REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

Hıdırellez

HIDIRELLEZ

“HIDIRELLEZ” FESTIVAL (BAIRAM)



When looked at antiquity (ancient times) in Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Iran, Greece and even in countries surrounding the Mediterranean it has been seen that rituals and celebrations had been performed in the name of some Gods in relation with arrival of spring or summer. Documents showing that one of the oldest of these rituals had been performed in Ur city of Mesopotamia by the end of III. Thousand B.C.. The said ritual had been performed at the end of Winter in the name of “Tammuz” representing stimulating power of Euphrates (Fırat) and Tigris (Dicle) irrigating Mesopotamia plain. Upon arrival of Spring revival of nature and prosperity and abundance and productivity had been celebrated by festivals in the name of the God called “Dumuzi”. It has been known that culture of “Tammuz” had been transferred to the ancient Greece and Anatolia via Hebrew over Syria and Egypt.    

Arrival of Spring or Summer which means revival of Nature and its starting to live again is an important event in the life of human being in every corner of the World. A widespread belief in connection with tradition of “Hıdırellez” is performance of a celebration for commemoration of the date on which “Hızır” and “İlyas” came together. The day of “Hıdırellez” has been generally celebrated on May 6th. In some regions May 5th has been accepted as the day of Festival and May 6th as the day of “Hıdırellez” and ceremonies have been arranged accordingly. The day of “Hıdırellez” (Ruz-ı Hızır) has been considered as the beginning of Summer in the Public Calendar. According to the Public Calendar among Turks one year has been divided into two sections. The period from the day of “Hıdırellez” (May 6th) to November 8th is 186 days and mentioned under the name of “Hızır Days”. This period has been named as the Summer season. The second  period extending  from November 8th to May 6th is the Winter season and named as “Days of November”, lasting  179 days.

Traditions, beliefs, ceremonies established around “Hıdırellez” have been confused generally with “Sultan Nevruz” and other traditions and ceremonies performed for meeting the Spring. Because Spring Festivals have been concentrated on several important days. In this connection it is possible to see whole of “Hıdırellez” or other Spring ceremonies in the course of celebration of any one of them.

In Turkish communities both in Anatolia and out of Anatolia with the approach of “Hıdırellez” assorted preparations have been made. Houses have been thoroughly cleaned up, household effects, kitchenware, clothes have been cleaned from top to toe. These works have been performed in order to have “Hızır” (A.S.) visit the house. On the other hand on “Hıdırellez” day lamb or kid, assortment of dishes have been cooked, and in the mean time preparation of a lot of food has been completed. In some regions there are some people who meet “Hıdırellez” by fasting (oruç) one day  before the day of “Hıdırellez”. Upon completion of all preparations people go to the nearest picnic places full of trees and having spring and try to pass the day of “Hıdırellez” happily with various plays, entertainments.

Places where “Hıdırellez” has been celebrated are generally watery and green areas. In conformity with the tradition there are picnic places called “Hıdırlık” at various regions of Anatolia. At these regions such customs  as visiting tombs of great religious leaders, vowing or tying a piece of cloth at such places as graveyard, tomb of a holy person (saint), etc. which have been considered sacred places by indigenous people have also been exercised.

Of course the most important ceremony exercised in “Hıdırellez” is  the “play of wish”. It has been exercised in order that young girls become lucky, determine their fortune. According to regions the play has different names: drawing lots of wish, fortune pot, lucky, prosperity, etc. The play has been performed as follows: water brought in a pitcher is poured in a pot. Everybody throws a sign into the pot holding water. Such signs may be also sweet basil, mint, “mantuvar” flower in addition to usually ring, earring, etc. The pot is covered with a cloth on the eve of “Hıdırellez” and placed under a rosewood. A lock is put on the pot and locked as a custom. On the other day girls coming together again take the pot under rosewood. Lock is opened and one of them starts to draw lots. In the mean time folk songs are sung. Each folk song is accepted for the fate of the girl whose sign is drawn. This play goes on until the last sign is drawn. In folk songs which have been sung during performance of the play such themes as hope, joy, firmness, love, affection, tenderness, goodness, brotherhood, living abroad, patriotism, etc have been treated.

Followings are a  few examples of these folk songs:

Hey fortunate, fortunate
There is time for being fortunate.
One beautiful has the time
to embrace an ugly one.

Are the head of “Martufal”?
Are you Jewellery?
Come let us sing a song
Will you carry it in your pocket ?  
 

One of the widespread beliefs concerning the day of “Hıdırellez” has shown itself in the tradition of making yoghurt. On the day of “Hıdırellez” yoghurt is made without using ferment. If it becomes yoghurt it is believed that “Hızır” visited home.

Project for Compilation of Tradition of “Hıdırellez” in Turkey arranged in 1990 by the Ministry of Culture, Directorate General of Research and Development of Cultures of People ensured that such information are recorded in orderly manner. In Field Studies carried out in various cities every year by our Directorate General, compilations has been still proceeding in relation with the subject.

Furthermore, through studies carried out by our Directorate General, celebration of “Hıdırellez” Culture-Spring Festival has been ensured nationwide.