If you are wondering how Ramazan in Fethiye will affect your holiday, then this guide will tell you all about what happens during the holy month in this particular corner of Turkey.
Each year, Muslims in Turkey and all over the world begin a month of fasting during daylight hours; the holy month of Ramazan (the Turkish word for Ramadan) is upon us and it’s a very special time in the Muslim calendar as it marks the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. As it follows a lunar calendar, Ramazan falls 11 days earlier each Gregorian calendar year, meaning there will inevitably be a block of years where Muslims in Turkey and in other hot countries are going to have a pretty tough time of it as they fast – and work – through the hot summer months.
The hot summer months are also when most tourists descend upon the Turkish coastline for their annual holidays. Of course, Fethiye is visited year round by people from all over the world so it could be that, whatever time of year you are here, you are in town during Ramazan.
How will Ramazan in Fethiye affect your holiday?
Well, put simply; it won’t affect it at all – especially if it’s summer and you are heading to the bigger resorts of Ölüdeniz, Hisarönü and Çalış. There are more clues in Fethiye itself but, even then, you have to look for them.
Not every Turkish person in the Fethiye region will be fasting during Ramazan. Some of our Turkish friends are not religious at all and don’t observe any type of fasting. Other friends will choose to give something up – usually alcohol or cigarettes – for the duration of Ramazan. And then we have other friends who will be observing the fasting hours in strict fashion. Although in summer, some might take in a drink of water occasionally, as they work through the day.
In Fethiye, it can be easy to forget that we are in the month of Ramazan – so below are a few clues for you to look out for – and a couple of things we try to bear in mind during this holy month…
Spare a thought for your waiter!
Just because it’s Ramazan, the Fethiye area does not close for business! The summer tourist season, in particular, is very important to the economy of Fethiye and, during these months, the weather is scorching, the days are long and hotels and restaurants are packed, meaning staff are extra busy. Some of these staff may also be fasting!
So, if your favourite – usually sprightly – waiter looks a little vague and lethargic in the daytime, cut him or her some slack. They’ll be back to their usual self after sunset, once they have eaten. During the winter months, days are obviously shorter and cooler, so, in theory, their fasting period should be slightly less painful and you might not even notice any difference.
Listen for the morning drums and the evening ‘BANG!’
Depending on whether the local belediye (council) have okayed it or not, just before dawn, drummers will walk around the streets of Fethiye, beating a steady rhythm to wake people up so families can eat and drink together before sunrise. Of course, these days, people are perfectly capable of waking themselves up with an alarm clock but the drums are a tradition; a symbol of Ramazan.
As the sun dips below the horizon and the sky darkens, the call to prayer will sound from the minarets of Fethiye. Those who are fasting will wait for the cannon (it’s actually not a cannon but it sounds like one) to boom from the hillside behind the castle as well as from other high hillsides in the area. This practice has also been stopped in the past but was brought back due to popular demand. Muslim or not, it seems we all love to hear the Iftar bang in Fethiye.
Now it’s Iftar
Iftar is breaking the fast. As you can imagine, once the sun has set and the ‘cannon’ has boomed, people are very hungry and thirsty! It’s a flurry of activity at this time. Whilst some families will eat together at home, these days, more and more Fethiye locals are choosing to head to the local restaurants. You may notice a few tables (particularly in the centre of Fethiye) reserved and set up for people taking up this option where they usually eat from a set Iftar menu. Lokanatas will also be geared up for feeding and watering local workers.
Whatever the time of year, if we’re eating out in the centre of Fethiye during Ramazan, we tend to eat before sunset or we leave it until after the initial Iftar rush.
Take care on the roads!
As the end of daylight hours approaches, people are in big rush to get to whichever eating station they have chosen. Keep an eye out at this time and be road-aware. The traffic can get speedy and wayward as hungry and thirsty drivers have Iftar on their mind. Expect impatient beeping of horns (more so than the norm), especially at traffic lights.
Enjoy the Ramazan pide bread
If you are on a self-catering holiday or you have come to stay in your own place for a while, special Ramazan pide bread is sold at the local bakeries around Fethiye. We love this bread and like to join the sunset queues to buy it fresh and hot from the oven. We make the most of it at this time of year!
Look out for the minarets
During Ramazan, the minarets that point skywards from the mosques of Fethiye are often lit up with multi-coloured neon lights. This is no gaudy light show; it’s all very subtle and just one of the gentle reminders (for us) that we are still in the holy month of Ramazan.
Ramazan events around Fethiye
Ramazan is a time for praying, reflection and also encourages acts of charity and generosity. Iftar dinners and evening times are also a time of joy in Turkey, and, in Fethiye, and other towns around Turkey, there is an Iftar Çadırı (Iftar tent) for serving food to people; often the needy or guests in town. Weather permitting, some neighbourhoods will all eat together out in the streets and share their meals between everyone. If you’re staying in the area, you might even be invited to join your neighbours.
In some years, the belediye (Fethiye council) will organise a programme of events for various nights throughout Ramazan. Everyone is invited and it’s all free to attend. In the past, we’ve even been able to witness the Sema ceremony of the Whirling Dervishes (the Konya Mevlevi Order) as part of these events.
We often concentrate on the fasting element to Ramazan in Fethiye but there is so much more to this time of year. Hopefully, you will be able to catch glimpses of this at this time of year in the area. Although the situation will be different in other parts of Turkey, in the summer months, the coastal holiday resorts of Turkey will certainly remain in full summer holiday flow throughout the holy month.
And Ramazan in Fethiye is no different. Shops, bars, restaurants and beaches operate as normal. In winter, as Fethiye life returns to a more relaxed pace, the Ramazan clues might just be a little more visible to you…
Wishing a happy and peaceful Ramazan to all!