Thursday, 16 December 2010

Christmas in Fethiye – Why We Choose To Be Here




Although we’ve had our home in Fethiye for seven years now, this will be only our fourth Christmas in Turkey. The Christmas period is not officially celebrated in Turkey but, particularly along the coastal areas, more and more Turkish people are embracing the festivities and buying Christmas trees and decorations for their homes. However, as this is Turkey, the vast majority of trees and decorations are erected not for the 25th December celebrations but to welcome in the New Year (Yıl Başı).

So why would two people who love Christmas want to spend the festive season in a country that doesn’t officially celebrate it? There are pros and cons to all choices but we feel the pros outweigh the cons.
Christmas Decorations in Fethiye
The Pros of Christmas in Fethiye
No seemingly endless build up to Christmas
We remember flying back to England for the winter a few years ago. It was mid October, we were still in our summer clothes (and the summer spirit) and we touched down at Manchester Airport. I could have cried when we entered the main terminal and were greeted with glittery Christmas decorations and a huge Christmas tree.

In Fethiye, there are no constant advertisements for the next (usually unavailable unless your name has been on the waiting list since the Christmas before) must-have toy, game or gadget.

In Fethiye, there are no Christmas departments in the supermarkets – yes, there are Christmas trees and decorations for sale now, but they haven’t been there since the end of September, and there certainly aren’t thousands of boxes of Christmas cards, mince pies, biscuits, chocolates and nuts being thrown at you as 3 for 2 offers. We fell for all of this when we were in Britain, ate about a tenth of it and threw the rest away.
Christmas Decorations in Fethiye
It’s cheaper!
No tickets to buy for the work Christmas meal…followed by the work Christmas do …which means you need to buy new Christmas clothes for the do…and then you decide you can’t wear the same outfit twice in front of the same people…and, as it’s Christmas and you’re feeling festive, you buy the glittery clothes that you’re never going to wear again.

No taxi queues or extra fares or phoning up a week in advance to make sure your taxi home is definitely booked.

Christmas food – yes, the turkey. BUT, it was also always nuts, dried fruit, sprouts and tangerines in our house as I was growing up. They all still mean ‘Christmas’ to me. What I never knew as a child was that that is because most of those foods are seasonal. The Fethiye markets are brimming with citrus fruits (and festive citric aromas) and nuts of many varieties at the moment...and sprouts. At 36, we're just learning to like them. 

It's up to us
WE choose when our Christmas starts. WE can turn the Christmas music on and WE can turn it off when we’re sick of it. (Muppets Christmas is playing at the moment so that can stay on.)

Christmas Day will be spent exactly as we want it to be – we’ll do something to make it special, but, to be honest, we’ve not even really thought about this Christmas Day yet. Why? Because it’s only the 16th of December. IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS YET. We don’t have to order the turkey and stock up as if the shops are going to be closed for a month. Christmas Day is not a holiday in Turkey. We can go to the shops if we run out of milk. We can even buy our meat from the butcher on Christmas morning if we want!

It's a bit different
We’ve completely embraced Turkish food (not difficult being that it’s so good) but on previous Christmas Days, when Turkish friends visit us, traditional Christmas mince pies it is! They eat them politely – very politely. Maybe they won’t be calling on us this year.
A Sparkly Christmas Card
The Cons of Christmas in Fethiye
Friends and family in Britain
When we chose to come to Turkey, that meant leaving friends and family behind in England so we do think about them over Christmas…but we will see a lot of them throughout the summer months.

We’ve only got three Christmas cards and they’ll probably be the only 3 we’ll get. It’s not really a con (we’ve only sent 2 so the extra one is a bonus!) but we had to have something to pad out this section.

I think that just about explains it.

How will you be spending Christmas this year? Are you a traditionalist or do you like to do something a bit different?

20 comments:

Boy...that is quite a change! Both places are pretty neat, from where I'm looking. =) Either way, hope you have a wonderful, splendid one!

Greatly enjoyed your post. On the same lines as my recent post about "taking the stress out of Christmas". In my home town the shopping centre car parks have been full from 9am each morning for several weeks now - it's not even worth going out!! Luckily I live opposite a shopping centre so the car can stay in the garage!

