Spring festival of Hıdrellez welcomed
The traditional spring festival of Hıdrellez was celebrated across Turkey with modest events as the night of May 5 coincided with the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
In the northwestern province of Edirne, a traditional focal point of Hıdrellez celebrations, hundreds of festivalgoers threw papers with wishes written on them into the Tunca River.
As part of celebrations of the seasonal festival, people threw their wish papers, pebble stones and olive branches to the sea in the Mediterranean province of Antalya and wished health, job, money and love.
The event in Istanbul’s Ahırkapı neighborhood, which has drawn huge attention both from locals and tourists in recent years, was canceled. Instead, several hundreds of people gathered at the Yoğurtçu Park in the district of Kadıköy on the Anatolian side of the metropolis.
The tradition of Hıdrellez was added to the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in 2017 upon an application by the Turkish Culture Ministry.
The night of Hıdrellez marks the only moment of the year when Hızır (or Khıdır), symbolizing earth and vegetation, meets İlyas (Elijah), who is associated with the sea and the water.
Hıdrellez celebrations, and its variants, are held in a wide region stretching from Central Asia to Eastern Europe with vibrant festivities of dance, music, food and beverages. Its roots are thought to predate Islam or Christianity. Most communities celebrate Hıdrellez on May 6 while Christians in the Balkans mark it as St. George’s Day on April 23.
In Turkey, the festivities are particularly important for the Roma and Alevi communities.
Meanwhile, the Islamic holy month of Ramadan started on May 5, with Muslims beginning fasting for the next 29 days.
Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a time when Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sexual act from the sahur, or sahoor, meal (the meal before dawn) to the iftar meal (the main meal of the fasting day) at sunset.