Seker Bayram of Turkey
The Sugar Bayram holiday, also known as Şeker Bayramı or Eid al-Fitr, is a religious holiday celebrated in Turkey at the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting in the Islamic calendar, at different times every year according to the moon cycle. This three-day holiday marks the end of the fasting period.
During the Sugar Bayram holiday, families and friends celebrate with traditional holiday foods, like baklava, Turkish Delight, and other sweets, hence the name Şeker Bayramı, meaning "Sugar Festival" in Turkish. Muslims also attend special Eid prayers at the mosque and give obligatory charity to the poor and needy, known as Zakat al-Fitr. So it is a time to celebrate, exchange gifts and sweets and visit family and friends. But let’s find out more.
About the Sugar Holiday in Turkey and Islam
Significance of Seker Bayram in Turkish Culture
In Turkey, the Seker Bayram holiday encourages Turkish people to share delicious food and enjoy each other's company. In addition, Seker Bayram carries immense cultural significance. During Seker Bayram, Turks visit graves offering prayers and remembering their lives. This act of remembrance strengthens bonds between family members while honouring and keeping the memory of ancestors alive.
In Turkey, the sugar holiday has evolved over the centuries, incorporating various customs unique to the country. These include the giving of gifts and, of course, the consumption of delicious sweets and treats. The term "Seker Bayram" itself is derived from the Turkish words "şeker," meaning "sugar," and "Bayram," meaning "festival" or "feast."
An essential aspect of the Eid holiday is the act of giving. It is customary for children to receive small amounts of money or presents from elders. On the first day of the Seker Bayram holiday, special prayer services at the mosque give thanks for their strength and perseverance during the fasting month of Ramadan. Following the Eid prayer service, families and friends share festive meals, often featuring sweet treats and desserts.
At its core, the Seker Bayram three-day holiday celebrates family, community, and togetherness. The Eid holiday traditions practised during this time serve to bring people closer together. The love, generosity, and gratitude permeating the sugar holiday signify deep-rooted values at the heart of Turkish culture and Islam. Older adults are also shown great respect during the Sugar Bayram.
Origins of Seker Bayram - Eid ul-Fitr
Seker Bayram has roots in Islam, and is called Eid ul-Fitr, which translates to " breaking the fast festival." This memorable holiday is celebrated worldwide. The origins of Seker Bayram trace back to the Prophet Muhammad, who established the holiday to commemorate the successful completion of fasting.
It is one of the most important holiday festivals in the Islamic calendar and is celebrated for three days. During the Eid ul-Fitr holiday, on the first day, Muslims gather for the Eid festival prayer in the morning, exchange gifts, wear new clothes, and share traditional meals with family and friends.
The date of the three festival days of Eid ul-Fitr varies yearly. While Seker Bayram has origins in Turkey, Muslims all around the world celebrate the Eid holiday. Holiday customs associated with Sugar Bayram vary slightly from country to country. Still, themes of joy and gratitude remain the same. From Indonesia to the United States, the sugar holiday is for Muslims to come together and celebrate the successful completion of fasting.
Connection Between Seker Bayram and Ramadan
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is the holiest month for Muslims worldwide when they fast from dawn until sunset. During this time, they abstain from food, water, and other physical needs. Fasting is a means of self-purification and empathising with those less fortunate who may not have access to food or water.
Muslims are also encouraged to increase their prayer and charitable acts during Ramadan. In addition to five daily prayers, Muslims perform an additional prayer called Taraweeh in the evening after breaking their daily fast. Ramadan is about spiritual growth and reflection and is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, which are the foundation of Muslim life and practice.
Delectable Sugar Holiday Treats in Turkey
So, it is no wonder that during the three-day Eid holiday in Turkey, sweet and sugary delights are to be enjoyed. If you venture into the supermarkets, you will see vast displays of sweets and chocolates on sale. But, of course, some people also make their own. But which are the most popular?
Gullac: Güllaç made with layers of pastry sheets called "yalancı yufka" A milk-based syrup is typically served during the Bayram festival. To make güllaç, the yufka sheets are soaked in warm milk and sugar, then layered with crushed pistachios and/or walnuts. The dessert is then chilled in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight until the pastry has absorbed the milk mixture and softened. Finally, the güllaç is traditionally garnished with pomegranate seeds and served cold.
image by SAFRANBOLU BAKLAVASI (Karabük) - lezzetler.com
Turkish Baklava: Turkish baklava, made of layers of phyllo dough, is filled with pistachios or walnuts and sweetened with sugar syrup or honey. Several sheets are layered on each other, with chopped nuts in between. Next, the baklava is baked until golden brown and crispy, and syrup of boiling sugar and water is poured over, allowing it to soak into the layers of pastry and nuts.
Turkish Delight: Turkish Delight, also known as lokum, is a sweet confectionary that originated in Turkey and is now widespread worldwide. Sugar and cornstarch are mixed with water and heated over low heat until the sugar dissolves and thickens. Once set, the Turkish Delight is cut into small cubes, dusted with more corn-starch to prevent them from sticking together, and sometimes coated in powdered sugar or coconut flakes. The result is a sweet, chewy, and aromatic candy often enjoyed with tea or coffee.
Revani: To make Revani, the semolina flour is mixed with sugar, eggs, and yoghurt or milk until a smooth batter is formed. The mixture is then poured into a greased baking dish and baked in the oven until golden brown. While the Revani is baking, the syrup is prepared by boiling sugar and water. Lemon juice is added for flavour. This is poured over the top with chopped nuts or coconut flakes.
Kunufe: Kunefe (also spelt künefe or kanafeh) is a popular Turkish dessert made of shredded phyllo dough (kadayif) stuffed with cheese, baked until crispy, and then soaked in a sweet syrup flavoured with rosewater. To make kunefe, the shredded phyllo dough is mixed with melted butter or oil and pressed into a baking dish. A layer of crumbled cheese is added on top of the phyllo dough layer, and another layer of shredded dough is added to cover the cheese. The kunefe is baked until golden brown and crispy. The syrup is prepared by boiling sugar, water, and rosewater. This is poured immediately over the dessert, which is then served hot with clotted cream or ice cream.
Visiting Turkey During Eid Celebrations
Your Turkish festival experience will depend on where you are going. In holiday resorts on Turkey's Aegean and Mediterranean coasts, life continues as usual in the bars, restaurants and hotels. Unless you know what to look for, you might not even realise it is Seker Bayram. However, if you live in Turkey as an expat or have close Turkish friends who are Muslim, the Sugar Bayram holiday will be more evident.
Have a bowl of sweets and some lemon cologne for the kids that will knock on your door. Also, expect places like banks and public offices to close for three days. If you would like to wish your Turkish friends and neighbours a good sugar holiday, say Mübarek Olsun, which means "May Your Feast Be Blessed", or the term used across the world is also Eid Mubarak, which means blessed Eid festival.
More About Festivals and Customs in Turkey
Timeless Traditions of Turkey: Timeless traditions are cultural practices, beliefs, or customs passed down from generation to generation and have stood the test of time. These traditions in Turkey often hold significant meaning and value to connect individuals to their cultural roots.
Aspects of Turkish Culture: To summarise Turkish traditions in one article is impossible because the diversity of heritage across the country varies. However, some traditions are strong fast across Turkey and alongside the Seker Bayram, will continue for generations to come.