The 30-day fasting period of Ramadan is normally followed by a three day celebration. And what celebration could be complete without a feast? The festivities begin with a morning prayer that is held at almost every mosque, among family and friends, followed by a festival that is held at most municipalities.
Families will begin with a big traditional breakfast with sujuk and cream from Afyon, cheese from Erzincan, olives from Bursa, tomatoes from Canakkale, handmade pastry and freshly brewed tea from Rize, all staples in almost every Turkish household. A table fit for a king.
The family will unite, with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins all coming together for the meal. Children don new clothes that have been hanging behind the door with shiny new shoes, along with an extended smile. Their only concern is the difficult decision of which rainbow colored candy to select from the bowl at grandma's, once the traditional customary greetings have finished.
Pockets filled with candy and money squeezed into tiny palms by aunts and uncles will prepare them for the carnivals and festivals that are to follow.
Many schools arrange a mini-festival on school grounds to celebrate the end of Ramadan.
Vibrant decorations using papiermâché, multicolored paint, texta, crayon and all things arts and crafts, with more paint on school uniforms than on the decoration itself, will swing home in the hands of the artist, proudly displaying their talent. Mini show bags and missed prizes will be the talk on the dinner table.
Sultanahmet has, in the past, been the center for Ramadan entertainment. A traditional bazaar decorated with fairy lights illuminated the summer evenings with stalls selling traditional foods, handmade gifts and traditional crafts. This year's Ramadan activities were extensive. Iftar was offered at most municipalities, followed by light entertainment such as puppet shows, concerts, theatrical shows and movie screening in places such as Maltepe, Ortakoy and Sultanahmet, to name a few.
To enable loved ones to reach their families, (Istanbul Electricity Tramway and Tunnel) IETT will be offering a 50 percent discount on all public transport. Furthermore, the bridges that connect the Asian side of Turkey to Europe will be open to riders toll free. Traditionally festivals organized by each municipality run for three days. The Ottoman Military band begin and end the festival wearing their grand costume. Everything from cotton candy to rides and show bags normally fill the air with joy and laughter creating long lasting memories. This year however, as a result of the tragic events in Palestine and Gaza, all festivals will be cancelled. Celebrating while children die and families are torn apart isn't appropriate.