Turkish Holidays


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Turkey is predominantly a Muslim society, and two of the main holidays are Islamic religious festivals.

Other holidays celebrate national events such as the establishment of the Republic of Turkey and the life of the first President of the Republic, Kemal Atatürk.

An important month in the Muslim calendar is the month of fasting called Ramadan. During this time, Muslims do not eat or drink after sunrise or before sunset. Children are not expected to adhere to such a strict fast, but will often follow a less rigorous diet. Seker Bayrami, or the Sugar Festival, is held at the end of Ramadan. Family members wear new clothes, give each other presents and eat special dishes. Children receive candies and money from the adults.

Another important religious festival is the Kurban Bayrami, the Feast of Abraham's Sacrifice, a four-day festival when families share presents and enjoy special meals. According to tradition, each family must slaughter a ram, and distribute two-thirds of it to the needy.

April 23 is National Sovereignty and Children's Day. It commemorates the day on which the first Grand National Assembly, or republican parliament, met in 1920. Children from different parts of the world are invited to come to Turkey to join in the celebrations. Victory Day, August 30, commemorates the date in 1923 on which Turkey was able to successfully expel all foreign powers from Turkish soil. It is marked by a parade of military equipment and an air show.

The Commemoration of Atatürk on May 19, which marks the day the former leader began the war of independence in 1919, is also known as Youth and Sports Day. Schools hold sports competitions on this day.

Turks also observe a minute of silence on November 10, because Atatürk died on that day in 1938. Republic Day on October 29 commemorates the proclamation of the republic in 1923. Many cities and towns hold parades on this day. New Year's Day on January 1 is also a public holiday.


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Turkey Public Holidays 2005
  • Jan 1 New Year's Day
  • Jan 20 Kurban Bayramy Eve
  • Jan 21 Kurban Bayramy (Feast of Sacrifice) (4 days) Starts Previous Eve
  • Apr 23 National Sovereignty and Children's Day
  • May 19 Atatürk Commemoration / Youth and Sports Day
  • Aug 30 Victory Day
  • Oct 29 Republic Day
  • Nov 2 Ramazan Bayramy Eve
  • Nov 3 Ramazan Bayramy (End of Ramadan) (3 days) Starts Previous Eve


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[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Some more detailed information for you[/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]I[/font][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]slamic holidays arrive according to the lunar Hijri calendar, which is 11 days shorter than the normal, solar (Gregorian) year.[/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]The two most important Islamic holidays are Kurban Bayrami and Ramazan, which also contain national public holidays. They may affect your travel plans, so you should know when they occur and how they affect travel. Minor Islamic festivals such as kandils are not disruptive, just interesting and fun.[/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Islamic holidays begin at sundown, last until sundown on the following calendar day, and the important public holidays are usually preceded by a half-day vacation called arife ("preparation"); offices, banks and businesses may close at noon on the day of arife, with the festivities beginning at sunset.

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]KURBAN BAYRAMI
Called Eid el-Adha or Eid el-Kebir in Arabic, Kurban Bayrami (koor-BAHN bahy-rah-muh) is the most important Islamic religious festival of the year, and a 4 or 5-day public holiday in Turkey. It falls in January, 2005 and 2006.

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]
[/font][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]RAMAZAN
Many Turks fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramazan (RAH-mah-zahn, called Ramadan in other countries). Restaurants are less busy at lunch, and there's even less Turkish tea in evidence (which is amazing). It falls in October-November 2004 and 2005.[/font]

These minor Islamic festivals are not public holidays, and they won't affect your travel plans much except to make your time in Turkey more interesting and enjoyable.

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]ASURE GÜNÜ
Asure Günü (AH-shoo-REH gew-new),the 10th day of the Islamic lunar month of Muharrem, falls on February 18/19, 2005, and February 7/8, 2006.[/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]It's not a public holiday, but is celebrated as the date that: Adam repented his sin, the Prophet Abraham was born, Jonah emerged from the whale, Noah's ark rested on dry land, and the Islamic hero Hüseyin was martyred. [/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]It will also reputedly be the Day of Judgement—when that comes! [/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]Turks celebrate by enjoying a special sweet pudding called asure (AH-shoo-REH) made with cereals, raisins and nuts. [/font]

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]MEVLID-I NEBI
Mevlid-i Nebi (mehv-LEED ee NEH-bee), the Prophet Muhammad's birthday, is celebrated with mosque illuminations and special foods. It falls on 20/21 April 2005, and 9/10 April 2006.

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]REGAIP KANDILI
Regaip Kandili (reh-gah-YEEP kahn-dee-lee), the "Beginning of the Three Moons," is celebrated on 8/9 August 2005, and 28/29 July 2006, with mosque illuminations (pretty and photogenic).

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]BERAT KANDILI
Berat Kandili (beh-RAHT kahn-dee-lee), the "Day of Forgiveness," is celebrated on 18/19 September 2005, and 7/8 September 2006, lighting up the mosques.

[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]MIRAÇ KANDILI
Miraç Kandili (mee-RATCH kahn-dee-lee) celebrates the Prophet Muhammed's ascent into heaven. It falls on 31 August/1 Sep 2005, and 20/21 August 2006.