Turkey is about to become one of the sweetest countries in the world. Today Turks celebrate the first day of Ramazan or Şeker (Sugar) Bayramı (Holiday, Feast), a three days long religious holiday, which marks the end of the Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting, with large amounts of şeker (sugar) and gratitute. With this occasion I wish all the Muslims ‘Ramazan Bayramınız Mübarek Olsun!’ (May your Bayram be blessed!)
The Arabic name of the Ramazan Bayramı is Eid ul-Fitr, Eid meaning “festivity” and Fitr “original nature”, referring to the restoration of one’s best human composition. In Turkey the term bayram is used not only for religious feasts but also for official national celebrations, as for example Zafer Bayramı (Victory Day) or Cumhuriyet Bayramı (Republic Day). For a Romanian the term can be confusing given that in my language, bayram (written as bairam) means party, without any religious or national connotation. The term was borrowed from Ottoman Turkish and embraced only its most ‘visible’ meaning, given that Romania’s main regions Moldavia, Wallachia, and Transylvania were under Ottoman suzerainty.
Ramazan Bayramı is the celebration of family and respect, unity and generosity. Fasting is forbidden in the first day of Bayram, therefore breakfast is a must. The celebration includes the Bayram prayer and obligatory charity acts, as required by the Koran. People must help their needy, poor fellows, while fundraising events are organized throughout the country. Moreover, the celebration cherishes the unity of the family. During Ramazan Bayramı people visit their older relatives, showing them respect by kissing their right hand and placing it on the forehead. Families come together and all the enmities are forgotten.
Therefore, Ramazan Bayramı is about charity, family and… sweets as its name, Şeker Bayramı (Sugar Feast) suggests us. Sugar Feast is the favourite celebration of children, who during the Bayram go door to door and wish people Ramazan Bayramınız mübarek olsun! (May your Bayram be blessed) or Mutlu Bayramlar! (Happy Bayram!) As a reward they receive many sweets, baklavas, Turkish delights and even small amounts of money. Even though the tradition of offering sweets might give us a hint regarding the origin of the name Şeker Bayramı, according to Murat Bardakçı ‘şeker’ comes actually from ‘şükür’ which means ‘gratitude’, ‘praise’ in Turkish and the confusion occured because in Ottoman Turkish the two words were written in the same way. Therefore Şeker Bayramı should have been Şükür Bayramı.
Even so we cannot deny the fact that Ramazan Bayramı is the sweetest Turkish celebration!