Traditions of Hospitality
Hospitality in Azerbaijan
Along with other customs each nation had its peculiar ceremonies of hospitality, the rules of having guests and visiting friends. Azerbaijanis since ancient times have had very interesting and instructive customs of hospitality which also fit contemporary life as well.
Classic Azerbaijani literature piece "dastan" titled "Dede-Korkud" said that "let the houses which do not welcome guests collapse".
There was a tradition in ancient Azerbaijan: in rich families when the maid gave the guest a bag full of food, it was a hint for the guest to leave. Azerbaijanis were very considerate, careful and polite in relation to a guest. Azerbaijanis' hospitality was very well known in the Middle East and Russia. 300-course feasts were arranged by the ruler of the country in honor of visiting foreign merchants and travelers!
There was a special ritual for welcoming important visitors. In one spot a crowd of guest welcoming people gathered. They were divided into two groups. One was led by elders (aksakals). They carried gifts: specially baked bread or pita bread, salt, a mirror, sherbet and other sweets wrapped in a red fabric. The second group consisting of civil servants, national singers and musicians went after the first one. All of them were wearing national clothes. They greeted visitors with the songs treated them with sherbet, bread and salt; the girls threw flowers under the guests' feet. When visitors entered the house they walked on beautiful Quban, Karabakh, Shirvan carpets.