April/Nisan ... Fun facts, historical events, holidays and more
April in Turkish is Nisan and is a pleasant month in Spring meaning "month of beginning" being the season when trees and flowers are opening. It is certainly a busy month in terms of historical events. Our blog today will touch on the Tulip Festival, Childrens Day and the National Sovereignty, Anzac Day, Ramadan, Easter and more.
ISTANBUL TULIP FESTIVAL is an annual event throughout April which began over 300 years ago. Teams of gardeners plant up to 30 million tulips to create a riot of colour across the province, with all parks, public spaces and even roundabouts becoming a colourful carpet of flora and offering the most beautiful places to walk and relax. Pre-covid times there were park performances arranged by the local authorities, concerts and exhibitions.
The Ottoman society simply adored tulips and Constantinople, as it was then known, became very famous for them from the late 15th century and "Tulip Fever" began spreading steadily West, taking in Vienna first and then the Netherlands along the way. So yes, the Netherlands are more famous for their tulips than Turkey these days, but it is believed that they originated on land somewhere near Northern China before being cultivated in the Ottoman Empire (and still are to this day) before being imported into Holland during the 16th century.
The tulip motif was so widely used in Ottoman culture you will see it everywhere even today on ceramics and art design, fountains, tombstones, money and even Our own company logo here at Select Properties. Tulips signify beauty, perfection and paradise and it is Turkeys national flower.
EASTER in 2021 falls on April 4th and while this holiday is not celebrated widely in Turkey, there are many Christian Turkish citizens who do celebrate Easter, being mostly the Orthodox Christians.
There are plenty of wonderful ways to mark this day with a lavish brunch or easter egg/sweet hunt for the kids.
Of course there is quite possibly one of the most special places in the World that Easter could be celebrated, being The House of the Virgin Mary which is located in the Ancient City of Ephesus. Ephesus has had a long tradition of being a central religious pilgrimage. This is a place of worship where St. Mary, Mother of Jesus, supposedly spent her last years of her life and where the Virgin Mary passed away.
Ephesus can be reached by car in approximately 3.45-4 hours from Fethiye area. It is in Turkeys central Aegean region near modern day Selcuk.
It's excavated remains reflect centuries of history, from classical Greek to the Roman Empire, which it was the Mediterranean's main commercial center to spread Christianity.
The archaeological remains are accessible to visitors today and the colossal ionic Temple of Artemis is one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
There is so much to see, including the Library of Celsus, an amphitheatre called the Odeon (largest in Anatolia with capacity of 25,000 seats), the whole ancient city is an overwhelming site because of its size. It includes Hadrian Temple, Hercules Gate, Fountain of Trajan, Curetes Street and of course the Agora (market square), Scholastica Baths, Latrines, Gates, Pillars, marble carvings, mosaic flooring (still visible today) and much more.
If staying in the area for a couple of days, you may also want to meander around the cobbled streets of nearby Sirince, located 12km outside of Ephesus on the top of a mountain with impressive wine yards. It is awash of Greek houses which takes you back in time, having kept their original characteristics and some are open to visitors with the best having a courtyard where you will discover a nicely restored Orthodox Church! Locals sell all kinds of hand crafted items and it is simply a charming and unspoilt gem that the average tourist misses. The village was once called "Cirkince (ugly)" as the villagers did not want to share the beauty of their village, but in time visitors understood that the village was far from ugly and called it "Sirince (pretty)"
During the entire month of RAMADAN, Muslims fast every day from dawn to sunset. It is a time of spiritual discipline; of deep contemplation of one's relationship with God, increased charity and generosity and for many, a time to distance themselves from the stresses and vices of daily life. It's a time of celebration and joy, to be spent with loved ones. Usually, everyone comes comes together for big meals, both family and friends with exchanges of presents and generally having a lovely time, but in the continued fight against Covid virus it was announced on 29th March that gatherings for sahur and iftar meals are strictly prohibited nationwide.
In 2021 Ramadan will start on Tuesday 13th April. It begins (and ends) with the appearance of a new moon phase. It will end on 13th May.
IMPORTANT notice: Due to Covid pandemic, additional measures will be taken during the holy month and all restaurants throughout Turkey will be closed for the whole of Ramadan. Only take away service will be available. This includes cafes, bars, coffee and tea houses and eateries.
During the whole month people refrain from food, drinks (including water), smoking, chewing gum and sexual activity from sunrise until sunset. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and sick are not expected to fast.
