Moroccans have some intriguing habits that make them just as fascinating as their country and culture.
Morocco’s rich and diverse culture and heritage continue to influence Moroccan customs today. The country’s unique traditions and habits make Moroccans some of the most intriguing people to meet and be friends with.
Traveling to Morocco for the first time might be difficult or overwhelming for those who notice vast differences in the country’s culture and society compared to their own. However, Moroccans’ friendliness and warm hospitality make integrating into the culture a breeze.
Morocco is famous for its rich culture, diverse landscapes, historic monuments, and colorful cities that attract thousands of tourists from around the world. Many visitors rave about the sounds, the smells, the food, the beauty of the architecture, and, above all, Moroccan customs and hospitality.
Some of the first things you might notice about Moroccans include their positive and cheerful attitude, the way they change languages mid-sentence, and how they are always ready to help. These are eight Moroccan habits and customs that you may have already noticed if you have been lucky enough to visit the country and interact with its people.
Being multilingual is the norm
The first original language of Morocco is Tamazight, or Berber. It has three dialects spoken by Moroccan Amazigh (Berber) people and is the second official language in Morocco after Arabic.
Due to the spread of Islam to North Africa in the 7th century and French and Spanish imperialism, most Moroccans today can fluently speak at least two languages.
Moroccans’ native languages are Moroccan Arabic (Darija) and Tamazight. Most Tamazight-speakers also speak Darija, but not all Moroccans who grow up learning Darija know Tamazight. This depends on the region of the country and is a feature of the rural-urban divide. Tamazight is the dominant language in many rural communities, while Moroccans born in urban areas tend to only speak Darija, even if their parents grew up speaking Tamazight.
Most Moroccans learn Modern Standard Arabic and French in school. In the north, many Moroccans also speak Spanish. English-speakers are present throughout the country, but most people in this group learn the language independently or through private or higher education.
Being multilingual, Moroccans have the intriguing custom of subconsciously changing languages mid-sentence—Moroccan Darija itself is a blend of all the languages that have influenced the country’s history. This can be fascinating yet confusing for non-Moroccans, but it is also a characteristic that allows Moroccans to communicate easily with foreigners.
The ability to speak different languages also helps Moroccans learn new languages faster and easier and even master accents in foreign languages.
Being generous is part of the culture
Moroccans are known for their hospitality and their boundless generosity is one of the customs that amaze foreigners. Moroccans will share with strangers their home, their food, and their possessions without hesitation and without asking for anything in return.
Your taxi driver will engage in long conversations with you and offer to pick you up whenever you need. If you are lost or need directions, you will undoubtedly find someone who will give you directions or even offer you to take you where you need.
Moroccan families will also offer you their home to stay in during your travel for however long you want and happily share their food with you. Moroccans consider generosity a duty, which makes them some of the friendliest and warm-hearted people with whom you can grow life-long relationships.
Sharing food is a must
If you are traveling on the bus or train and a Moroccan sitting next to you is eating, don’t be surprised if they offer to share their food with you. Sharing food is a Moroccan custom, with Moroccans believing that eating alone in front of others is rude, especially if the other person is hungry.
When welcoming guests, Moroccans will fill their dining table with various dishes, beverages, and traditional mint tea and invite their guests over and over again for lunch or dinner. Because sharing food is a way of connecting and getting closer to new friends, Moroccans might consider it rude or impolite to reject food.
Read also: 10 Most Delicious Moroccan Foods
Football is a national passion
Moroccans love sports and are especially passionate about football. People in Morocco of all ages and social backgrounds are interested in football. In most households, you will find at least one or two family members, if not the entire family, who are passionate about the sport.
Morocco’s love for the sport is embodied in its annual football competition Botola Pro, where sixteen Moroccan club teams compete for the crown and for the chance to participate in the African Champions League.
Many Moroccans will drop everything or postpone what they are doing and head to cafes packed with football lovers so as to not miss an important match, so don’t be surprised when your Moroccan friend doesn’t message you back or answer their phone during a game.
Being late is part of the lifestyle
While not exactly a Moroccan custom, tardiness is a habit that rarely goes unnoticed by foreigners in Morocco. Being late might be frustrating and considered a bad habit by most people, but to plenty of Moroccans, tardiness is just a quirk that they have accepted about themselves and their society.
Whether you’re waiting for your Moroccan friend, for the bus or train, handling important administrative paperwork, or just waiting for your turn at the doctor’s office, you are bound to wait for longer than you expected.
The saying “Insha’allah” (God willing) also plays a role in Moroccans’ tardiness. Many believe there is no use in rushing, because if God wills it, things will happen eventually.
Friday’s are for prayers and couscous
National observance of a quintessential Moroccan custom occurs every Friday. Each week, Moroccans indulge in delicious couscous after afternoon prayers (dohr). Most Moroccan men will perform Friday afternoon prayers at the mosque because communal prayers are preferred in Islam.
This Moroccan custom is so important that schools and businesses close for a few hours to make time for prayers and couscous, or even for the rest of the day.
It is important for Moroccan families to eat couscous together. Sometimes if not all the family members can be present on Friday, they will opt to save it for another day, preferring to eat together.
Tea is served daily
Another everyday Moroccan custom is drinking mint tea. Moroccans typically have the hot beverage daily, no matter the season, whether with breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Some families have evening tea time with pastries, dates, bread, and cakes a few hours before dinner, especially when welcoming guests.
Moroccans consider offering tea a sign of good hospitality and friendship. Moroccans also have a unique way of serving the sweet drink, raising the teapot higher and higher from the glasses while pouring the tea to create frothy bubbles.
You might also find that tea can taste different from one region to another in Morocco, some might have it sweeter than others, and some might add other herbs and leaves besides mint, such as chamomile and pennyroyal.
Bread is served with every meal
Another food-related habit Moroccans have is serving bread with every meal, even with soups or salads. Moroccan bread goes with almost all traditional Moroccan food, such as tagine, grilled meat, fish, and others. Some Moroccans even eat couscous with bread instead of spoons.
Homemade or locally-made bread is an essential part of Moroccan cuisine and plays a part in the daily life of Moroccans. It is usually made with whole grain, making it healthier than average.
Traveling to Morocco will not only give you the chance to explore the country’s nature, beautiful landscapes, and rich heritage but also an opportunity to meet different Moroccan people that live a different lifestyle and have unique and fun customs that differentiate them from other cultures.