Christmas in Turkey is always going to be different, its never going to be the same as Christmas in the UK. How can it be? Christmas being the biggest celebration of the year for most expats living in Turkey, it can often be a disappointment or a sad time of year being far from family and friends and missing out on all the Christmas parties, shopping, foods and the all important feeling of Christmas.
For most including me Christmas is not about the religious holiday, but more a time to spend with family and friends and be thankful for them.
For me since moving to Turkey, celebrating Christmas has become a different occasion for me. Living in Sakarya and not in an expat area you don’t even get a sense of the holiday, no one is putting up trees or running Christmas fairs and the restaurants are not doing Christmas dinners. Very few here in Sakarya are aware of Christmas and mostly likely if you ask they will think your talking about New Year.
The past few years I have tried to get into the Christmas spirit, my first year I made a big fuss I put the decorations up and kept them up for the two weeks, I had all my favourite Christmas foods all home made of course and brought presents and had things sent from the UK.
Then last year I made a bit of fuss because it was my son’s first Christmas and I wanted it to be special. In the end it was just another day and he had no idea what happened!!
This year however I was struggling despite having been in the UK and seen the start of the Christmas madness, shops selling Christmas goodies, adverts on telly and the odd Christmas tune on the radio, but I just couldn’t get into the spirit of things.
My husband would be working and he has never understood it all, how could he having never celebrated the day till he met me and I just couldn’t work out how to get across that Christmas feeling to my son.
However come New Year, it becomes very much like Christmas here in Turkey, the western influence of Christmas has sneaked into the Turkish New Year traditions, gift buying, New Year Trees, Turkey and lots of decorations.
So this year I decided to make no fuss on Christmas, after all for me it is not to do with the religion but more to do with spending time with family.
On Christmas day I decided that because my husband had the morning off, we would have a big breakfast and enjoy the morning together before he head to work, after he headed off to School I took my son out to the Park and then headed home to speak to my Parents on skype and then my day went on like normal.
Once the day was over and I was lying in bed, I reflected on the day, we had, had a lovely morning and yes I had moments where I missed my family and felt a little sad with a tear or two at missing them all.
During the day I had spoken to family and friends on facebook and shared in their day, enjoyed their lovely pictures of their day. I really didn’t miss out on anything in fact I got to share in many special moments with friends and family and I had my own special moments with my family.
I had inadvertently created my own family traditions for Christmas here in Turkey as I plan to do the same for many years to come.
By accepting that Christmas in Turkey is different, I have made Christmas in Turkey special for us and come the New Years Eve we will have a lovely time with decorations and great meal and time with each other and bring in the New Year together.
I hope you all had a lovely Christmas Day, if you didn’t I hope that next year you can make it special by making it different. May 2014 see all your dreams and wishes come true.
© 2013 – 2015, Kerry Arslan. All rights reserved.