INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Türkiye --
The Sugar Festival is celebrated by Moslems at the end of Ramazan, the fasting month for Moslems. The festival lasts 3 ½ days. Thursday, April 20, is the last day of Ramazan and the Sugar Festival starts on that day at noon. Observations of the festival continue through Sunday, April 23.
It is a national religious holiday. Schools and government offices are closed during those days.
It is traditional to wear new outfits during Bayram (meaning festival), so parents get new clothes for their children. Many children are excited about wearing their new clothing on the first day of the festival. The house is completely cleaned a few days before the festival.
The first day, April 21, is the most important. Everybody wakes up early and men go to the mosque for the special Bayram prayer.
After returning from the mosque, all of the family members dress up nicely, mostly with new clothes, and another important tradition is practiced: Bayram visits.
Young people visit their elders first. The other relatives, neighbors and friends are also visited. Due to those visits, the traffic on the first day is a little bit busier than regular days.
Bayram visits are kept short - 20-30 minutes. First, cologne is offered to cleanse the hands and give a nice smell to the atmosphere. Some people rub their faces and hair with cologne as well. Mostly candies, chocolates, Turkish coffee or cold beverages are offered to visitors. People who cannot visit their family members and friends in other towns and cities make phone calls or send messages celebrating each other's festival.
Children love those visits and would like to visit as many elders as they can, because it is traditional that elders give pocket money to the children.
Children can easily collect pocket money for one month. But the best part for them is there is no restriction on how much they spend and how they spend it. Therefore, amusement parks are set up in almost every town during the festival.
Kapicis, (doormen at apartment buildings), trash collectors and Ramazan drummers knock on doors expecting gifts or tips.
Another tradition practiced during the festival is visiting the graves of the deceased family members. The visits to graveyards start one day prior to the festival and continue during the festival.
If you visit your Turkish friends, a box of candy or chocolate would be the most appropriate to take. The phrase for celebrating your Turkish friends’ festival is “Iyi bayramlar” (ee-yee by-rahm-lahr), which means “I wish you a happy festival.”
Here is another tradition observed by the Turks during the festival, boys born during the festival are mostly given the name of “Bayram.” Just like giving the name of “Ramazan” if they are born in the month of Ramazan.
“Ramazan” is the Turkish version of “Ramadan.”
Night of Power
The 27th night of the Holy month of Ramazan is accepted as the most important night of the whole year. It is called “Kadir Gecesi” or “Night of Power.” It is believed that Prophet Mohammad started to receive the Holy Quran on that night. Moslems stay up all night long praying. You can easily notice that the mosques are packed up on that night for the special prayer and religious ceremony of Kadir Gecesi.
This year, the Kadir Gecesi-Night of Power falls on Monday, April 17.