Local Customs

Ramazan (Ramadan)

Observing Ramazan is very important for Muslims as it is one of the five basic duties of the faith – although women who are pregnant or menstruating, the sick, the aged and travellers are not expected to fast.

Those who keep the fast will not eat, drink or smoke between dawn and dusk, but as soon as the canon goes off at dusk, a short prayer is said and the feasting (Iftar) (and sparking up of cigarettes!) begins. 

At the other end of the day, it involves getting up, BEFORE dawn to make brekkie.  But don’t worry, the locals don’t have to shell out on expensive alarm clocks, because there are people who walk up and down the streets banging their drums! Great, unless of course you want to sleep through it! But, when in Rome…

During the period of Ramazan, a special bread becomes available (called pide) which is large and round and sprinkled with black cumin seeds.  [These make great bases for French bread style pizza]

Ramazan shifts back ten days every year.  It will start on 2/3 October – the actual date is announced from Mecca not long in advance – it’s all dependent on phases of the moon.

Fethiye is a tourist area, so things are not so pronounced here, and you will see people eating, drinking and smoking, but it’s good form to be considerate and do any consumption subtly. In more rural places, or traditional cities (like Konya) you need to be more vigilant. Also watch out just before the final canon goes off, as people are often hurrying to get home, and road safety goes out the window!

Seker Bayram / Ramazan Bayram

At the end of Ramazan, a three day celebration begins.  In preparation people have a good ‘spring’ like clean of the house and get out their best bibs and tuckers (whatever they are?) or buy new.  It’s one of the times people like to visit friends and relatives.

The focus of the first day is on all things sweet, and it’s worth keeping a bowl of sweets near the front door in case you get paid a visit by local children.

Kurban Bayram – The Festival of the Sacrifice

This happens 70 days after Ramazan. It marks the famous biblical story where God showed mercy to Abraham by allowing him to sacrifice a ram instead of his son. All over Turkey families save up and buy a sheep, goat or bull, and then take it to a licensed place where it gets its throat cut in the traditional Halal way. Some people still do this in their back yards, but that is now illegal, so the practice should start to die out in all but the most rural of locations.

Animals are then skinned and jointed, with a large proportion being passed on to the poor.  Some of the meat is cooked up very quickly and eaten reverently.  

Other Public Holidays

Other Public Holidays, when schools, banks and all public sector offices will be closed are:

  • January 1st New Year’s Day

  • 23 April National Independence and Children’s Day

  • 19 May Youth and Sports Day

  • 30 August Victory Day

  • 28-29 October Republic Day.

See our on-line calendar too (right) for more dates.

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