Eid al-Fitr is a three-day holiday in Turkey. The preparations for Eid start a few days before the actual day. Many people travel to their hometowns to be with their families leaving the big cities empty during these days. The roads are packed with traffic and those who choose to travel by public transportation have to reserve their seats weeks in advance. Eid shopping and Eid cleaning are also a must. Parents buy new outfits and footwear for their kids and place them by their bedside so that they can put them on first thing in the morning. The kids usually can’t sleep due to excitement and anticipation for the next day. As for the cleaning, every piece down to the smallest thing in the house is washed and wiped. The TV channels broadcast special shows in honor of this day. The government provides an eid bonus for all retired people so that they can fully share in the joy of Eid.
Joyous preparations start the night before the Eid day by paying great attention to self grooming. On the day of, all the men in their best attires attend Eid prayer at their local mosque, but some prefer to attend the Eid prayer in famous historic mosques in big cities. In small towns, everyone lines up after the prayer to greet and embrace one another before going home. Ladies take this time to get ready for Eid visits.
The festivities truly begin after the men arrive home from the mosque. Everyone greets one another “Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun” (Eid Mubarak). Kids kiss the hands of their parents to pay their respect and receive “bayram harçlığı” (Eid allowance) in return. After breakfast, people usually go to their close family member’s cemeteries which are tidied up and decorated with freshly planted flowers by the family members a few days beforehand for the upcoming Eid visitors. Graveyards of pious Muslims are also visited. Then visits to elder relatives and neighbors begin. By this time, every house has been readied to welcome their guests.
The tradition, after putting “limon kolonyası” (special Turkish lemon cologne) on the hands of the guests, is to serve yaprak sarması (vegetarian stuffed grape leaves) with homemade baklava alongside black tea, Turkish coffee or a cool summer drink, depending on the season. But some only serve candies and chocolates to their short staying guests.
Throughout the day, random neighborhood kids knock on doors to collect Eid candy or money if they are lucky. At the end of the day kids compare money piles to see who got the most and spend most of their money on snacks at a local general store called a “bakkal”. People return a visit on the same day or the next to show their respect regardless of the fact that they just hosted the people they are going for a visit to. Making peace with everyone is highly recommended on these days. The streets are full of well groomed, cheerful people, young and old that treat each other kindly with the spirit of Eid.
Composed by Filiz Arslan
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