Travelling Turkey

Happy Bayram

Happy Bayram .. A short explanation about “Ramazan Bayram” – Candy Festival).

Sunset today, Sunday 27 July 2014 marks the end of Ramazan, the holy month for Muslims who have observed contemplation and fasting for the last 30 days.

Ramazan Bayram (also called Şeker Bayram, Candy Festival in Turkish; Eid es-Seghir or Eid al-Fitr in Arabic) is a national holiday in Turkey and most business are closed for three days.

The atmosphere is similar to Christmas time, with the week, days leading up to Ramazan Bayram people are busy cleaning their homes, out buying food, presents and sweets in preparation for the festivities to unfold.

One tradition, which still continues, is everyone in the household gets a new outfit for the occasion. These new outfits, termed “Bayramlik” will be worn during Bayram and other special occasions. As kids we couldn’t wait to wear our ‘Bayramlik” on the first day of Bayram.

On the first day of Bayram it is tradition for the men of the family to attend morning prayers at the Mosque. On their return they are greeted and the elder members of the family are kissed by the younger ones. This is a traditional kiss; you first kiss their hand and then raise their hand to touch your forehead, as a sign of respect. They in-turn will kiss you on both your cheeks, a sign of love.

After a family breakfast, the visits begin; the younger members of families go to pay their respects to elder relatives and close neighbours and friends.

Today is also a day to remember and honour the dead and many people will go to cemeteries to visit the graves of departed family and friends. People also tend to remember others less fortunate, the elderly, sick and children. Gestures such as taking toys and sweets to local orphanages or taking trays of baklava to retirement homes are common.

When you visit family and friends, on arrival, once the traditional kiss ceremony is complete, you will be offered “kolonya” (rose or lemon scented cologne) and sweets; lokum (Turkish delight) and akide sekeri (toffee lollies) by the host. This will be followed by a generous serving of baklava or other such deliciously sweet pastries, accompanied by cay (Turkish tea) of kahve (Turkish coffee). If you have had any opportunity to dine with Turks, our persistence to force feed you is relentless. You can imagine the ‘sugar induced coma” most Turks are in over these three days

Visits are normally short as there are many to be made. Children are given sweets and money as Bayram gifts.

Hope this offers some insight to “Ramazan Bayram” and on that note all that is left for us to say is İyi Bayramlar – HAPPY BAYRAM!