Ramazan begins on 1st September. Read more in our essential guide.

The Islamic holy month of Ramazan (known as Ramadan in most other Islamic countries) is an Islamic holiday and, therefore, subject to the Islamic calendar rather than the Gregorian calendar, it starts 11 days earlier each successive year.

If you have not experienced Ramazan before in Turkey, here are a few explanations that may help you to understand the holy month and avoid any embarrassment with your Turkish friends and acquaintances.

Ramazan is a time of fasting and the vast majority of Muslims (whether they consider themselves ‘strict’ Muslims or not) will not let anything pass their lips during the hours of daylight. Fasting is not limited to just food and drink, but things like tobacco smoke and chewing gum for the period between sunrise and sunset for the 30 days of Ramazan.

Ramazan is a time for Muslims the world over to examine their lives; to consider how they can live a virtuous life and to think how best they can avoid vices and live within the strictures of their religion.

As most Turks will be fasting from sunrise to sunset during Ramazan, it would be considered very impolite to eat and drink in public during the day. However, this does not mean, certainly in and around holiday resorts, that restaurants and bars will be closed during the day – staff will still be happy to serve you, although they might well be fasting themselves. 
 
If you should have Turkish visitors call in during Ramazan, be prepared for them to decline your offer of food or drink – they will not take offence at being offered, but in turn you should not take offence at their refusal.

Although they would not expect you to fast with them, if your visitors are only staying for a short while, it is polite to refrain from eating, drinking or smoking in front of them.

Restaurants, bars and cafes may appear to be less busy during the day; if you wish to eat out at night in a Turkish restaurant (rather than a tourist restaurant) it would be advisable to book a table, as most Turkish establishments will only be offering evening banquet style Ramazan menus and will certainly be busy – especially at the weekends.

Some restaurants (but again probably not the tourist restaurants) may refrain from serving alcohol during the holy month and if you should find yourself in such an establishment, then it is polite to respect their wishes and be happy to accept whatever alternatives they may offer – usually fruit juices or Turkish tea.  Non-Muslims are always welcome and usually invited to join in the evening celebrations, which are great fun.

{mosimage}Ramazan is also a time of celebration and after sunset each night, the feasting begins.   As soon as the sun goes down there is a ceremonial ‘break-fast’ meal called Iftar. This is a light meal usually consisting of freshly baked flat pide bread served with soup or perhaps pickled vegetables, olives, fresh tomatoes and other easily prepared dishes.
  
Elaborate dinners, quite often attended by members of the extended family, are held later in the evenings.

Before sunrise each morning, many families will prepare a big early morning meal to help ensure that they can get through the day without any further food or drink whatsoever. To celebrate Ramazan many places will decorate buildings, trees, etc., with coloured lights and the mosques will be crowded with worshippers and illuminated with signs and banners offering thanks to Allah.

You should be aware that during the holy month, some employees, businesses and offices may have different or shorter working hours, so it may be a good idea to check times in advance if you are planning a business meeting.
In particular, on the last day of Ramazan, businesses may close in the afternoon in preparation for Seker Bayrami, which begins at sunset and lasts for three days.

THE NIGHT OF POWER

During Ramazan, Kadir Gecesi, the Night of Power, commemorates the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammed. It begins, as the traditional Islamic day does, in the evening and lasting until the following evening.

SEKER BAYRAMI

Ramazan is followed by the three-day national holiday of Seker Bayrami (Candy Festival,) which falls in October. Public transport services and main roads will be particularly busy as people travel to their home towns or to stay with relatives. At the end of Seker Bayrami, public transport and roads will again be busy as everyone returns.

Seker Bayrami is a national holiday, so banks, institutions and most offices will be closed and some transport services may be on holiday schedules; restaurants, cafes and tourist venues will be open and may be particularly busy.

Seker Byram is also a time when children are allowed to knock on your door and ask for sweets. Make sure you have a big bag ready!!

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