Spring festival Hıdrellez celebrated
In the northwestern province of Edirne, a traditional focal point of Hıdrellez celebrations, thousands of people gathered to dance, and a bonfire was lit in the Keşan district to mark the occasion.
In the Avcılar district of Istanbul, Hıdrellez was celebrated with an event attended by hundreds of people. The Hıdrellez Festival in Avcılar returned to the district after two years of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the early hours of May 6, people threw their wish papers, pebble stones and flowers into the sea in the Mediterranean province of Antalya.
“We prepared the papers on which we wrote our wishes last night. We were really excited. I learned this tradition from my mother, and I have passed on this to my daughter,” said Demet Yılmaz, noting that the three generations now standing side by side celebrate Hıdrellez.
Meanwhile, Christians and Muslims celebrated the festival together at a church in the İskenderun district in the southern province of Hatay. They lit candles and made wishes in the church. Some wished for health, a new house and a car, while the younger ones wished for success in the university entrance examination.
The tradition of Hıdrellez, seen in Anatolia as the day when the Hızır, a legendary Islamic figure endowed with immortal life, and İlyas, who appears in the Quran as a prophet, meet on Earth, has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries.
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.