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Lesson Transcript

Ece: Merhaba! Welcome back to TurkishClass101.com. I’m Ece.
Gina: And I’m Gina! This is All-About, Lesson 9 -Top 5 Most Important Dates on the Turkish Calendar. There are some significant historical and religious days.
Ece: But compared to many other countries, the number is quite small, and we don’t usually go wild for celebrations.

Lesson focus

Gina: In this lesson, we’ll talk about five of them. There are four national days, two Islamic festivals, and four Christian festivals in total. Apart from these, there are some special days that don’t require a day off, and they are mostly international or local. Okay, let’s begin with a national day.
Ece: April 23 is the national holiday that I’d like to talk about most - it’s my favorite day of the year. It commemorates the sovereignty of the Turkish nation, and is celebrated as the Children’s Festival!
Gina: I’ve heard of this one, it’s celebrated around the world every year. So can you tell us what Turkish people do to celebrate?
Ece: For April 23, all nations and minorities in the world are officially invited to send a team of child dancers to Turkey. 40 countries are selected from the applicants. Teachers, designers, makeup artists, choreographers and mentors accompany the children. In total, there are thousands of guests.
Gina: Wow, where does such a big crowd stay?
Ece: Kids are distributed to the families of the host city, which is organized months in advance. And adults are placed at the hotels.
Gina: …But don’t the kids feel lonely being separated like that?
Ece: No, Turkish families take great care of them! Visiting kids make lifelong friendships with the host kids.
Gina: That’s a great contribution to world peace, bringing so many people together from all around the world for such a festival!
Ece: I agree! The guests spend around two weeks in Turkey, and are welcomed by the president, taken on many trips, and given a chance to introduce their cultures during many events.
Gina: Sounds like fun! And on the festival day?
Ece: All the teams perform a traditional dance from their countries, with their traditional music, costumes and makeup. The gala premiere is broadcasted live in many other countries as well!
Gina: That sounds like a grand and expensive production, and a very colorful international celebration!
Ece Well, all the expenses of the guests are covered by the Turkish government and the host families.
Gina: That’s what I call “hospitality”! Listeners, you can search for the past performances of the countries on the Internet with keywords like “April 23 Gala”. Okay, let’s continue with religious festivals now.
Ece: In Islam there are two festivals, and four holy nights. The first one is internationally known under the name ‘Eid-al Fitr.’ In Turkey we call it “Şeker Bayramı” or “Ramazan bayramı” meaning “Sweet festival” or \‘Ramadan bayram’. It is the three-day festival after the Holy Month of Ramadan, and the other is ‘Eid al Adha’ known in Turkish as “Kurban Bayramı”; “Feast of the Sacrifice”which is four days long.
Gina: I guess the Holy Month itself is like a whole month of celebration, right?
Ece: True, it’s like the Christmas of Christians. However, it is a month of worshipping too. During the Holy Month, young and healthy believers fast. Social charities are very active. Donors, communities, and municipalities offer public dinners every day. Rich people share a part of their annual profit with the needy ones. Traditional arts and music are performed in the recreation areas and parks. And some restaurants and bakeries are open 24 hours.
Gina: If it’s a 24/7 lively month like this, why do you need a festival afterwards?
Ece: The Ramadan Festival is seen as a blessing from God, as a present in return for people’s charity and worship during the month. So at the festival, people don’t work, but get dressed and visit their families, friends, and neighbors! And people offer traditional desserts and pastries to their guests, as well as chocolate and candies. The elders give pocket money and other gifts to the children..
Gina: Ah, how nice! Okay, now how about the other religious festival?
Ece: It’s the Feast of the Sacrifice. The faith of Islam advises wealthy people to butcher a sheep or another big farm animal, and then to distribute the meat to the people who are in need.
Gina: The sharing part is good, I understand, but how about animal rights?
Ece: It is definitely a sensitive issue that’s criticized by many, and remains controversial even today. There is a detailed explanation of the procedure in the Kur’an, the holy book of Islam.
Gina: Please tell us a bit about it now, and our listeners can find more details in the lesson notes.
Ece: Okay, for example you shall not cause pain or torture to the animal by any means. You shall not scare or stress it. Every year before this festival, religious authorities inform the public about the rules of butchering, including hygiene standards.
Gina: Historically, where does this festival come from?
Ece: The story of the Prophet Abraham and his son is common in all divine religions, and appears in the Old, New and Last Testaments. Visiting graves and people in hospitals, nursery homes, on military service, and in prison is especially important on this day.
Gina: Okay. What’s the other special day you want to tell us about in this lesson?
Ece: New Year’s Eve. The night which ties December 31 to January 1 is our celebration for the new year.
Gina: But I guess it’s slightly different from Western countries, no?
Ece: Well in Europe and the United States, new year’s is a continuation among the chain of many important dates like Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and Epiphany. For us, it just indicates the celebration of the arrival of a new year. But Christmas and other Christian festivals like Easter are celebrated in our churches, in Christian families, and in high schools that give European educations.
Gina: So how is the New Year’s Eve celebrated?
Ece: On that night, many people prefer to go out for a special dinner and then a party. They also come together in squares and public places, to listen to a concert and watch New Year’s fireworks.
Gina: Ah yes, the fireworks on the Bosphorus are especially spectacular, listeners!
Ece: That’s right. And the streets, shops and communal areas are mostly decorated. It’s quite common to see fancy pine trees in shopping centers and squares. And the New Year is another opportunity for people to exchange gifts.
Gina: The last festival is…
Ece: May 29, the anniversary of the Conquest of Istanbul.
Gina: Is it celebrated all over the country, or only in Istanbul?
Ece: The celebrations are a lot more widespread in Istanbul, with fireworks and decoration of the city, including the bridges of the Bosphorus, but it’s celebrated all over Turkey. That’s because the Conquest of Istanbul, or the Fall of Constantinople as known in Europe, is one of the greatest military events in European history.
Gina: What is the celebration like?
Ece: For a couple of weeks, international conferences and events on Ottoman History are held. Mehteran, the Ottoman Military Band, performs in squares. People go to the museums and mosques, and most importantly, our ancestors are cherished.
Gina: And every city celebrates its own conquest and salvation after World War I. Well listeners, that’s all for this lesson, but you can read more in the lesson notes.
Ece: And consider taking a trip to Turkey on one of those special dates, so that you can enjoy it even more!


Gina: See you next time, everyone!
Ece: Hoşça kalın!