Celebrating Christmas and New Year in Turkey

Celebrating Christmas and New Year in Turkey
Christmas & New Year in Turkey
Written on: 19 December 2018

Thinking of heading over to Turkey for Christmas or New Year? Do it, it's a great idea. Although Turks don't celebrate Christmas as such, many of the expats do and over New Year you are in for a real party!

Christmas in Turkey

At first glance, on sight of all the tinsel decked Christmas trees and baubles hanging from the shop windows, you would think Turks celebrate Christmas. In theory, Turks should make more of the celebration as St. Nicholas, the real Santa, came from Demre and spent many years along the Mediterranean coast around Fethiye and Patara. But, as a Muslim country, few Turks celebrate Christmas. In Turkey, the 25th of December is a normal day. All the supermarkets, banks and offices are open and the kids don't run riot in the streets with their new toy scooters, most are sat in their classrooms studying maths and science as normal. It's only in the larger cities and resorts that you spot the twinkle of Christmas coming from the expats’ villas, the hotels catering to foreigners, or the local bars frequented by Brits. Here you do find the roast Turkey dinners with all the trimmings, the Christmas Eve buffets, the mulled wine and the festive cheer. Expats in Turkey do celebrate Christmas. In popular areas foreigners throw Christmas fairs, sell homemade mince pies, organise a grotto for the kids and run charity events to raise money for the needy. On Christmas Day you do see the red pom-pom hats paraded on the beach and hear the singing of carols in community churches. But, Christmas in Turkey is far more what you make of it yourself rather than the commercial day celebrated elsewhere. In Turkey, all the vital ingredients of Christmas are readily available, but it's up to you to organise the celebration.

New Year in Turkey

Turks love to party and New Year’s Eve is the biggest of the year with local homes and restaurants all cooking up a feast for guests. New Year’s Day is the only holiday in Turkey that isn't a national or religious celebration. Locals either stay at home to see in the New Year with family and friends or head along to organised events in public squares, restaurants or bars. Many will stay in watching the firework displays in Istanbul and Ankara and special live cabaret shows on TV. Children are usually allowed to stay up late, gifts are given, and everyone waits for the all important countdown to midnight. The following day a Turkey is often cooked and kids enjoy a day playing with their new toys around the New Year tinsel clad tree.

New Year Traditions in Turkey

Turkey has some wonderful New Year's beliefs. You may see women head to the kitchen at midnight to throw handfuls of salt on the doorstep as it's supposed to bring peace and prosperity for the coming year. You may also be gifted red underpants to wear on New Year's Eve as some believe if red underwear is worn at the stroke of midnight you receive luck for the rest of the year. Others choose to take a brisk walk soon after midnight to promote safe travels in the coming year, and a few even believe smashing a pomegranate over the threshold of their home on New Year's night it will bring good fortune their way for the next twelve months. Whatever you see, it's sure to be in good spirit even if some of the traditions may seem a little strange to some. Wherever you are in Turkey over New Year, you won't struggle to find somewhere to go or something to do.

Where to celebrate New Year in Turkey

If you do decide to pay a visit to Turkey for the festive period you have many options. Some foreigners opt to book a few days away in an all-inclusive hotel in the likes of Antalya, Kusadasi or Bodrum. Many run special festive programs over the period and you can find some great deals online. If you own an apartment or villa in Turkey it's also easy to attend an organised dinner or event locally, simply search Facebook Groups or see the local press or blogs for ideas on where to go but do remember to book in advance as many of the popular places have limited tables.

Whatever you choose to get up to this Christmas and New Year, we at Turkey Homes hope you have a wonderful time. Turkey is a beautiful country all year round, the winter is no exception.

If you are planning to visit Turkey over the winter period and would like to view some Turkish properties, please contact Turkey Homes.

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