[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]TURKEY – Are you curious about Ramadan in Turkey and wondering if it’s a good time to visit? Let’s explore!
Turkey, despite having a secular government, is predominantly a Muslim country, with a significant portion of the population identifying as Muslim. It is also one of the most liberal and Westernized Muslim-majority countries in the world.
During your visit, you will encounter a blend of conservative and liberal attitudes, with many people observing Ramadan to varying degrees.
What is Ramadan and what does it require?
Ramadan is a month of fasting and celebration, one of the most important religious events in Islam, characterized by a rich historical tradition.
In this post, we will explore what Ramadan entails, what it requires, and whether visiting during this month is suitable for you or not.
Ultimately, it depends on your expectations and goals for the trip!
What happens during the month of Ramadan?
Let’s begin with a basic introduction to the Islamic faith. The pillars of Islam are built upon five fundamental beliefs:
- Shahada (Declaration of Faith)
- Salah (Prayer)
- Zakat (Charity)
- Sawm (Fasting during the month of Ramadan)
- Hajj (Pilgrimage to Mecca)
The fourth pillar, Sawm, is fulfilled during the holy month of Ramadan, where Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. The exact duration (29 or 30 days) depends on the sighting of the new crescent moon.
Some individuals are exempted (children, elderly, breastfeeding or pregnant women, diabetic patients) and those who cannot fast must make up for it later.
Ramadan is a spiritually significant time, emphasizing prayer, self-improvement, and reflection on one’s spirituality. People become more charitable, focusing on acts of kindness and generosity.
Even those who do not strictly adhere to fasting often use this time for introspection, believing it will purify their souls.
In the evening, after breaking the fast at sunset, the atmosphere shifts to a festive one as families and friends gather to enjoy the Iftar meal.
Eid al-Fitr, a three-day celebration, takes place after Ramadan, marking the end of the fasting period. It is also known as Şeker Bayramı or Sugar Holiday.
When is the month of Ramadan?
Due to the Islamic calendar being a lunar calendar, the timing of the month of Ramadan changes every year. Be sure to check the dates for your visit. In 2024, Ramadan will be observed from March 11th to April 9th.
If you are planning to visit Turkey during Ramadan, take note of the unique cultural and religious activities taking place. While not mandatory for everyone, this is an opportunity to witness and appreciate the diversity of Turkish society.
Ultimately, whether or not this is the ideal time for your visit depends on your personal preferences and openness to experiencing the richness of Ramadan culture in Turkey.
Ramadan in Turkey – Two essential meals per day.
1. Suhoor – The meal before dawn.
Suhoor is the pre-dawn meal before the sun rises. Between 2:30 and 3:00 in the morning, you can hear the sound of knocking on doors during the month of Ramadan.
An ancient tradition of the Ottoman Empire involved drummers and musicians wandering the streets to wake people up for their pre-dawn meal before beginning their fast at sunrise.
Finishing this meal before the call to prayer at sunrise, they would start their day with prayers. Suhoor marks the beginning of the fasting period and is an important part of the Ramadan routine.
2. Iftar – Quick Meal.
Iftar is the evening meal of Ramadan that takes place after sunset. It is an event that is often extended to foreigners and non-Muslims, giving them the opportunity to participate. It is a grand buffet feast filled with delicious food and drinks that they have been abstaining from all day.
One of my favorite dishes during this festival is a special type of bread called Ramazan pidesi. Be sure to visit a local bakery or firin and request a Ramazan pidesi. Its unique texture and flavor will bring you joy.
Ramazan Pidesi – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.
There are many variations of this Ramadan bread, including ones with eggs and sesame seeds.
If you are invited to an iftar dinner, expect a warm welcome and open arms. It is an experience worth attending!
Eid al-Fitr in Turkey: A Celebration.
Eid al-Fitr, also known as the Sugar Holiday, is a 3-day celebration marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan. Each country has its own set of rules and customs for this holiday, and Turkey is no exception.
In Turkey, people dress in their finest clothes, visit each other, and express gratitude towards friends and family buried in cemeteries.
Children especially enjoy this holiday in Turkey, as they roam the streets, wishing everyone a happy holiday and receiving chocolates or candies. Sometimes, they may even be given a small amount of money.
The impact of visiting Turkey during Ramadan.
While some countries strictly prohibit eating out during the month of Ramadan, Turkey, with its secular government, does not have strict regulations regarding this. However, there are some things to keep in mind when visiting during this time:
- Business hours: Some shops, restaurants, and cafes may close earlier than usual or even completely shut down, while others may operate as normal.
- Tourist attractions: Major tourist spots like Istanbul or Cappadocia may still remain relatively unaffected. They understand that their customers may not strictly adhere to Ramadan.
- Social etiquette: Limiting food and drink consumption in public places or walking without paying attention to those around you is considered polite.
- Smoking: Avoid smoking in public places.
- Alcohol: Finding or purchasing alcohol may be more difficult during this time.
- Public holidays: The lunar holiday begins the night before the official Eid al-Fitr holiday. Therefore, offices may close at noon on the day before Eid al-Fitr.
Is it a good idea to visit Turkey during Ramadan?
This is a question that you will have to answer for yourself as it truly depends on what you hope to achieve from your trip to Turkey.
Here are some things to consider:
Sensitive to the sacred atmosphere.
Are you sensitive to the sacred atmosphere?
While some may be able to sense the difference in the air during important Muslim holidays, others may not. If you are particularly sensitive, this may not be the best time to visit.
Interested in experiencing different cultures.
Do you enjoy experiencing different aspects of other cultures?
Undoubtedly, you will have a unique experience during this time that may not be available at other times of the year. The people of Turkey are very hospitable and warm, offering many things to discover during the month of Ramadan.
Your travel goals.
What are your travel goals?
If you plan on staying in more touristy areas, you may not notice much difference during the month of Ramadan.
However, if you intend to visit rural areas and immerse yourself in the local culture, your plans may be disrupted more during this time and it may not be the ideal time to do so.
Ultimately, it really depends on you and your preferences. If you choose to visit during Ramadan, just remember that the experience may be different and some plans may need to be adjusted.
However, Turkey has many interesting things to offer and if you miss out on something during Ramadan, you can always come back at a different time of the year!