Ramazan Bayramı [Eid-al-Fitr] started this morning. Yesterday (Monday 4th) was Arefe, the eve of Ramazan Bayramı.
Today is the first of three days of feasting and celebrating. There is also a public holiday to mark this important time in the Muslim calendar. This year official offices, state banks and organizations will be closed all Thursday and Friday. Some businesses will have closed on Monday (yesterday) at noon. Although it’s back to work for most people on the morning of Friday 8th July, some government bodies will be closed for the entire week.
Some people still call it Şeker Bayramı or Sugar Holiday, but this is considered a frivolous term for what is, after all, a religious festival.
A time for celebration
Ramazan Bayramı, or Eid-al-Fitr, marks the end of the holy month of Ramazan
This year the Bayram started on 4th July, which is the eve of the actual Bayram, and is known as Arife.
At sunset on this day the call to prayer will make the end of Ramazan for another year.
What to say
‘İyi Bayramlar’ is just fine but if you are speaking with observant Muslims try saying, ‘Bayramınız Mubarek olsun.’ It will be very much appreciated.
Closing for Bayram
For many, the holiday began on Friday 1st July and carries on until Sunday 11th July. But all state banks, most businesses and some shops will close for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
The big supermarkets don’t close but may open for reduced hours, the details for which will be posted on their doors.
Roads and public transport
Being with family is an important feature of this Bayram, so expect the roads and public transport facilities to be very busy for the whole of this week.
If you plan on making a journey by plane, bus or train in the coming days, you could find available seats are limited or even non-existent.
In previous years Fethiye’s roads have become very full and it is expected – indeed hoped – to be the same this year. Leave extra time for making important journeys.
Some of the beaches will be busy too.
If you stay at home expect the local children to knock on your door to give you ‘Bayram greetings’ which should include kissing your hand and then touching their foreheads with it. It’s a serious gesture of respect.
In return they will expect a handful of sweets and, depending on how well you know them, a gift of money.
The latter doesn’t have to be much: start with a shiny one lira coin for the youngest kids and go up to 5YTL for more streetwise Turkish teenagers.
Traditionally the money was presented wrapped in a handkerchief, but these days no one seems to bother about the wrapping.
Shops are loaded up with big bags of inexpensive sweets so make sure you stock up.
As Ramazan Bayram is all about coming together and eating special food to mark the end of the fast, do make a point of accepting invitations that may come from your Turkish neighbours.
This could be the only chance you’ll ever have to eat Baklava, and many other Turkish sweets, actually handmade at home.