Şeker Bayramı is a religious holiday following the month of fasting, Ramadan, during which nothing is consumed between sunrise and sunset. Like many holidays, Ramadan also serves as an opportunity to solve problems and disputes between people. However, and especially for children, it is another dimension of the holiday that dominates the three-day celebrations. To refuse an offer of sweets during the traditional visits that take place during these three days is considered inappropriate. For many, especially children, the anticipation of sweets makes the wait for Şeker Bayramı particularly difficult. It’s also traditional for elders to give pocket money to the children.
On the first day of Şeker Bayramı, everybody wakes up early and the men go to the mosque for a special Bayram prayer. After returning from the mosque, the family members dress up in their best clothes, and then follow the important tradition – the Bayram visits.
The customary home visits tend to be rather short due to the high number of visitors, and are usually accompanied by chocolates, sherbet (a sweet drink served in miniature glasses), and most importantly of all, traditional lokum, also known as Turkish Delight.
Lokum is a confection made from starch and sugar. It has a soft, sticky texture and is often shaped into small cubes and dusted with icing sugar to prevent sticking. Turkish Delight is probably the first sweet that comes to mind in relation to Turkey. It is also part of the cultural heritage that has been passed down from the Ottoman times, as well as being a typical gift that travellers return home with after visiting Turkey.
According to legend, the story of the creation of lokum began in 1777 when Ali Muhiddin Haci Bekir, confectioner of the imperial court in Istanbul, received a demand from the sultan for a soft sweetmeat after he had cracked a tooth on a hard sweet. The creation made Haci Bekir’s name famous throughout the empire, and the name of the sweet delicacy remains the same until today.
If you visit your Turkish friends during this celebration, a box of sweets or chocolate would be the most appropriate gift to give to them. The phrase for wishing your Turkish friends a happy holiday is ”Iyi Bayramlar” (ee-yee-by-rahm-lahr), which means literally ”good festivals” or ”Seker bayraminiz mubarek olsun”
Article taken by Burcu from The Sunny Times magazine