Izmir, Turkey --
Ramazan Bayramı, or Şeker Bayramı, is the three-day religious holiday that follows the end of the holy month of Ramadan, a month of fasting.
The Ramazan Holiday or Sugar Holiday, which starts June 4 and ends June 6 this year, marks the end of Ramadan and is one of the two great religious holidays of Islam.
The first day of the holiday is very important because it is the first time in a month that mid-day meals are eaten.
The holiday’s Turkish name ‘Şeker,’ means sugar or candy. It refers to the custom of offering candy, sweets and desserts to visiting guests, family, friends and neighbors.
The Sugar Holiday is a time of visiting friends and paying respects to relatives and elders. People share candy and gifts with each other.
After the hard days of fasting, everyone is in high spirits and in the mood for good food, visiting friends and spoiling children.
Children go door to door, ringing your bell asking for sweets and money. Families pay visits to friends, relatives and neighbors. During the three-day religious holiday, offices close for the half-day of Arife, the last day of Ramadan, and the three days of the holiday.
Wearing new outfits is customary during this religious holiday, so parents buy clothing and shoes for their children. A few days before the holiday, the house is thoroughly cleaned. Food and desserts are prepared for the first day and gifts are wrapped for the Sugar Holiday morning.
Everybody wakes up early, about an hour before sunrise, for the morning prayer. Fathers dress and go to the mosque for a special prayer session attended only by men.
When the calls of müezzin, a person who calls everybody to pray, are heard from the mosque’s minaret, the faithful spread prayer mats and pray wherever they are. In the meantime, mothers and children prepare and wait for the fathers to return.
When the fathers return, families congratulate each other and exchange gifts. Children kiss the hands of parents, and parents kiss children on both cheeks. Then, they open gifts and eat breakfast.
Some families visit the cemeteries to pay respect to relatives or friends who have died. This is usually done on Arife, (pronounced ah-ree-feih), which is June 3 this year.
If cemeteries are visited on the first day of Sugar Holiday instead of Arife, a visit to family elders is in order next to wish them a happy bayram and say “iyi bayramlar,” (pronounced e-yee bai-rahm-lahr).
The practice of gift giving during the Sugar Holiday is often extended to maids, doormen and building superintendents, as well.
It is proper to present a box of candy, baklava or something else depending upon the relationship.