The almost universally celebrated day of love is upon us as Monday, February 14, Valentine’s Day will bring lovers from all over the world together. In Turkey, there are many inventive, authentic and creative ways to convey your affection to those you love.
Turkey has a variety of truly fascinating “puzzle rings” that are as popular as wedding rings and are often given as gifts to one’s fiancée or someone you love. These rings come in a variety of interconnected bands that vary in number and thickness and a single ring can consist of three to a dozen bands. The Turkish variety has intricate variations of infinity knots that hold together when properly worn, but fall apart the moment the ring is removed from the finger. Once the puzzle is broken, you must then cleverly put the pieces together, hence the name “puzzle ring”. Don’t worry, most jewelry stores in Turkey will be able to give you instructions. These rings can be made of copper, silver or gold and some are even a mixture of the three.
The legend behind these rings is that husbands gave them to their wives as a trick to see if they were faithful. In Turkish they are called “sadakat” (faithful) or “yabpoz” (puzzle) rings, but in English they are also called Turkish wedding rings.
Almost anyone can admit to loving sweets and if not, no worries, as the treats prepared at some of Turkey’s most famous confectioneries are too sweet to eat to begin with! Whether you’re making up a box of fruit marzipan from Cafer Erol, a bag of colorful “akide şekeri” from Hacı Bekir, or a box of decadent chocolates from Divan, any of these options are sure to be the right one. If you want to double down on sending flowers and chocolates, check out Çiçeksepeti, which offers carefully selected Valentine’s Day gifts including a wide range of chocolates as well as edible flower bouquets, which are each essentially miniature cakes.
Why not make sure your loved one is protected from the ‘evil eye’ with a ‘nazar boncuğu’, otherwise known as an evil eye bead. The Turks have long believed that these opaque dark blue glass beads served as a protective shield blocking any envious gaze. They come in all shapes, sizes, and colors and can be used as jewelry, decorative home or car hanging, or even keychains.
Turks are the connoisseurs of bathing and personal care. After all, Turkish baths have become synonymous with luxury spa culture for a reason. Peştamel, the thin, pure cotton wraps that serve as towels (and were actually the first towels ever invented), as well as special soaps and scrubbers always make for a great gift that isn’t gender specific. A selection of winter teas from one of Turkey’s spice shops, called “aktar”, will serve to show you attention and warm the heart of your loved one.
creative t shirts
Let me let you in on a little secret: there’s a revolutionary artistic t-shirt movement going on in Turkey, and they just happen to make the perfect gift. From Kaft to Nors, from NaneLimonShop to even the World Wildlife Federation (WWF), there are wonderfully creative graphics and designs in comfort gear. In addition, WWF developed a full Valentine’s Day series titled “Love of Nature” in which they created four different designs of animals expressing feelings of love.
Look for antiques
There’s nothing quite like a one-of-a-kind find that can truly be a keepsake for your sweetheart. Fortunately, Turkey has antique markets which are held regularly in most cities. In Istanbul alone, this Sunday there will be antique markets in the districts of Kadıköy, Bomonti and Dolapdere.
Love at the first star
Under Lucky Stars produces unique celestial charts of the sky the very moment you met your partner. These cards that show how the stars aligned when you fell in love are then framed with shapes including circles and hearts. Granted, it’s more universal than a Turkey-specific company, but it’s such a romantic idea that I had to share.
A box of love!
Send your loved ones a surprise box of fresh produce and local products from farms such as Urla Bahçe, Ipek Hanım’ın Çiftliği and Gürsel Tombul Farm Ekoorganic Market. From seasonal fruits and vegetables to unique products like Urla Bahçe’s börek made from hand-rolled phyllo dough, stuffed with artichokes, eggplant, green lentils and pumpkin. Tangala Peynirleri is a dairy farm in Fethiye that makes artisan cheeses that can be delivered to your doorstep.
Light my fire…
Let’s face it, there’s no better time than now to buy someone you love a candle to serve as a beautiful, visible (and sometimes aromatic) reminder of the feelings you share. Tay Mum is a three-generation Turkish candle-making company that has been in business since 1975. They even have a line called “Inspired by Anatolian Civilizations”, which includes head-shaped candles found on Mount Nemrut and busts of Alexander the Great, Zeus, Aphrodite and more, including a variety of replica columns from various civilizations and the Sultan’s signature.
Spread love through perfume
Last, but not least, is the quintessential Turkish gift for any occasion: cologne. Turkish cologne is revered around the world for its cleansing and aromatic properties and two of the most established brands: Atelier Rebul, which opened in 1895, and Eyüp Sabri Tuncer, which opened in 1923, continue to innovate with their fragrances. Atelier Rebul offers a wide variety of relaxing scents such as its Japanese range and has also added artisanal chocolate to its range for Valentine’s Day. Eyüp Sabri Tuncer also offers relaxing scents such as Rain Forest, but this is their range of aromas mimicking specific places in Istanbul such as the Basilica Cisterns, Grand Bazaar, Hagia Sophia, Bosphorus and Spice Bazaar which are truly fascinating. .