The Feast of Sacrifice is one of the oldest Islamic holidays in Turkey. It is celebrated about 70 days after the Ramadan Feast and according to old beliefs it is supposedly unlucky to get married or start a new business between these two holidays.
Kurban Bayram celebrates the story of how the Prophet Ibrahim who showed obedience to God by agreeing to sacrifice his son and in return God then sent him a ram to be sacrificed instead.
Traditionally, on the first day of the Sacrifice Feast the men of each family go to a mosque for a special morning prayer. Then the sacrifice ritual begins. In some regions in Turkey, people paint the sacrificial animal with henna and adorn it with ribbons before the butcher reads a prayer and slaughters the animal. Families share the meat with relatives and neighbours before giving about one-third of the lamb to the poor. The Sacrifice Festival is all about charity and community. During this holiday people are constantly on the move visiting family and friends.
Many people prefer to just donate money to organizations such as Turk Hava Kurumu and have animals slaughtered in their name. The organization will also make sure the food is correctly distributed to the poor.
Many different foods will be made, many will make their own Baklava and borek to serve to Bayram visitors and many other lovely treats will be prepared. New clothes will be bought for the family to wear during Bayram and some may purchase presents for family which is a relatively new tradition.
If you find yourself in Turkey during this time, the chances are that you will not actually see the sacrifice of animals unless you head into rural areas. The only way it will affect you, is that travel on public transport will be hectic and all government offices will be closed.
‘Feast of the Sacrifice” begins with Arife Gunu (preparation day) on Friday 8th July. Expect Banks and Government offices to close at midday. The Feast days of the holiday are 9-10-11-12 July; the President of Turkey announced extra days of holidays on Wednesday and Thursday, 13-14 July.
The 15th July is a separate public holiday – Democracy and National Unity Day of Turkey (Turkish: Demokrasi ve Milli Birlik Günü).
So in combination, the majority of the Turkish public will be taking a nine-day holiday from July 9 to the 17th of July.
The roads will be extremely busy and ATM’s can run out of money. Government buildings, banks and public offices will be closed on this day.
As these holidays run over a week, if you have your residence permit to renew, get in early before everywhere closes.