Turkish people know how to party! (Well, this is just my experience *side-eye to my friends*). But what are the occasions besides private weddings and their previous engagement partys, called Nisan? – Nora
Here is a little overview of the main official holidays in Turkey:
Republic Day (29th of October) // Cumhuriyet Bayramı
After Turkey’s victory in the War of Independence (1919-1923), the Turkish parliament proclaimed the new Turkish state as a republic. The leader in the War, Mustafa Kamal Atatürk, became the first president. So, the 29th of October marks this day of its creation
On this day, many street festivals are held. People celebrate this special day by attending traditional processions with the Turkish national flag, which is mainly red, and watching performances dedicated to Republic Day in local stadiums. Performances can be theatre sketches, poetry readings and traditional Turkish dances. In all parts of the country, there is an exuberant atmosphere.
Commemoration of Atatürk and Sports Day (19th of May) //
Atatürk arrived in Samsun on May 19th 1919, to start with the resistance against the decision of the World War I allies. This specific day was marked as the official start of the Independence War and has turned into the Youth and Sports Day in 1938, ensuring Atatürk’s will.
On this day, youth groups and sport clubs usually perform in stadiums. Traditional costumes are worn and parades are held. In the run-up to the May 19 celebrations, young Turkish athletes carry the Turkish national flag from Samsun, a Black Sea port from where Atatürk started Turkey’s War of Independence in 1919, to Ankara, the country’s capital. People put wreaths to Atatürk’s monuments and hang flags outside their windows.
There are other national holidays, such as the National Sovereignty and Children’s Day (23th of April)
Sugar Feast // Eid al-Fitr
The most known festivity is called „Sugar Feast“ for good reason: On this three-day festival sweets are eaten to celebrate the end of the fast of Ramadan month. Its date changes according to the Islamic calendar and it occurs 10 to 11 days earlier each year.
But in many of its customs, Ramadan is amazingly similar to the Christian Christmas – even though the religious meaning is, of course, quite another. The festival of fasting also follows a time of contemplation and, like Christmas, family celebrations, giving presents to children and, of course, typical sweets and festive meals play an important role.
Feast of the Sacrifice // Eid al-Adha
This holiday is well known with its story. In the past, the prophet Ibrahim did not have a child for many years. Then he promised that ‘if God gave him a son, he would sacrifice his son for God’. After his son Ismail was born and he indented to fulfil his promise, a ram fell from the sky. God told Ibrahim to sacrifice a ram instead of Ismail. After that day it became a fashion.
On the first day of the Feast of the Sacrifice, Muslims sacrifice rams, but also sheep or veal. In some parts of Turkey rams are washed and painted with henna. The sacrificed animal must be healthy and if it is female, it is not allowed to be pregnant. Before sacrificing, rams’ eyes should be covered whit a white towel or handkerchief. Two-third of the meat from sacrificed animals is given to relatives, neighbours and the poor. One–third of the meat should be left in the house. Thus, you can see animal bazaars around during 4 days.