Like every other city across the world, the Marrakech culture shapes the atmosphere of the area and its people. Marrakech is a diverse culture due to its many historical influences, which can be seen through the people, their cuisine and the architecture. Marrakech, which is known as the “red city,” is heavily influenced by two key civilizations – Islamic and Berber.
The culture in Marrakech is seen through the traditions, music, crafts, religion, and language. Read further if you wish to learn more about the culture and tradition in Marrakech.
Culture and Tradition in Marrakech
Marrakech’s primary languages are Arabic and Berber, the largest ethnic group is the Berbers and is still spoken throughout the country. The unofficial second language in Morocco is French, which many children learn very at a very young age. People who live in touristy areas tend to understand the English language very well.
It’s not uncommon for Marrakech people to know and speak four different languages, which means you should have no issues with communication in this diverse city.
Most of the people who live in Marrakech are of the Islam religion. These Muslims follow the religion faithfully and observe the entire holy Ramadan month – no smoking, eating, sex and drinking during the daytime hours. People tend to sleep in the daytime hours but get up when it’s night. It’s not uncommon for small cafés to stay open all night into the wee hours of the morning. The end of Ramadan is marked by the feast of Eid es Seghir also called Eid al-Fitr and the Sugar Feast.
Households considered well-off will often sacrifice a sheep to mark the Abraha during the Eid-el Kebir festival (Festival of the Sacrifice).
There are an array of artisanal trades in Marrakech that have been passed down from one generation to another – traditions that have taken hold and kept a grip on the city. One of the more prominent crafting skills is Tazoukt, which is a form of woodcraft that includes intricate panels, boxes, and furniture. The color red is added to the artwork to represent Marrakech. You can see many other crafting skills as you travel through the Marrakech streets.
There are other notable and important traditions you should observe in Marrakech including but not limited to:
- If you’re going to take pictures of locals, it’s important you ask permission before doing so. Failure to do so is seen as a matter of disrespect. Why? They think pictures capture their soul. If you want to take pictures of the snake or monkey charmers, you’ll have to pay up as well.
- Do not show the bottom of your shoes to anybody, as it’s seen as a negative greeting. If you are invited to a local’s home, you must first remove your shoes before entering.
- When you walk the souks and Medina, stick to the right side of the road/walkway per Muslim tradition.
- According to the Muslim faith, women do not show off bare flesh. While Marrakech residents understand Western tourists, they are still not open to the idea of bare female flesh. The best thing to do is use a scarf, lightweight clothing, and covered shoes when traveling the area. There’s no need to cover your hair, feet, hands, and face but do cover your knees, shoulders, and cleavage.
- When you’re in the market, be prepared for a little bit of hassling and don’t shy away from haggling. The owners of these shops see you as possible buyers of their Moroccan spices, woven rugs, etc. If you’re not interested, be firm with them. And, if you decide to haggle, be sure you stick to your maximum budget and consider walking away if they don’t want to meet you there.
Culture and Tradition in Morocco
Marrakech is a multicultural city and a great example of a peaceful city with a rich history. The culture, traditions, and people of the red city all reflect the influence of Berber, Arab and Muslim civilizations because of the huge Berber inhabitant. We hope this piece of information will help you better understand the culture of Marrakech. For more information about Moroccan culture generally, view our recent post about interesting facts about Morocco. We wish you a good stay in Marrakech!