Jordan culture and Traditions
Jordan’s culture is a pleasant jumble of old and new, and Amman( its capital) has rapidly become one of the most sophisticated cities in the Middle East.
Jordan can be regarded as a typically Arab country as its people are very warm, friendly and hospitable. Jordanians areculture of Jordan typically happy to forgive foreigners who innocently ‘break the rules' of etiquette. However, visitors seen to be making an effort to observe local customs will undoubtedly win favor.
Joining local people for a cup of tea or coffee can be a wonderful way to learn more about local culture. If you are invited yet are unable to attend, then it is perfectly acceptable to decline. Place your right hand over your heart and politely make your excuses.Many families, particularly in rural areas, are very traditional and, if you visit their house, you may well find it is divided between the men and women. Foreign women are often treated as honorary ‘men'.
Being introduced to Jordanian culture through interaction with locals is an amazing experience that is not included enough in Jordan tours. When planning your travel to Jordan, allocating time to experience local culture will not be regrettable. Jordanians are at their best when hosting you at their home. Having a meal at the home of a Jordanian family in a small town or village in Jordan is an unforgettable experience of authentic Jordan.
When on a Jordan vacation, you will notice that most Jordanians are exposed to other cultures and Jordan customs Rumthey are aware that breaches of cultural norms by foreigners is not intended to be offensive. Most Jordan visitors leave surprised by the amazing hospitality of Jordanians. Visit Jordan get first hand experience.
Below is a brief list of Do's and Don'ts to help visitors fit in with the locals!
Do shake hands when meeting people, conservative veiled women may not reach out.
Do stand up when greeting others.
When finished with your cup of Arabic coffee, do shake your cup from side to side in order to let your host know that you do not wish to drink more. If more coffee is desired, then simply hold your cup out to the person carrying the coffeepot.
Do accept when Arabic coffee is offered to you by your host, as coffee is an important cultural symbol of hospitality, simultaneously extended and accepted as an act of reciprocated goodwill.
Do haggle with merchants when shopping.
Do dress conservatively when exploring public areas of Jordan.
Do be aware that Arabs tend to stand a fraction of the distance closer when conversing than people do in the West.
Do feel free to consume alcoholic beverages, but not in outside public areas.
Don't interrupt, or pass in front of, a Muslim who may be praying in a public place.Wadi Rum Customs
Don't openly consume food, beverages, or cigarettes in public places during the holy month of Ramadan.
Don't dress provocatively when walking outdoors.
Don't panic if an acquaintance "pecks" you on the cheeks when greeting you, as Arabs have traditionally kissed each other on both cheeks as a warm gesture of welcome and affection.
Don't feel uncomfortable if your host insists on "over feeding" you during a meal, as Arabs traditionally view food as an important symbol of hospitality, generosity, and goodwill - the more the better!
Religion in Jordan
Jordan is an ideal destination for those seeking cultural knowledge and spiritual enrichment. Jordan values its ethnically and religiously diverse population, consequently providing for the cultural rights of all its citizens.
This spirit of tolerance and appreciation is one of the central elements contributing to the stable and peaceful cultural climate flourishing within Jordan. More than 92% of Jordanians are Sunni Muslims and approximately 6% are Christians. The majority of Christians belong to the Greek Orthodox Church, but there are also Greek Catholics, a small Roman Catholic community, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic Orthodox, Armenian Orthodox, and a few Protestant denominations. Several small Shi'a and Druze populations can also be found in Jordan.
As Jordan is predominantly an Islamic country, one may explore the principles of Islam through direct interaction with the people of this monotheistic religion. As the capstone of a long tradition beginning with Judaism and Christianity, Muslims believe that Islam completes the revelation of God's message to humankind. Islam - which in Arabic means "submission" - is an assertion of the unity, completeness, and sovereignty of God. Muslims believe that God, or Allah, as He is known in Arabic, revealed his final message to humankind through the Prophet Muhammad and the Holy Qur'an, which is the divine immutable word of God.
Islam focuses heavily on the equality of all humans before the one true God, and therefore it is in many ways a return to the original doctrine of the pure monotheism that characterized the early Judeo-Christian tradition.
Islamic tradition has crystallized five fundamental observances, or "pillars," that are as important as faith in defining Islamic identity and strengthening the common bond that ties all Muslims together. They are Confession of Faith, Daily Prayer (five times per day facing the holy city of Mecca), Fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Almsgiving, and Pilgrimage to Mecca.
Women in Jordan
Local women in Jordan enjoy considerable freedom when compared with many other counJordan Womentries in the region. Women are entitled to a full education, they can vote, they can drive cars, and they often play significant roles in business and politics. Arranged marriages and dowries are still common.
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One of the best known groups from Jordan's population is the Bedouin. As they are known in Arabic, the BeBedouin culture Jordandu, or "desert dwellers," endure the desert and have learned to survive its unforgiving climate. It is difficult to count Bedouins, but it is generally known that the majority of Jordan's population is of Bedouin origin.
Most of Jordan's Bedouin live in the vast wasteland that extends east from the Desert Highway. All throughout the south and east of the country, their communities are marked by characteristic black goat-hair tents. These are known as beit al-sha'ar, or "house of hair."
Bedouins are often stereotyped as constantly wandering the desert in search of water and food for their flocks. This state of constamt wondering is called "Terhaal" This is only partly true. Only a small portion of Bedouin can still be regarded as true nomads, while many have settled down to cultivate crops rather than drive their animals across the desert. Most Bedouin have combined the two lifestyles to some degree. Those Bedouins who still practice pastoralism will camp in one spot for a few months at a time, grazing their herds of goats, sheep or camels until the fodder found in the area is exhausted. It is then time to move on. Often the only concession they make to the modern world is the acquisition of a pick-up truck (to move their animals long distances), plastic water containers and perhaps a kerosene stove.
