Turkey’s Religious Festivals
Turkey enthusiastically celebrates two important religious festivals every year. Ramadan Festival and the Festival of Sacrifice are two of the oldest Islamic festivals in Turkey.
Turkey is a secular state with no official state religion and is, in fact, the only secular Islamic country in the world where religion has no place in the running of the state. The majority of the Turkish population is Muslim but in Turkey religion is strictly a private affair as with other European countries.
However, the call to prayer can be heard five times a day and there are two Islamic festivals in the country alongside the secular national holidays: Seker Bayrami at the end of Ramadan, and Kurban Bayrami.
Ramadan Festival – Şeker Bayramı
During the holy month Ramadan, Muslims do not let food or drink pass their lips from dawn to dusk. Fasting is seen as a way to purify spiritually as well as physically – a time to detach from material pleasures and be closer to God. The act of fasting is also believed to increase Muslims’ piety, reminding them that others are less fortunate than themselves.
At the end of the Ramadan, Muslims celebrate Ramadan Festival. The festival is a time for visiting relatives and paying one’s respect to older people. People give away sweets, coffee and desserts during the festival, children watch free Turkish shadow plays.
The main characteristics of Ramadan Festival are that people, neighbours, relatives and friends pay visits and go to see each other. Young people kiss their parents’ hands and receive best wishes and blessings from them. It is a tradition to give money or little gifts to those children who kiss one’s hands.
The symbols of the Ramadan Festival;
Festival of Sacrifice – Kurban Bayramı
Festival of Sacrifice is a four-day religious festival. Traditions include sacrificing an animal in a special ritual, visiting relatives and helping the poor.
Traditionally, on the first day of the Festival of Sacrifice, men of each family go to a mosque for a special morning prayer. Then the sacrifice ritual begins. Families share about two-thirds of the animal’s meat with relatives and neighbours, and they traditionally give about one-third to the poor.
The symbols of the Festival of Sacrifice;