What traditions and customs are there in Jordan?
From the ancient city of Petra, the customs and traditions of Jordan.
Food in daily life
An ancient legend tells of an Arabian shepherd who six thousand years ago put his supply of milk into a bag made from the stomach of a sheep before making a journey across the desert. The rennet in the lining of the bag, combined with the heat of the sun, caused the milk to form curds, and cheese was discovered.
Bedouin farmers keep herds of goats and sheep whose milk is used to produce cheese and yogurt. A popular cheese is called halloumi (similar to feta), made from goat’s or sheep’s milk and often served in a pita-style sandwich or cubed in salads.
Rice, beans, olives, yogurt, flatbreads, vegetables (cauliflower, eggplant, potatoes, okra, tomatoes, and cucumbers), lamb or chicken, and fruits (apricots, apples, bananas, melons, and oranges) form the basis of most meals. Spiced rice main dishes are consumed almost daily.
The main meal is typically served mid-afternoon. A cover is placed on the ground, with a large tray of rice and meat placed in the center surrounded by small plates of yogurt and salad. The broken pieces of bread are folded in half and used to collect the food. The left hand is never used for feeding.
Food customs on ceremonial occasions
When people visit relatives and friends, they are served tea, Turkish or Arabic -style coffee, or fruit juice. Sweets are often included in this meal, especially on holidays.
The national main dish is Mansaf, which consists of lamb cooked in dry yogurt and served with seasoned rice on flatbread. Mansaf is always served on holidays and special family occasions such as visits to relatives or friends, engagements, and weddings.
Getting married and having children are priorities. Most marriages are arranged by the father of the bride. Cousins often marry and the couple barely know each other until the engagement is announced. The wedding has two celebrations: an engagement party and a wedding party.
After the engagement party, the process of dating and getting to know each other begins. After the engaged woman and man have signed the papers at the engagement party, they are legally married. If they decide not to proceed, even though they have not lived together, they must get a divorce. Brides must be virgins on their wedding night.
After marriage, every aspect of a woman’s life is dictated by her husband. She cannot obtain a passport or travel outside the country without her written approval. At any time, a husband can take another wife. Polygamy with up to four wives is legal.
Divorce is legal. When there is a divorce, custody of the children automatically goes to the father, and for this reason, women choose to remain in a marriage even when there are other wives. Divorced women are seen as outcasts.
Greetings and goodbyes are long and sincere. Even answering a phone involves saying “how are you?” in several different ways. Visitors and/or friends are often invited to their homes for dinner, where they are showered with kindness and food.
The women dress modestly and are often offended by exposed flesh. Most Muslims do not drink alcohol. Shoes are always removed before entering a mosque, and this custom extends to homes as well.
Sandals are always put on before entering the bathroom, feet, and never put on a coffee table, footstool, or desk. It is forbidden and disrespectful to expose the soles of the feet. Same-sex friends hold hands, hug and kiss in public, but contact between men and women is limited. A man does not shake hands with a woman unless she offers her hand first.
The state religion is Muslim, as stated in the Constitution. Ninety percent of the population adheres to the Sunni branch. About 6 percent of the people are Christian.
Imams, prayer leaders in a Muslim mosque, play an important role in this Muslim country. In most smaller and rural communities they are also the political leaders.
Rituals and sacred places
Jordan has a rich religious history. For Jews and Christians, it is part of the Holy Land, sacred for its connection to the Jewish patriarchs Abraham and Moses, as well as Christian biblical figures such as John the Baptist.
Jordan is equally important in the history of Islam, as many tombs of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad are located in Jordan. Jordan is where the non-Arab world first came in contact with Islam more than fifteen hundred years ago.
One of the five essential pillars that Muslims practice is the recitation of prayers five times a day. Calls to prayer are publicly announced by mosques and can be heard throughout the country.
Devotees unroll a small prayer rug and face Mecca to pray. Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is a time of fasting from sunrise to sunset.
Most public restaurants don’t open until just before sunset. Throughout Ramadan and the commemorative celebration of its end, families celebrate the occasion with large parties and special sweets.
Another pillar of Islam is the Hajj, the sacred pilgrimage that is made at least once in a lifetime to Mecca. Many pilgrims travel through Jordan on their way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Jordanians follow the Islamic calendar. National holidays include Arbor Day (January 15), Arab League Day (March 22), and Independence Day (May 25). Religious holidays include Id al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan), Id al-Adha (the Feast of the Sacrifice), the Islamic New Year, the birthday of Muhammad, and Leilat al-Meiraj (the Ascension of Muhammad).
The arts and humanities
In 2000, King Abdullah mandated that government workers be given Fridays and Saturdays off, hoping they would find time to develop new interests and travel to places like Petra. The government promotes cultural festivals, encourages the revival of crafts, and takes steps to preserve the country’s archaeological and historical heritage.
The country’s most famous poet is Mustafa Wahbi al-Tal, one of the leading Arab poets of the 20th century. Al-Tal was a political and social activist who dedicated twenty years of his life to recovering the rights of the Roma and became a member of the Roma community.
Folk art survives in tapestries, leather crafts, pottery, and pottery. Wool and goat hair rugs are made with colorful tribal designs.
Popular culture takes the form of songs, ballads, and stories. The villagers have special songs for births, weddings, funerals, sowing, plowing, and harvesting.
Share the customs and traditions of Jordan.