We are currently celebrating Şeker Bayram (Sugar Holiday) in Turkey. Şeker Bayram is a three day holiday signifying the end of Ramadan and the end of the daily fast.
The holiday reminds me of some of our American and Christian holidays. First, it reminds me of Christmas. About a week ago, I was told that we needed to clean the house and not just like our normal cleaning. I looked at my husband and asked, “Do you mean we need to clean the house as if it were Christmas?” He looked at me, with a dead-serious note in his eye, and said, “Yes.” So off I went, pretending to do a thorough cleaning while actually just enjoying some music as I dusted off the top layers.
Şeker Bayram also reminds me of Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter because of the amount of food that was prepared. I actually got a break from this. But family members were busy baking sweets in preparation of visitors. We also started the holiday with a large family breakfast at my house. This normally would have been at my mother-in-law’s place. But she delightfully prepared the food and brought it to us. I did get to use my fancy china, which is always fun.
During the three days, you are expected to visit all of your friends and family. On the first day, it is tradition to visit your older family members, grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, etc. On the following days, you visit friends, and others come to visit you. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we are unable to visit others this year. But we have already received many visitors and are enjoying the time with others.
Finally, I expected Şeker Bayram to remind me of Halloween. But sadly, traditions have changed. I was told that young children in the neighborhood will come knocking on our door looking for candy. My husband prepared by shopping for his childhood favorites. We have a big bowl sitting by the door, filled with colorfully wrapped chocolates, and a few Snickers bars. But having been out of the country for 10 years, my husband didn’t know that this tradition has died down. I guess fear struck here as everywhere else. Parents are being more protective than they needed to be in the past. If there were little ones in our family, I assume they would still come. They would kiss my hand and raise it to their foreheads as a sign of respect to the “elderly.” This is something they would do anyway. But at Şekir Bayram, this action is accompanied by the expectation of candy and money! I was prepared to hand out a couple of lira to each. But my husband told me they would expect at least a 5 lira bill! Wow, I am old.
This holiday coincides this year with the beginning of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. A couple of days ago, a Jewish friend of mine wrote that he hopes the Lord writes me and my husband into his Book of Life for the coming year. I had no idea what he meant by that. (This particular friend is always teaching me something new, even when he doesn’t realize it.) I immediately turned to the internet. I learned that in the Jewish faith, they believe that on the first of each year, God opens two books, the Book of Life and the Book of Death. On that day, He writes the names of all of His children in one of those books. The books signify Heaven and Hell. If I understand it correctly, the names will remain in the book until the next year. So if your name is written in the wrong book, you have a chance to redeem yourself during the coming year and have your name entered in the right book the following year. Of course, during that year, one would need to steer clear of traffic, illness, black cats, falling anvils, Detroit, and the like. Just kidding. I may not have a full grasp on this. But I loved receiving that email from my dear friend. Such beautiful saying, “May you be entered into the Book of Life.”
In this time of so much religous and political unrest in this world, it heartens me to recognize that the world’s religions have so much more in common than not. They are based on love and caring for one another.
I wish my Muslim friends an Iyi Bayramlar and a Happy Eid. I wish my Jewish friends shana tova umetukah for a good and sweet year. And to all of my friends, Christian and Atheists, Muslims and Jews, Buddhists and all others, I pray that God enter you into his Book of Life.