Kurban Bayramı (Feast of Sacrifice), which occurs 70 days after the end of Ramazan, is a spectacular day of slaughter and feasting throughout the Muslim world.
The four-day holiday begins at 12am on Sunday 11th August and runs to midnight on Wednesday 14th August, during which time government offices, post offices, banks and some supermarkets will be closed.
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.
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.
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.
The first meal with the Kurban meat is cooked quickly and simply 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 will it affect my holiday?
Banks, the Post Office (PTT) and Government offices will be closed during the holiday period but most shops and supermarkets will remain open.
Hotels and resorts will be busier with Turkish tourists taking advantage of the four-day public holiday and enjoying a mini break.
If you plan to travel during the lead-up or end of the holiday period, public transport will be very busy so book ahead if you want to guarantee a seat on long distance bus or internal flights.
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)
2kg lamb chunks
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
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.