Dede-trees – Wishing trees
From Wikipedia: A wish tree is an individual tree, usually distinguished by species, position or appearance, which is used as an object of wishes and offerings. Such trees are identified as possessing a special religious or spiritual value. By tradition, believers make votive offerings in order to gain from that nature spirit, saint or goddess fulfillment of a wish.
In my amazing new book, Nomads of Anatolia, there is some beautiful writings about dede trees. Dede literally means “grandfather” but from my experiences in Turkey it is always used to convey a much respected and loved older man and I found it more commonly used in the villages.
Whilst talking about the nomads and the wishing trees, Bohmer describes a dede as ‘a pious old man who lived long ago and was said to have done good deeds’. He talks about how the nomadic women would never head to the village mosque as the men sometimes did and instead, all of the women would tie little strips of cloth to the dede trees when they came across them. Indeed, the Sarikeçeli nomads (literally ‘with yellow goats’) believe that a dede can fufill wishes (H.Bohmer, 1998).
Of course this custom isn’t limited to the Anatolian nomads but is shared all over the world. Another beautiful example of the similarities between many, many cultures and countries. I think i’ll be starting my own wishing tree!