As holidays come and go here, we often get asked a compound question that goes something like this, “How is your Halloween…do they celebrate Halloween in Turkey?” Well, no actually. Halloween is not celebrated here. There are no kids wondering around saying “Trick or Treat” in Turkish and demanding candy from everybody in the city. The Turks do have a similar holiday called the “Sugar Bayram” which celebrates the end of Ramazan and kids do ask for candy as they go and visit relatives. This holiday also includes kissing the hands of anybody older than you.
The next holiday in the American world would be Thanksgiving and obviously, the Turks do not celebrate this either. It does coincide (this year only, since Islamic holidays follow the Islamic calendar which is 11 days shorter than the Roman calendar) with another holiday however, the “Sacrifice Bayram.” Islam holds that Abraham refrained from sacrificing Ishmael, not Isaac and in celebration of God providing a substitute for Ishmael, they actually do sacrifice animals and eat them. Cows, goats and sheep are the most commonly sacrificed animals. We’ve been told not to go to the grocery store on that day because the store will be filled with people hoping to get their meat from the slaughtered animal ground up by the meat department of the grocery store.
The Turks do not really celebrate Christmas; however, St. Nicholas is from Turkey so they do in a way celebrate his day, December 6, but not in an official capacity that would include a day off or anything like that.
New Years is a big deal, so no problems there.
They do know of Valentine’s Day, but forgetting that wouldn’t really hurt my feelings all too much.
Obviously no Easter or Fourth of July.
Turkey’s Republic Day was actually earlier this week on October 29. Most people have that day off, but it is not like the American Independence Day filled with parades, fireworks and grilling out.
There are a variety of other Turkish holidays, most of which revolve around the religion of Islam or are connected to reforms made by the founder of Turkey’s republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, more on him later.