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.
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.
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.
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?