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Christmas is celebrated on 31st of December as the beginning of a new year. It is one of the most popular celebrations in Turkey and it is celebrated with a big enthusiasm.

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The New Year’s Day traditions in our country include a family dinner, a national lottery drawing , a countdown to midnight and many parties in night clubs or entertainments at the restaurants .New Year’s Day falls on December 31 in the Gregorian calendar.

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What do people do? Many people in Turkey start celebrating New Year with a large family dinner. The main course is traditionally a roasted turkey. Variety shows on television begin in late afternoon and continue until early morning of the next day. Many people play games especially Tombala (a kind of Bingo) while waiting for the clock to strike midnight.

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State TV channels announce the winning numbers of a New Year’s national lottery just before midnight. Many people in Turkey try to buy a New Year’s lottery ticket because it promises a large sum of money to the winner. Many people also congratulate each other, toast to a New Year and exchange small gifts at midnight between New Year’s Night and New Year’s Day.

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Hotels, restaurants and nightclubs offer special entertainment programs on New Year’s Eve. Most places require early reservations. Some people go to city centers late on December 31 to watch the traditional fireworks. New Year’s Eve ends with a countdown to announce the arrival of a new year, and celebrations continue until the morning of January 1.

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New Year’s Eve is not an official holiday, although many workers get half a day off. Administration buildings, schools and post offices may be closed in the afternoon of December 31. Supermarkets may also close earlier than usual. Many people celebrate New Year’s Eve in city centers, so traffic may be intense in the evening of December 31. Public life

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Background December 31 became the last day of a calendar year in Turkey in 1926 when this country started using the Gregorian (Miladi) calendar. Turkey and the Ottoman Empire used a solar-based Islamic calendar (Rumi takvim) prior to 1926. New Year’s Eve became a popular holiday in Turkey after the Turkish parliament made January 1 (New Year’s Day) an official holiday in 1935. Turkey has borrowed many of New Year’s Eve traditions from western celebrations of Christmas and Thanksgiving during the 1920s and 1930s.

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Symbols The common symbols of New Year’s Eve in Turkey are: The New Year’s tree (a decorated fir tree). A roasted turkey. Images of Noel Baba (the Turkish name for Santa Claus). Belly dancing. These symbols can be seen on New Year’s Eve in Turkey.

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“ Yeni Yiliniz Kutlu Olsun „ – this is how you say Merry Christmas in Turkish. However, Christmas in Turkey cannot be compared to your ideas of a traditional Christmas celebration. December 24th and 25th are completely normal work days. No one celebrates nothing. For the Turkish, December 31st is the “Great Day”. On this day we celebrate “Yıl-başı”, the “begining of the year” Indeed, you can buy Christmas trees in every major supermarket; the streets, shops and houses are festively decorated.

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In Istanbul, the biggest Turkish city, this holiday traditionally starts on the Taksim square in the heart of the city. Several thousands of people meet at this central meeting point in order to dance with the music of the New Year’s Concert and to see the big fireworks.

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People often celebrate Christmas on the roof gardens over the Bosphorus. Traditional food such as turkey filled with chestnuts is served and the children get small gifts. A very interesting tradition in Turkey is that women often receive red underwear as a symbol of luck.

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