Morocco is a country that has been in contact over the years with many different cultures such as the Romans, the Phoenicians, the Arabs, the Europeans and more. The exchange between locals and all these foreigners led to creating a set of unique traditions and customs shared throughout the entire county, from Tangier to La Guera as locals like to say. Morocco, even with being a very modern territory where people from all over the world come to work or visit, is still to this day attached to its traditions. In such a way where Moroccan people, living in their homeland or abroad, keep manifesting these traditions in their day-to-day lives in the most subtle or most extravagant ways.Morocco is a country that has been in contact over the years with many different cultures such as the Romans, the Phoenicians, the Arabs, the Europeans and more. The exchange between locals and all these foreigners led to creating a set of unique traditions and customs shared throughout the entire county, from Tangier to La Guera as locals like to say. Morocco, even with being a very modern territory where people from all over the world come to work or visit, is still to this day attached to its traditions. In such a way where Moroccan people, living in their homeland or abroad, keep manifesting these traditions in their day-to-day lives in the most subtle or most extravagant ways.
The Moroccan Djellaba is perhaps the most important traditional garment for Moroccans; since it is meant for both sexes, complies with Islamic guidelines of modesty, can protect from either cold or heat, and is a very practical everyday piece of clothing! As for celebrations and big events, you will catch Moroccan women wearing the most beautifully decorated traditional caftans (basically a fancier Djellaba but without the hood), or a T’kchita (a double layer caftan). For such occasions, men wear either a Gandora, Djabadour or Selham depending on the event. For footwear, Moroccans love their traditional Belgha, a soft leather closed toe sandal varied in color and decoration.
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The Moroccan Cuisine:
Cuisine is one of the richest and most diverse aspects of Moroccan traditions, since it is affected by Berber, Arab, Sub-Saharan and Mediterranean influences. The Moroccan Tajine, being one of the most important Moroccan dishes, in a slow cooked stew served with meat, vegetables and nuts. But the most iconic Moroccan dish can’t be anything other than the world-famous Couscous that locals religiously have for lunch every Friday. An Honorable mention goes to the Moroccan Tanjia, originating from the city of Marrakech, which is another slow cooked meat based dish dearly loved by Moroccans.
You should note that Moroccans love to eat using their hands, accompanying their meals by bread, salads and marinated olives. Finally, it would be a shame to talk about Moroccan cuisine in a traditions context and not bring up the staple that’s found in every Moroccan household: Mint tea! This drink holds a deeper meaning in Moroccans’ hearts, as it could be served to guests as a sign of hospitality, or during social gatherings and celebrations.
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Traditional Moroccan architecture varies from region to region, but it is mostly comprised of two main things: Moroccan Traditions Aspects
A Moroccan Riad is a building found primarily in Old Medinas, characterized by an interior garden/courtyard surrounded by individual private rooms. Riads are usually very minimalistically decorated on the outside, with very little windows (or none). However, on the inside, they are decorated and ornated with the most intricate works of Moroccan craftsmanship. The Riads have a symbolic meaning of beings one’s own little paradise, where he can rest from the business of the outside world after a long day of work. Almost reminding you of a location from an Arabian Nights tail, you can experience this Moroccan tradition by spending a night at a genuine Riad turned into a guest house during your next trip to Morocco.
Kasbahs are another architecture form found abundantly throughout Morocco. The term Kasbah itself can either refer to a city built inside high defensive walls, or a single building similar to a fortress in concept. Either way, in both cases the building is made of mud and soil and is designed to last and stand strong against intruders’ attacks. Nowadays, few people still currently live in Kasbahs, but they have been turned into locations open for tourists and visitors. A very famous example of this would be the Ait Ben Haddou Kasbah, located near Ouarzazate city. This Kasbah is actually so well preserved that it has been used as a backdrop for numerous international historical movies and series.
In addition to those, Moroccan architecture can also be manifested is mosques, Medrassas and gates, which are prime examples of how Moorish, Andalusian and Arab architecture and decorations have influenced Morocco.
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Morocco’s music is just as diverse and rich as every other part of its traditions. Almost every region of Morocco has its own local type of folk music, being either Arab, Andalusian, Berber… etc.
Chaabi music is Morocco’s version of pop. Played mostly at celebrations, it is characterized by its upbeat rhythm and fun themes.
This type of music is a remnant of Moorish influence in Morocco. It’s sung in Arabic, and is considered a very important spiritual heritage across cities such as Fes and Meknes.
Malhun is a type of purely Moroccan Arabic music, performed by the men of the artisanal working class. The music itself is just sung Moroccan poetry, accompanied by a variety of instruments. Listening to Malhun can be a very interesting and relaxing experience.
Gnawa music is probably the most spiritual and enchanting music you can find in Morocco, originating from the black people brought to Morocco for the slave trade. Later on, after Islam came to Morocco bringing with it their freedom, they dedicated their music to thank God and turned it into spiritual religious chants.
Berber folk music differs immensely depending on the region, village and tribe. It’s a very unique and popular type of music among Moroccans that can be found present during celebrations like weddings and festivals, usually accompanied by a group dance.
All those genres aside, many young Moroccan artists are experimenting with mixing one or more types of music from their cultural heritage with western music such as pop, hip hop or metal. This can be witnessed live during Essaouira’s annual “Gnaoua Music of the world” festival.
Gnaoua Music Festival:
This World music festival is held annually (in June) in the coastal city of Essaouira, attracting hundreds of thousands of attenders not only from Morocco, but from all the four corners of the globe. It is focused mainly on the works of Gnaoua music Maalems; however, a big portion of the festival is dedicated to international Jazz, Blues or fusion artists.
Marriage Festival in Imilchil:
This is a truly one of a kind traditional Moroccan festival, as it is based on an ancient Berber love tragedy that tells the tale of the two lovers whose tears filled the lakes of Tislit and Tislit. The festival takes place in the town of Imilchil, where young people get to meet and get betrothed. They don’t actually get married during the day of the festival, but if they decide on a lifelong partner, they get their decision blessed by the patron saint of the area: Sidi Mohamed El Maghani.
Timitar music festival in Agadir:
In the port city of Agadir, every year the Timitar music festival is held to celebrate Berber culture and music, especially that of the Souss Massa Draa region. You can enjoy genuine traditional Berber music accompanied with dances and get to meet and interact with local Berbers.
Rose Festival in Kalaat Mgouna:
If you are ever lucky enough to be visiting Morocco during the Roses harvest season, make sure to attend Klaat Mgouna’s roses’ festival. The festival is a way for locals to celebrate the years roses crop, to entertain and be entertained, and to crown the annual miss Roses
What aspect of the Moroccan culture did you like the most? Is there something we forget to mention in the article, feel free to comment and share this essay 🙂