The time Ramadan falls each year differs according to the lunar calendar. Each year Ramadan starts 11 days earlier than the previous meaning some years it falls in the height of summer, when the days are hot, the daylight hours long, and the tourist resorts in full swing.
The Islamic holy month of Ramadan, known as Ramazan in Turkish, will run from May 6th to June 4th in 2019. It’s a month of fasting, prayer, empathy and celebration across Turkey. Do not be alarmed by the cannon blast during the early evenings. The firing of the cannon in the Muslim holy month of Ramadaz is to notify worshipers that it is time to break their fast.
Iftar Gatherings. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast during Ramadan. In many areas, including tourist towns and resorts, you see people gathering en-mass before sunset.
Another Ramadaz tradition in Turkey are the early morning drummers. Each day before sunrise, in many areas were Turks reside, traditional drummers wander the streets beating drums and singing to wake up residents in time for breakfast. This tradition dates back to Ottoman times, well before the advent of alarm clocks.
Many people wake up early on the first day of the Ramadaz Feast. They put on their best clothes, called bayramlik, which they often buy specifically for the occasion, and have a large breakfast. This symbolizes the end of the fasting period, which many Muslims observe during the preceding month of Ramadan.
The Ramadan Feast has an alternative name in Turkey, the Sugar Feast (Seker Bayrami), because people treat their guests to sweets and traditional desserts during the festival. It is customary to visit one’s relatives, especially older ones, and kiss their hand as a sign of respect. Children may go door-to-door, kissing hands of the grown-ups and receiving sweets and small amounts of money in return.
Turkish shadow plays, such as Karagoz and Hacivat, are popular during the Ramadan Feast, and children can watch these plays at fairs free of charge. In a more recent tradition, some people use the official holiday to travel abroad or go to Turkish resorts.
The Ramadan Feast is an official holiday that continues for three days in Turkey (which may be extended). Administration buildings and schools and are closed during this period. Public transport may run less frequently, and fares are usually lower compared to regular days. Highways may be overcrowded, especially in the morning of the first day and in the afternoon of the last day of the Ramadan Feast, as many people travel on these days.
Monday the 3rd June is the Ramadan Feast Eve and is a half-day holiday. The 4th, 5th and 6th June is also Ramadan Feast days. The national holiday may well continue on Fri 7th June.
Remember the roads will be busy during this time, so take care and leave plenty of time if you are travelling.