Travelling Turkey

More about the Evil Eye - Nazar

I often get asked what the Blue Eye / Evil Eye is all about.

In Turkish we call it Nazar and I will try and shed some light on this beautiful blue eye.

The Nazar or Blue Evil Eye is an amulet that has been used for centuries in the Middle East to protect and ward off negative energies.

Traditionally it was used as both a charm worn by individuals, as well as a decoration for the home. Over the centuries it spread through the Mediterranean finding its way to the shores of countries throughout the world.

Many cultures still believe in the power of the eye, an all- seeing positive energy that creates harmony, happiness and protection for those who have it near. Some people are capable of giving you the “evil eye”, a look or gaze give with ill intent. That which could be envy, jealously or even a lot of praise. Such a look will attract negative energy, some say bad luck. The eye set in a blue background reflects the evil intent back to the onlooker and hence protects you.

Nazar Boncuks (beads) can be set in other colours for fashion purposes but blue is the authentic colour. Don’t worry your coloured Nazars will protect you just the same.

One important thing to remember is that if your Nazar Boncuk is cracked or broken for whatever reason, it’s believed that it worked and protected you from the ‘evil eye’.

In today’s world we need all the luck we can get, so get yourself a Nazar and have it near xxx

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!

Kina Gecesi (Henna Night)

I love this picture and the detail in the Henna prompted me to share a very traditional occasion for Turks called Kina Gecesi (Henna Night).

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Topkapi Palace - Istanbul

The Ottoman Empire was ruled from this vast compound and luxurious decadent buildings overlooking the Bosporus.

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History of Hammams & Turkish Towels

The history of the Turkish baths, called Hammams were likely derived from Roman and Byzantine baths.

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Have you had Çay?

“Çay” – Tea (pronounced chai in Turkish) is an obsession, an addiction,
a daily routine, a ritual, a welcome gesture, a conversation starter, a break from work, a Turkish breakfast companion, a pastime favourite and so much more. As a visitor to a shop, a public office, a friends’ house in Turkey you are often served a cup of hot crimson tea with two tiny sugar cubes on a saucer and a little spoon to stir. Being offered çay encompasses everything from“Hello, how are you? Come in. sit down, rest”. Cay goes hand in hand with Turkish hospitality.

While there is a good deal of symbolic meaning to the Turkish tea drinking its very taste is important too. Turkish tea is normally black and most of it is cultivated domestically on the Black Sea coast. Çay is brewed using two stacked kettles called çaydanlik – the bottom part is for the boiling water while the upper one is for the brewing tea. Çay
is served in small tulip shaped cups and consumed hot, without milk.

#Çay #turkishtea #Sunday #relax #lovetea #drinktea #teatime #tea #delightfullyturkish

Noah's Pudding (Aşure)

Yesterday our lovely neighbour dropped over with a large bowl
f Aşure (Noah’s pudding).

This delicious dessert of grains, pulses, dried fruit, topped with pomegranate kernels and cinnamon is probably one of Turkey’s most famous dessert.

In anecdotal history, it is claimed that when Noah’s Ark came to rest on Mount Ararat Turkey, Noah’s family celebrated with a special dish. Since supplies were nearly exhausted, what was left (primarily grains and dried fruits) was cooked together to form a pudding.

Today Aşure is prepared by cooking up to 12 or more ingredients, with special prayers for health, healing and spiritual nourishment. It is also the traditional dessert served on the 10th day of the Muslim month Muharrem, the first month of the Islamic calendar.

Traditionally, Aşure is made in large quantities and shared with friends, relatives and neighbours. Aşure can be eaten warm, room temperature and cold.

Simply irresistible !!