Well here we are, on another New Year’s Eve, and it seems that 2015 has flown by. New Year’s Eve in Turkey is a big deal – tonight the streets and restaurants will be full of people celebrating, and families will also gather in their homes to celebrate together. There are also many customs and superstitions associated with it, and so I thought I would share these with you.
First of all, Turkey is a newcomer to the New Year’s Eve game. This is because we only adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1926, and so then Jan 1 became New Year’s Day, and a public holiday, which then made 31 December a significant day of the year. Because of this, New Year’s Eve in Turkey has many western influences.
If you are visiting Turkey at the end of the year you will see many things that are familiar – pine trees decorated with tinsel and lots of lights, and even some Santa Claus images in the streets. However, these are not for Christmas – they are for New Year. Many homes will also have a decorated “New Year’s Tree”.
On New Year’s Eve it is customary for families to get together and celebrate and in major cities there are elaborate fireworks displays.
Families will usually have a big dinner together, and often roast turkey is served, although it is cooked with distinctively Turkish flavours.
Most television stations have a special New Year’s Eve program, and families will often watch this together, and play games as they wait for midnight to roll around.
Turkish people also love to go out on New Year’s Eve, and you will find popular strolling areas in cities packed with people, and a carnival-like atmosphere in the streets. Restaurants will usually have a special dinner and live music program.
If you happen to be walking near clothes shops in the lead up to new year, you might be struck by the displays of red underwear. This is because red underwear is considered good luck, and is traditionally put on at midnight. Red underwear sales usually increase by 20% in the days leading up to New Year!
Some people also believe that if you smash a pomegranate or sprinkle salt on the doorstep of your home or office at midnight, this brings prosperity. Opening a padlock is also believed to bring prosperity. Others will turn on their taps and let the water run to bring abundance. Those who are seeking travel or journeys will take a short walk at midnight.
So, wherever in the world you are, “Yeni yiliniz, kutlu olsun”, “Happy New Year” to you.
If you are thinking of visiting Turkey and would like some obligation-free advice on your itinerary, you can contact me for advice.