ISTANBUL MEETS RAMADAN FEASTAs the holy month of Ramadan —where Muslims fast for one month and gather around Iftar (breaking of the fast) tables— has come to the end, a sense of excitement of the Ramadan Feast begins to surround İstanbul.
During the three-day feast, which starts with the morning prayer, elder people will be visited, conflicts in friendships will be resolved, relatives and friends will meet, and children in their brand new outfits will kiss their elders’ hands.
If the regions like Üsküdar, where Muslims lived even before the Ottoman conquest of the city, is included, the history of Ramadan Feasts in İstanbul dates back to approximately 700 years. As Reşat Ekrem Koçu, an idiosyncratic writer and historian of both Ottoman and Republican eras, reports in his equally idiosyncratic work "The Encyclopedia of Istanbul"; in the old times, the day before the Ramadan Feast there would be long cues in front of the Hamams (public baths), and İstanbulites would fill the barber shops to greet the Feast nice and clean. Following the morning prayer on the first day of the Feast, people would gather at the courtyards of the mosques to celebrate each other in a ceremonial fashion. They would then rush to the festival areas set in their districts where children would spend their Feast tips on all kinds of different food and entertainment options.
Today, most of those customs may have faded away, nevertheless, other than the centuries-old buildings, such as Mihrimah Sultan Mosque in Üsküdar, Süleymaniye Turkish Bath in Fatih, or Spice Bazaar in Eminönü, that still carry the traces of old Feasts, visitors of İstanbul could also see some of the Ramadan Feast traditions in various districts of the İstanbul. That is why, if you come across children kissing elders’ hands anywhere in the city, don’t get surprised, because it’s Ramadan Feast in İstanbul.