I like your pros! It sounds like my kind of holiday. We will be spending Christmas in the DR this year, so it will be quite a change. But I'm not big on Christmas, so it doesn't bother me not to have all the presents, stress and decorations. I will miss my family though!

Being in a place that doesn't commercialize the holidays sounds excellent! This year we'll be flying on Christmas day to start our long-term travels. It's a little different and will be the second time we've flown on the actual day!

You know what?! We flew from Turkey to England on the 11Th of September and there were Xmas cards on the shelves of Asda when we got home :-( I admit to being bah humbug although i do make an effort as we have a nine year old but if i had the chance id be in Turkey propping up a certain bar in Pasteur!!


Merry Xmas xx

I like the fact that it is cheaper. Tell everyone you can not buy Christmas cards as no where sells them. They still expect presents to be sent though.

Belinda, thanks. We will. And the same to you too.

John, I don't miss that one bit! :) I used to hate driving up and down the car park rows looking for a space, eyeing up the other drivers to see which direction they were going in.

Christy, Christmas in the DR sounds interesting. You'll certainly remember it. I miss my family too on Christmas Day.

Andrea, it is excellent! Wow, what better day to start off your long term travels? A fab Christmas present to yourselves!

Rob, I'm not surprised. My friend told me Asda were starting to do Christmas in September. It just means you get sick of Christmas before it's even started. Our local supermarket is just starting to put their Christmas/New Year stuff out.

Anonymous, a merry Christmas to you, too! :)

Natalie, my friend brought me loads of card making stuff over during the summer so that I could make my own cards. All very personal and a great idea - except time has run out and I didn't make a single one! Oops. Will have to make some for our friends here I think. :)

I have no family, so as you can imagine I prefer to spend Christmas somewhere where I notice it as little as possible. I'm in Turkey this year too and their Christmas efforts are endearing.

Merry Christmas to you! Feeling much the same - enjoying defining the Christmas season for ourselves and our two kids, but missing all that Christmas meant to us as "family" growing up and especially missing it for our two kids who won't be able to hang out and go crazy with all the cousins. But, as it is snowing outside of this little Istanbul cafe window as I write, this Christmas season has been a special one so far. Take care.

Well, hope you manage to have a good Christmas in Turkey Inka. :)

Aaron, Merry Christmas to you too. Hope the Christmas period continues to be a special one for you and your family. A little bit of snow always helps along the way! :)

I suddenly felt a bit sorry for the people in the UK. :)

Merry Christmas everyone. In advance ;)

I'm sure they'll survive Fatoş. They'll be partying the nights away, rushing round the shops, getting angry...! :)

I will hopefully spend my first ever Christmas in Turkey if the weather clears up enough for flights to operate
Christmas in Faralya then Ovacik then New Year at Seki
Please snow go away!

Great post! I'm in Laos for Christmas this year and I'm so happy to be able to avoid the months and months of holiday build up that happens back home. When I was in university I worked in a mall and we would decorate for Christmas the day after Halloween - it made for two long months of Santa!

Aberdeen Peanut - That sounds like the perfect Christmas. We've heard the ski resort at Seki is open now?

Amy - We feel like we have more of a meaningful Christmas because there is no build-up. Just a quiet day together. Visitors welcome. :)

Julia, I also read that it is open but there have been so many rumours in the past we will wait and see. I also read that the 8 bedroom hotel will open in a couple of weeks so sounds like my friend may have booked the whole place for New Year. Will let you know on my return. If I get out of snowy Aberdeen that is!

I think those rumours have been in existemce since we first came to Fethiye! :) All sounds interesting though - yeah, hope you manage to leave Aberdeen. We've (hopefully) got friends flying out for New Year!

Love that you're celebrating the differences. I\m in Cuenca Ecuador which is a very Catholic city so Christmas is big but still very different from home. Instead of thinking about what I'll be missing I'm trying to focus on the new experience.

Sure you'll enjoy it Ayngelina. Look forward to reading all about it soon.

kind of refreshing not to deal with all the expectation, right? sounds like you'll have a great relaxing one!

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