Every nation has a traditional entertainment culture, a blend of local cultures and histories that brings the public together, strengthens social cohesion, and secures the continuation of traditions and beliefs.
The traditional entertainment culture of the Arab and Ottoman world emerged from a combination of religious rules and local customs and traditions. Seen as an inseparable part of social life, entertainment accompanied most important events (i.e. weddings or the circumcision of a sultan’s son, hunting ceremonies and celebrations held at the hammam
, perhaps after a woman had given birth) and usually comprised musicians and çengi
(female belly dancers) and rakkases
(male dancers), shadow puppeteers, acrobats and wrestlers and ortaoyunu
(folk theatre) performances. A similar entertainment culture existed in European countries, too, around social rituals and ceremonies: those held at Christmas and Easter and other religious festivals; at weddings or to celebrate the harvest or a victory; during courtly and public entertainments, sporting events such as jousts for instance; and at travelling fairs and circus shows, folk music and dance performances. While court entertainment was often on a nightly basis, as different performances were combined with feasts, jousts and banquets, the general population enjoyed regular entertainment as well, from strolling players and dancers (mummers), animal trainers and jugglers and performances of mystery plays.