The Culture of Jordan
Jordan Cultural Overview
The culture of Jordan is the product of the fusion of Arabic and Islamic elements. Islam is the state religion of Jordan. The majority of Jordan population belongs to the Sunni sect with a small minority of people belonging to the Shi’a sect. Jordan offers a great degree of protection to other religions too. Since 1980s, the government is popularizing a moderate form of Islam, denouncing religious fanaticism.
Arabic is the official language of Jordan and is spoken by all Jordanians. English is widely used in government and business circles. Arabic and English are compulsorily taught in schools. The other languages found in the land are French, German, Italian, Spanish, Tagalog and Sinhala. The Circassian community has retained Circassian language to this day apart from speaking Arabic.
Islamic Clothing of Jordan
The popular male costume consists of tunic, pants and an elaborate over garment with a belt or waist sash. Normally, the head is covered either by a scarf, turban or tarbush. The female costume allows for greater variety in decoration through embroidery with variety of colors and patchworks with great many regional styles. A long rectangular slit or decorative panel seen in the front is typical to Jordanian costumes. Shirsh is the prominent traditional costume in the north of Jordan. This lengthy attire comes with long, tight sleeves and a decorated neckline and embroidered sides. Often, the dresses of central and southern Jordanians are of double length with long pointed sleeves.
Jordan has a remarkable culinary tradition. Halloumi is a traditional cheese made from goat or sheep milk, often served in a sandwich of pita-style bread. Rice, flat breads, legumes, olives, lamb or chicken, yogurt, vegetables and fruits form the basis for most meals. Rice is the major ingredient of several dishes. In a typical meal, a large tray of rice and meat is placed on a covering laid on the floor surrounded by small dishes of yogurt and salad. Tea, Turkish style coffee and juices are served during special visits.
Mansaf is the national dish consisting of lamb cooked in dry yogurt. This is served on flat bread with seasoned rice. Mansaf marks celebrations and special events. Known as mezze or muqabalat, the appetizers are the most popular among Jordanian dishes, often comparable to a feast by themselves. Food is one of the central features of Jordan’s culture and mealtime is more of a community event. Each time a meal is served, there exists a festive atmosphere glorified by the great hospitality and generosity of Jordanians. A 'Jordanian invitation' symbolizes that the guest is expected to bring nothing and eat everything.
Jordanian Social Life
Men and women do not mix freely in public situations. Jordanians live in extended families. However, due to the shortage of resources especially water, population control is widely advocated and practiced these days. Due to the relaxation of social segregation of sexes, educated younger women are increasingly seen in mosques and social gatherings. The prominent aspects of Jordan’s culture include the music of Jordan along with popular sports like football and basketball.