Henna Night

Henna Night | giverecipe.com

Henna has a very special place in Turkish culture. When there was no chemical dye in the country, Turkish women used to dye their hair with it. Traditional women still use it for dying their hands or hair. How is henna prepared to use? Mix it with water and knead well. You will get a thick henna dough, which is easy to spread on hands or hair. A few walnut tree leaves are also added to this mixture for an additional brightness in color in some regions.

But the cultural importance of henna comes from henna night. Have you ever heard this night? It is a very special night for brides. Henna night is held a day before the wedding, mostly in bride’s home or at a place bride and her family choose. It is mostly held for bride for her relatives and friends (woman only, no men), but in some regions groom’s family and friends may also join. Bride generally wears traditional dress, but today most of them wear what they want.

Henna is bought by groom’s family and brought to this ceremony. A woman prepares the mixture, puts it in a tray and places candles around henna mixture. Meanwhile bride sits in the middle of crowd. Her head is covered with a red scarf (red is the color for bride). People around her sings an emotional folk song with the aim of making bride cry. Crying is traditionally a part of henna night. When she starts crying, a young girl comes with the henna tray with in her hand. She dances around bride with the tray for a while singing that song.

Henna Night | giverecipe.com

Henna is first placed on bride’s hands by a woman. A golden coin is placed in the middle of each hand, and then henna is spread. Bride makes her hands fist and wears small red cloth bags, not in the form gloves. And she starts dancing too. No more crying after henna! She removes the henna from her hand after some hours or the following morning.

Henna Night | giverecipe.com

Henna in the tray is then prepared for guests in the form of small balls and a young girl hands out these balls to guests at this ceremony. Guests also put on henna and they can also take extra henna to take with them.
This night is like a rehersal of wedding and like a farewell party for bride. She’s ready to go and start a new life at her new home after this night.


  1. Soma says

    We have Henna/Mehendi night in some Indian weddings too.(esp. the northern regions) It is as elaborate as the weddings and the designs are actually done on the hands (and now on feet too) for hours, along with lots of music, dance and food. I had no idea that this was a tradition in Turkey too!

  2. says

    We went to our friend’s Henna night three years ago. Maybe it was more modern as she had the groom’s friends and family there too…and the groom. He had to sit with the bride and have his hands in cloth bags with the henna, too. It’s good that there are traditions like this though. There isn’t really anything like this in the UK anymore.

  3. says

    I love this old tradition! I went to quite a number of Henna Nights while living in Jordan. I miss this kind of gatherings of family and friends, ahhhhhhhhhhh! How beautifuly you described it Zerrin, thank you for sharing :)

  4. OysterCulture says

    What a fascinating story, I loved learning about this tradition, simply beautiful. Thanks for sharing. We do not have anything like it that I can think of.


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