Sugar Festival marks end of Ramadan

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The Sugar Festival is a celebration held at the end of Ramadan, the fasting month for Muslims. The three-and-a-half-day celebration begins noon Aug. 29, the last day of Ramadan and continues through Sept. 1.

Schools and government offices are closed during those days, as it is a national religious holiday. In addition , the Turkish government announced Sept. 2 as an official holiday. Thus, by adding the weekends before and after the holiday, the Sugar Festival holiday has extended to a nine-day occassion. On Aug. 30, almost all shops will be closed to include those in The Alley. Some shops will re-open on the second day and on.

It is traditional to wear new outfits during the bayram, or festival, and many children become excited about wearing their new attire. Homes are completely cleaned a few days before the festival.

The first day, Aug. 30, 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 the family members dress up nicely, mostly with new clothes, and conduct traditional bayram visits to relatives, neighbors and friends.

Traffic is often hectic on this day.

Bayram visits are kept very short - 10 to 15 minutes. Mostly candies, chocolates, Turkish coffee or cold beverages are offered to visitors. People who cannot visit their friends and family members in other towns and cities make phone calls or send cards celebrating each other's festival.

Children often enjoy visits with elders because it's traditional that elders give pocket money to the children. Children can easily collect one-month's worth of pocket money. The best part for them, though, is the lack of restriction on how much and how they spend it. Therefore, amusement parks are set up in almost every town during the festival.

Kapicis, or doormen at apartment buildings, trash collectors and Ramadan drummers knock on doors expecting gifts or tips.

Another tradition practiced during the festival is visiting the graves of 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 appropriate to take. The phrase for celebrating your Turkish friends festival is "Iyi bayramlar," prounouced ee-yee by-rahm-lahr,which means "I wish you a happy festival."

Another tradition observed involves the naming of boys born during this time. Boys born during the festival are often given the name "Bayram." Just the same, the name "Ramadan" is given if they are born in the month of Ramadan.

Sugar is called "seker" in Turkish, thus the name Sugar Festival or Seker Bayrami. It's possible the holiday is called the Sugar Festival here because sweet things, candies and chocolates are offered during the visits and during the festival. Another name for the Sugar Festival is "Ramadan Bayrami." In Arabic it is called "Id-ul Fitr."