Tatar hospitality

Tatar hospitality is well-known – once you visit Tatar peope you never forget that feeling being very welcoming and friendly to their guests. This is because they believe it is important to be respectful and honor their guests. They are proud of their hospitality and love to show it by serving lots of delicious food for their visitors to enjoy. The Tatars are famous for taking great care of their guests’ needs, going above and beyond to make sure they have a memorable and enjoyable experience. They believe that guests are very important, and they are willing to share everything they have with them. The Tatar culture is famous for being very warm and hospitable towards visitors, and this is something they take very seriously.

When meeting, it is not customary to immediately begin discussing important matters; first greet the person by shaking both hands. Then you should ask about health and abstract topics, only after that you can start discussing some problems or business issues.

Clean and tidy

The Tatars are known for their hospitality and respect for their homes. For centuries the Tatars have maintained a tradition of cleanliness in their homes. They always ensure that the entrance to their house remains neat and tidy. Visitors are expected to remove their shoes before entering. This has been a cultural practice in Tatar houses and apartments for ages.

The floors are kept perfectly clean to preserve the tidiness of their homes. Tatar households prefer to wear woolen socks within the house to maintain cleanliness. The Tatars also advise their guests to come prepared with slippers or clean shoes to wear inside the house. This is a testament to the Tatar people’s strong sense of hospitality and their deep respect for cleanliness. A visit to a Tatar home is always an incomparable experience as they strive to make their guests feel comfortable and welcomed.

Gifts from a guest

It is a common tradition for visitors to bring a small gift when visiting the homes of the Tatars. This is seen as a sign of respect for the hosts and a show of appreciation for their hospitality. The gift can be something as simple as pastries, sweets for tea, fruit or tea. It is not necessary for the gift to be large, but rather a few small treats will suffice. If there is a child present, then a separate gift such as a toy or sweets is also brought to show love and affection.

Upon receiving the gift, the hosts often place it on the table for everyone to enjoy. It is customary for guests to taste the delicacies provided by their hosts. It signifies an honor and obligation for the guests. This practice also historically served as a defense against poisoning attempts, which were common during the middle ages, especially at the Khan’s court. By continuing this tradition, the Tatars show their respect for their culture and support for their fellow compatriots.

Deep respect for each guest

For Tatar hospitality is not customary to let a guest or neighbour leave the doorstep without inviting them into the house, without offering to sit down or drink a cup of tea. A guest is always a joy for sociable decent Tatars. Having sat down, the guest will definitely read a prayer. But before that, be sure to wash your hands.

The table is set for different tastes – with all the tastiest and freshest that the owners have. For each newly arrived guest, the hosts set the table anew, change tablecloths, dishes and cutlery, prepare and place treats on the table.

They sit at the table according to seniority. It means, the elders take places of honor at the head of the table. Women and men are usually seated separately. Food set out in advance before the start of the meal is always covered with napkins, towels or covers. In general, it is not customary to keep food open, except during the meal itself.

It is preferable to always take food with your right hand. Bread should be broken with only two hands. Crumbs and pieces should not be shaken off onto the floor. If bread falls on the floor, it should be picked up immediately.

When dining with the Tatars, it is important to keep in mind their cultural dining customs. The first thing to remember is to eat slowly, so as not to appear impolite. Moreover, the food is usually moderately hot. When indulging in fatty meat dishes, cut into large pieces or on bones that can be eaten with your hands, guests will be given a wet towel for their hands to ensure everyone stays clean.

It is essential for younger guests in the party to wait until the older guests have taken their food before diving in, as it shows proper respect. Over-serving yourself is also entirely unacceptable, as it goes against their cultural norms and beliefs. Leaving food on the plate is seen as disrespectful and wasteful, so make sure to only take what you can handle.

You must eat a lot

It is customary to treat the guest heavily, to persuade the guest to eat more, taste different dishes, drink more tea. It is not customary to refuse offered treats, so as not to offend the owners. Polite hosts usually claim that the table is not rich enough, that there are not enough different dishes, that they could not please the guests. The guest will be asked what else he would like to try, what else could please him. Guests, as a rule, refuse, saying that the table and treats are already plentiful, which is usually true.

An uninvited or unexpected guest is considered a great blessing, since the Almighty himself sent him to you, he is seated in a place of honor, even if he arrived later than everyone else.

No one leaves empty-handed

After finishing a meal, it is not customary to sit at the table for a long time. The host or the eldest of the guests waits until everyone has finished eating. Even if he himself has already eaten, he does not get up from the table before others, so as not to rush the guests. After making sure that everyone has eaten, he begins to read a collective prayer of thanks aloud. After that everyone loudly says “Amen” and raises their hands to their faces. Everyone thanks the hosts and gets up from the table. It is not customary for the Tatars to leave quickly – saying goodbye takes a long time. So any guest should thank the hosts for their hospitality, say good wishes, and be sure to invite the hosts to come back for a return visit.

When the guests leave, they are not sent home empty-handed. They give you something with them. Any guest leaving a hospitable home is offered a small gift for the journey – “kuchtәnәch”. For relatives, it could be a piece of pie or chak-chak, or any sweets left over from the table. It is believed that kuchtenech is intended for children or elderly people left at home, so that those who have visited will make them happy by returning with a tasty treat.

Welcome for a longer visit

If guests come for more than a day, then they are surrounded by care throughout the visit. The table is set for different tastes – with all the tastiest and freshest that the owners have. The hosts make sure that the guest is well-fed and satisfied with the food, in a friendly manner, asking how they got there, how they are doing, how their family is, and what the main news is. While the guests are eating, the owners heat the bathhouse for the guests. The bathhouse is heated every day of the visit. After the bath – tea with delicacies. And in the evening the hosts prepare a communal dinner for all guests. One of the hosts always sits at the table until the last guest leaves the table – full and satisfied.

Any visitor is a guest

It should be mentioned that every person who crosses the threshold of the house is invited to drink tea – the most popular Tatar drink. Milk or melted cream, or even butter, is always added to hot and strong tea. Even a short visit, the guest will be surrounded by care and love.