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Sacrifice Feast in Turkey

The Sacrifice Feast is an important religious holiday for Muslims.

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The Sacrifice Feast is an important religious holiday for Muslims. As most of the people in Turkey are Muslims, the Sacrifice Feast is a national holiday. The feast lasts four and a half days. The Sacrifice Feast eve (arife) is the half day to prepare for the four day festivities. The Sacrifice Feast is all about charity, community peace and tolerance.

During this holiday people in Turkey are constantly on the move visiting family and friends. Many people reserve the first day of the feast for visiting their closest relatives. Young people greet the older by kissing their hand as a sign of respect. Some people in Turkey use the holiday to go on a vacation. In 2017 the holidays for the Sacrifice Feast last ten days because it combines with the public holiday on August 30, Victory Day.

Typically a ram (or another animal) is sacrificed. In recent years, some Turkish people started making donations to charity organizations instead of sacrificing animals. Many people in Turkey take special care to help the poor during the Sacrifice Feast.

The Sacrifice Feast takes place about 70 days after the end of Ramadan; every year the date is about 10 days earlier. The exact dates are determined using the Islamic calendar, whose months begin with the first sighting of a new moon.  The feast commemorates the prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to show his faith to Allah, until an angel stops him bringing a ram to sacrifice instead. You can find essentially the same story in the Old Testament.

What do people do on Sacrifice Feast?

Usually Muslims sacrifice an animal, but as mentioned above a growing number of people donate to charity instead. The meat is also donated to the poor or to charity organisations for people in need all over the world.

The Sacrifice Feast is typically about community, family and friends. People visit each other all over the country and sometimes travel a great distance to do so. Usually the first day of the Feast the traffic between cities is jammed. The same goes for when people travel back home after the holidays.

This year the holidays are from Monday, August 28th till Monday, September 4th. It’s good to know that public transport may run less frequently and that the highways may be overcrowded. Because the beginning of the Sacrifice Feast coincides with the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, the hajj, both domestic and international travel in Turkey may be intense during this period.

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