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Turkey Festivals

Turkey Festivals

New Year's Day
Date: 1st Jan
New Year's Day in Turkey is kind of a surrogate Christmas, with decorations in shops and the exchange of gifts and greeting cards.

Date: 21st March
This ancient Middle Eastern spring festival takes place on March 21. It is celebrated by Kurds and Alevis by jumping over bonfires.

Republic Day
Date: 29th October
The 29th of October is a national holiday commemorating the proclamation of the republic of Ataturk in 1923.

Kurban Bayrami
The most important religious and secular holiday of the year, Kurban Bayrami (Festival of the Sacrifice) is equivalent to the importance of Christmas to Christians. It takes place two months after Ramazan for four to five days. Every year during Kurban Bayrami, around four million cows or rams are sacrificed by every head of a household who can afford to buy an animal. It is then butchered and the family and friends prepare a feast. Part of the meat is distributed to the needy, and the skin is donated to charity. It is wise to be prepared for Kurban Bayrami: transportation is packed and accommodation, especially in resort areas, is scarce and expensive. Banks usually close for one week, although one or two will stay open in large cities to serve foreigners. Animal-lovers will probably want to give it a miss or very wide birth as many of the animals are slaughtered in public places, especially in Istanbul.

Date: Between August-September
Ramazan, or Ramadan, consists of a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset, and then feasting from sunset far into the night. Before dawn, drummers circulate through the towns to awaken those who want to eat before the sun rises. During Ramazan restaurants may be closed from sunrise to sunset. Turkey is a relatively liberal Islamic country, hence Non-Muslims are allowed to eat and drink when they like. In the big cities, you will find non-fasting Muslims eating beside you. However, in conservative towns it impolite for anyone (including non-Muslims) to eat or drink in public during these hours. As a general rule, it is best to be discreet and take note of your surroundings.

Seker Bayrami
Date: 30th September
Also called Ramazan Bayrami, Seker Bayrami (Sweet Holiday) is a three day festival that celebrates the end of Ramazan. It is named so because during this holiday, children go from door to door asking for sweet treats. Their elders go visiting and everybody drinks lots of tea. Banks and offices close, hotels, planes, trains and buses are booked solid.

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