The 30-day Islamic holy
month of Ramazan (RAH-mah-zahn,
called Ramadan in
other countries) is a time of fasting,
prayer and celebration. (Here
are Ramazan dates.) It
can also affect
your travel plans.
Fasting means letting
nothing pass the lips: no
drink, chewing gum, tobacco smoke
or, for the strictly observant, not
even licking an envelope from sunrise to sunset. Observant
Muslims also refrain from sexual intercourse
during daylight in the holy month.
Muslims, whether strictly observant
or not, use the holy month and
the stricture of fasting to help
them examine their lives,
to remind themselves of virtues like
charity, compassion and forgiveness,
and to avoid vices like cupidity,
selfishness and dishonesty.
Turks fast from sunrise to
sunset during Ramazan. Restaurants
are less busy at lunch, and
there's even less Turkish
tea in evidence—which
you're in Turkey during Ramazan,
it's polite to refrain
from eating and drinking in public during
daylight hours. Rather, do it inside
a restaurant, tea house, cafe (some
of which will be operating, except
or other private or semi-private
restaurant and cafe staff, who
may be fasting themselves, will
understand if you are non-Muslim
and will be happy
to serve you. Some eateries may
with curtains so as not to distract
those fasting by the sight of others
Ramazan is also a time of celebration,
and after sunset the feasting begins with
a ceremonial "break-fast" light meal called Iftar.
always includes freshly-baked flat pide bread,
and usually soup, pickled vegetables, olives and
other easily-prepared edibles. Elaborate dinners
are held later in the evening.
of colored lights festoon trees and
buildings, mosques are illuminated and
crowded with worshippers.
atmosphere prevails with
temporary booths selling religious
books and paraphernalia, traditional
snacks and stuff for the kids.
the middle of the night drummers circulate
through towns and villages to wake
sleepers so they can prepare Sahur, the
meal to be
eaten before the fast begins
again at sunrise. They tend to make
their noise around 02:30 and 03:00
am, and they make sure everyone hears
them. If you don't want to awaken,
have earplugs, close your hotel room
windows, or both.
restaurants offer special banquet-like
Ramazan menus at night.
restaurants which normally serve alcoholic
beverages may refrain from
doing so during the holy month,
fruit juices and other drinks instead.
It would be polite for you to observe
this stricture if you are in an
establishment where others are
alcohol. (In some restaurants,
alcohol service may resume after
main meal is largely concluded.)
are welcome and usually
invited to join in the evening
celebrations, which are great
Enjoy this special time!
are the dates
for Ramazan, and here
is how the holy month may affect
your travel plans.
is followed by the three-day holiday
(Şeker) Bayramı. More...
—by Tom Brosnahan