Bedouin Culture petraIt can be said that many of the characteristics of the Jordanian and Arab society are found in their strongest form in Bedouin culture. For instance, Bedouins are most famous for their hospitality, and it is part of their creed-rooted in the harshness of desert life-that no traveller is turned away. The tribal structure of Arab society is also most visible among the Bedouins, where the clan is at the center of social life. Each Bedouin family has its own tent, a collection (hayy) of which constitutes a clan (qawm). A number of these clans make up a tribe, or qabila.
As the Bedouins have long been, and still remain to a limited degree, outside the governing authority of the state, they have used a number of social mechanisms-including exile from the tribe, and the exaction of "blood money" or vengeance to right a crime-to maintain order in the society. The values of Bedouin society are vested in an ancient code of honor, calling for total loyalty to the clan and tribe in order to uphold the survival of the group.
The Jordanian government, which in the past promoted the settling of the Bedouin, recognizes the unique value of their contribution to Jordan's culture and heritage. Indeed, it has been said that they are the backbone of the Kingdom. The government continues to provide services such as education, housing and health clinics. However, some Bedouins pass these up in favor of the lifestyle which has served them so well over the centuries.
One of the biggest concentrations of authentic Bedouins in the country is probably Wadi Rum Jordan. Although Bedouins in Wadi Rum are working more and more in tourism they still maintain their authentic life style and understand that this is what tourists are coming to see.
Jordan vacations are only complete when a Bedouin experience is integrated within. In your Jordan Travel Program you can choose to include a multi day Bedouin experience or part of the day. Wadi Rum is an ideal setting for such an authentic Jordan experience.
When traveling Jordan, it is worth noting that Petra Jordan is under an hour and a half away from Wadi Rum.
Values & Traditions
Jordan can be regarded for a typically Arab country for its people are very warm, friendly and hospitable. Jordanians are typically happy to forgive foreigners who break the rules of etiquette. However, visitors seen to be making an effort to observe local customs will undoubtedly win favour.
Joining local people for a cup of tea or coffee can be a wonderful way to learn more about local culture. If you are invited yet are unable to attend, then it is perfectly acceptable to decline. Place your right hand over your heart and politely make your excuses.
Many families, particularly in rural areas, are very traditional and, if you visit their house, you may well find it is divided between the men and women. Foreign women are often treated as “honorary” men.
Local women in Jordan enjoy considerable freedom when compared with many other countries in the region. Women are entitled to a full education, they can vote, they can drive cars, and they often play significant roles in business and politics. Arranged marriages and dowries are still common.
Almost Jordan’s entire population is Arab. This is an ethnic term, but also marks a pan-national identity, largely because nation-states are relatively new: many people in Jordan feel a much stronger cultural affinity with Arabs from nearby countries than, say, Britons might feel with Belgians. The bedouin add a deeper layer of meaning by often regarding themselves to be the only true, original Arabs. Jordan has tiny ethnic minorities of Circassians and Chechens (who are Muslim), Armenians (Christian) and Kurds (Muslim) – all of whom are closely bound into Jordanian society – as well as Dom gypsies (also Muslim).
There persists a perceived difference between people whose origins lie in families long resident on the east bank of the River Jordan and people whose families originate on the west bank of the river. All are Jordanian citizens, yet Jordanians of Palestinian origin are estimated to number between half and three-quarters of the total population. Roughly seven percent of people in Jordan are expats, including guest workers – many of them Egyptian, Sri Lankan and Filipino – alongside a sizeable population of Iraqi refugees.
Daily life and social customs
Jordan is an integral part of the Arab world and thus shares a cultural tradition common to the region. The family is of central importance to Jordanian life. Although their numbers have fallen as many have settled and adopted urban culture, the rural Bedouin population still follows a more traditional way of life, preserving customs passed down for generations. Village life revolves around the extended family, agriculture, and hospitality; modernity exists only in the form of a motorized vehicle for transportation. Urban-dwelling Jordanians, on the other hand, enjoy all aspects of modern, popular culture, from theatrical productions and musical concerts to operas and ballet performances. Most major towns have movie theatres that offer both Arab and foreign films.
The country’s cuisine features dishes using beans, olive oil, yogurt, and garlic. Jordan’s most popular dishes is mansaf – lamb or mutton and rice with a yogurt sauce, which served on holidays and on special family occasions. Jordan culture and traditions
Daily fare includes “khubz” (flatbread) with vegetable dips, grilled meats, and stews, served with sweet tea or coffee flavoured with cardamom.
A tribe is an extended grouping of families who cultivate a distinctive tradition of history and folklore (mainly oral) and assert ownership of a particular territory. Not all tribes are desert-dwelling – there are many whose background is rural, and others who have become urbanized. Tribal territories, which predate nation-states, often extend across international borders. Some tribes are made up of clans and branches which have taken on tribe-like status; others have banded together in larger, often pan-national, tribal confederations. All these concepts are rather loose, but for a lot of Jordanians, tribal identity is at least as strong as religious or national identity.
Within tribal identity, many people make a distinction between two broad social traditions. The bedouin originate in families who are current or former desert-dwellers: they may once have been nomadic, but are almost all now settled. Some still live in tents in or near the desert, following traditional lifestyles, but many do not: a police officer in Amman or a marketing executive in Aqaba might be as bedouin as a camel-guide in Wadi Rum. By contrast the fellahin originate from a settled, rural, farming tradition, often in the north and west of Jordan. They frequently have strong historic links – often of family or tribe – to rural communities across the borders in Syria and Palestine.