Kurban Bayram – A Look Back at Day One

We know many of the goats and sheep of Turkey are sacrificed during Kurban Bayramı but we’ve never really noticed any of this happening – until yesterday. Maybe we’ve never been out and about in the morning of the first day of the festival. Yesterday, however, we were out and about as we went up to the otogar (bus station) to meet a couple of friends off the Ankara bus.

There was hardly any traffic on the roads – it’s a holiday and most families spend the day together at home – but in the space of 20 minutes or so, we did see three pick-up trucks carrying sheep. As we walked our friends to where they were staying, we saw a sheep being led across the car park…and as we were walking home, we saw that same sheep in the family garden and the man of the house approaching with a rather large blade. I’m not squeamish but it was early! I think we were both grateful for the bushes obscuring our view.

Kurban Bayram Sheep in Fethiye

The sheep and goats of Turkey

Later on in the day, we were all in the centre of Fethiye together and again we saw a pick-up truck. Except this time, it was carrying a whole load of sheep and goat skins – what was once inside the skins was no doubt roasting merrily away in people’s ovens. The same pick-up truck has gone down our street this morning, collecting more skins.

In Fethiye at least, Kurban Bayramı is not just about sheep and goats. It’s a time for family and (for the younger generation) friends to be together. Many families will spend the day together, all wearing their brand new Bayram outfits, just as we do on Christmas Day. And, just as we do on Christmas Day, the younger members of the family will stay around for a while and then make their polite excuses and head out to be with friends.

And so it was at Deep Blue Bar last night. We were in there early and there wasn’t a sole around. Two hours later and you couldn’t move. ‘Iyi Bayramlar,’ (Happy Festival) we said to different friends as they streamed into the bar. ‘What have you done today?’
‘Oh you know – family.’

That was the standard reply and I know if we ask the same question again today, the reply will be much the same. Why? Because, just like we do on Boxing Day at Christmas, most people in Fethiye will be going off to visit the homes of aunts, uncles and any other relatives they didn’t see yesterday, to wish them Iyi Bayramlar…and no doubt, later on tonight, Deep Blue and the other bars of Fethiye will be packed again with the same friends, polite excuses made and good deeds of the day accomplished.

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  1. The roads in Istanbul were packed with folks heading here or there to visit family and we joined in the fun – only visiting Turkish friends. A very special holiday for Turks.

  2. The roads were eerily quiet here in Fethiye – apart from the sheep transportation, that is. Maybe everyone was already at their family home.

  3. Iyi Bayramlar!! Did I say that right? 🙂

  4. Yes you did Kimberly. Thanks a lot. 🙂

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