This holiday is also known as the Feast of Sacrifice. This is a very important Islamic holiday which celebrates willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his first-born son Ishmael. The sacrifice was not completed as God intervened and had Abraham sacrifice a ram instead. To celebrate people usually a set of new clothes, dress up and visit family and friends and sacrifice an animal.
The animal depends on the weath of the family. Most often it is a goat, sheep or cow. The family keeps a third of the meat, gives a third to family and friends and gives a third the poor. In the country people may do it themselves their yards, but the government sets up sites of trained butchers in many neighborhoods.
On their way to the feast...
This year we celebrated more traditionally than we have for several years. Normally since it’s a long weekend Bülent and I usually travel. This year it was 6 days. We did go to Marmaris, but so did most of the family. So while we enjoyed the sunshine and nature we also celebrated Bayram. In the U.S. often there are celebratory dinners, but here it is ususlly brunches and lunches.
The family got together several times, aunts, uncles and cousins for brunches and luncheons. It was a nice and casual way to visit. Since it was happening often I was able to excuse myself when the level of Turkish became too high, rather to sit there bored. Also the older generation entertained each other. This allowed Bülent and I to have more private time than we might have if we just went down with his parents.
We had a lovely time and are our way back to Ankara today. To the real world for a couple of days!
This week is Kurban Bayram or Eid al-Adha, the second religious holiday after Ramadan. It is a festival of sacrifice, and charity. Animals, usually sheep and cows, are sacrificed to represent Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. After the sacrifice a certain percentage of the meat is donated to the poor. The rest is divided among the family. Usually during this time your time is spent doing family visits and memorial visits. Usually the first or second day of Bayram the family visits the cemetery and pays respect to their dead.
The visits start out at the oldest relatives home, and progress down the line. At the visits tea and snacks are served, usually one salty and one sweet. You can not refuse. So Bayram becomes a time of visiting and eating, and eating and visiting. And then later feeling slightly ill due to the amount of sugar and tea you have consumed.
But not this year!!! This year the calendar aligned so Bayram started Monday at 12pm and ended Friday. The government decided to give us all of Monday off which means we have the whole week off! YAY!
We decided to drive down to Marmaris, a 10 hour drive and spend the week at the summer house. It has been great. It is cool, about 60 and a little rainy but incredibly gorgeous. During the summer it is usually about 100 degrees so it is so nice to take walks along the sea or in the mountain without seriously worrying about heat stroke and death.
As I write this I am sitting in the garden, under a lush canopy of green, smelling the jasmine in the air moist and rich from the rain. I can even hear the crickets and frogs. A vast difference from sitting here in the sweltering heat listening to the loud techno music from the bar down the streets and the drunk tourists swearing while they stumble on the road behind me after a night of clubbing.