Unique Moroccan Traditions to Improve your Cultural Fluency
Sharing food is a Moroccan custom. In fact, in Morocco, it’s considered impolite to eat alone in front of someone else.
One of the most widely shared Moroccan foods is couscous. Traditionally served on Fridays — the Islamic holy day — it’s shared among family members and with large groups. The Arabic word for Friday means “ensemble,” and people gather after Friday prayers to enjoy this Moroccan staple.
Tanjia is another traditional Moroccan dish. It’s made with lamb, salted lemon, spices, and oil and slow-cooked in a stone pot which gives the dish its name.
The traditional Moroccan dress for men and women is the djellaba. This long and loose tunic has long sleeves and a pointed hood that protects the wearer from the sun or cold weather. Women’s are brightly colored, whereas men’s come in more neutral colors.
The djellaba has Berber roots and can also be seen in neighboring Algeria and Tunisia, two countries where Berbers settled.
While standard Arabic is Morocco’s official language, Darija is the form that’s most commonly spoken. This dialect is similar to those spoken in Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania.
Not surprisingly, it has a mix of influences that come from the different governments and empires that ruled the country, including the Spanish and French. Darija also contains words from Amazigh — the Berber languages — and some words that are actually French and Spanish. For example, the Darija term for “wheel” is the same as the Spanish word for it: “rueda.”
There are several traditions associated with Moroccan weddings. Before the wedding, the groom gives the bride gifts, including sugar and henna. Two days prior to the event, the bride goes to the Hamam, or sauna, for purification. Another custom is that the bride has her hands and feet are decorated with henna patterns. At the wedding, the bride and groom are carried around the room in a traditional chair called an “amariya.” This gives them an opportunity to greet their guests and hear their blessings and well wishes.
Zellige is a style of colorful, mosaic tilework found in many of Morocco’s buildings, along lower walls, in fountains, and on floors. Master artisans make the tiles by setting hand-chiseled pieces into white plaster to form geometric or flower-like patterns —motifs found in Islamic art.