The traditions and customs of the Uzbek people have been shaped by their unique position at the crossroads of the Great Silk Road. The treasures that flowed were not only the ones that can be held in one's hand, but also those that touch the heart and soul.
Art, philosophy, science, and religious ideals were exchanged, enriching the cultures of both the travelers and their hosts.
Uzbek culture reflects a beautiful synthesis of these influences, while maintaining its own unique traditions. From the harmony of its architecture to the masterful detail of its applied arts, from the busy, noisy bazaars to the peaceful, laid-back chaikhana, a journey through Uzbekistan is unique and unforgettable.
It will be helpful for our travelers to be aware of some of the conventions of Uzbek society. For example, when greeting each other, close friends or family members of the same sex will kiss on both cheeks. When meeting someone for the first time, a handshake denotes a formal introduction (however, women will generally not be expected to shake hands with men). At a meal, guests will be expected to take a turn as toastmaster, thanking and praising the host, saying something witty, and wishing good health and prosperity to all present.
Of all the traditions in Uzbek culture, those associated with the family and community are the most important. The community itself is structured self-governing units, the mahallya. These groups of neighbors help each other and together conduct joint activities. Weddings, funerals, commemorative ceremonies, and the rites of circumcision are all organized by the mahallya.
Another interesting Uzbek tradition is that a host/hostess constantly offers food by saying "oling-oling" at a dinner table encouraging to try dishes.