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Holidays, never ending...

15 Kasım 2011 , Salı 14:37
Holidays, never ending...
melis.sunay@halklailiskiler.com

Yes, we’ve entered the holiday season, as it was called when I was growing up in the US, although that season seems to be more rambunctious in Turkey since more ‘bayrams’ (holidays) are included here. 

Following the celebration of Ramadan /*Seker bayram (the Islamic month of fasting for the sake of God when the initial verses of the Kuran were revealed to our prophet Muhammed) here in September, we observed the anniversary of the declaration of the Turkish Republic on October 29, followed closely by Halloween on the 31st, which of course only seemed to receive recognition among our acquaintances. 

November brought Kurban Bayram, the four day festival when sacrificial sheep are slain and offered to the poor in the Muslim world; the dates of such religious festivals change because they are based on the Islamic calendar and are thus celebrated by 10-12 days earlier every year here.

My family and friends observe and celebrate these religious holidays whether they lived in Turkey or not.  Ancestral traditions were adhered to, whether we were in Turkey or not, which is what I witnessed among majority of the Turks living in the United States.  We not only grew up speaking Turkish at our home as not to forget this advantageous language spoken by a unique population in the world, our cuisine also favored the Turkish palate at home.

Although it was difficult for me because I didn’t want to be different from my friends, growing up in a small southern town where even a northerner was considered ‘foreign’, it was nevertheless opportune and auspicious being a Turk because it stood out in others’ mind….. I could still blend in with the rest of the longstanding population, which initially was from various different backgrounds as well.

Thus, being Turkish in the US and belonging to various Turkish organizations also helped me stay in touch with numerous traditions of my ancestors including the bayrams.

We now await Thanksgiving, the fourth Thursday of this month, celebrated primarily by Americans and Canadians as a national holiday, yet not only in the US, but also among our friends here. This holiday became a national holiday as of the civil war era in 1860’s in the US, proclaimed as such by the then US president Abraham Lincoln – originally to give gratitude to God for guiding the first Americans safely to the New World.

And then it’s Christmas on the 25th of December, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, the central figure of Christianity. Although this holiday is a Christian one, it is nevertheless celebrated by non-Christians throughout the world, with an outstanding festivity in Turkey most specifically due the Christian population here. We finally conclude the year with New Year’s celebrations, entering yet another new year throughout the world. Hope it’s a great one!

*(a.k.a. as the ‘sweets holiday’ here because all sorts of candies are offered to all who visit family and elders)

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