Our Blog

Iyi Bayramlar! Happy Sugar Festival in Turkey!

Today marks the end of Ramadan, the 30 day fasting period in the Muslim calendar, during which Muslims refrain from consuming food and drink between sunrise and sunset.

Seker Bayrami, the sugar festival, is the 3 day festival following Ramadan, which focuses on all things sweet. Baklava, Turkish Delight, boiled sweets, the works! Sweet shops are open around the clock, all shops and hotels offer their guests and visitors chocolate or sweets, basically, everyone is buzzing around Turkey on a sugar high!

Family is really important during this time, and, like Christmas, Turkish families dress in their finest and spend time with family and friends.

In 2010 I stayed with my good friends Adem and Sheryl and their daughter Kassia in Selcuk during Seker Bayrami. After a light breakfast we all piled into their small car with Baba Anne and Dede as well (Grandpa and Grandma), to visit their extended family and old friends, scattered around the town of Selcuk – near Ephesus.

Little did I know what I was in for! At each house, we were welcomed with a very complicated kissing ritual which changes depending on the level of respect and the persons age. The one I could never quite master was the one reserved for the elders, where you must kiss a person’s right hand, and then place your forehead to that hand). This ritual was then followed by questions of who I was, why I spoke Turkish, and was I married? Funny how everyone seemed to have an eligible son!

And then came the baklava. Not one piece, but two or three home-made, syrupy squares of delicious pistachio crumble layered with flaky, buttery pastry. I devoured them, washed down with strong black tea (with one sugar in each). The elders and children pressed chocolates in coloured foil into my hands as I was leaving. I have a sweet tooth – I was in my element.

The second house visit was the same, the kissing ritual, the questions, baclava, tea and chocolate. By the third or fourth house, I tried refusing the plate of baklava, but found this only led to more chocolate or more questions. I grinned and bared it, and at days end, Sheryl and I think we counted at least 12 pieces of baklava each, 5 cups of sugary, black tea, and a handful of chocolates. I was seeing spots and struggled to speak!!!

Adem’s evening wishes rang true with me that night – Baklavali Riyali – good night and may you dream of baklava. Needless to say I didn’t touch baklava for a few weeks after that!

May I wish all Turks and Muslims around the world Iyi Bayramlar or Happy Eid! For those who don’t fall into this category, may I suggest you treat yourself to a piece (or 12) of delicious baklava?