Refusing a guest, not seating him at the table, not treating him or welcoming him poorly is considered a shame among all the peoples of the Eastern and Central Asian countries. It is not customary here to deny hospitality even to an enemy. Welcoming guests is a delicate and diplomatic approach to tackling any issues.
The hospitality among the Turkmens has always been and is in the forefront. They love and know how to welcome guests. It is in their blood. There are various proverbs and sayings about this: “A guest is dearer than a father”, “Guests bring wealth and prosperity to the house”, etc. The Turkmens also have an interesting folk feature: a person who comes to a laid table will get a loving mother-in-law.
The Turkmen people will seat the uninvited guest in the most honorable place at the table and will be treated to tea and all the tastiest in the house. From childhood, housewives are taught to keep a supply of food in the refrigerator in the event that guests come. But refusal of a treat is equivalent to offence for the host.
It is important to bear in mind that pilaf is considered the “crown” dish of the Turkmens, which must be served to the guest. It is served as a last course, which means the end of a meal. It is pilaf that is the main expression of respect and honor for the guest. Large events or reception of honored guests among the Caucasians, Uzbeks, Kazakhs and Turkmens cannot do without a ritual lamb, which is slaughtered in honor of the newcomers.
In some cases, the guest is given gifts: the house owner at parting, as a rule, gives guests with them what he himself is rich in and what the land has endowed him with. This is another manifestation of respect and hospitality that took a firm root in the minds of modern residents of Turkmenistan.
How guests are welcomed in other countries?
If in our country tea is the most important part of the ritual of hospitality, then the Arabs replace it by coffee. The Arabs say about a hospitable person: “His coffee pot is always full”, and to praise hospitality, one can say: “You make coffee from morning to evening”. A woman prepares food for a guest in an Arab family, but only a man makes coffee. And it is a whole ritual: until the coffee is ready, no one engages in talk that starts after the first cup.
In Egypt, Morocco and Turkey, you will be offered the tastiest and best of what is currently in the house, including sweets and tea. And in the evening, a festive dinner will be given in honor of the guest.
In the UK, you may be invited as a token of gratitude for something, thus expressing their appreciation to you. Also, sometimes in some European countries and the USA, it is customary for guests to bring their own food, and guests can be only offered chips with sauce.
In Japan, welcoming guests is a whole ceremony. Before entering, you must take off your shoes and put on wooden sandals. It is compulsory to visit the Japanese with a gift and, upon handing it, say: “This is small, but still…”. Of course, the host can also give you a return gift, but you must politely refuse it, you can accept it only in the event that they insist. A polite refusal is an important point in the guest etiquette in the Land of the Rising Sun.
A strange rite exists among the Eskimos of Alaska, when guests inform the hosts about their visit through the chimney. How does this happen? It’s quite simple. The guest climbs onto the roof of the owner’s house and cries into the chimney about his arrival. Since the laws of hospitality are regarded as sacred among the northern residents, they do not need to make an appointment in advance. Even the most unexpected guest is seated in the center of the house and the table is quickly laid.
In some regions of the world, for example, in Ossetia, if you are late for the appointed time or refuse the invitation, you have seriously offended the inviting person. Similarly, in other Central Asian countries, being late is regarded as a display of disrespect.
In Georgia, a guest is considered to be a messenger of God. Therefore, it is the sacred duty of every family to give guests a warm welcome. Here everything is for guests – food, attention and songs.
Hospitality is an important part of the matchmaking tradition. Matchmakers come to the girl’s house with a gift – baked and fried treats. If the bride’s part accepted and opened the gift and tried the treats, this means consent. Since ancient times, the Turkmens have been dealing with such matters without unnecessary words and talks. Traditions of hospitality – “culinary diplomacy” – are the very quality that helps to develop excellent relations with people and makes a hospitable host a person who everyone wants to visit.