Festivities in Turkey


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RAMADAN FESTIVAL  (RAMAZAN BAYRAMI): The 30-day Islamic holy month of Ramazan (RAH-mah-zahn, called Ramadan in other countries) is a time of fasting, prayer and celebration.


FASTING…
Fasting means letting nothing pass the lips: no food, drink, chewing gum, tobacco smoke or, for the strictly observant, not even licking an envelope or postage stamp from sunrise to sunset. Most Muslims, whether strictly observant or not, use the holy month and the stricture of fasting to help them examine their lives, to remind themselves of virtues like charity, compassion and forgiveness, and to avoid vices like cupidity, selfishness and dishonesty.

Ramazan is also a time of celebration, and after sunset the feasting begins with a ceremonial "break-fast" light meal called Iftar. It always includes freshly-baked flat pide bread, and usually soup, pickled vegetables, olives and other easily-prepared edibles. Elaborate dinners are held later in the evening.

A carnival atmosphere prevails with temporary booths selling religious books and paraphernalia, traditional snacks and stuff for the kids.

In the middle of the night drummers circulate through towns and villages to wake sleepers so they can prepare Sahur, the big early-morning meal to be eaten before the fast begins again at sunrise. They tend to make their noise around 02:30 and 03:00 am, and they make sure everyone hears them. If you don't want to awaken, have earplugs, close your hotel room windows, or both.

Non-Muslims are welcome and usually invited to join in the evening celebrations, which are great fun

In Turkey, Ramazan Bayramı is a time for sending greeting cards to friends and loved ones, paying visits, and enjoying a lot of sweets. Everyone enjoys drinking lots of Turkish tea and coffee in broad daylight after the 30 days of daylight fasting during Ramazan.

SACRIFICE FESTIVAL (KURBAN BAYRAMI):  On the festival's first day, all family members wake up early to make their final preparations. Male members go to the mosque to perform the special Bayram Namazi (sacrifice festival prayer). The actual sacrifice begins after the men return from the mosque. The head of the family is expected to perform the sacrifice, but a butcher can also be used to perform the ritual on their behalf. The animal is given water and salt, its eyes are wrapped with a clean rag. The meat is then divided into three portions--one is given to the poor, one to neighbors and relatives, and the third is kept for the household. The skin of the animal is donated, and the income obtained from the skins are shared with various social welfare organizations.

Another tradition practiced is visiting the graves of deceased family members. That is mostly done one day prior to the festival. Therefore, the cemetaries are very crowded on that day. Friends, neighbors, and relatives visit each other celebrating the festival. Traditionally, people offer cologne, candy, and Turkish coffee during those visits. Children might be given pocket money as well. Kapicis (door keepers or apartment superintendents) are also tipped during the festival.

INTERNATIONAL CHILDREN’S DAY:  This national day (23 April National Sovereignty and Children's Day) in Turkey is a unique event. The founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, dedicated April 23 to the children of the country to emphasize that they are the future of the new nation.

Every year, the children in Turkey celebrate this "Sovereignty and Children's Day" as a national holiday. Schools participate in week-long ceremonies marked by performances in all fields in large stadiums watched by the entire nation. Among the activities on this day, the children send their representatives to replace state officials and high ranking bureaucrats in their offices. The President, the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Ministers, provincial governors all turn over their positions to children's representatives. These children, in turn, sign executive orders relating to educational and environmental policies. On this day, the children also replace the parliamentarians in the Grand National Assembly and hold a special session to discuss matters concerning children's issues

Over the last two decades, the Turkish officials have been working hard to internationalize this important day. Their efforts resulted in large number of world states' sending groups of children to Turkey to participate in the above stated festivities. During their stay in Turkey, the foreign children are housed in Turkish homes and find an important opportunity to interact with the Turkish kids and learn about each other's countries and cultures. The foreign children groups also participate in the special session of the Grand National Assembly. This results in a truly international Assembly where children pledge their commitment to international peace and brotherhood.

The importance of April 23 as a special day of children has been recognized by the international community. UNICEF decided to recognize this important day as the International Children's Day.