“Allahu akbar, allahu akbar!” Even people in the Netherlands are familiar with this phrase. Five times a day, the cities and villages of Turkey are dominated by the singing of a municipal official. From the top of the minaret, this man reminds the people that it is time for prayer. In small villages, also information about the food that is for sale at the ‘Pazar’, delicious watermelons from Adana for instance, stems from the same minarets. During the month of Ramadan, the announcement that people can eat again around 8:30pm is accompanied by a huge bang. This explosion is especially impressive in quiet villages and even Turkish people might still be shocked, when the silence gets disrupted.
"Even Turkish people might still be shocked"
The past month was ‘Ramazan’, ‘onbir ayın sultanı’, the eleventh month of the Islamic calendar, the Sultan of the months, the most important time of the year for Muslims worldwide. Traditionally, Muslims refrain from eating between sunrise and sunset in order to show their compassion with the poor. It means no food and no drinks during the day; but, in smaller towns and villages, it also means that some restaurants only start serving dinner at 8:30pm and, certainly, do not sell alcoholic beverages. For people that do not have a lot of money, the municipal government organizes huge banquets that are massively attended, causing separate waiting cues for men and women. However, Turkey is not solely inhabited by pious Muslims and these regulations do not exist in every place. Especially, in the bigger cities and touristic places like Antalya, you will have no problem finding a place to eat or drink a beer. Aside from the touristic places, also some Turkish people have a quite pragmatic approach to the days of ‘Ramazan’. After all, they still have to work, with temperatures around 30 or 40 degrees. Sometimes it is simply not possible to carry out your work without having a drink or something to eat.
Related to the eleventh month is an event that is celebrated by every one of the Turkish people: Bayram, the first three days after ‘Ramazan’, during which people may eat again during daytime. A time that might be compared to the celebration of Christmas in western countries. Just before Bayram, Turkey experiences a massive migration of people, as everyone travels to their families. Since family is at the heart of Turkish life, this time of the year is very important. Families get together, wish each other ‘Iyi bayramlar’, spend a lot of time together, and, of course, eat a lot of delicious foods.
The entrance to Arica Çiftlik Sencer and his parents in front of their restaurant at Duacıköy
I was invited to spend Bayram with the family of Sencer. His family has a restaurant at Duacıköy, close to Antalya. Its name: Arica Çiftlik (Arica Farm). They keep their own animals (chickens, rabbits, gooses) and grow their own vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, grapes, ‘semizotu’). One evening, there was a Turkish wedding at the farm. Like other weddings, Turkish weddings mean: lots of foods, drinks, and, of course, music. The musical repertoire mainly entails Turkish folk music and Turkish traditional dances, that are exhibited already during dinner. Without knowing anybody at the wedding, I was almost forced to put my feet up from the ground. Within seconds I was dancing amidst the wedding guests. In the traditional Turkish way, of course: holding your arms somewhat stretched to the sides, whilst snapping your fingers.
"No wonder the women at a Turkish wedding look so incredibly beautiful"
Traditionally, Turkish weddings are not solely the celebration of a new ‘husband and wife’, they also form the perfect occasions for young single men and women to find their future partner. No wonder the women at a Turkish wedding look so incredibly beautiful, whilst wearing the most elegant dresses. But, be careful: the male relatives of these women are watching you closely, and might not be all too happy with your efforts to capture their daughter’s or sister’s heart.
Ankaranın Bağları, probably the most famous and popular wedding song. Do not be surprised, when you hear this song seven times at one wedding feast