Monday, November 15, 2010


Kurban Bayram, a major holiday throughout the Muslim world, begins today in Turkey. It celebrates the willingness of Abraham to sacrifice his son at god's command. The primary feature, in our minds, is the slaughter of thousands (and thousands) of sheep in remembrance of god's last minute substitution. So far, similar to Thanksgiving, except bigger animals feature in the feast. Every observant family that can afford to do so will sacrifice a sheep or cow. From what we understand, one third of the meat is kept for the family, one third is given to friends and neighbors, and one third is given to the poor. Apparently, we have front row seats. The parking garage next to our studios is going to serve as the neighborhood slaughterhouse. Most of Istanbul will be closed for the rest of the week. We were in the Grand Bazaar yesterday and were surprised to learn that it, too, would be closed for the week. Considering the deeply engrained mercantile history of this city (even the Emperors would trade on the side) this piece of news drove home the significance of Bayram. When, in the US, do malls close for more than a day or two for any holiday? More on Kurban Bayram soon.

The photos today are from another holiday, Republic Day, which was celebrated at the end of October. Very like the 4th of July, it is a one-day national holiday with fireworks and flags. We loved the thousands of banners/flags that popped up over the squares and long stretches of streets, creating tunnels of fluttering color and Atatürk faces. 

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