The Festival of Sacrifice

Since we are going to celebrate it in the upcoming days, I just thought that I should cover “The Festival of Sacrifice/Kurban Bayramı” in my last article. As we all know very well, bayrams are very important times in Turkey. Considering the emphasis put on the bayrams in Muslim countries, you can compare them with the Christmas in Christian countries. However, their content and the way they are celebrated have some important divergences from Christmas. In my article today, I will try to give all the fundamental information you will need in order to understand what the Kurban Bayramı is all about and I will help you go through this four-day festival. It will be useful to you to prove to your Turkish friends how well you know their culture.

To start with, lets cover the basics of the bayram; they are religious holidays, so their roots are in the religion, Islam. According to Islamic rules, every adult Muslim who is wealthy enough has to sacrifice a farm animal in Kurban Bayramı for God. The definition of ´who is wealthy enough´ 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 Bayramı is mandatory for Muslims and not performing it is considered a sin. It can be said that this sacrifice is the symbol to show the readiness of the sacrificer to sacrifice and lay down all his interests and desires in the name of God. Thus they make an effort to come closer to God and God then grants them the honor of His closeness.

To mention its origin and meaning, the offer of sacrifice for God dates back to times before Prophet Muhammed and the birth of Islam. In other words, this yearly sacrifice was performed before Muslims. Let me tell you its story, that I believe you will like a lot. The foundation of this act goes back to Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham). Prophet Ibrahim was given 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. 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 perform 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 his angel Gabriel with a goat and tells Ibrahim that he passed God’s test. Prophet Ibrahim is then asked to sacrifice the goat instead of his son as a sign of his loyalty to God. Since that day, a sacrifice to God is performed by the followers of Prophet Ibrahim and the other Prophets.

The time of Kurban Bayramı 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 Bayramı goes back ten days every year. It lasts for four days and this year, in 2013, Kurban Bayramı will be celebrated from October 15th to October 18th. You can calculate the following years simply by subtracting ten days from this date for each year passed.


You might also like: