Hi! Remember me? I used to post here about politics and travel. Turns out, travelling by sailboat can be quite time consuming. I have just managed to maintain my other blog, Red Sky at Night, aimed at other sailors, as Crew and I visit 60 to 70 ports each season.
We are now spending our third consecutive winter in Turkey and continue to find it both delightful and surprising. Western Turkey, where we live, is modern with excellent roads, good telecoms, very good healthcare with universal coverage and the best (and most) produce I have seen anywhere. But lets talk about Christmas.
Although Turkey is now 99.8% Muslim, Istanbul is still the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church as it has been since the fourth century. There were churches and synagogues in this region long before the birth of Islam.
Christmas is not an official holiday in Turkey but New Years is. In fact it is the biggest non-religious holiday of the year. What does it look like? Here are three local grocery stores.
The sign “mutlu yillar” translates to “happy new year”.
Then there are the “Christmas fashions”.
Yes, it is warmer here than in Chicago.
I am not sure who buys these. It is certainly not anything you would see worn in public here.
The local shopping mall is beautifully decorated for the season.
And of course there is Santa Claus.
Saint Nikolas, is a local hero. He was born and lived in Myra, about 100 miles from here (Marmaris), in the fourth century. In Turkey, he makes an appearance on New Year’s Eve and brings presents to children.
What Christmas in Turkey does not have is two months of blatant commercialism, manic shopping, and bad music. These are things I do not miss.
And even the non-Chinese restaurants stay open.