Saturday, 27 October 2012


Kurban Bayrami is the most important Religious Festival of the year and is a 4 and a half day holiday. This year the festival commenced on Wednesday 24th October with the half day 'Arife' which is a day of preparation for the festival ahead. 

Kurban Bayrami which falls around 70 days after Ramazan, is the festival of sacrifice in memory of the ram sacrificed by Ibrahim in place of his son Ishmael. In Islamic rules every family who can afford to should sacrifice an animal, sharing the meat with family, friends, neighbours and the poor. One third of the animal being kept by the family, one third being given to friends and neighbours and one third being donated to the poor. Turkish law now makes it illegal to sacrifice animals in public places, however this law is not always enforced and it can be difficult to entirely avoid the sacrifices taking place, usually on the first day of the festival. I know of someone who was just taking a walk and saw goats, sheep and a camel being slaughtered, albeit behind some trees! The animals slaughtered have to be at least one year old (in the case of camels and cattle - two years) and must be healthy. Some families prefer to make charitable donations in lieu of a sacrifice.

As with the Şeker Bayramı during the festival people will travel to visit friends and family, strengthening family ties and giving the children an opportunity to bond with older members of the family. People will often buy their children new clothes to wear for the duration of the festival, in turn giving their old ones to poorer families.Kurban Bayrami is also the time of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. With so many people travelling it means that transport can be chaotic particularly on the first and last day of the festival. So unless you have to, you are probably better avoiding the roads on these days.

Banks, schools and Government offices will be closed for the duration of the festival and shops and supermarkets will be open for reduced hours, so it is best to stock up before. We went to Fethiye market on the Tuesday before the festival and it was absolutely heaving - I have never seen so many people there. I expected the supermarket to have empty shelves when we went late in the day, but in spite of the crowds there were no gaps on the shelves at all hardly - a lesson to be learnt there for English supermarkets!

This year's Kurban Bayrami concludes on the evening of Sunday 28th October, but is followed by another public holiday on Monday 29th - Republic Day which commemorates the proclamation of Turkey becoming a Republic on October 29th 1923 by Ataturk. On this day in 1923 the Turkish constitution was amended and Turkey became a Republic, formally declaring the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. Commemorative events and fireworks are held throughout Turkey, and people also commemorate Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

So this year banks, schools and official offices will be closed for a full week. Also be sure you have all the money you need as A.T.M.'s often also run out during the course of this week.

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