Monday, December 27, 2010

Do they celebrate Christmas in Turkey?

Most people are probably aware of that fact that the majority of the Turkish population are Muslims and that
their religion is Islam.
Likewise most people know, that Muslims do not have the same holidays, celebrations and
traditions as we have. Hardly surprising facts.

Still we often here in Alanya get the question: Do you celebrate Christmas in Alanya? At
first the answer seems logical because of course the Turks do not celebrate Christmas since they
are Muslims. And then again – the question might not be that stupid after all.

Take for example a trip to Alanya's main shopping center, Alanyum. Or go in Kipa, Alanya's
biggest grocery store. Here you will see Christmas decorations, elfs and Christmas tree all over the
And hey, look who’s also here. Isn´t it Santa Claus himself? Well, sure iss..... And apart from the fact that he
must be very hot in the Santa outfit sponsored by Coca-Cola, he is both overweight, have too
long a beard and is saying "ho ho ho". Just like when we meet him down at the local shopping mall at

This requires some explanation. First and foremost it includes dollars and cents. Christmas is
brought to Turkey by the major stores and supermarkets who have seen their chance to implement
this festive celebration. It gives extra sale and more visitors in the stores equals more business.

In Turkey Christmas is of course not celebrated as a religious holiday. It can in many ways be
comparable to Father's day, Mother's Day, Valentines Day and so on. All of these can also be
traced back to something that can bring more business and increase sale.

Of course there are some very natural differences to the way other Christian countries celebrate
Christmas. In Turkey there is no dancing around the Christmas tree and sing Christmas carols.
Just like Christmas cookies and socks over the fireplace aren´t a part of the tradition yet.
But we have Christmas trees and Santa Claus’ in Alanya. And gifts of course – not to forget.

And it might even pay of for you to celebrate Christmas in Turkey. A true Christmas tree in plastic
and everything and minimum 1,20 Meters tall can be purchased for only 3 Turkish Lira.
The fact that Santa will come on New Year's Eve instead of the 24th or 25th of December, is just something you will have to live with.
But a least we celebrate Christmas in Turkey!

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