new house from the bedroom, to the living room as well as the outside decoration of the house's hall, while the wife takes care of the kitchen utensils, the sheets, the mattress, the rugs, the curtains, that is to say all that accessorizes the place and this with his own money or his family's in case they can eventually help out.

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The third day is the day of hamam, an unmistakable tradition and that can never be neglected is that the bride wears a fairly comfortable outfit and the women sit around her with the darbouka ,which is a type of musical instrument, and give her a procession filled with singing and dancing until she is taken to the hamam to make herself beautiful for her husband. Usually throughout the celebrations, the woman who is getting married is treated as a princess and she is allowed to take care of her body, do a whole spa with everything that needs to be done to keep a beautiful skin and be the most beautiful on the wedding day.

The fourth day is the day of henna, and as the name gives away, the bride must make drawings of henna on her hands and feet if she wishes, of course, a sign of beauty of the Arab woman and as a sign of preparation for the big day. Always to the sound of traditional chants and authentic songs , young women dance on the dance floor and also help to set up small traditional cakes, specifically baked superbly and in a way that everyone invited is satisfied with the quality of the delicate products in each slice. The evening is spent in such a way that the bride also makes other designs called harkous which iscoloured black and used by the Indians, and used as well by the Arab culture as a distinctive symbol of the bride and as a magnificent drawing done on the hand which is indelible and almost has the effect of a tattoo. It is also noteworthy that, according to Tunisian culture, the man also has the right to his own party on that day, which he celebrates with his family or his own friends, so he has the choice of having the Henna or not in his fingers as a sign of happiness and of preparedness for the wedding, or he can instead not accept to put it there.

The fifth day is the day of preparations of the preparation of clothes and furniture and their placement in the new house, in fact, all the women in the house gather to take and move the bride's clothes to her new house, they also help her in the bedroom to set up her new wardrobe, arrange her makeup and her bags, her jewellery, watches and accessories in her wardrobe which she will then use after the wedding for her husband.

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The Wedding day

Tradition dictates that on the wedding day, the husband must pick up his wife from her parent's house and leave with her on a luxury car that he has chosen beforehand. Usually, the husband arrives with a motorcade tha makes claxons in the street to show that it is a wedding and that everyone is happy with this union .

The husband dresses in his best suit and then takes his bride. It should be noted that the religious wedding, sdak, should be done either before the big party, which should be held in a big party hall, or will instead be held in the mosque or at home and then the big party is done in a luxurious party room in the presence of a number of usually very well-known singers. The most important tradition is also that of the maher in arab, which means that the groom gives his bride an amount of money which can range from one dinar to a hundred, or even more, however, the sum is not fixed nor mandatory, it is just symbolize their union and their dedication towards one another to begin a common life based on mutual respect and love. 

The small cakes

Among the most important traditions that exist is also the fact that the little cakes served in the evening are usually done at home. Some experts in the field can make the little sweets in their own way and then sell them and make a real business out of it.

They are usually served in the morning or evening in these sort of events. Normally they are used with nuts, pistachios, sweet candy and sweet milk. The choice of the ingredients is also an ancient tradition that has remained throughout the years, the same recipe has been used for years and years and Tunisians give a certain importance to the usage of these sweets in the different events that accompany their lives.

Mint tea accompanied by some dried fruits is an important tradition as well. It represents hospitality, kindness of heart and sharing. Fruity juices can also be served at the weddings or mainly almond based to originate a real specific drink called rouzata which is precisely specific to big events, usually served accompanied by biscuits or evening cakes.Sugar-coated almond dumplings are also very symbolic of this kind of event.

The hunt

As a matter of fact, the hunt is a tradition that has been conserved to this day, especially in out-of-town locations. The hunt is usually practiced by people who are well-known in the region for their characteristic hunting rifles and who live in the countryside. They find their serenity there and possess a rather specific life regime as well. They hunt only in certain periods when hunting is allowed and they generally hunt different types of game and wild animals and then either eat them or sell them in the local markets. They make baits also in an artisanal way to catch partridges or pigeons, there exists those who prefer intead to hunt wild boar to kill and eliminate it because this animal can be very dangerous, especially at night or when it feels in danger.

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Wheat and barley cultivation

Massively inscribed in the Tunisian culture, the cultivation of wheat and barley represents a main tradition in order to be able to create afterwards the bread which represents the main necessary good for the children and the house. This thought still persists and there are even people who still use the artisanal method of preparing bread in hot ovens, and they put the flour loaves shaped in a rather artisanal way, which is the tradition of the country.

Tradition of the day of birth of the prophet Mohamed

Exactly like Christmas in Western countries, the day of the birth of the Prophet Mohamed represents for Muslims a day worth great joy and to reflect on his various achievements. The religious spirit mixes with the spirit of tradition to produce one of the most beautiful events. Indeed, families usually celebrate this day by making the mixture called assida. A cream based on nuts and another cream on top based on milk and then decorated with candies and dried fruits. This tradition is not mandatory, it is mainly done to give more joy to families and young children and teach them the importance of such a day.

The Tunisian traditions are even more numerous but with this summary we can see that the authentic cultural spirit still exists in spite of the past years and the futuristic spirit which tends instead to remove any form of tradition, this country evolves day by day while keeping a traditional spirit.

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