Ask Mehmet: Sugar Festival

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Mehmet, can you tell us about the Sugar Festival?

The Sugar Festival is a national religious holiday celebrated at the end of Ramazan, which is the holy month of fasting for Muslims. The celebration officially marks the end of the holy month and this year, it begins noon July 16, the last day of Ramazan and continues through July 19. İt is important to note that 'Ramazan' is the Turkish version of 'Ramadan.'

During the Bayram, which means festival, schools and government offices are closed for the observance. People, mostly children, wear new outfits and they thoroughly clean their house a few days prior to the festival as a symbol of respect of the holy month.

The first day, Friday, July 17, is the most important day of the festival. Everybody wakes up early and men go to the mosque for the special Bayram prayer. After they return, all of the family members dress up nicely, mostly in new clothes, to pratice another important tradition, 'Bayram' visits.

Bayram visits or house visits are when Muslim observers of Ramazan visit their family and friends. Young people visit their elders first and then their other relatives, neighbors and friends. These visits are kept very short, normally 10 to 15 minutes. Mostly candies, chocolates, Turkish coffee or cold beverages are offered to visitors. Due to frequency of the visits, traffic is quite busy on the first day of the festival. Those who cannot visit their friends and family members in other towns and cities, call or send cards to celebrate each others festival.

Children probably enjoy the visits the most and generally want to visit as many elders as possible because it's tradition for elders to give pocket money to the children. The amount varies and is usually based on the closeness between the elder and the child or child's family. Most of the time, children can easily collect one month's worth of pocket money in one day alone during the festival. On perk of this tradition is that there is no restriction on how much money they can accept, spend or the ways they choose to spend it. That's why it is typically for amusement parks to set up in almost every town during the festival. On the first day of the festival, it is also prevalent for Kapicis or 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. These visits usually start one day prior to the festival and continue until it concludes. On the other hand, for Turkish boys born during the festival, it is common for them to be named "Bayram or "Ramazan" if they are born during the month of Ramazan.

If you choose to 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 translates to and means 'I wish you a happy festival'.

Lastly, 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-Night of Power.' It is believed that prophet Mohammed started to receive the Holy Quran on that night. Therefore, Muslims stay up all night long praying and  mosques are noticeably  packed up on that night for the special prayer and religious ceremony of 'Kadir Gecesi.'

Mehmet, why is it called Sugar Festival?

Well, that's a good question. In Turkish, sugar means "seker" and Sugar Festival is called "Seker Bayrami or referred to as "Ramazan Bayrami." In Arabic it is called "Id-ul Fitr." To tell you the truth, I really don't know why it is called Sugar Festival,  but I think it is related to the sweet things, candies and chocolates that are wished for and offered during houses visits throughout the festival. 

Mehmet, are the shops going to be open during the festival?  I especially want to know if the shops at the alley will be open during the Sugar festival?

As I mentioned above, the first day of the festival, July 17, is the most active day of celebration so all the shops in Adana will be closed. It is possibility that some shops will be open on the second day and on. The alley, however, will be closed on the first day, July 17, but will be open for the rest of the days.