Kurban Bayramı, Eid al-Adha or the Feast of Sacrifice, which occurs 70 days after the end of Ramazan, is a usually a spectacular day of slaughter and feasting throughout the Muslim world. This year’s celebrations will be slightly more subdued as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The four-day holiday begins on Friday 31st July and ends on Monday 3rd August, during which time government offices, post offices, banks and some supermarkets will be closed.

Are there any restrictions due to COVID-9?

The government and Science Board have published certain measures to be followed to minimise the spread of the virus:

  • The sacrifice of animals should be made at places determined and inspected by municipalities and people must spend the minimum time in those areas.
  • Negotiations should not be made by shaking hands between customers and vendors.
  • People over the age of 65 and/or who have chronic diseases should not be in animal sales areas.
  • Masks, social distance and hand cleaning rules should be observed at every stage.
  • Those attending group prayers should carry out their pre-prayer ablutions at home and not in the mosque fountain.
  • Those attending prayers should take their own prayer rug.
  • Prayers should be kept short and carried out in the open with social distancing observed at all times.
  • At the end of the prayer, the congregation should leave in a controlled manner, starting from the back.
  • Those aged 65 and over and those who have chronic diseases should not attend the feast prayer.
  • Visits to graves should be postponed until after the holiday if there is a possibility of crowds.
  • Bayram messages should be made by phone as much as possible.
  • Meals should not be served with other families and guests.
  • All coronavirus precautions should be taken when distributing Kurban meat to the poor.
  • If it is necessary to come together on the feast days, open air locations should be used. If receiving visitors, the house should be well ventilated.
  • During the holiday, visits to ill relatives and hospital patients should be avoided.
  • Kissing, shaking hands and hugs should be postponed until the next festivities.

Wearing a mask, following social distance rules and hygiene guidelines are the most critical things to adhere to throughout the holiday.

What is the Feast of Sacrifice?

The Feast of Sacrifice is one of the oldest Islamic holidays in Turkey. It commemorates the story (which appears in both the Koran and the Bible) of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) who showed obedience to God by agreeing to sacrifice his son. Once God (Allah) saw his faith he spared the boy and sent him a ram to be sacrificed instead.

Victory Day and the Feast of Sacrifice
Abraham ready to sacrifice his son

What do people do?

Traditionally, on the first day of the Feast, men of each family go to a mosque for a special morning prayer. Then the sacrifice ritual begins. Male, healthy, robust animals are preferred, not only because they’re bigger but also because it is considered great misfortune to kill a pregnant beast.

Victory Day and the Feast of Sacrifice
Male, healthy, robust animals are preferred. Photo by Lyn Ward.

A halal prayer is recited before the animal is slaughtered and the atmosphere is solemn and respectful.

Families share about two-thirds of the animal’s meat with relatives and neighbours, and they traditionally give about one-third to the poor. This is one of the most important aspects of Kurban Bayramı and many poor families rely upon Kurban charity.

Victory Day and the Feast of Sacrifice

The first meal with the Kurban meat is cooked quickly and simply and eaten reverently.

Victory Day and the Feast of Sacrifice
Kurban Bayramı – The first meat is cooked quickly and eaten reverently

In recent years, some Turkish people started making donations to charitable organizations instead of sacrificing animals. Many people in Turkey take special care to help the poor during the Sacrifice Feast.

People usually wear their best clothes during the Sacrifice Feast. They welcome guests to their homes or visit relatives or friends during the holiday. Many people in Turkey reserve the first day of the feast for visiting their closest relatives. Young people greet their older relatives and neighbours by kissing their hand as a sign of respect.

If you find yourself in Turkey during Kurban Bayramı, the chances are that you will not actually see the sacrifice of animals unless you head off to the rural areas.

How do I greet my Turkish friends?

Here are a few ways you can greet people during Kurban Bayram

“Kurban Bayramınız kutlu olsun” – Have a happy bayram.
“Kurban Bayramınız mübarek olsun” – Have a blessed bayram.
“Iyi bayramlar” – Happy bayram.

How to cook your Kurban meat

Lamb Kavurma is a Turkish national dish of lamb cooked on Kurban Bayramı.

Here’s an easy recipe for you to make with your Kurban meat.

Roasted Lamb (Kurban Kavurma)

Recipe Box – Meat Dishes – Roasted Lamb (Kurban Kavurma)
Lamb Kavurma -a Turkish national dish of lamb cooked on Kurban Bayramı.

Ingredients

Serves 10

2kg lamb chunks

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon thyme

Method

Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the meat and cook over a medium heat until sizzling. Cover and simmer gently until the meat is cooked (approximately one hour). Turn the meat over occasionally with a wooden spoon.

Add the salt, pepper and thyme and cook for a further 15 minutes

Serve the hot kavurma with a side dish of rice, bulgur salad or vegetables.

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