The New Year is greeted in Turkey with widespread and crowded celebrations and entertainments participated by millions. People send wishes of happiness and health to loved ones for the New Year, special arrangements are made for celebrations, customary meals are cooked, those who have means go to a short trip, important events of the past year is remembered and new year’s resolutions are made. Streets and shops are decorated with lights weeks before, groceries and stores offer special New Year’s gifts, products and discounts, and hotels become centers of attention with their special New Year’s Eve celebration programs. When the big day arrives, city squares are packed with people, there are crowded gatherings in homes and people try to prepare for the New Year by relieving fatigue of the year. If your trip to Turkey coincides with the New Year’s Eve, you should definitely attend these celebrations and witness one of the beautiful traditions of Turkey.
For those who celebrate outside, Istanbul’s Taksim square was the most important center in the past, in recent years, however, celebrations in Nişantaşı, Etiler, Beşiktaş and Kadıköy also draw increasing interest. Local municipalities organize fireworks and concerts of famous singers and DJ’s that become the focus of attention for both Istanbulite and tourists. If you can allocate a larger budget for New Year’s Eve celebrations outside, you can attend New Year’s Eve programs of restaurants or hotels. It is always useful to do research and book a reservation a week or two weeks in advance as tables are quickly sold out due to intense interest.
Friends and relatives are invited to the New Year’s Eve celebrations organized at homes; some houses are decorated, gifts are given, special meals are cooked and drinks are prepared. Old generations, on the other hand, used to play bingo during New Year’s Eve gatherings, a tradition that partly continues today. Before natural gas, every home had a stove, and another essential tradition of the old New Year’s Eve parties was roasting chestnuts on the stovetop while playing bingo game. It is possible to say that such celebrations are still partly maintained by especially older generations. New Year’s Eve celebrations at home become more entertaining with the special New Year’s Eve TV programs. If you get invited to such a New Year’s Eve celebration by your acquaintances living in Turkey, you should certainly accept and not miss the opportunity to have a good time with your loved ones.
In recent years, New Year’s eve celebrations in Turkey have also become a subject of dispute among social groups with different ways of life. New Year’s Eve, celebrated by millions in metropoles with a modern life style, is sometimes regarded as foreign entertainment for the Turkish culture by more conservative segments. These discussions become heated topics in the media for a couple of days before and after every New Year’s Eve and then they are forgotten for the rest of the year. Apart from these discussions, different cultures and life styles live together and practice entertainments and celebrations of their choice freely thanks to the tolerant culture of Turkey.