Religious holidays in Turkey

Going on holiday to Turkey? Your trip may coincide with one of Turkey’s religious occasions. Below we’ve included information on the main religious holidays in Turkey for you to be better informed

Most of the religious holidays in Turkey are Islamic because the majority of people in Turkey are Muslim. There are however religious minorities in Turkey that celebrate their own holidays. Because the Islamic calendar is lunar, the date of these religious holidays in Turkey changes every year usually coming forward about 10 days.

Major Religious Holidays in Turkey

The main religious holiday in Turkey is the Kurban Bayram. This religious holiday commemorates the story of Abraham who was tested by God when he was asked to sacrifice his son Isaac as mentioned in the bible and Koran. This religious holiday is recognised by the secular authorities who declare a four day national holiday in Turkey where shops and offices close. This religious holiday is celebrated in Turkey with the sacrificing of a sheep in every household that can afford it, and usually excess meat is given to the needy as a religious charity for the holiday. People in Turkey spend their time visiting each other and exchanging cards throughout this religious holiday in Turkey. A lot of Turkish people travel across Turkey to be with family during this religious holiday so expect crowds when using public transport.

The other main religious holiday in Turkey is the Seker Bayram which takes place at the end of Ramadan. The secular authorities declare a public holiday of three days in which banks and ministries close throughout Turkey. Children in Turkey celebrate this religious holiday by going round the neighbourhood asking for sweets, while adults use the religious holiday as a chance to visit family and friends. Public transport and planes are very heavily booked so it’s always a good idea to either have your tickets booked well in advance if travelling, or to stay in one place to experience this religious holiday in Turkey.

Minor Religious Holidays in Turkey

The religious occasion of Mirac Kandili celebrates the ascension of Prophet Muhammad to heaven on a winged horse 1400 years ago. Although the secular authorities do not announce a holiday there are some people in the rural parts of Turkey who treat this as a religious holiday. The mosques in Turkey will usually have special decorations and offer some kind of religious program to mark the occasion.

Mevlidi Nebi is another religious occasion although not a holiday in Turkey, that celebrates the birthday of Prophet Muhammad. This religious occasion is marked by special prayers and the offering of sweets and foods in the mosques. Mosques across Turkey will also make special light displays for this religious occasion.

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