I’m having an incredible time here in Istanbul! One of the best parts about arriving in July is that I’m here for Ramadan month (or “Ramazan” here in Turkey). It’s a month long fast (July 9th-August 7th) where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and then eat through the night in preparation for the next day. It’s the PERFECT time to be in Istanbul!
On July 27th I had Ramazan dinner with Funda (my Turkish “mom”) and her extended family. Everyone was SO welcoming (of course, Turkish people are so kind and the perfect hosts!) and we were in a nice apartment high above the city so I got to watch the minarets light up as the sun set. We gathered around the table to watch the TV which would announce and start prayers at exactly 8:25. As soon as the prayers were said, the entire family began to eat. I was mesmerized by lit minarets, the worshipers and prayer “singers” on TV, and the incredible view of Istanbul. My heart was so happy as I dug into the incredible feast.
I knew there would be a lot of food (this is Turkey), so I prepared myself ahead of time and ate a lot to show my gratitude for the meal. The family members recommend food and Funda’s mom dishes everything onto my plate for me anyways, so I don’t really have the option NOT to eat a lot of food. 🙂 It’s great! Before I finished, the entire family stood up and left the room to walk around and smoke on the balcony. I thought I was just a slow eater (which normally is true). It wasn’t until some time later, when someone brought out another dish of food and called the family back to the table that I finally put together the fact:
THAT WAS ONLY THE FIRST COURSE.
Yep, sure enough, we hadn’t even started the main course with the meats and breads! I panicked, knowing there was no room left in my stomach…then ran around the apartment desperately hoping the food would settle before we started the next feast. Because it’s Ramazan fasting, everyone’s goal is to eat as much as possible while it’s night and walking around inbetween courses helps make room for more food. The family thought my dilemma was hilarious, (laughing as they continued to dish food onto my plate) and I did too; What a GREAT memory for my first official Ramazan dinner! 🙂
I’ve had several Ramazan dinners since that first night, but I still get giddy with the thought that I’m actually celebrating and worshiping God with some of my Muslim brothers and sisters. I’m having a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I cannot wait to experience more!
Just some fun facts:
*Ramazan is when the Quran was revealed by Gabriel to the prophet Muhammad.
*Ramazan does not come at the same time each year. It’s the 9th month of the Islamic Calendar which is a lunar calendar.
*In 33 years and 5 days, Ramazan will occur in July again. In about 10-12 years it will occur in the winter when the days will be very short; thus fasting will be MUCH easier. 🙂
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