The following artcile was first published on KTLN in 2018
Holidaymakers in Kalkan sometimes complain that all the wonderful meals they have eaten during their holiday can add a few centimetres to their waistline.
Well if you are in Turkey at Şeker Bayram time keeping trim may be even more of a challenge, as you will be here during sugar festival when everyone is eating and offering sweets and chocolates.
Şeker (Shek-er) Bayram (sugar festival in English) is one of the most enjoyable holidays in the Muslim calendar. Celebrated by Muslims at the end of Ramazan, the fasting month, it lasts three and a half days.
In Turkey it is a national religious holiday. If you are planning to travel, the roads and transport are usually extra busy. Government offices and banks close for the duration of the holiday.
After the hardships of Ramazan when the devout will have fasted from sunrise to sunset without so much as a sip of water to quench their thirst, Şeker Bayram is a time for celebration, for giving gifts and spending time with family and friends.
Children are bought new clothes which they wear on the first day of the festival and on that day small children will go to neighbouring houses for small gifts of sweets.
If you see any children around during Bayram you can offer them sweets and say "Iyi Bayramlar" - literally, happy (good) Bayram.
Prior to the festival in the shops in Kalkan you will see lots of boxes of chocolates, large packets of sweets and Turkish delight on sale.
Buying sweet things to have in the home during the sugar festival is very important and they will be given as gifts to friends, neighbours and family.
Turkish women (few Turkish men help with housework) will ensure that the home is especially clean and will spend several days before the festival begins preparing for the holiday.
The first day of Şeker Bayram is the most important. This is when the Bayram visits start and who is visited when is rarely a matter of choice but of custom and tradition. Young people must first visit their elder family members, then if they no longer live at home, close family. Then they can visit their own friends and neighbours.
Traffic on the first day of Bayram is very heavy and it is important to take extra care if driving. Unfortunately there is often an increase in road traffic accidents at this time.
Bayram visits are usually short, about fifteen minutes and only tea and coffee, cold drinks and sweets and chocolate are offered to visitors. Children are given small gifts of money by those that they visit or who visit them.
It is also customary at this time to tip those who regularly perform services for you. Gardeners, pool cleaners, cleaners, even the local dustmen will all appreciate a monetary gift.
If you are anywhere near the cemetry in Kalkan or other villages you will see that there are lots of visitors to the graves. Visits begin just prior to the festival and will continue for the three following days.
Graves are tidied, the area cleaned and swept and often, there is even a picnic at the graveside to include even deceased family members in the celebrations.
You don't have to be a Muslim to participate in and enjoy this festival. Keep some chocolates or sweets to hand out as gifts and if you are offered sweets or chocolates, always accept - you don't have to eat them on the spot - but turning down the gift would be considered rather rude, even if you are on a diet.
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