Traditionally, just before sunrise Ramadan Drummers do a wake-up call to warn people that if they still want to eat a meal before dawn, now is the time. This is less common in touristic areas along the coasts. The last meal before dawn is called sahur
As soon as the sunsets, and after prayer, people usually gather to enjoy their iftar. Iftar is the meal that breaks the fast and usually starts with a simple sip of water, followed by light fare like tender dates, sweetened milk, apricots, olives, cheeses, soup and flat breads. Other popular choices can be pistachios, turkish delight, cured meats and sucuk. Iftar is a full, multi course meal that begins light and then continues with several main courses, followed by desserts, coffee and fresh fruits.
At the end of Ramadan there’s a big three-day celebration called Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast and in Turkey it is called Seker (Sugar) Feast.
In Turkey it is spelt as Ramazan (rah-mah-zahn)
CHILDRENS DAY & NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY is another public holiday in Turkey, celebrated on the 23rd April.
It is the only holiday that is devoted to all the children in the World by the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
In any other normal year schools and institutions organise large public ceremonies with children showcasing their dancing skills, reciting poems, singing songs and the streets are full of children waving their flags. But these are far from normal circumstances and this year, just like last year, the streets will be quiet and schools closed.
The nation took to dressing up their balconies with home made flags in 2020, with celebrations at home. Public speaker systems played the national anthem calling upon families to continue to mark the day together and make a joyful celebration despite the isolations in place. The nation stood in unity and sang the national anthem during the evening at a pre-planned time.
National Sovereignty Day commemorates the foundation of the Grand Assembly of Turkey in 1920. The national council denounced the government of Ottoman Sultan Mehmed VI. A meeting in Ankara laid down the foundations of new, independent, secular and modern republic. During the next 8 years Ataturk and his followers adopted sweeping reforms to create a modern Turkey and in unprecedented moves he dedicated the day to the children and entrusted them as the successors of the future.
ANZAC DAY is Sunday the 25th April, being a national day of remembrance in Australia & New Zealand and is also an important event in Turkey.
There is a special dawn memorial service that takes place at Lone Pine to commemorate the fallen Anzac soldiers in Gallipoli during World War I. Thousands of young soldiers gave their lives in 1915 fighting for the Allied Forces against the Ottoman Empire in Turkeys Gallipoli peninsula.
In 1934 all the graves from the battlefields were consolidated into 33 cemeteries and marked by a reading of solidarity from Mustafa Kemal Ataturk which quoted "Johnnies and the Mehmets that lie side by side here in this country of Ours ... You, the Mothers who sent their Sons from faraway countries, wipe away your tears as your Sons are now lying in Our bosom and are in peace. After having lost their lives on this land, they have become Our Sons as well"
The Gallipoli campaign was an unsuccessful attempt by the Allied Powers to control the sea route from Europe to Russia. Initially there was a failed naval attack by British and French ships, which continued with a major land invasion on April 25th. It was the lack os intelligence and knowledge of the land and terrain, along with fierce Turkish resistance that hampered the invasion.
By the end of the campaign, more than 130,000 men had died; at least 87,000 Ottoman soldiers, 44,000 Allied soldiers.
Typically we do not suffer April Showers, with daily temperatures around 20-25 degrees and rainfall for the month normally less than 8 days. With sunrise being 6.45am at the start of April and around 6.25am by the end of April, we generally enjoy 13 hours of day light, with sunset around 7.30pm at the start of the month, stretching to 7.45pm by the end of April.
These pleasant daytime temperatures see a rise in the sea temperature to around 18-19 degrees and at the start of April the dolphins start their annual migration and are known to be seen in the bay of Fethiye and OluDeniz.
Storks are also known to arrive in April, coming to repair their nests, lay eggs and raise their young. Storks are seen as a symbol of good luck. Usually, if you look up to the minarets of the Mosques you can usually see the storks nesting above.
In addition to the bleat of the baby goats, the appearance of the tortoises coming out of hibernation, you will likely also notice the drumming of the woodpeckers with activity peaking early April.
In Turkey people very much eat with the seasons to embrace the fruits when they taste their best. The staple items and seasonal fruits you can enjoy from the farmers markets are medlar, strawberries and the vegetables of celery, spinach, peas and lettuce
When medlar fruit ripens and is completely bletted, the medlar is a very squishy and sweet taste, similar to an over ripe, sugary date. Some say it has the likeness of toffee apples?
So to round up about April; the name comes from the Romans, derived from the Latin name of Aprilis. The astrological signs are Aries and Taurus. The birth flowers for April are daisies and sweet peas and the birth stone is diamond.
Lyrid Meteor Showers can appear on the evening of April 22nd through until the morning of April 23rd. Usually peaking at midnight and best seen in a dark location, you may see bright dust trails that last for several seconds, caused by dust particles left behind by the Thatcher Comet.
Supermoon will be fully illuminated on April 27th. There will only be three super moons in 2021 with this being its closest approach to the Earth looking brighter and larger than normal. 3.33am UTC is the best viewing time