It is always special when you visit a country in celebration of something traditional. For Turkey, one of these occasions is the Ramadan Bayram, a.k.a. “Bayram of Sweets”, as we celebrate today. If you are already here, you may have seen several rituals such as families gathering with the best clothes on, children getting sweets and money after kissing elders’ hands in the morning. If you are not here nowadays, don’t worry. We will wrap up in this post all the sweet Bayram things we do. Join us next year, we will have plenty of baklavas!
First, let’s start with the dates. When to celebrate Ramadan Bayram is defined according to the Islamic calendar, which ensures the dates are the same each year, after the month Ramadan, in the first three days of the month Shawwal. Converting to the internationally wider Gregorian calendar, Ramadan Bayram is celebrated about 10 days earlier each year, compared to the previous celebrations. This means that, in a few years, Bayram of sweets will not coincide with summer. Next year’s Bayram will not be in the end of June, but in the middle of it!
The day starts early with the men preparing to go to the mosque. At this stage, it is not important to wear the best clothes, at least the shoes, which is taken off at the entrance of that public, religious place. If it is your neighbourhood for a while, it will be common to greet people before and after the prayer, as everybody almost know each other. Children kiss their elder’s hands, on which they put their forehead afterwards. The mosque sequence finishes by buying “simit” for breakfast from a hawker. Simit is the common word for Turkish bagels, or known as “gevrek” around Izmir and Kusadasi.
After the breakfast, people start to be guest to each other. Mobility in this “guest game” is inversely proportional to age. Grandma and grandpas stay in their homes to host guests, almost never leaving their place. Children ring the bells of the neighbourhood similar to the “trick or treat” of Halloween. As they don’t have many tricks this time, they celebrate in order to get chocolate, sweets, or even a small portion of pocket money as a reward.
The stars of these Bayram visits are the traditional sweets: baklava, kalburabasti, tulumba, or ask a Turkish friend for any syrup sweets. Not to forget the famous Turkish delight! You may also simply see chocolates to serve the guests. Adults are commonly served black tea, whereas children usually drink cola or juices. Now it must be clear why it is also known as the “Bayram of Sweet”!
The three day duration of Ramadan Bayram is a national holiday throughout the country and unlike this year, it is possible that the whole week may be declared as holiday when Bayram is completely overlapping the weekdays, hence the huge, 9-days holiday in the previous years. Finally, the day before Bayram should also be noted as one of the busiest day of the year: it is hard to find spots on the barber, the ATMs are lined, market pay desks are also lined, cemeteries are visited to commemorate the deceased, vacationists depart from the city, etc.
That’s all for the things that take place in Ramadan Bayram, as far as we are concerned. We wish you a happy and sweet holiday!