Ask Mehmet: Spring Festival of the Turkic world

  • Published
  • By Mehmet Birbiri
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Ask Mehmet is a forum for people to ask questions of the local area, as well as the outer confines of the region and the country as a whole. To submit a question, send an e-mail with the subject "Ask Mehmet" to Then, look for an answer to the question on the 39th Air Base Wing's official website at and Incirlik Air Base's Facebook page.

One of the popular seasonal festivals celebrated for ages by the Turkic world is called Hidirellez. It is celebrated as a spring festival on May 6, every year. The celebrations are joyful picnics with many participants celebrating in fields, parks, woodlands, by streams, rivers, ponds or by the tomb side of holy people.

As with any culture around the world, various traditions have been passed along for generations. The same goes for Hidirellez.

One such tradition is to eat the fresh spring vegetables and meat of young lambs. Some believe the meat of young spring lamb will bring better health to the body. Also, newly grown fresh green grass and wild flowers are collected then boiled together over an open wood fire. It is believed that drinking the water cures all diseases, and washing yourself with the water for 40 days you will become younger and more beautiful.

According to Turkish culture, wishes are significant during this celebration because Hidir, also known as Hizir, is an immortal person believed to come in time of need. The importance of May 6, is it is believed Hizir and Prophet Elijah met on that day. It is thought the path Hizir steps on becomes green and the fields become fertile.

During Hidirellez, people proclaim their wishes during the season by participating in various traditions. In one of the practices, a fire is set up and people jump over the fire while making their wish.

The most common practice of Hidirellez is to write your wishes on a piece of paper and bury it under a rose bush. One can also tie a piece of paper onto the rose bush with a red ribbon on the night of May 5. Another method is to toss the piece of paper with wishes into running water such as a stream or river on May 6.

The wishes vary depending on the individual. Young girls may wish for a happy marriage while young brides may wish to have children. Men mostly wish for a better job, a car or a house.

Although the history and roots of the practice is not clear, some scholars say that Hidirellez belongs to Mesopotamian and Anatolian culture while some say it belongs to pre-Islamic Central Asian and Turkish culture. Today, Hidirellez is celebrated among Turkish communities from the Balkan states to areas as far as Central Asia.