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Posted 17 June 2008 - 19:43


The dates for Muslim religious festivals are celebrated according to a lunar calendar. Only two religious holidays are public holidays: Şeker Bayramı , a 3-day festival at the end of Ramazan (30 days when a good Muslim lets nothing pass the lips during daylight hours), and Kurban Bayramı which commemorates İbrahim's near-sacrifice of İsmael on Mt Moriah. In commemoration of God permitting İbrahim to sacrifice a ram instead of his son, every Turkish household who can afford a sheep buys one, takes it home and slits its throat right after the early morning prayers on the actual day of the bayram . Family and friends immediately cook up a feast. You must plan for Kurban Bayramı: most banks close for a full week, transportation will be packed and hotel rooms will be scarce and expensive.

Secular festivities include camel-wrestling in mid-January, in the village of Selçuk, south of İzmir, and National Sovereignty Day , April 23, a big holiday to celebrate the first meeting of the republican parliament in 1920. Celebrations abound in summer: there's a sloppy oiled wrestling festival in early June at Sarayiçi, near Edirne; the country Kafkasör Festival near Artvin in northeastern Turkey in the 3rd week of June; the International İstanbul Festival of the Arts (late June to mid-July); Bursa's Folklore and Music Festival in mid-July and Diyarbakır's Watermelon Festival in mid or late September. The whole country stops, just for a moment, at 09:05 November 10, the time of Atatürk's death in 1938.

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