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Kurban Bayrami


The Festival of Sacrifice


In Turkey, bayrams are very important times. In terms of the emphasis put on the bayrams, you can compare them with the Christmas in Christian countries. However, their content and the way they are celebrated have some important differences from Christmas. In this article, I will try to give all the fundamental information you will need in order to understand what the Kurban Bayrami is all about and I will help you go through this four-day festival proving your Turkish friends how well you know their culture.


We will start with covering the basics of this bayram, its origin and meaning. Then we will cover some customs common to both Kurban Bayrami and Ramazan Bayrami. The Turkish phrases you will need for the bayram and their meanings will be covered under this topic. After that, we will see the customs that are specific to the Kurban Bayrami.

Basics - How did it Start?

Bayrams are religious holidays, so their roots are in the religion, Islam. According to Islamic rules, every adult Muslim wealthy enough has to sacrifice a farm animal in the Kurban Bayrami for God. The definition of ´who is wealthy´ is done in some level of detail by the religious authorities, but I won´t go into those topics here. This sacrifice on the occasion of Kurban Bayrami is obligatory for Muslims and not doing it is considered as a sin. It can be said that this sacrifice is the symbol of the readiness of the sacrificer to sacrifice and lay down all his interests and desires in the cause of God.

Abraham and Isaac

The offer of sacrifice for God dates back to times before Prophet Muhammed and the birth of Islam. Therefore, this yearly sacrifice was performed before Muslims. The foundation of this act goes back to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Prophet Ibrahim was put to a tough test by God to prove the strength of his faith. In his dream, God speaks to him and asks him to sacrifice his son Ismail (who also becomes a prophet later). Ibrahim tells this to his son Ismail, and Ismail tells him to do what God wanted him to do. Prophet Ibrahim takes his son to Mount Mina near Mecca to do his offering to God. Prophet Ibrahim is ready to sacrifice his son for God, and his son Ismail is ready to die for God. However, before the sacrifice takes place, God sends a goat with his angel Gabriel and tells Ibrahim that he passed the test of God. Prophet Ibrahim is then asked to sacrifice the goat instead of his son as the sign of his loyalty to God. Since that day, the offer of sacrifice to God is performed by the followers of Prophet Ibrahim and the other Prophets following him.


The time of Kurban Bayrami is determined based on the moon calendar. Since the moon year is ten days shorter than the year based on the sun, the time of Kurban Bayrami goes back ten days every year. It lasts for four days and this time overlaps with the time of Haj (visiting the Kaba in Mecca). This year, in 2005, Kurban Bayrami will be celebrated from January 20th to January 23rd. You can calculate the following years simply by subtracting ten days from this date for each year passed.

Next >>
General Bayram Customs

1. The Festival of Sacrifice
2. General Bayram Customs
3. Kurban Bayrami Traditions

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