Holiday – Turkey

Turkish Holiday- ?eker Bayram (“Candy Holiday”)

This holiday is on the first three days after Ramadan. Since the date of Ramadan changes each year, as it is based off the lunar calendar, the dates of this holiday change as well. During this time, you are supposed to see your extended family. There is one tradition that is practiced during this time. When you meet your elders, you show respect to them by kissing the back of their hand and then putting their hand on your forehead. If you’re close to the elders, they will proceed to kiss you on the forehead.

Ahmet has been practicing this holiday ever since he was born. He lived in western Turkey until he moved to Canada for boarding school in 8th grade. Every year during this holiday, he sees all his family and relatives. He said the practice of greeting your elders is performed all over Turkey, but ultimately it is an Islamic practice. He also mentioned that this holiday has religious roots, but it is a social holiday more than anything as the government recognizes these three days as holidays for traveling and seeing family and relatives.

Many families also spend the first day visiting graves of deceased relatives. This is significant for Ahmet as it is a sign of remembrance and respect towards the deceased. It shows that they are still in the thoughts of the living. For the second and third days, usually a family in Turkey would just go from house to house to visit different relatives. However, some big families with resources and money available to them (like Ahmet’s family) all meet at one place and gather for three days of celebration. Ahmet’s mom’s side of the family always rents out a big casino for three days so everyone can gather there.

Ahmet doesn’t know why the literal translation of this holiday is “candy holiday”, as the holiday has nothing to do with candy. He said this holiday is significant and meaningful to him because it is the one time per year that he can see all his extended family and relatives in one place. It adds extra significance because he spends most of the year abroad at school in the United States, so this allows him to relax and enjoy the company of his family. He’s not sure of the origins of this holiday either.

I find this holiday interesting, and I think a similar example within the social context of this holiday would be Thanksgiving in the United States. Like this holiday, Thanksgiving is a time when many families gather and enjoy a few days of each other’s company. I also found it interesting that many families in Turkey during these three days travel around from house to house, as they don’t have the resources and money for a big family gathering. This seems very time consuming and if one’s family is scattered all throughout Turkey, it would make it very difficult to see everyone.

One thing I really like about this holiday is that on the first day, families visit the graves of the deceased members of their family. I think this is a very important tradition, as it keeps the deceased alive in their memories and is a great sign of respect, almost as if a family is saying they wish the deceased were joining them during these three days of celebration. It appears as if the family is gathering the deceased members’ spirits from the graves, and bringing them along for the three days so they may be amongst the entire family. There is nothing like this in the United States, as many people rarely visit the graves of deceased members of their family during one big holiday. Personally, I have only visited the grave on my deceased Grandmother once since she passed away about five years ago. I like this Turkish and Islamic tradition a lot, and I have a great appreciation for the government in that it allows three days of holidays just for travel to see family.