Althought Turkey is predominatly Muslim country with around 98% of Muslim population, there are still some western customs adopted and imbraced regading the celebrations in December. Christmas is officially not celebrated in Turkey, but considering a large amount of growing western tourists, they are trying in some way deliver a Christmas feeling with christmas trees, decorations, their variotion of Santa Claus, which is called Noel Baba. Christmas in Turkey is like any other day, but celebrating New Year’s Eve is completely different story.
New Year’s Eve is known as ‘Yılbaşı gecesi’ and is one of the biggest holidays in Turkey. Families come to gather and eat a meal together. A popular main dish is Turkey (But in Turkish, Turkeys – the bird – are known as ‘Hindi’ – which means ‘India’)!
December 31 became the last day of a calendar year in Turkey in 1926 when this country started using the Gregorian calendar. Turkey and the Ottoman Empire used a solar-based Islamic calendar (Rumi takvim) prior to 1926. New Year’s Eve became a popular holiday in Turkey after the Turkish parliament made January 1 (New Year’s Day) an official holiday in 1935. Turkey has borrowed many of New Year’s Eve traditions from western celebrations of Christmas and Thanksgiving during the 1920s and 1930s.
There are lots of special New Year’s Eve TV shows and just before midnight, there’s a big national lottery draw on TV. People will also play games after the meal, leading up to midnight. Bingo is a traditional game played on New Year’s Eve in Turkey.
At midnight there are large celebrations and lots of big firework displays.
Some people will exchange gifts for the new year. Getting some red underwear is not unusual as it’s thought that wearing red underwear at might on New Year’s Eve will mean you have a good next year!
Another traditions include:
–smashing pomegranate (ancient greek simboy of life) on the front door
–sprinkling salt on doorstep
–opening the tap on midnight and letting the water run, it is believed it will bring good abundance and good fortune
–unlocking a padlock at midnight to bring more money into your life
-for travel and adventure in the upcoming year, take a short walk at midnight